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The Only Sure-Thing, Absolute, Trick-Free Guide to Avoiding a Hangover. Seriously.

Posted on 26 February 2009 by jordan

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Why We Love Alcohol

Who doesn’t love drinking? I know I do, and unless you have some medical problems we don’t know about or are abstaining for religious or moral reasons, you probably love consuming fresh, delicious alcohol too.

The wonderful versatility of this drug lets us consume it in dozens of forms, so there’s one for every palate: is wine your thing? There’s plenty. Maybe the bitter taste of beer leaves you feeling more refreshed. There’s a whole world of them out there.

Delicious, Delicious Variety

Hard liquor what you need to get through the day? No worries, alcohol’s in all of those, too! And there are hundreds! Fruit-filled drinks that taste more like sugary juices than any kind of traditional alcoholic beverage? Sure, why the hell not?

With all that’s out there to choose from, and with our homes, apartments, bars, clubs, outdoor festivals, alleys, and bathrooms as suitable and enjoyable places where we can enjoy a drink, what’s stopping us from drinking all the time? I mean, really, why don’t we?

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Drunk at Work

Two centuries ago, in America, the average citizen put away an absolutely unbelievable amount of gin or other strong alcohol per day. Most people were drunk—quite drunk—by the time they started the second half of their workday. Sure, workplace accidents were legion and the health benefits were nil, but so what?

Alright, maybe my dream of an alchohol-fueled workforce is outdated and irresponsibly dangerous. Maybe drinking isn’t something that needs to be the absolute center of our lives, lest we lapse into alcoholism and early deaths by the thousands. But besides those sad possibilities, there’s a much worse consequence: the dreaded hangover.

Consequences: May Range from Mild to Unbelievably Nauseating and Painful

The sickness, occasional vomiting, general feeling of complete depression: all these things alcohol leaves us as its wonderful parting gift. Is there any way around it? Sure. Don’t drink. But what if we want to keep drinking, and yet keep our jobs, our lives, our mental health?

With just that in mind, ryoni.com is now going to give you the two most fundamental, absolute, you-must-always-follow-these rules for avoiding, destroying, or getting around a hangover.

These are not little magic recipes involving eggs and wheat germ or strange other things you’ve got to consume the morning after. These are the two (and you only need two) tried-and-true ways to actually AVOID or seriously REDUCE your hangover altogether, which is all that really matters.

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Rule Number One: If You Mix Alcohol, Never Increase the Strength.

In other words, if you start with beer, which is generally the lowest-alcohol drink you can find, try and stick with beer. Everyone knows that the drunker you get, the easier it is to consume, but there are other problems, hidden ones, too, if you don’t heed this rule.

See, it’s not just that you don’t feel the alcohol content when you’re downing that whiskey at the end of the night as though it was the same as that beer you had hours before. It’s also crucial for your hangover, and for the way your body deals with the alcohol itself.

Throwing a whole bunch of different drinks and alcohol percentages at your stomach mean your liver is going to be processing them at wildly varying rates, and thus will be operating at less than full capacity.

It’s Far Too Easy to Confuse Your System

Sure, if you simply drink ‘too much’ wine you’ll get plenty sick regardless, but by mixing it up, you’re confusing the hell out of your body’s system to process alcohol, which might mean that, in switching from wine to beer to vodka, you can stave off vomiting like you wouldn’t if you threw back 10 rum & cokes in an row, but you will pay the price (dearly) the next day.

Why? Because the next day, your liver and brain will still be going through that encyclopedia of alcohol you’ve thrown at them and telling you to never do it again.

Stick with one or two ‘types’, relatively close in alcohol content. Strong beer and mild wine are a good example. This can really, really, really save your ass.

It’s the difference bewteen a mildly annoying hangover you’ve gotta ‘shake off’ and one that debilitates you for the day. Your workplace will thank you for making the responsible decision.

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Rule Number Two: Water is Your Friend.

You’ve probably heard about the ‘chase every drink with a pint of water‘ rule. I have never, in my life, ever, seen anyone following this maxim, partly because it’s easy to forget, and secondly because the quantity of liquid inevitably slows down your alcohol consumption. It’s simply not possible to throw back that second pint when you’ve laid down a half-litre of water just beforehand.

Ah, but you say—that’s the whole point! It slows down your consumption AND hydrates you, thus conferring a double benefit! No. That’s only a benefit if you’re being responsible and thinking about every step before you take it, which goes exactly against the image of a wanton drinker, throwing back pints with reckless abandon. We’re here to drink and have fun, not keep a drink diary and file a report the next morning, fresh as dew.

Cram that Precious Water Down Your Throat

Not to worry, though, as there’s a better way to use your new best friend, mister water. Although it’s the equivalent of studying for 15 hours the night before a big exam, we’ve all done that before, right? And this time there’s no exam, just a hangover waiting to punish you. So cram away.

All you have to do is drink about 2-3 litres of water before you go to sleep. Of course, if you are stumbling around blind drunk, on the verge of vomiting or blacking out, there’s no way you are going to get that much water down, so you’re already a lost cause. But if you’re just feeling “really drunk” and have to, say, work the next day? Get over to that tap and stay there for at least a half hour.

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Should You Take An Aspirin, Too?

A lot of people also swear by the painkiller method in combination with this–something NOT containing acetominophen, which will destroy your liver when it’s already extremely busy with the alcohol, but say, ibuprofen, which will just be heavy on your stomach and kidneys but leave your liver alone.

Again, no one ever really recommends taking pills after you’ve drank a lot, so we are definitely not recommending it here, just mentioning that some (reckless) people swear by it as something to reduce any potential headaches the next day. But it runs a big risk.

Back to the water, which doesn’t have much of a risk at all: it’s the key. It’s not easy, and you’re going to have to force literally pint after pint of water down your throat when the only thing you want to do is go to sleep, but in the end, I swear, your body will thank you dearly.

The Price Your Bladder Will Pay

If you have a weak bladder, you’ll be getting up once during the night to hit the bathroom, or when you wake up in the morning you are going to be absolutely racing to the toilet, but it’s a very small price to pay for a day free of the hangover.

It’s not great for your bladder, sure, but is bombing your body with alcohol and then letting it process it all during the night any better? The phyiscal pain your body goes through during a hangover is probably just as damaging as a bit of extra water you’ve gotta hold during the night (but then again, I’m no doctor).

As for your hangover, if you’ve followed this method: it changes completely. It’s still there, somewhat, but the worst manifestation you’ll probably get is a kind of mild depression, which then gets alleviated by caffeine and other alcoholic beverages you start consuming later on in the day.

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A Hangover That Actually Feels Kinda Nice, We Swear

In other words, the absolute best kind of hangover, the one that brings you just a touch down and then leaves you feeling relieved and happy every time you take yourself back up (with a meal, sugar, coffee, another beer, whatever).

A final maxim: DO NOT partake of this ‘cure’ the next morning and expect miracles. By all means, if you went immediately to sleep, drink lots of water in the morning. Regardless of anything else, that’s a good idea. But don’t expect it to work like the night-time cure does.

Why This Only Works the Night Before

So do not give your body the chance to digest only alcohol all night. By the time you wake up, your brain will have been asking for water for several hours, and your body, due to your lack of intake, will have been unable to provide it. Giving it a little bit the morning after is simply not enough.

See, after your night of alcohol digestion and processing, and a lack of water, your brain will contract slightly, giving you the hangover headache that will ruin your day.

Don’t let it happen! Give your brain what it wants, annoy your bladder somewhat, and drink water BEFORE bed. Lots of it.

We welcome any other sure-fire hangover cures in the comments!

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The 5 Most Insane Drummers in History, With Videos Showing You Why.

Posted on 24 February 2009 by jordan

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Guys like drummers. Guys especially (myself included here) like insane drummers, legends who could pound those drum-skins into complete oblivion, who had a strange, reckless, devil-may-care abandon when it came to drumming, who seemed possessed by satan and never once apologized for it. These guys were madmen, kings on earth, usually with outsized personalities that made them near-impossible to work with but amazing to listen to when all was said and done.

We’ve thought long and hard, and have now come up with what we think are the definitive five most insane drummers in history. There might be a few more technically skilled (you can find me 20 metal drummers who can probably do more insane things than these guys) and others who we just don’t feel like putting on here (Neal Peart), so take issue all you want. It doesn’t matter.

There are plenty of tributes to those wonderful studio musicians all over the internet and in every tired classic rock magazine out there, but that’s not what we’re looking for. We want that inspirational drumming, that weird drumming, that insanley over-the-top drumming that doesn’t just make you think “wow, this guy sure is talented!” but instead “holy shite my ears are melting in the face of such thundering drum power” and other such hyperbole.

These and these guys alone would make the cut for the celestial all-star drumming team, if God were somehow forced to assemble a super all-star team of monster drummers. He will be, one day.

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Gene Krupa

Benny Goodman’s drummer for a long period, Krupa started the whole drummer-with-insane-facial-expressions movement, as I like to call it. One of the most entertaining classic jazz drummers ever, Krupa isn’t the most technically accomplished, but is extremely fun to watch and brings giant personality to everything he did. Check out this youtube video for proof. Or this one. There’s nothing like a sweating, insane Krupa all dressed up in his 1940s-era band uniform, going absolutely mad on a minimalist jazz kit.

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Buddy Rich

Our other jazz choice. Although I think other drummers have better recorded stuff, Buddy Rich is a classic oversized musician, with the domineering personality, the straight-A asshole behaviour pattern, and the madman drumming chops to back it all up. Here he is battling Animal from the Muppet Show (in Italian, no less). There are secret recordings of Buddy Rich’s rants against his bandmates, several of which were cherished for many years by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, who actually used direct lines of his on Seinfeld. You can hear some of those classic tapes here. A true madman.

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Keith Moon

The only drummer on this list to actually be certified insane (no), Ketih Moon was a psychopathic musician who did for rock drumming what… well, what a ton of other innovators did for a bunch of other instruments. Mostly using a stripped-down kit like his jazz heroes, Moon managed to make the Who’s early recordings sound so damn full of energy and life, thanks to his insane rolls and incredible speed, that he became an instant legend. The best story ever about him: he never owned a drumset, and would only practice in studios or at other people’s houses before the Who were about to go out on tour. He’d forget most of what he knew, but by the time he re-learned everything (in a matter of days) he was better than before. See him here.

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Terry Bozzio

Frank Zappa’s drummer. I guess that’s all that needs to really be said, since Frank Zappa was rather insane, thus making Terry Bozzio equally nuts when onstage with him. Check out this clip from Baby Snakes to see him in action. Youtube is full of slightly boring footage of Bozzio setting up his billion-drum set and drumming for Korn and all the rest of it, but to really appreciate the weirdness of this guy, you have to see him playing with Zappa. Just watch this clip and listen to the lyrics of this song, and try to think of another mainstream drummer who’s done stuff like this before. Ignore his later stuff and he easily fits on this list.

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Jon Bonham

Led Zeppelin’s drummer was booming and massive and didn’t really play with the technical skills of the rest of these guys, but was amazing because he pounded away behind a bunch of Led Zeppelin’s heaviest, loudest stuff, and his massively long solos for Moby Dick are, instead of being technical examples of superfast drumming, big showcases for how much he could pound the hell out of his drumkit. Like Keith Moon, he died relatively young from some excessive drinking and partying, but while he was around, he was a massive force behind the drums. Check out a part of Moby Dick here, and listen to a song like Rock and Roll from the remastered How the West Was Won (youtube clip here, but you need good quality for this stuff, so buy it) to understand how loud and awesome he could get.

Thoughts, comments, other drummers you think fit this bill? Tell us! Now!

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Top 5 European Cities For Getting it On

Posted on 23 February 2009 by jordan

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That’s right, here are some of the sexiest cities in Europe, the legendary and the newly-established hotspots where you can arrive, hit the town, and… get it on. Some are classics, some are unexpected, all are full of romantic potetntial you’d be a fool to squander.

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Rome

Ah, this is my current city, and thus the one that comes first. It’s the eternal city, as they say, but not necessarily known as the most romantic place on earth—the chaos and improvisational nature of Italian life mean it’s not as easily insta-romantic as, say, Paris. But, hey, it’s Rome, so don’t worry.

If You’ve Already Got a Girl: Head out for a relaxing walk through some of Rome’s classic old neighbourhoods, ones like Trastevere and Testaccio, until you settle upon a small Osteria for dinner. Use a site like spottedbylocals to pick one that’s authentic and delicious. After dinner, hop in a cab and get back into the historical center, grab a gelato by the Pantheon, and then walk through the small streets until you’re back at your hotel/hostel. Before you go in for the night, throw back a 1-euro coffee in a nearby bar for some extra strength. Get it corretto (correct, which means with a shot of alcohol in it) and you’ll be set.

If You Don’t: It’s legal to drink outdoors in Rome, but if you’re a tourist here, it’s best not to go overboard (actually, it’s currently illegal after 9PM, but hopefully only for a temporary period). They say you’re stuck chatting up other tourists and travellers because of the inaccessible, overly protected ‘Italian female’, but that’s just an old stereotype. Head to San Lorenzo, the student district by the train station, use a site like Roma Zero to find a club night, show, or bar with a DJ that fits what you like, and go in. Drink, dance, and talk to the Italians and see what happens.

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Paris

What to say about Paris.. it’s expensive, one of the most touristed destinations on the planet, but also one of the most incredible cities ever. Can you break through the cliched expectations of French romance and actually pull something off? Of course you can.

If You’ve Already Got a Girl: You’ve got it easy. Get some good beer at a Brasserie in the afternoon, hit up a chocolate shop or two and keep walking it off, eat somewhere in the Marais district (near the Picasso museum), hit up another brasserie for some more wine, take a bottle to go, and end your night on the Pont Des Artistes, spanning the Seine. Tons of young people go and sit there until 2AM, eating, drinking, singing, laughing, making out. It’s romantic, fun, drunk, and beautiful as all hell, and by the time you get back to your bed you’ll both be going mad.

If You Don’t: Head over to the Bastille district, grab a beer or two with whoever you’re with on the steps of the Opera House (the new, less beautiful one), then head up the street to the wonderful concentration of bars there. Move in and out, drinking, chatting, embarassing yourself in French, and see what happens. Far better here than wandering the now-deserted streets of the very center, wondering where all the action is. Now you know.

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Stockholm

Cliches abound about Swedish women, although the fact that many of them are blonde and tall and quite beautiful seems to be relatively accurate. You’re going to spend a lot of cash here, so come prepared.

If You’ve Already Got a Girl: You need to keep just one single thing in mind. Don’t let her catch you staring at the Swedish girls walking, drinking, or dancing nearby. Seriously, this is way harder than it seems, and although the same kind of thing can happen in Spain or Italy or other countries, there’s something about Sweden (and especially Stockholm) that puts a guy into a guy of overload as soon as he arrives. If a nice vacation with your girlfriend is what you’re after, just stay alert is all I’m saying.

If You Don’t: Well, the previous portion kinda answered this question, did it not? Get your 400 euros or however much you plan on spending at the various Stockholm clubs or bars, head out to one that suits your taste (again, do your research here), and take advantage of the wonderful Swedish education system that means everyone there is already going to be speaking a ridiculously good level of English. Use their blinding attractiveness to your advantage—just pretend they’re all so beautiful and inaccessible that you might as well go for broke and just do whatever comes into your mind (within reason, of course), and it’ll work to your advantage.

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Berlin

This is a different kind of vibe. Berlin isn’t a city that automatically springs to mind when you think of some great European sexy-party destination, but I want to explain why it is.

If You’ve Already Got a Girl: Make sure she’s one who’s seen and enjoyed Cabaret a few times, and then head out on a tour of Weimar-era Berlin in all its decadent, degraded, hedonistic glory. By the time you’re done staring at transexual dancers and decadent erotic paintings by George Grosz, and have thrown back a few fine German beers, both of you are going to be running back to your hotel to get up to all kinds of strange things.

If You Don’t: Here’s where you’ve gotta get specific—Berlin has a bar or club or entire scene devoted to just about every aesthetic, sexual, or lifestyle choice you could possibly imagine for yourself, so take a look at some listings and try to envision the kind of girl you find the most irresistible. Is it an arch indie-hipster type at a dance/punk club, a sort-of-gothic girl who has about 50 unbelievably amazing tattoos, or a stay-up-all-night Berlin party girl who hasn’t stopped dancing since that giant rave in the 90s? All these types and more are out there, so treat Berlin like the ultimate chance to diversify or specify.

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Madrid

Ah, Spain. Long black hair and beautiful accents speaking a beautiful language and eyes that will destroy you as soon as you step off the plane. Don’t be afraid.

If You’ve Already Got a Girl: Like before—food, good drinks, walks around the town, followed by you-know-what back at the hotel. This site is just invaluable for this kind of thing. Sometimes the expectation of southern-European romance can work against you, and what should be a romantic and really nice time in a mediterranean city can get wrecked up by the common pitfalls of tourism (transportation headaches, confusion with the city, etc.). Keep a relaxed attitude and don’t try and pack too many common tourist-sites into one day. All the best times (day and night) on a trip come from the unexpected discoveries you make on the trip, not from gawking at the same thing 40 million other people have photographed that year. Remember it and you’ll be far better off in every sense.

If You Don’t: Generally, follow the same rules that you might in Rome—find where the students go and head there. If you find a Botellón in progress, try and join it. What’s a Botellón, you might ask? This is where tons of young Spaniards get together and drink outdoors with beer, wine, and alcohol bought at a supermarket or nearby store instead of going to a bar. It’s slowly being outlawed throughout Spain, so take advantage of a dying tradition, have a few drinks with some beautiful Spaniards, and use that liquid courage to start conversations with them. Spain is generally full of warm and friendly people (yeah, another stereotype, but if you’re out for a few drinks with students it’s generally true) and you shouldn’t have too much trouble.

That’s it, five western-european cities, five of the best places in the world to find some love, whether for a night or something much longer. Did we miss one? Of course we missed one. We missed about 100. Let us know which ones in the comments!

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It’s Still Cold Out: Put a Hat On and Look Good Doing It.

Posted on 13 February 2009 by jordan

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It’s cold outside right now. Maybe you’re lucky and you live in a place where it’s not so cold that you need something to cover your ears every single day. You, my friend, are a lucky person.

When it comes to the weather, it’s often hard to reconcile the demands of men’s fashion with the punishments of mother nature, which is where the fine men’s hat comes in. Sure, you could keep going with just a baseball cap and that hood attached to your jacket, or maybe hold your hands up against your ears while you walk, but is that really stylish?

Nah. Head out on the street, especially in any European town—ah, I’ll admit, they got it easier over here, where in many places it doesn’t get so insanely cold—and you’ll see plenty of men sporting some very fine headwear that means they look good and solid no matter where they’re going to. You can do the same. Even if it’s damn cold.

Take a look at these five different hats: three are for winter weather that isn’t bone-chilling, but still cold enough that you need something on your head, and the other two are true winter hats. You remember that Seinfeld episode where George was walking around with that giant Russian-style hat and not wearing a coat because the thing kept him so warm? While it’s not true you lose 80%, or 50%, or any specific percent of body heat through your head, it is true that wearing a hat—even one that doesn’t cover your ears—will keep you plenty warmer during the cold months. Try these ones out.

Borsalino Rex

Here, a classic from the famous Italian manufacturer, still doing much of its work by hand and still charging well over $50 for anything it sells. Still, it’s worth it, as you’ll be getting a hat of true quality from manufacturers that practically drip classic men’s style, if they weren’t so well-put-together that the idea of them dripping anything is anathema.

The manufacturing on these hats is absolutely top-notch, so even if you’re an amateur to men’s headwear and can’t tell the difference between this and a cheap fedora you might see in any old department store, after a while you’ll get it, and you’ll realize just exactly what you’ve got on your head. From Borsalino.

Borsalino Ivy Cap

Another timeless one from the Italians, this is the wool ivy cap you can’t really go wrong with.

While lacking the formal elegance of a fedora, the quality of the brand and the restrained colours and lines make this one of the best straight ivy wool caps you’re likely to ever see.

If you’re going to go with a style that’s slightly more relaxed, like this one, stick with top quality so you come out looking your best. You can pick this one up from various online shops, or head to any top-of-the-line hatwear store.

Still Life Carver

New York hatmakers Still Life are doing some fine work, and the Carver is no exception.

Its stitching, made up of tiny little squares, and topped off by the unorthodox detail of a tied string on the top, doesn’t take anything away from the hat’s confident shape. This is a hat for any day when the wind tries to get the better of you.

Again, don’t be fooled by its unconvention design. This isn’t some little bow-wrapped bonnet you pop on your head when you plan to go out skipping to Grandma-ma’s house.

It’s a serious hat for cold weather, with an unusual and kinda bold design touch. It’s made from black/grey wool with a 100% silk lining, available from Still Life.

Still Life Webber

Another one from Still Life, the Webber is one of two real winter hats we’re profiling here: a genuine leather exterior with an extremely warm rabbit fur lining.

This is one of the few hats with covers for your ears that succeeds with what is undoubtedly a difficult style choice.

Too many of these hats risk looking like little boy’s caps, or something out of the 1950s and better left behind in that decade, but not this one. This too is available from Still Life.

Navy Wool Watch Hat

Our only conventional tuque (or watch cap, or knit cap, or beanie, or however you’d like to refer to it outside of Canada), this one is a genuine US Navy Wool tuque. If you’re going to wear a tuque, make it simple, durable, and classic, three things this hat has in spades.

It’s also, by far, the least expensive choice here, literally under $10 US dollars. While it takes a little more fashion co-ordination to make a tuque work with every outfit, this (and a good grey one, too) are indispensible for those days when something that doesn’t cover the ears just isn’t do-able.

This one is available from amazon.

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Five Essential Movies for Guys, Coming This Spring

Posted on 12 February 2009 by jordan

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You’ve suffered through The Reader and slept through Doubt. You’ve been underwhelmed by Slumdog Millionaire and seen The Dark Knight so many times its greatness is starting to fade (but only from overuse). What then, men, is coming to theatres in the next few months for you to see?

Never fear, as ryoni.com has rounded up the five essential films you need to see as 2009 gets underway.

Watchmen (March 6th)

If you haven’t heard of this and aren’t already salivating/building a shrine/re-reading the comic for the 19th time, may I simply ask where the hell you’ve been? Alan Moore’s undisputed masterpiece is finally making it to the screen, with art input/direction by original artist Dave Gibbons.

Why it Will Be Good: The best graphic novel ever written gets 160 million dollars and an insanely committed team bringing it to the big screen. If the trailer is any indication, this is going to be a phenomenal film. The comic is extremely complex and layered, and if everyone stays on top of their game, this could be one of the most intelligent, creative comic-book adaptations ever filmed.

What’s in it For the Guys: Well, besides watching Dr. Manhattan blow up huge swaths of forest and create giant crystal cities on mars, you’ve also got Carla Gugino and her understated, mature sexiness playing Sally Jupiter, and the ridiculously beautiful Malin Akerman playing her daughter, who spends a good chunk of the comic (and hopefully the movie) wearing extremely short skirts designed to drive us insane.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (May 1st)

The very best parts of the previous X-Men movies—the Wolverine story—are extended into a feature film. Set in my native Canada, this is sure to feature a bevvy of fantastic set pieces and one of the better comic-origin stories out there. Plus we get to see how Sabertooth comes about, too.

Why it Will Be Good: Although Brian Singer isn’t doing this one, we’ve still got high hopes. Of course Hugh Jackman is coming back, and the studio has picked a capable-if-unproven director in Gavin Hood. Without the entire X-Men franchise to deal with, this could be a great origin story, which is always where some of the best parts of all comic-book movies come from anyway.

What’s in it For the Guys: Well, besides all the snow-covered action (you just know there are going to be 20 shots of blood landing on fresh white snow—they can’t resist, these guys), Wolverine’s girlfriend is played by Lyn Collins, who has been smoking hot in this season’s amazing new HBO series True Blood. If she’s anywhere near as good in this film as she’s been on the small screen, guys will have no trouble finding plenty of things to enjoy here.

Terminator Salvation (June 5th)

Try not to be distracted by the recent rant by Christian Bale that made the interent go a little crazy recently—this is shaping up to be a great addition to the Terminator Canon, if we can call it that. Apparently taking a much more character-oriented direction than Terminator 3, that’s what brought Christian Bale on board, standards raised after the feast of excellence that was The Dark Knight.

Why it Will Be Good: Because it’s a kind of prequel to all the previous Terminator films. You remember how John Connor kept coming back—through time travel—and talking about that big old SkyNet war in the future? And we had futile little glimpses of it, but then everything else was set in the present day? No more of that—time travel, I mean—now we get a movie set in 2018 that is specifically about those very SkyNet wars, the things that seemed so damn cool in the first place.

What’s in it For the Guys: Bryce Dallas Howard is hot, although not everyone’s cup of tea. That’s why (we think) this film also features Moon Bloodgood, who besides having the coolest and most insane name for a movie star, well, ever, is damn good looking. She’s got Korean, Irish, and Dutch heritage, which has got to explain something. Keep an eye out.

Observe and Report (April 10th)

The second mall-cop movie coming out in a six-month span, here’s betting that this one is going to be the funnier of the two, by a big margin. Seth Rogen plays the mall security guard who has to deal with a flasher on the loose, and the movie is rated R for pervasive language, graphic nudity, drug use, sexual content and violence. Excellent.

Why it Will Be Good: Seriously, anything is better than Paul Blart: Mall Cop, and this movie’s story of a security guard with aspirations to be a real police officer should give Ray Liotta, who plays an actual detective, plenty of opportunities to re-inhabit his amazing role from the underrated NARC, swearing and all.

What’s in it For the Guys: Ana Faris is always a reliable addition that ups the hotness-quotient of any film, and even though we’re pretty sure the “graphic nudity” is likely going to be almost all male-based, you never know. There are a few other hotties in the cast, so here’s to hoping.

Bruno

Sasha Baron-Cohen’s follow-up to the unbelievably hilarious Borat, Bruno is his parody of all things fashion, an unbelievably over-the-top (for the rest of the world) fashionista who specializes in putting stereotypical industry-types into embarassing, hypocritical situations.

Why it Will Be Good: If Baron-Cohen has amassed enough material in-character that still seems realistic, there’s no way this won’t be hilarious. Although things certainly got more difficult for him after the worldwide success of Borat, word is that he started filming Bruno very soon after, so hopefully a whole bunch of otherwise in-the-known industry types had the wool pulled over their eyes.

What’s in it For the Guys: Admit it, there’s nothing like seeing a bunch of macho dudes put into hilariously embarassing situations by a flamboyantly gay Austrian who is faster and quicker with his jokes than practically anyone else in the world. Bruno was already legendary on the Ali G Show, and you just know he’s saving up some dynamite stuff for the film.

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Here’s How You Don’t Lose Your Job.

Posted on 11 February 2009 by jordan

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Times are tough all over, we know. So what the hell is a young man to do? Spend the day checking out photos on the site here, or maybe perusing some fine videos? By all means, but hey—what about your day job? Are you relaxed, calm, and secure in the fact that you aren’t at risk of a layoff? Hey, America just lost over half a million jobs in one month.

You’re good? Alright, then, lucky you can move on to ogling the rest of all this site has to offer. But if you’re still here, still hanging around, feeling a slight twinge as you wonder just how close you could get touched by this economic mess, we’ve got something for you.

See, there are a few things you can do, on your own, to increase that elusive thing known as job security. They aren’t even that difficult, so read on and see how to make this possible.

Pre-Emptively Make Your Case

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Without being too obvious about this one, try and get some face time with anyone who might be in control of whether or not you stay in your job. Figure out a way to highlight exactly why you’re doing good work for the company without looking like you’re begging. Ask for a job review.

You can acknowledge that you’re doing this because of the atmosphere of uncertainty—any smart manager will have figured that out already, anyway—but don’t be nervous about it. Act as though circumstances have just obliged you and your bosses to take a look at everything you contribute, slightly earlier than usual. And, of course, be ready for this. Don’t blindly exaggerate what you do and what you’re worth, but make your case better than you ever have in the past.

Prepare Yourself Financially

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You never know exactly what’s going to happen, and despite your best efforts you could still find yourself on the wrong side of a pink slip. So take the time to figure out a few scenarios that account for different types of situations you might be in if you’re laid off. Ranging from great, so/so, to really bad severance packages.

And, of course, don’t go insane with your spending if job cuts are in the air. If there was ever a time to be smart with your money, this is it. Don’t stuff everything under a mattress, but make sure you won’t be running up your VISA card the moment you’re out on the street, if it does happen. Plan.

Keep a Mini Job Search Going on the Side

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While this is something a lot of people suggest all the time, it’s especially useful now. Don’t get discouraged by the amount of people out there looking for jobs too—it’s always tough, and no matter how good the market is, people are still going to tell you it’s hard to find a job.

There are always going to be people who put the work into their CV and keep up with their professional networking, and there are always going to be people who don’t. It doesn’t matter what the financial climate is. Right now, it just means that the normally-lazy are panicking and trying everything. They’re also the kind of types who will take the first offer to come along out of a fear that nothing else will.

If you’re smart, you won’t even have to compete against these people, whatever the market is like. Make sure you’ve always got a fresh CV at the ready and don’t pass on any opportunities.

Move Up

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If you were ever unsure about trying to get a promotion, applying for an internal position above your capabilities, or just generally showing some ambition and seeing where it takes you, now is not the time for indecision. Apply for the promotion. Do in the in-house training. Take on more responsibilities. Companies don’t stop growing and promoting their people just because there’s a crisis going on around them, so you shouldn’t stop trying.

Play it Cool

Whatever you do, don’t panic. Sometimes things truly are out of your control, and the only thing you can do is make sure you don’t fall apart as a result. Don’t get paranoid, and if you do start getting nervous about your finances and your life, don’t bring it into work with you.

The people who ask the most paranoid, nervous, and incessant questions about their job security are doing two things wrong: first, they probably aren’t working, or at least not very well, because they’re spending most of their workdays sweating over whether the future will see them in a job. This is a self-fufilling prophecy: the future probably won’t find them in that job, because they aren’t doing it very well in the first place.

Don’t be one of those people. Sure, push for your review, highlight every one of your strengths, strive for that promotion, and keep up your profile on the outside, just in case. But don’t do it with any profound sense of panic or impending doom, or whatever you predict is just going to come and swallow you whole. You’ve got a job, a salary, and a brain in your head—don’t give them up to the winds of speculation.

That’s it—our five pieces of advice we hope keep you in a job, and in the black, for a long time to come. Got any other useful tips about how you can stay relevant and keep your job? Comment!

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Wikipedia Madness: You Will Not Believe How Much There is to Know About Toilets.

Posted on 05 February 2009 by jordan

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Wikipedia is both a wonderful social experiment and a great resource for humanity, or so the PR copy goes. It’s also a repository of weird, insane, and often stunningly absurd pieces of information that you only stumble upon once in a while, suddenly glancing at a stray link in an otherwise standard article and realizing “what the hell, this is on wikipedia?” before eagerly devouring the whole thing.

I had about 15 of these revelations just the other day, all centered around the subject of toilets and what we do in them.

What in God’s name, you rightfully ask, was I doing researching toilets? I don’t know. I don’t remember, I don’t know how I got over to toilets. It was one of those Wikipedia binges where a harmless article on Drug Laws led me into areas I simply wasn’t prepared for. Let me show you.

The Whizzinator

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Ok, before we get into the toilets, here’s this. I got into the whole toilet mess through this link. God knows what my brain was doing. But anyway: this genius piece of manufacturing is a fake penis kit. It features the following fantastic items:

  • dried urine (coincidentally, the first time I’d ever heard of this product’s existence)
  • a syringe (it’s harmless, but anything involving a penis and a syringe automatically makes me cringe like hell)
  • heater packs (these keep the urine at body temperature. Obviously.)
  • an instruction manual (thank the lord)

Most famously used by Tom Sizemore in his failed attempt to cheat on a drug test, the Whizzinator is really only worth of our attention thanks to the following line in the Wikipedia entry: “The United States Congress held hearings on the Whizzinator on May 17, 2005.” The idea of a bunch of congressmen trying to come to grips with a product called the Whizzinator is funny enough, and the debate (couched in the failed terms of the ‘War on Drugs’) was surely the stuff of legend.

Toilets in Japan

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We all know about these. The Simpsons even made fun of these things a decade ago. And yet… I still never understood just how fully weird toilets in Japan were until checking out this article. Here, for you, the choicest facts:

The TOTO product Washlet Zoe is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s most sophisticated toilet with seven functions. Why in God’s name there are any world records for Toilet Sophistication is beyond the scope of my comprehension.

While the toilet looks like a Western-style toilet at first glance, there are a number of additional features, such as blow dryer, seat heating, massage options, water jet adjustments, automatic lid opening, flushing after use, wireless control panels, heating and air conditioning for the room, et cetera, included either as part of the toilet or in the seat. I thought that list would never end. You know, I’m actually kinda starting to want one of these…

A second commonly found feature is a blow drier, often adjustable between 40°C and 60°C to dry the private regions after cleaning with the integrated bidet. Why the hell don’t I have a toilet like this? I’m actually getting envious of a toilet that will dry my ass for me. Envious.

The latest models store the times when the toilet is used and have a power saving mode that warms the toilet seat only during times when the toilet is likely to be used based on historic usage patterns. Screw the envy, this is reaching absurd levels of technological implementation. I’m full of mixed emotions now. Could these toilets be any more helpful/absurd?

Some even play music to relax the user’s sphincter. Don’t… just… don’t. I didn’t… god… it was a rhetorical question. God.

Passenger Train Toilets

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What in god’s name could be strange about these, you ask? No, you’re right, I’m sure there’s nothing strange to be found here! Move along, next article! But wait…

The ‘hole in the floor’ (also known as a Drop Chute Toilet) system where waste is deposited on the track is still in use in many parts of the world. Wait a minute.. that’s why the conductor was so pissed off at me when he found me in the bathroom, flushing away while the train was stopped. Here in Italy the trains definitely fall under the “many parts of the world” banner, and the tracks are plenty dirty as a result. Lovely.

Bristol Stool Scale

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The city of Bristol isn’t known for much, but thankfully that’s all about to change once this Wikipedia article gets wider recognition. What is it? Oh, just a casual, fun way to classify the various forms of human feces. Go Bristol!

This is humourous on many levels, both for the comedic value of seeing a series of illustrated craps, but also for the text that goes along with it, which is uniformly great. Craps are described as “like nuts“, “like a sausage“, somewhat “fluffy“, like “a snake“, or “ENTIRELY LIQUID” [emphasis theirs]. Watch out for that last one. Putting them all together like this makes our digestive system sound like a bunch of Metal Gear Solid characters.

Islamic Toilet Etiquette

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More cultural differences to enjoy! According to the article, many of these rules are out of date and largely geared towards bathroom habits going back hundreds of years, when many toilets were “confined areas in the desert,” as opposed to today’s modern toilets.

However I’m more interested in the level of detail, which far outdoes any other toilet-related advice I’ve ever seen. Seriously, where else are you going to find passages like this: “After wiping, he should wash his hand first and then he should cleanse himself with two fingers and three fingers if necessary together with ‘pouring’ water. When using the two fingers, one should keep the middle finger in front and the ring and index finger behind it. After beginning with the fingers in this position, he should bring the ring finger forward and rub with the middle finger and ring finger. Thereafter, he will wipe with the index finger, if necessary.”

Religious custom be damned: I’ve never once thought about what the hell my hand and fingers are doing back there, but now, thanks to the information that Wikipedia insists I read, I’m no longer going to be able to avoid it. Damn you, greatest encyclopedia the world has ever known. Damn you.

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Why 2008 Was the Year the Pirates Won Big (no, not Pittsburgh).

Posted on 05 February 2009 by jordan

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Last year, the pirates won.

Forget the Super Bowl, which anyway happened in 2009, I’m talking about something else: movies. For years, an endless stream of online pirates have been engaged in a fierce battle with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), fighting over the right to control movie distribution.

But it looks like 2008 was the year the MPAA, at least by a certain measurement, finally lost. According to Waxy.org, who did a study of how many Oscar-nominated films were available online on the day the nominations were announced, 2008 is absolutely off the hook:

Out of 26 nominated films, an incredible 23 films are already available in DVD quality on nomination day, ripped either from the screeners or the retail DVDs. This is the highest percentage since I started tracking.

Twenty-three! I’d call that a serious problem. So would the New York Times, who just did an article on precisely this subject, along with the explosion of streaming piracy.

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On one side, the pirates: anonymous, resourceful, and entirely illegal. This group of content-stealers have absolutely no legal jurisdiction or right over even a second of the films they distribute, but that’s the point. Piracy is, by nature, designed to subvert and circumvent every distribution method that might bring legitimate profits to anyone who’s had a hand in producing a film.

On the other side: Hollywood. Although their marketers are evil, evil geniuses who can read the whims of a mass audience like the rest of us read a children’s book, they’ve proved surprisingly slow at adapting to any sort of digital-distribution model, and have let internet pirates and all who benefit from them step into the void, downloading and viewing a ton of content for free.

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Why has Hollywood been unable to figure out how to monetize their content, especially now, with years of heavy broadband penetration already behind us? The answer isn’t so difficult: profit margins and budgets are set-up with specific channels in mind: we sell this many DVDs, we make this much money.

When a whole bevy of new techologies comes cascading into a pre-existing industry, every start-up video site and online movie channel looking for percentages, it’s hard for a set of big, slow-moving studios to adapt. These are conglomerate-owned business, after all, and it’s not easy to hitch an entire division to an unproven new concept.

None of this changes the fact that the studios still haven’t figured out what to do about their piracy problem, which leads many to believe there might never be a solution, at least not one that ensures the kind of profits once experienced.

Now that so many people have had a chance to download movies and watch television shows without commercials online, entirely for free, there might be no going back to paying $20 for a brand new DVD or a high-quality stream online. Piracy is going to change the entire industry.

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One of the key things about piracy is the metaphor: every time studio heads talk about how much cash they’ve lost due to piracy (ie how much cash they didn’t make), they frame it in terms of, well, piracy: guys in big boats with weapons coming and stealing gold. They talk about money lost, and compare anyone who downloads a movie without paying for it to someone who walks into a store and steals a shirt.

Not exactly.

There are two problems here, and until Hollywood figures out the mental gap between their metaphors and the average American downloader, they’re screwed. One is that piracy is the illegal viewing of a copy of something, not stealing the direct material itself. If I went into a store, copied the exact design for a shirt, and then went home and made it myself and wore it to my heart’s content, we might be getting somewhere closer to a workable metaphor for movie piracy.

There aren’t millions of people going into stores and stealing DVDs with packaging and booklets and all the rest, avoiding the eyes of store clerks and alarm systems as they run desperately through parking lots, so to act like everyone downloading from the Pirate Bay is doing exactly that is counter-productive.

If it were really the case that every pirate were stealing a produced, commercial object, would piracy be so rampant? There’s a great amount of mental distance between direct shoplifting and downloading an XVID.

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Secondly, piracy doesn’t cause the studios to lose money they previously had, it simply cuts into predicted profits on their content. In other words, it leaves them unable to monetize their product as much as they’d like, which they equate to massive loss through stealing. Again, a new set of metaphors is needed.

Some kind of solution is surely on the horizon: Netflix is now streaming some titles directly, and Apple’s iTunes sells a ton of content, too. So there’s not much to worry about there. What is crazy, however, is the saturation point that piracy finally reached this year, and the desperation it’s surely inspiring in the hearts of movie executives already panicking about the recession. Will they stave off piracy and figure out a way to claim huge swaths of the internet as their own, ready to be profitable? We’ll find out in 2009!

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The 5 Worst Things You Could Possibly Do For Valentine’s Day.

Posted on 05 February 2009 by jordan

flickr-user-sis

The endless media coverage surrounding the otherwise useless day of February the 14th is designed solely for news shows to fill air-time with pointless questionnaires, asking every passing dope what romantic piece of crap he’s planning on getting his sadly undeserving girlfriend. Cue the anchor making a few jokes about chocolates and candle-lit dinners and bewildered, bumbling guys screwing up, and there you have it: Valentine’s Day.

Nah, it’s not just an invented holiday designed to sell greeting cards or fill restaurants, although it is all of those things and more; no, Valentine’s Day is something ubiquitous, annoying, and unavoidable—a kick in the ass if you’ve been slacking off in the romance department, a reminder to every sadly-single person that other people sleep in beds, together, day in and day out, and so on. But it doesn’t have to be any of these things if you’re careful, which is where we come in.

Just in case you find yourself falling into those familiar Valentine’s Day traps—feeling guilty and obligated to do things, or acting fake-romantic and confused as you over-do it—we’re here with a guide of the Top Five Worst Things you Could Possibly Do for Valentine’s Day. Some are silly, some are depressingly familiar, but all are important and avoidable, unless you want to screw stuff up. Read on, fellow men, and go towards the 14th of this month with confidence. Or wanton disregard for your own well-being. Either way.

#5:Get Blind While She Doesn’t

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What This Involves: Heading out for a romantic evening with a secret plan to get wasted hidden in your back pocket. Working on a light buzz during appetizers but trying to keep things level, steady, smooth. It’s hard when the wine goes down so good with the food. When your second course comes around, you’ve failed any known sobriety test, and the waiter’s question about dessert sharing is met with a slurred “I ain’t splittin’ shit” from you.

Once you and your lovely girlfriend hit a bar “for drinks” after dinner (a course of action that took 20 minutes—and you walking off in the direction of the nearest bar—to enact) you’re having mild vision problems and big couple problems. The night ends (for you) when you spend 15 minutes sleeping in a public bathroom and your girlfriend, after much struggling, puts you in a cab alone. Bravo!

Why This is Worth Avoiding: They just don’t fit together, Valentine’s Day and drunkenness. Rather than saving this kind of behaviour for an obvious choice like St. Patrick’s Day, why not bust it out when it’s both unique and strangely fitting—the Summer Solstice, for example. That way, when someone asks you why the hell you’re celebrating so hard, you can drool out a sentence like “the pagans took my god damn sun” and everyone’ll be happier.

#4: Celebrate the ‘Holiday’ Only out of a Sense of Romantic Obligation

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What This Involves: You ironically mentioning that it’s close to Valentine’s Day, an ambiguous response from your girlfriend, followed by a half-panicked attempt to do something, anything to cover your ass. You buy some chocolates at a drug store and some flowers at a cheap supermarket, two actions driven entirely by resentment and barely concealed contempt. Confused about how to present these sub-par gifts, you strive for a sense of uncaring lightness combined with an undercurrent of legitimate romance nestled somewhere in there, if you could only find it. Despite your best (worst) efforts, you come off looking insecure and insincere. Congratulations! What is left of your relationship ends days later.

Why This is Worth Avoiding: Although the embarassing inadequacy of being romantic only when called upon by greeting-card makers and cheap chocolate factories should be obvious to everyone, it’s always helpful to re-state it. If this is the only time you can be a man, well, it’s been nice knowing you, friend. Your report card on those 364 other days of the year in which you did nothing will be arriving shortly, in the form of an SMS from your girlfriend saying, simply, “f**k this i’m out“.

#3: Eat at a Hellishly-Decorated Restaurant and Will Yourself into Feeling Sexy

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What This Involves: There’s a scene in the Sex and the City Movie (yeah.) where two of the characters have a Valentine’s Day dinner in what has to be the worst-decorated, most oppressive restaurant environment of all time. If we could find a picture, it’d be here, but a description will suffice: picture sickening streamers of every colour suspended from the ceiling and an already-cold interior made even worse by the ugly shininess of everything. What does this have to do with you? Well, that’s easy: you got lazy, and through your last-minute reservations ended up at a restaurant that is willing to decorate itself like the aforementioned monstrosity.

Why This is Worth Avoiding: There are plenty of good restaurants that are already romantic, and if you’ve taken the leap and decided that yes, indeed, a romantic dinner for two is going to be your Valentine’s Day celebration, the least you can do is seek out one of these places and take advantage of its natural charm. Any restaurant that puts up a bunch of red stuff all over the walls and hangs silver things from the ceiling in a vain attempt to convey sexiness is going to leave you—and more importantly, your girlfriend—feeling anything but.

#2: Acknowledge the Holiday in Any Way, Shape, or Form if You Are Single

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What This Involves: Three basic activities here. If you find yourself doing any of these, please stop, take a deep breath, and move on. It’s not worth it. In order of depressing obnoxiousness:

  1. Using the holiday to embark on a long meditation about your own singlehood, observing every other couple around you and immediately inscribing romantic bliss onto their relationships, and barren, desolate loneliness onto your future.
  2. Taking way too much time to explain to others—especially those in relationships—why Valentine’s Day is overly commercial and a waste of time (hmmm, kinda like this article).
  3. Perversely celebrating Valentine’s Day on your own by regaling yourself with chocolates or other indulgences you’d otherwise avoid.

Why These are Worth Avoiding: Because there are 400 other, better things you could be out doing as a single guy (or girl) on Valentine’s Day. Wait until you’re actually down or depressed to agonize over your relationship or lack thereof; don’t do it just because society is apparently ‘shoving it in your face’ for one day a year. It’s not society’s fault. Watch an enticing video and feel better.

#1: Over-Celebrate the Damn Thing.

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What This Involves: Full-on immersion in every bad cliche this propped-up ‘holiday’ has to offer. Chocolates, roses, chocolates made out of old roses, puppies, overly expensive dinners no one really enjoys, vomit-inducing greeting cards: it’s all out there, if you’re willing to embrace it.

Why This is Worth Avoiding: Have you seen some of the stuff young, creative people do these days, just for fun? It blows any tired old red-coloured, love-themed holiday celebration out of the water. So here’s what you do instead: choose 5 random days of the year. Mark them on your calendar with some sort of symbol known only to you, and setup a little reminder system so you know when they’re coming (Google Calendar is great for this). On each of those days, do something romantic yet creative (the two are the exact opposite of mutually exclusive), get your girlfriend something sexy, take her out for an amazing dinner, whatever. Any or all of these are equivalent to a large missile being launched at the empty spectacle that is Valentine’s Day, and any or all of these will make you a better man.

So: this February 14th, re-read this article and choose wisely. We’re behind you all the way.

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Top 5 Coolest Watches Your Money Can Buy

Posted on 04 February 2009 by jordan

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Although a post is forthcoming about all those wacky, insane Japanese watches which force you to tell time by making a series of complicated calculations every time you look down at your wrist, our first feature on the most insane watches your money can buy is going straight for luxury.

That’s right, these here are the top selections, the limited editions, the watches made by the finest European watchmakers (with one exception). They cost more than most cars, which is why we’re profiling them today. If you win the lottery or make good on a big investment (well.. it could still happen, right?), you know where to put your money. That’s right, forget your wallet or that stuffy old bank account. You want to wear your newfound riches right on your damn wrist, and here’s how.

The JeanRichard Bressel 1665

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The Details: This comes in two different editions: silver/platinum and black/gold. Both are gorgeous and feature that ever-so-coveted 45 hour power reserve found in today’s top timepieces. It’s also water-resistant to 30m, and the time mechanism is manufactured in-house in France.

The Price: This edition is new enough that a price doesn’t seem to be floating around, but you can expect nothing under 10,000 euro for this, your newly adopted child. More information at JeanRichard.com.

The Cartier Skeleton Santos

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The Details: Just introduced at SIHH 2009, the annual Swiss exhibition of the world’s most elite watches, this is part of Cartier’s entry into making its own watch movements. Featuring the popular ‘skeleton’ style, it’s one of the best examples of the trend, and the gorgeous metallic face and integrated roman numerals look beyond incredible.

The Price: Once again, unknown, but it won’t be cheap. Try somewhere above 15,000 euro, and keep watching Cartier’s website.

The Baume & Mercier William Baume 8796 Limited

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The Details: Limited to ten (10!) pieces for the visible-workings model (others are limited to the very specific number of 178) and featuring a hell of a lot of 18k gold, this ridiculously exclusive watch with its hand-sewn alligator strap and sapphire crystal case is stricly for masters-of-the-universe only.

The Price: Around $10,000 US dollars for the non-ultra limited. You’ll need to arrange a formal dinner with the ghost of William Baume himself to find out the price of the we-only-made-ten model. Check their website for more.

The A. Lange & Sohne Richard Lange Pour le Mérite

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The Details: Beautiful enamel dial, and check out those hands—blued steel. There are 50 of these in platinum and 200 in pink-gold cases. Painted by hand and extremely legible, this has to be one of the most beautiful watches we’ve ever seen. There are 915 individual parts in this watch, but the front is the model of refined European elegance.

The Price: Again, not made very public, and therefore not so cheap. But hey, if it were cheap, it wouldn’t be “Pour le Mérite”, now would it? Check out the stunning internals here.

The Void V01

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The Details: We had to put something that fell outside the parameters of classic Euro-watches while still retaining some kind of cool European tradition, and here it is. The Void V01 is the only ‘middle class’ watch you’re going to find on this list, but it’s a fine example. Fashioned after the traditions of Scandinavian design, this Swedish watch—introduced only last year—is one of the top examples of a minimalist digital watch you’re ever going to see. With its stainless-steel frame and reversed LCD (ie, the display is at the bottom), it defies traditional design while hewing to some vestige of tradition, albeit obscured.

The Price: Ah, here’s the sweet spot: 129 euro. Yep. Get it today at their website.

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The Ten Rules All Men Should Be Following.

Posted on 04 February 2009 by jordan

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The brazen thrills found in wonderful videos and photos of luscious women are just fine, but they aren’t everything. There are—unfortunately—times when we have to head out into that broader world out there, and with such an obligation comes that eternal question: must a man have his own code?

The long answer is that every man is unique, that one person’s moral code is never instantly, immediately, or easily applicable to another person, and that each sees and experiences the world through his own lens, and thus must find his own path, his own way of being in the realm of experience.

The short answer is hell yes. Every man needs a code.

Here are ten rules you should be following in your quest to be the best man you can be. When you’re done checking out everything else this site has to offer, brush up on these admonitions—some universal and timeless, some contemporary and strangely specific—and go out into the larger world with verve, my son.

#10: Be Chivalrous.

Don’t worry about defending, explaining, or justifying yourself here. Just remember these two things: do not condescend (chivalry to the point of ridiculousness) and do not over-think (don’t worry if you forgot to walk closest to the curb last time you were on a date. It’s ok).

#9: Pay Attention to Your Shoes.

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Yep. Unless you’re doing something really specific style-wise with those skate shoes, it’s time to move on up. Take the three-pair route: street, casual, dress. If you’re good, your street shoes can be something like Converse All-Stars, which you can use in various outfits without looking like a kid. So get good.

#8: Know What Music to Play During Dinner. And After.

If you’re lost in this area, go find your local independent music shop before it shuts down forever, and ask for “dinner music that won’t make anyone sick.” Don’t go with too much lounge or 4 hours of Thievery Corporation. Jazz, especially anything pre-1965, works wonders here. Take advantage of that crazy jazz guy’s knowledge before he gets fired.

After dinner, in more intimate situations, know this: albums by Marvin Gaye and Al Green are cliched and overdone and silly and obvious for about four seconds, whereupon they suddenly become perfect.

#7: Know How to Cook Dinner.

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If you’ve announced that you don’t like the act of cooking or live in a wonderful city full of incredible take-out, fine. You’ve made your decision and you’re gonna live with it. But if you’re just coasting along on 2 or 3 plates and a dessert you make “better than anyone else!”, get moving. Before you master carpentry, fishing, hunting, or any kind of expensive off-road habit, you should hear other people refer to you as “a good cook.”

#6: Know What to Bring to a Party.

A few factors come into play here: you need to predict what the party is going to be like, using your knowledge of the host and some plain old intuition. Or just ask, straight-up: “Messy blowout, casual get-together, or nice dinner party?” Bring a bottle of wine to all of these. Ascending price based on classiness of party.

#5: Understand How to Drink.

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After a certain point it becomes slightly ridiculous when you’re getting equally drunk at every event featuring copious amounts of alcohol. Pay a little attention. And hey—this is harder than you probably think. It’ll take a while. Don’t worry, we’ll be there for you.

#4: Comprehend the Difference Between a Text and a Phonecall.

Today’s wonderful technology means we’re texting each other at an ever-increasing rate. So—the medium has changed, but that doesn’t mean you get a free pass. Texts are for confirmation, little appointments, lots of other things; they aren’t for following up with a woman after a date, telling your significant other something really important, or anything that should still (for the foreseeable future) be done with your voice.

#3: Change a Flat Tire.

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Even if you never have to do it, know how it’s done. This is a symbolic piece of knowledge for you and you alone. If you have to change a tire, careful: once you’re finished, act just like you would when you offer your seat to an elderly or pregnant person on the bus. Don’t make excessive eye contact with the other riders and don’t bask in your own goodness. Just get back in the car and get back to being yourself.

#2: Know How to Transcend.

Make sure you go beyond these arbitrary lists of rules for men, occasionally. Sometimes it’s deadly important to think about what it means to be a man, what “manliness” means to you or any number of people in your life, and you’re probably not gonna find all those answers online. When you do something transcendent, or something big happens to you, embrace it—don’t fall back on ceremony when you don’t have to.

#1: Be Your Own Man.

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Most of these lists feature something about facial hair, grooming, or some other trend-dependent thing that changes every year. So here: let’s say this rule told you to “cut that facial hair.” Then pretend you’re going to ignore that suggestion, because it’s not set in stone, hardly necessary, and the world is boring when everyone’s got a clean shave. Take this philosophy and expand outwards.

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The All-Time Top 10 Scams, Cons, and Tricks: Part Two.

Posted on 31 January 2009 by jordan

Yesterday we hit you up with Part 1 of the finest scams in the world, and now, here, for your enjoyment and future benefit (should you wish to be incarcerated for some time) are the top five greatest scams in the world. Enjoy!

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#5: Don Lapre’s Scam

How it works: This scam falls under the get-rich-quick variety, and means any kind of scam in which a product that essentially does nothing is sold to you with the promise of making you insane amounts of cash. The closest analogy would be those e-books that collect a bunch of easy-to-find, near-useless information online and foist themselves onto suckers as wonderful, amazing opportunities online. You just gotta pony up a bit of cash first.

Why it’s cool: This scam is cool only because Don Lapre is the king of god-I-hate-this-asshole-but-I-can’t-stop-watching-him infomercials. His voice, face, and hair, combined with the insidious ways he tries to convince you that his remarkable plans are full of ways to make money make him an entirely fascinating figure. Kevin Trudeau has got nothing on this asshole. The only dude who comes even close is Billy Mays, except that he’s not really a scam artist as much as an insane salesman, and it’s not Billy Mays as much as his unbelievable beard that make him a king among men. No, Don Lapre is a master with few contemporaries.

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#4: False Good Samaritan Scam

How it works: You need two guys for this one. One guy finds a mark with a stealable purse or wallet. He grabs it, and takes off. The second, playing the good samaritan, gives chase, and gets the “mugger” to drop the wallet or purse. The mugger gets away, of course, and the good samaritan returns the purse to the mark. He hopes for a reward.

Why it’s cool: Strictly for the risk involved. This scam plays on two big ifs: first, that no one else will give chase, in which case the “mugger” is liable to be in a whole load of pain and trouble, and second, that the mark will be generous enough to hand over some cash. It’s a remarkable amount of risk for what would probably be a pretty cursory reward. There’s a better version of this scam in The Wire, when Bubbles finds a guy painting a house, up high on a ladder. He starts shaking the ladder, pretending he’s crazy, and his partner runs up and “scares” him off. For his valiance, he gets a $10 reward from the shaken dude up the ladder.

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#3: Snake Oil Scam

How it works: Claim a product has special powers that are, unfortunately, not provable through empirical methods. Sell product. Take money and flee.

Why it’s cool: This scam is old as anything and has been run countless times, but every time I go into a bookstore I’m still stunned to see Kevin Trudeau’s books on the shelf. The Weight Loss Cure “They” Don’t Want You to Know About is a mix of the Snake Oil and the Don Lapre scam, in that the book is absolutely jam-packed with bullshit claims, many of which require a useless product to be purchased through a false front company run by Trudeau himself. He is selling about 500 varieties of snake oil, and from the looks of it, largely getting away with it.

Not only does he make false claims about food and nutrition in general, which increase his book sales (that’s the Snake Oil part), but if you were to follow every piece of advice in the book, and purchase every suggested product through the channels he recommends, he would personally stand to gain something like 16 million dollars from just you, alone. This man is a god damn genius, and evil.

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#2: The Spanish Prisoner

How it works: This one plays on greed. The original verison is the best: a guy approaches you and claims he knows of a wealthy man imprisoned in Spain. The man can’t reveal his identity, but he has entrusted the con man to go out and raise enough money to try and get him out of prison. The prisoner is exceedingly wealthy, but can’t access any of his own money because he’s currently in prison. If you can just front a bit of cash, you’ll be handsomely rewarded when he finally gets out.

Of course, he never does get out, and an endless number of further complications continue to deprive you of your precious money. Strangely, the complications disappear once all your money has, too. So does the con man, and the prisoner, who never actually existed.

Why it’s cool: The fun part about this scam is the illegitimate money. Since the dude is in a Spanish prison, it already adds an element of foreign intrigue (or once did–now it’s usually set in Nigeria, presumably since we know too much about friendly Spain), and also conveniently ensures that you can never go complaining to the police, since the money you were hoping to get as a reward would have been illegal anyway, sucker.

The modern version of this scam is known as the 419 Scam, named after the area code in Nigeria where most of the scammers, claiming they could get access to the cash of a deposed African King if only you’d wire them a bit of money, originated from. This is a brilliant article on those very scams, probably the finest thing you’ll read on cons ever. You can also check out David Mamet’s The Spanish Prisoner for a film (with Steve Martin, no less) that features this scam.

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#1: Fiddle Game

How it works: This one is complicated, but kind of amazing. Two con men go into a restaurant, separately. One looks crappy, one looks rich. The crappy one eats his meal, then claims to have left his wallet (all he has, the poor guy) at home. He begs to go home and get it, and he leaves his precious little violin as collateral with the restaurant owner or a sympathetic waiter.

The second con man, feigning great wealth, watches the whole thing go down. He asks to see the violin and claims it’s a Stradivarius, worth thousands. The crappy dude just doesn’t know what he’s got, see? He offers thousands upon thousands of dollars for it, but then realizes he’s got an appointment (see, he’s rich!) and runs off, but not before leaving a business card with the waiter, begging him to call when the crappy dude returns.

The crappy dude comes back, and the waiter or restaurant owner decides to buy the violin for, say, five grand, thinking he’s going to make a killing off that rich dude who left his card. The poor, crappy dude sells the violin, albeit with some trepidation, and then leaves. Of course, the business card is fake. The two con men split the five grand.

Why it’s cool: Again, this is more of a moral lesson than an actual con, but if were ever pulled on someone, damn. What a lesson. Don’t be greedy, see? It’ll only make you lose five thousand dollars.

Missed anything? Check out Part 1 for the top scams #10 through #6.

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The All-Time Top 10 Scams, Cons, and Tricks: Part One.

Posted on 31 January 2009 by jordan

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Wikipedia is full of wonders. There are pages on there that will give you more information than is ever humanly necessary on the most useless tripe in the world, and then there are pages like this one. It’s called a “List of Confidence Tricks“. Confidence, of course, being the source of the short-form con, as in con man or you are getting conned as I speak.

Turns out history is just full of great cons, and as we all know, they continue right up to this very day. There’s a sucker born every minute, they say. Or someone once said, somewhere. Chances are a loved one or friend is getting conned right now, on the street in front of your building. Seriously, check it out, I don’t think that guy actually works for UNICEF, man.

Why scams? Well, the best cons are brilliant. They bring us back into touch with the seedier side of the world, with the villainy that exists out there and wants our cash. But there’s more than that: the con artist is part of a long tradition of hucksters and tricksters, going right back to the devil himself. See, the best cons do the following things:

  1. Teach us a moral lesson.
  2. Show their genius only in retrospect.
  3. Represent significant risk for the con artist.
  4. Take all your god damn money.

So: What are the best cons in the world, in any context? We took a look at some of the top selections, and here, we give you our thoughts. Remember, the con man is often referred to as an artist, and the intended victim is the mark. That’s it–you’ve now mastered the con-man’s lexicon; let’s go.

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#10: Salting the Mine

How it works: Putting gold or other precious minerals around the superficial part of a dig site in order to convince prospectors that a mine contains a ton of gold, see? You just gotta dig it out!

Why it’s cool: This has become a kind of metaphorical scam, since no one is really wandering around the west, looking for gold to pan anymore. But what a metaphor it is, especially when you read that scammers used to load shotguns with gold dust and fire them into the sides of mines. Just think about any false investment, anything that appears too good to be true from the outside, like an amazing investment account. Just think of Bernard Madoff loading up a shotgun with shells full of consistent 10% returns and firing it at his balance sheets, hoping no one would notice the suspicious pockmarks next to all the precious gold. What a metaphor, right? No, really, it’s genius, I tell you. Plus, Deadwood used this one, so, suck on that.

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#9: The Ponzi Scheme

How it works: This one is simple, and if you’ve read anything about the aforementioned Bernard Madoff you probably already know how this works. At its simplest: take money from people, promise amazing rates of return, keep finding new investors while you blow through the cash. If anyone asks for their money back, give it to them. The whole scam relies on few enough people wanting their cash, and many people wanting to invest. Once that situation changes, you’re completely screwed.

Why it’s cool: Only because a 50-billion-dollar fraud seems to be an unbelievably high amount for what is essentially a scheme that nearly all of us have heard about. This guy was printing out his account statements using dot-matrix printers and an accounting firm with about 3 employees that no one else used. And no one (!) caught on, except for the few that did and couldn’t prove anything. For anyone who ever said big, long-running, but ultimately simplistic-as-hell scams are impossible in today’s complicated world of finance, meet Mr. Madoff.

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#8: The Gold Brick Scam

How it works: Paint a brick gold. Find idiot. Sell brick to idiot. Run.

Why it’s cool: Because you can do this with broken TVs, too, and in a wonderful bit of poetic justice, pay tribute to the original scam by loading the TV down with bricks. Hell, paint them gold just to drive the point home a bit further, like you’re some kind of comic-book villain. So: if you ever find some dudes selling you a TV in a parking lot, don’t buy it. You can’t report it to the police because they’ll scold you for trying to buy stolen goods, and you can’t get your revenge on the guys that sold it to you because they will probably beat you up real good. Even if the TV turns on, or the speakers seem to work, you probably shouldn’t bother. There’s always a catch somewhere.

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#7: Melon Drop

How it works: Find a Japanese tourist who is used to paying exorbitant amounts for watermelon, if such a tourist exists. Bump into him or her with a cheap watermelon in hand. Drop watermelon, begin screaming, and demand money from tourist. Rely on her bad english and cultural sense of propriety in order to extract the most amount of money possible, you asshole, you.

Why it’s cool: This scam is still being done today, only with a different variety: a couple with a baby walks by a gullible university student in New York. They drop a knapsack. Something breaks inside, and the husband will claim that it’s medicine for the baby. Angrily. The student is so mortified that he instantly agrees to be accompanied to the nearest ATM, where he gets out the appropriate amount of cash and pays the (distraught) parents. Repeat 10x. Check out this New Yorker piece for proof.

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#6: Barred Winner Scam

How it works: Show up at a Las Vegas casino, find a man outside with a big handful of chips. “See, I won big, but they ejected me from the casino cause I offended a waitress. Now I can’t cash my chips!” You, fine upstanding person you are, offer to cash the chips for this poor soul, who promises you $100 as a reward. But wait–he demands a little collateral. What if you’re gonna scam him, see? He’s gotta be careful! Ah, OK, no problem, here’s your credit card, watch, whatever. He’ll hold on to that, you’ll cash the chips, and you’ll both meet back here in 10 minutes.

The chips, of course, are completely fake, and your watch, of course, is completely gone.

Why it’s cool: This one relies on you not asking too many questions–a hallmark of most quick scams. The more questions you ask and insurance you seek, the more the scam will fall apart. Why can’t he cash the chips tomorrow? Why can’t he file a complaint with the casino? Why can’t he call a lawyer, if he’s got so much cash coming to him? All these inquiries, and many more, will seem obvious to you after he’s run off with your wallet, and you’re left sitting on the curb, contemplating the next four days in Las Vegas with no money.

Click Here for Part 2: the Top 5 cons of all time!

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It’s Super Bowl Time, Everybody

Posted on 30 January 2009 by jordan

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It’s finally here, the biggest televised sporting event of the year, the one where various companies still manage to scrounge up amounts nearing three million dollars for a single 30-second televised spot, recession be damned. It’s the Super Bowl.

Now, this year we’ve got what is sure to be a fine match between the Pittsburg Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals, but rather than give you a tired run-down of my predicitions for the game and bored, uninformed reflections on the NFL season that has come and gone, wouldn’t everyone just be a hell of a lot happier if we showed you the best Super Bowl things online right now? The sneak previews for new commercials, some of the best ads from years gone by, gorgeous cheerleaders, the ultimate man’s recipe for Super Bowl Sunday, and the like? Sure.

Mysteries of the Yellow First-Down Line.

First, a video: undoubtedly one of the best things to happen to televised football coverage over the past several years is the digital first down line. There is literally nothing in any other sport that has so changed the enjoyment of TV coverage. Directly out of a Madden video game, that beautiful big yellow line added an unforseen element of clarity and comprehension to a sometimes confusing mess of slamming bodies and helmets. Now when you see that running back perform a stunning jump over two tacklers, only to dive, arms outstretched, for that last inch, you know exactly why the man is doing it. You’ve got a big yellow line showing you. Here’s a video that explains just how they get that line to show up.

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The Hottest Super Bowl Commercials Ever.

And then the commercials. Where would we be without those precious commercials? Here we’ve got the top 10 sexiest ads, which is all we need, really. Cars and internet startups be damned:

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An Old Logo for a Sort-of New Game.

Next, the New York Times rounded up some designers and had them try their hand at redesigning the Super Bowl Logo to make it more contemporary. A few of them aren’t bad, some are pretty forgettable or generally un-usable, but then there’s the super-minimalist one of Aaron Draplin, which is uniformly awesome. Imagine if they took this and branded everything with it? It’s like an amazing old Atari game graphic.

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And Of Course We Can’t Forget the Cheerleaders. Please, We Simply Can Not.

What would a Super Bowl post be without some cheerleaders? Here are just a few of the best from the past season.

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Eat Pork, Pork, and More Pork on Sunday. It’s both a Right and an Obligation.

Apparently this absolutely insane recipe has been making the rounds in preparation for Sunday. Just look at this damn thing. That’s a bed of bacon, filled with sausage, and wrapped. Pound for pound it looks like the fattest thing in history, which means you are virtually obligated to make it on Sunday. 5000 calories and 500 grams of fat later, you will be in heaven, also known as some kind of emergency room. It’s called the Bacon Explosion:

The instructions for constructing this massive torpedo-shaped amalgamation of two pounds of bacon woven through and around two pounds of sausage and slathered in barbecue sauce first appeared last month on the Web site of a team of Kansas City competition barbecuers.

The Negative Side of Super Bowl Week is Here to Teach Us Valuable Life Lessons.

And we’ve got Esquire’s list of the top Super Bowl week disasters, and boy oh boy is it full of some classics. Who can forget Adrian Awasom’s DUI last year:

Awasom was sent home prior to the Giants’ upset of the Patriots, did not get to experience the greatest upset in Super Bowl history, and is currently not on an NFL roster.

Or Stanley Wilson in 1989, found in his hotel room, out of his mind on cocaine just the night before?

“The player was sweating and shivering. White powder flecked his nose and upper lip. The devil was back, for good.” Wilson was left off the active roster for the game and kicked out of the league forever.

Get more of them here, and pray nothing similar befalls (or has already befallen) a Steeler or Cardinal this week.

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