If you’ve ever seen the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team play a match, you know what a Haka is: an incredibly manly-looking traditional Maori not-quite-dance, not-quite-chant that is used to communicate emotion. There are hakas used before battle, or to honor fallen comrades.
Below, you’ll find a video of the 2/1 Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment doing a haka for three of their comrades in arms who were killed in a roadside explosion in Afghanistan (New Zealand may be a physically small country with a small military, but they have been staunch supporters of the United States in the Global War on Terror). The haka is used to mourn their passing, but also to celebrate their achievements.
College and pro football is nearly ready to roll, and the only thing we like more than every weekend being a football-filled long weekend (Monday is the new Sunday) is that advertising firms start firing on all eight cylinders after the long, slow summer months.
We’ll be honest: the threshold for what makes for a good commercial is pretty low for most of us guys. If it gets a smile, that’s a success. If it gets a chuckle, that’s a big win. If we actually laugh out loud, that’s a massive victory.
Here are two new ads that are rolling for Old Spice and Madden NFL 13, two brands that have long pushed the boundaries of advertising. They definitely got a chuckle out of us and are a good sign of ads to come this season!
Old Spice has never shied away from the absurd in their videos, and this new one starring Terry Crews is no exception. Terry’s hooked up to some bizarre musical instruments that are controlled through electromyograms hooked up to—what else?—his muscles. Probably not going to be this year’s big winner the way the “Man Your Man Could Smell Like” ads did a couple of years back, but the sheer weirdness wins a big thumbs up from us.
Hot on the heels of the newest installment of the Madden franchise—on that note, sweet fancy Moses, have you seen how incredible it looks?— is a new ad campaign starring actor/comedian Paul Rudd and future Hall of Fame-r Ray Lewis. This is just one in a whole slew of new ads, but it’s right on the mark: clever without being outrageous, shows off the goods—the new player animations are unreal—and getting us pumped for this game. Here’s another ad in the series we found funny:
(We can’t wait to do this in the office.)
There’s a lot of hoopla over the Curiosity rover successfully landing on Mars. Rightfully so: sending a probe 300 million miles and then having it land itself using a combination of parachutes, heat shields, and rocket cranes that would make Rube Goldberg slap his own forehead is mighty impressive. More than that, it solidified NASA’s commitment to its mission statement of peacefully exploring other worlds.
You’ll notice I emphasized the word peacefully. That wasn’t always the case.
Some of you might be old enough to remember a guy by the name of Neil Armstrong taking a small step for man onto the surface of our nearest neighbor, the Moon. That was July 20th, 1969. But a decade before that, we almost sent a very different ambassador to the moon: a nuclear weapon.
That’s right, an atomic bomb. A Soviet mole gave information to the United States that the USSR was planning on commemorating the October Revolution (think Communist Fourth of July) by lighting the biggest sparkler ever and
detonating a bomb on the Moon.
This being 1957, the United States was already lagging behind in the Space Race, and those were the days where We’ll Be Damned If We’re Second Place to the Communists at Anything. A team was brought together in secret to plan a potential lunar detonation, and they wanted it to be a hell of a show: the bomb would be targeted at the hilariously-ironically-named terminator (the line that separated the part of the Moon that’s exposed to daylight and the part that’s dark). The dust ejected from the explosion would catch the sunlight and would be bright enough to be seen from Earth.
Eventually, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the project was canceled. Safety was cited as a concern—there is an inherent risk to strapping a nuclear device to the top of a tower full of rocket fuel—and the whole affair remained buried for decades after Neil took his One Giant Leap for Mankind™. In fact, it would have remained unknown had it not been discovered by Carl Sagan’s biographer.
That’s right. “Billions and Billions of Stars” Sagan (the same peace-and-exploration-loving hippie-scientist who send out gold-plated records containing whale songs and messages of peace on outbound deep space probes in the event that they are discovered by
extraterrestrials) consulted on the project.
Another great example of cooler heads prevailing, and a lesson for all: just because it can be done, doesn’t mean it should be done.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: we’re huge fans of our armed forces. The men and women of the United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard are our heroes. That’s why we started shipping to APOs and FPOs and are running a contest to send a member of the services a Man Crate. We figure it’s the very least we can do for the guys who are out there putting it all out on the line to keep us safe back here at home.
We’re talking about guys like our friend Chris. When most of us are seventeen or eighteen, the biggest concerns we have are chasing girls, playing a game called How Close Can I Get to Breaking Curfew Without Dad Dispensing Some Righteous Justice, and maybe working a minimum wage job somewhere to make some cash before college. Not Chris.
Chris was a US Marine at seventeen. Seventeen. We could barely hold down a job at that age, but Chris was already defending our country at that age. And while some of us were able to wrench on our cars a little, Chris got to play around with some seriously awesome hardware: as an MOS 3521 (and later 3522), Chris was responsible for putting back together broken M35A2s, M923s, and HMMWVs (what you call a “Hummer H1” and the US Department of Defense calls a Humvee). They may not be lookers in the same way as a 1970-something Corvette, but the thought of rolling around in one of those 6x6s still gets us excited.
After a tour in Japan (which included a stint in Korea), Chris came back to the good ol’ US-of-A and served with the 1st Landing Support Battalion (LSB) in Camp Pendleton, CA.
We already have crazy respect for Chris, but here’s where he buries the needle: in 1991, Chris was attending the University of Souther California, enjoying copious amounts of sunlight and taking in the scenery (anybody who’s been to USC knows what we’re talking about). When the Gulf War broke out, the then-Corporal was called from inactive reserve to active duty, along with 5,000 of his brothers-in-arms to serve in Operation Desert Shield and its sequel, Operation Desert Storm. He spent the duration of the hostilities with the 15th Combat Replacement Brigade, and came home to the United States, where he’s now a successful Entrepreneur.
Chris is one of our heroes, so it was our pleasure to send him a Man Crate. If you know of a serviceman who would like a Man Crate of his own, consider entering our contest.
It’s amazing how fast the two weeks of Olympic Craziness go by. And while we’ll miss watching these titans of their sports compete, miss Bob Costas’ soothing voice as he delivers the after-action reports, and miss pretending to have some dust in our eyes when our National Anthem strikes up as one of our athletes takes gold, it was definitely a good year to be a US Olympian.
But despite the zaniness of the opening—and closing—ceremonies, the badminton scandal, the athletes getting booted from their teams after making some unsavory and ill-advised Twitter posts, and those new Nike sneakers and jackets, the XXX Olympiad (yeah, we know, we made every joke imaginable about that) was far from the strangest Games of all time.
That honor goes to the 1904 Olympics, and specifically to the marathon event.
See, it was a brutally hot summer in when the games were hosted in St. Louis, Missouri, that year. To make matters worse, the marathon was run on dirt roads, and horses and cars driving over the roads kicked up massive dust clouds. Frederic Korz was the first to cross the finish line, but here’s the kicker: he didn’t run the full 26.2 miles. No, Fred dropped out after nine miles and planned to hitchhike his way to the finish to get his gym bag. Only the car broke down at Mile 19, so Fred got out and ran the rest of the way. When he crossed the finish, the ersatz winner of the race played along with the organizers and pretended he had run the whole thing—we’re guessing this was back when it was entirely possible to outrun a car—until he was found out just before the medal ceremony and banned from competition for a year. He went on to run the Boston Marathon the next year, so Fred was clearly a competitor, but we can hardly say we agree with his methods.
But hold on, it gets stranger: the true, honest first-place finisher ended up being Thomas Hicks, who competed for the US despite being English. Thomas needed a little pick-me-up during the race, so his trainers gave him a few swallows of a cocktail made of Brandy and strychnine sulfate. You may recognize the latter ingredient: it’s commonly used as rat
poison. Evidently in small enough doses, it’s a nervous system stimulator, but Thomas’ trainers were not, apparently, all that good at measuring: Thomas had to be carried across the finish line—though he’s still considered the winner despite not making it through the ribbon under his own power—and collapsed in the stadium. He probably would have died on the spot had he not been treated immediately by Real Live Medical Doctors who probably could have told his trainers that rat poison isn’t an incredibly effective performance-enhancing drug.
Then there’s Felix Carbajal, a postman from Cuba. He evidently decided to run at the last minute, because he had to cut the legs off of his street clothes to make shorts. Sometime during the race, Felix’s blood sugar must have dropped, because he decided to stop in an apple orchard and have a snack. Unfortunately for Felix, the apples were rotten and made him a little green around the gills, so he decided to lay down
and sleep it off. In spite of all of this, Felix finished fourth.
The first two black Africans to ever compete in the Olympics also competed in the marathon. There were particularly high hopes for one of them: Len Taunyane from Southern Africa. He probably would have finished much higher than the twelfth place he attained had he not been chased by a pack of dogs and ended up running an extra mile or so off course.
So there you have it: despite all of the modern pomp and circumstance and high-tech equipment, the XXX Olympiad has nothing on the III Olympiad (we think it should be called the !!! Olympiad) in terms of pure absurdity.
Oh, and did we mention that Tug of War was an Olympic event that year, too?
Watching the Olympics these last two weeks frequently leave us in awe of what the human body can do. Watching Usain Bolt break record after record is incredible, but fortunately, this post is not about him. In the midst of the world’s greatest athletes setting new highs, occasionally a story catches our attention not due to higher, stronger or faster feats, but because of raw perseverance and determination. Manteo Mitchell is just such a story.
Mitchell was halfway through the second segment of the men’s 4 x 400 relay when he heard his leg snap. SNAP, mind you. This wasn’t a twisted ankle or a pulled groin. It was a broken leg – and he still had 200 meters to go. Although he claims that he did what anyone would have done in his position, I’m not sure too many guys would have powered through the intense pain to finish the leg. But Mitchell did just that. In fact, he finished his leg of the race in just over 46 second, faster than three of the other seven competitors in the field. Impressive.
When he felt his leg snap, I’m sure Mitchell’s teammate waiting for the baton on the other side of the track was the first thought through his mind. He probably thought of all those millions of Americans watching him and cheering him on. He likely thought of the hours of practice, drills, weight training and competitions leading up to the that moment. He, like athletes before him, didn’t want to let down his teammates, his family, friends or countries by caving to the pain – though not a single person would have questioned him if he did. And that’s what makes him the man of the week.
So to Manteo Mitchell, we’d like to say this: Thank you for representing your country through the pain and agony of those last 200 meters. Not only did you help team USA qualify, but you showed humility and perseverance in the face of adversity that sets an example for the rest of us. We hope you heal quickly and hope to see you back on the track representing the red, white and blue as soon as possible.
Many people use their Man Crates as time capsules, to store tools, socks & video games, or as packaging for future gifts. There’s no higher calling for a crate than being put out to pasture through purposeful recycling. However in other cases- when you’re on the trail and can’t carry the weight, or when your crate has otherwise out-survived it’s mission and purpose, there’s a respectful way to dispose of it.
Man Crate Decommissioning Ceremony
Set a date and invite people who were a part of the Man Crate’s life. The gathering should be set for dusk, in a place where you can build a small ceremonial fire. Attendees should be dressed appropriately.
Begin the ceremony with the lighting of the fire- the Man Crate should not be in the initial fire
The crowbar should be present
Present the crate to the group
If you were given the crate as a gift, say a few words about the person who sent you the crate
Recount the crate opening- where were you? How long did you struggle to pry the lid off?
Conclude the ceremony by placing the crate in the fire. Open beers. Toast the bonds between us that transcend the physical and give us our humanity.
Tell Us More
What did you do with your Man Crate once the chow was gone and the gear was put to use? Take a minute and write in to let us know how you’ve recycled your Man Crate.