Men with Moxie: John Wesley Powell

This week’s Man with Moxie is a bit of a throwback. You may not have learned about John Wesley Powell in your American history course, but you damn well should have. Powell was born in 1834 to a poor family. However, this didn’t stop him from quickly obtaining a college degree (no small feat in the middle of the 19th century). Powell then fought in the Civil War for the Union where he lost most of an arm.

Meet Mr John Wesley Powell
Meet Mr John Wesley Powell

But none of this is the reason he is our Moxie man of the week. No, in fact, losing an arm in the Civil War is one of the more tame parts of Powell’s life.

In 1867, Powell set off to explore the West. Not content to simply walk around amid unknown dangers and potentially hostile natives, Powell’s favorite means of travel was by rickety canoe down deadly rivers. Instead of exploring around the Grand Canyon on foot, he chose to raft down the entirely unexplored  Colorado River and observe the country from there.

Choosing to travel by deadly rapids (with only one rowing arm) instead of walking–now that takes moxie.

Major Powell's famous armchair boat on the Colorado River In the Grand Canyon. August 22, 1872
Major Powell’s famous armchair boat on the Colorado River In the Grand Canyon. August 22, 1872

To add awesome to badass, he approached all of his explorations with an almost comical curiosity. Instead of being intimidated by natives, Powell would engage them to learn more of their culture. On one expedition, three of his men went missing and he suspected that Shivwit warriors were responsible. He later returned to investigate, and once he found the Shivwit tribe, instead of demanding retribution, he simply asked them why they had killed his men. Then they all sat back and smoked a whole bunch of pot. You know, for science.

John_Wesley_Powell_year_1869

No really, while other explorers and expansionists were pushing into the West, slaughtering native tribes and raising general hell, John Wesley Powell was passing around a Peace Pipe with the same guys who had killed three of his men. Now that’s a lot of moxie for a dude with one arm.

My May the Fourth – There is No Try

Lots of people celebrate May the Fourth–whether it’s by simply greeting people with “May the fourth be with you” or showing up to work in a full wookie costume. This year I decided to celebrate May 4th in the most sacred way possible; a six-movie  Star Wars marathon with a fellow nerd, Trent.

Let’s just say the rest of this post is a cautionary tale. WARNING: SPOILER ALERTS.

Trent and I figured that all six films run a little over 13 hours, so if we started at 7, that gave us plenty of breathing room to take occasional breaks. We planned with snacks, drinks, and as the light grew thin, booze.

7 a.m. – sleeping

8 a.m. – still sleeping

8:30 a.m. – panicked call from Trent, “DUDE WE SLEPT IN”

8:45 a.m. – marathon actually starts

9 a.m. – disappointment starts as the fact we’re watching a prequel truly sets in

10 a.m. – Trent googles the actor who played Anakin in Episode I (Jake Lloyd). We find out that not only does he currently look like this, but he’s also a bit of a jerk.

10:30 a.m. – discover Lloyd was in The Pretender. Geek out about how awesome that show was.

10:35 a.m. – all speaking stops because freaking Darth Maul is fighting TWO GUYS AT THE SAME TIME.

10:42 a.m. – Darth Maul is dead. Nothing interesting anymore.

11:05 a.m. – snack break

11:15 a.m. – Episode II starts. Panic sets in as we realize we still have five films left and it’s nearly noon.

11:30 a.m. – Hayden Christensen makes his first appearance on screen.

11:31 a.m. – drinking starts

11:35 a.m. – Trent and I organize a bad acting drinking game

12:15 p.m. – our Star Wars beers run out

12:20 p.m. – pause movie to call girlfriends for a beer run. Both of our ladies must have been super busy because our calls go unanswered. They knew how we were spending our day.

1:40 p.m. –  after crying through much of the rest of Episode II (including the Anakin/Padme love story that drags on for like four hours WTT?) we finally pop in Episode III.

2 p.m. – by this time we are both admittedly running out of steam, and more than a little buzzed. Trent tells me he’s getting tired of this, so I ask him what Han Solo would do.

2:01 p.m. – lengthy discussion of how badly Han Solo could beat up Hayden Christensen.

2:15 p.m. – Anakin just chopped some guy’s head off. Stellar.

2:30 p.m. – at this point Trent points out that Jedi would be wise to follow the Harry Potter model. That is, keeping young Jedi in school until they’re actually adults. Seriously, you combine a laser sword and untold psychokinesis with teenage angst and expect these guys NOT to lose it occasionally?

3:12 p.m. – General Grievous, easily the coolest prequel character shows up, to many (read: two) drunken cheers.

3:25 p.m. – inspired by the great General, I head to my liquor cabinet to make some top shelf Star Wars cocktail. In my state, orange Kool-Aid and Patrón sounds like a great idea.

3:30 p.m. – orange lightsabers are a hit at the party.

6:00 p.m. – in a panicked stupor, I wake up with the DVD menu of Episode III playing over and over in the background.

7 p.m. – even the prospect of watching A New Hope can’t give us a second wind. We watch most of the film in stubborn silence.

9 p.m. – it’s dark and we’re both sober and tired. Trent looks at me meaningfully and says, “I don’t care what you say, I’m leaving. This is stupid.”

Needless to say, I didn’t finish our marathon. Perhaps one should not mix prequels and originals for the same reason you don’t mix wine and beer. Or perhaps Star Wars marathons are for men greater than us. Whatever the reason is, I could not finish my May the Fourth marathon.

Next year I think I’ll just buy an R2D2 keychain or something.

Classiest Drinks for Guys – Avoiding the Umbrella

No one can simply tell you what the “classiest drinks” are, because that’s the wrong way to look at it. It’s not always about what you drink, it’s about how you drink.

Now Here is a Dapper Bro
Now Here is a Dapper Bro

 

Step 1 – Learn the terms

Sometimes the classiest thing is just knowing what the hell you’re talking about.

Here are a few must-know terms to ordering a drink like a man.

  • Back – a small glass of something like water or soda that will be served with your drink
  • Dirty – when a martini is served with olive juice
  • Dry – another martini term for a martini with very little vermouth
  • Neat – a drink served without any ice or garnish; essentially a shot (some people also use the term “straight up” but those people have seen too many movies)
  • Well – an unidentified bottom shelf liquor you get when you don’t specify your liquor in a cocktail

So now you’re well on your way to not embarrassing yourself the second you open your mouth, but that next second can be tricky.

Step 2 – Know your liquor

Unless you’re a complete lush, you have a favorite booze. Unlike with your kids, you get to pick favorites here. Just don’t pick rum. Like ever. Unless you’re a pirate and then it’s okay.

The rum is always gone for you. Because you ain’t Captain Jack Sparrow.

Once you’ve pinned down the best poison for you, you need to learn more about it. And the best way to do this is, well, by drinking A LOT of it. If you like gin, make sure to order a different gin at the bar every time. Even if it’s in tonic water, you’ll start to pick up on subtle differences. You may not be the smartest guy at the bar, but you will know a hell of a lot about gin, which is better than nothing.

Step 3 – Tip your barman

Sure you’ve got the terms down, and you even know a thing or two about your drink of choice. But classy drinking goes well beyond that. Know your limits. A buzz is one thing, but drunkenness is not a good color on anyone. Just ask any of these beautiful people who had one too many.

 Also, just don’t be weird. Don’t call your bartender by his name unless you know him. And definitely don’t call him “barkeep.” Finally, make sure to tip the man/lady. I usually just do $1 a drink, but if you order something fancy, toss in an extra buck. Because if you take care of your bartender, he’s sure to take care of you.

Have something to say about the classiest drinks for men? Do share @mancrates

Grooming your Groomsmen

It’s a safe bet you’ve never dreamt of your storybook wedding. Because, you know, you’re a dude. But whether or not you planned for it, it’s statistically probable you’re going to get married someday. After you take off that fedora. Go on. Take it off.

That’s better.

Now that you just raised your marriage potential by 100%, it’s time to start thinking about the wedding. One of the hardest parts of being a groom is finding the appropriate groomsmen. You really have to give it some thought before you ask Drunk Lou from college to stand behind you at the altar. And I know Chad was your favorite frat bro, but despite what he believes, he is not god’s gift to women. In fact, he’s not a gift to anyone. Because he’s a sleaze. If your brother ever hooked up with your prom date, it’s safe to say you should leave him out too.

So who does that leave?

Well how about that nerdy dude that helped you swing a C in your stats class? You’re definitely not going to catch him drunkenly slobbering on bridesmade after the ceremony. Or how about that childhood friend who still lives with his parents and posts on your Facebook wall once a day? You should probably just throw him a bone. And the religious guy in your dorm who claimed he “could have just as much fun without drinking” would probably save you some money on the bar bill.

We’d keep giving you wedding advice, but you’ve probably already forgotten what we just told you. Just remember that when you leave the groomsmen gifts until the last minute, Man Crates does rush shipping. But no, we can’t come tie your bow tie.

Fishing: How to Remove a Fishhook from an Enemy’s Ear

Like most siblings, we fought. (a lot) But that didn’t mean we didn’t love each other. We weren’t enemies per se–  it just seemed like we were to the general public. Take, for example, our regular family camping trip. We would find a remote spot to set up camp in the high Uinta Mountains in northern Utah and spend a few days fly fishing and catching salamanders. However, just because we were a million miles from civilization didn’t mean we were unable to produce mischief.

During one trip, my brother and I spent hours poking pin-prick holes into my sister’s waders so when she stepped into a pond to hunt salamanders, she immediately found herself waterlogged and unable to move. Generally it was just fun and games and no one got hurt. That is, until the fishhook incident.

I was somewhere in the neighborhood of double digits, and my brother had just reached his teens. So he was a green Boy Scout, fresh off his first scout camp, and eager to show off his new skills. Unfortunately, I gave him his first chance.

This is not my brother.

Sure, I’d been fly fishing for quite some time, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t still difficult. The rod was like three times taller than me and I still needed my dad’s help every time to get a fish off the hook. And sometimes when the fish weren’t biting, I’d get bored and play Zorro. (The fact that Zorro’s whip was not attached to a long pole had no bearing on my fantasy. Ah the folly of youth.)

Eventually, my luck ran out and during a sunny afternoon of playing Zorro, I ended up with a fishhook embedded firmly in my ear. There were grasshoppers all over the river that year, so naturally I was using a grasshopper fly with, you guessed it, the biggest, meanest hook you could imagine.

After the few moments inherent to childhood pain of thinking, “I wonder if this hurts enough to justify crying,” I began wailing.

However, the only family member in earshot was my brother George. Things were about to get much worse.Lumbering down the riverbed in his waders, he eventually saw the grasshopper firmly implanted in my ear, and a huge grin spread across his face.

“Don’t worry,” he yelled, not breaking his stride. George calmly explained to me that he’d JUST learned how to remove fishhooks in his most recent scout camp. “Lennie had one just like this and the scoutmaster showed us how to get it out. It’s super easy,” he reassured me.

As any anglers out there are aware, removing a fishhook from skin is, in fact, relatively easy. It’s a matter of pushing it through the skin and breaking or squeezing the barb. Then, you simply pull the hook out the way it came in.

See? Super easy.

Easier said than done when you’re an overeager 13-year-old with a guinea pig for a little brother.

Twenty excruciating minutes later, I felt that if my ear was amputated, I’d count that as a win. When my father finally came back downstream, he found what looked like a scene out of Saw–my brother, hands covered in blood, holding me down with one knee as my ear dripped blood all over my face. There was no telling where the hook even was anymore.

Needless to say, I’m much more cautious when I fly fish now. And if I ever hook myself again, I’ll probably just leave it in there.

Fly Flishing, who knew it would lead to a pierced ear?
Fly Flishing, who knew it would lead to a pierced ear?

 

Mother’s Day Gift Shopping for Dummies by Dummies

Oh, just Man Crates here, trying to keep you out of the dog house. Seriously though, what are you doing, you silly man/noob? Go out and buy a Mother’s Day gift!

No? Just gonna keep reading then, eh?

Oh c’mon. Mother’s Day is coming up. Like SUPER soon. May 12th. And you and I both know you’re going to wait until the last minute and then just buy something stupid at a 24-hour pharmacy. Oh, and then, you’re going to find the perfect gift online, but it’s going to be way too late, unless you want to spend like a million dollars on shipping.

And no, this is not an okay alternative to getting her a gift.

But you’re still here, reading a blog post instead of buying a Mother’s Day gift. So here’s my surefire way to find a great gift for your mom.

  1. Make sure you didn’t already buy her a gift. Ha ha who am I kidding even Voldemort never planned that far ahead. 
  2. Figure out what your mom likes. If you don’t buy her a good gift, you can probably cross yourself off that list.
  3. Check your finances. Oooo…probably shouldn’t have splurged on those concert tickets. Oh well, that $13 in your wallet helps narrow down gift options.
  4. Google “mother’s day gift ideas” (we did it for you). Realize all of those results are useless.
  5. Call your Dad.
  6. Buy whatever he says to buy.
  7. Buy her something.

But wait! Are you “dad”? Don’t worry, I’ve got tips for you too.

  1. Don’t stress out! You can potentially get away with flowers and a card. Lucky! (But seriously, don’t try to pull that crap on her birthday. You’ll probably get thrown down the stairs.)
  2. When the kids call, just advise them to buy things you’ve been neglecting to buy your wife since Christmas. Like a new step ladder so she’ll stop bugging you to change the lightbulbs.
  3. Drink a beer; you are a passable adult.
Get it? Step-ladder?

Acronyms for Romance: A Guide

If you’re single, sooner or later you’re going to begin texting (or if you’re like, a dinosaur, emailing) a woman you’re romantically interested in. And invariably she’s going to send you a word–probably without vowels–that you just plain don’t know. Is she a cryptologist? Probably not. More than likely, she’s just sent you an acronym you don’t recognize.

Now we know you were too busy hunting or drinking or doing something manly to sit down and learn to teen text speak on Urban Dictionary or wherever, so we won’t hold your ignorance against you. In fact (we may applaud it.)

But to help we’ve made a handy list you can refer to anytime you need help communicating with that “foxy” lady in your life.

  • WTF! – either you said something totally off-color or something has gone wrong. Either way, your woman is upset and you need to fix it before she tacks on another exclamation point.
  • WTF? – this is slightly less concerning than the first, but you still have some explainin’ to do.
  • LOL – you may have said something funny.
  • LMAO – you probably said something funny.
  • LMFAO – you definitely said something funny.
  • ROFLMFAO – you need to call a hospital.
  • lol – false alarm – she’s simply using this in place of punctuation.
  • BRB – she’ll get back to you in a few days.
  • BBL – she’ll get back to you in a few weeks.
  • TTFN – you’ve just been friendzoned.
  • NSFW – take your phone into the bathroom before opening that attachment.
  • FYI – anything that follows this is going to be very sarcastic.
  • BTW – same as FYI.
  • OMG – “oh dear!”
  • ILY – stage 5 clinger
  • oh, em, gee – you’re dating a sorority girl.
  • DGAF – you’re dating a sassy sorority girl
  • YOLO- You’re manhood is being questioned- go out.
  • OMGWTFBBQ – you’re using too many acronyms. She’s making fun of you.
Don't feel too bad, Awkward penguin doesn't know the ladies lingo either.
Don’t feel too bad, Awkward penguin doesn’t know the ladies lingo either.

Zombie Survival – Test Your Zombie Survival Rating

Zombie survival isn’t all about preparedness. You can buy all the weapons and rations you want and read all the literature you can find but when the big day comes, it’s about how you perform, not how ready you are. Reacting properly to a zombie banging at your door is far more important to your survival than how many guns you have in your basement.

But we wouldn’t tell you all this if we didn’t have a plan to help. So take a minute to test your zombie survival skills with our quick Zombie Survival Quiz.

(Answers below)

  1. You hear reports on the news that your city has been overrun. With smoke rising in the distance, you still aren’t quite prepared to move out. What is your first course of action?
  2. You are woken up in the middle of the night to groaning and banging on the doors and windows. There wasn’t adequate warning and now the horde has surrounded your house. What’s the plan?
  3. You come across an abandoned apartment complex. You’re on foot and a vehicle sounds great. In front of you are a mountain bike, dirtbike, and a Jeep. Which do you take?
  4. Your travel companion has been bitten. You heard of a still-operating military base that has the cure. Do you go alone or take him?  

Answers Continue reading Zombie Survival – Test Your Zombie Survival Rating

Preparing for a North Korean Something or Other…

Everyone knows that Man Crates cares about preparedness. Whether you’re preparing for the zombie apocalypse or just an all-night LAN party, we want you to be ready.

So as North Korea readies its impressive nuclear arsenal, it’s time to start thinking about getting those bomb shelters and food stores ready. It’s the Cold War Part II and everyone knows that sequels are always better.

Preparing your bomb shelter

Have a house? Four walls? A roof? Dang…sounds like you got yourself a pretty sweet North Korean Nuclear Bomb Shelter. Congratulations!

Food storage

You spent the afternoon watching mushroom clouds (or real clouds, who can tell the difference?) rise on the horizon and you’re worried. Not to fret–just use our patented North Korean Nuclear Attack Food Storage Plan.

Step one: go grocery shopping on a weekly basis.

Getting ready for invasion

Everyone is aware of just how impressive and technologically superior North Korea’s nuclear program is, but you may not be familiar with their dominating military. Thus, you need to be ready for a ground attack. As you can see in the picture below, a picket fence (or anything above knee-height) will probably keep those pesky North Koreans out of your yard.

From left to right: American troop, North Korean troop, South Korean troop

People say the best weapon is one you never have to use. In that case, ALL of North Korea’s weapons are just fantastic. Their military prowess has the western world shaking in their collective capitalist boots. And just like in the first Cold War, everyone is so scared they’re making memes and jokes about the whole thing just to cope.

Summer Drinking Season: Do’s and Don’ts

Summer is upon us gentlemen. It’s time to embarrass our loved ones with pasty white legs and too-short shorts. Time to make commitments we’ll never keep once we see our winter gut in full daylight. But most importantly, summer is a time to enjoy a cold drink. There’s a reason Corona changed their entire identity to idealize sipping beers on the beach. But you must be even safer drinking in the summer than any other time of year because of just what’s at stake–your manliness. Think you’re Rico Suave because you ordered a mint julep? Or that you can drink that frilly drink if you just remove the mini umbrella? Think again. Here’s a few tips to get you through this confusing and…colorful time of year. Summer drinking season is upon us gentlemen.

Don’ts

  • Mini umbrellas. In fact, if your drink is served with anything but alcohol (or maybe a lime) in it, you should probably just send it back. This applies to mini swords, swizzle sticks, and twisty straws. 
  • Fruit. Sounds good doesn’t it? Sitting on a warm beach, sipping a drink and occasionally snatching a chunk of pineapple from your glass. Well, unless you’re a 3rd century Roman concubine, lazily eating booze-besotten fruit is not going to be a good look on you.
  • Unless it’s mixed with Coke, avoid rum. You’re not a teenager sneaking drinks from the liquor cabinet and you’re not a sorority girl taking shots, so why on earth are you drinking rum? Put. It. Down.
  • A bar is still a bar. Just because it’s warm and the patio furniture is outside of your favorite bar doesn’t mean you’re in Cabo San Lucas on Spring Break. So don’t order anything that’s going to make the barman look at you sideways, or that pisco sour may have more than an egg in it.  

Dos

  • Drink Corona. Seriously. Have you had a Corona on a beach?
  • Take shots of tequila, like everywhere. It doesn’t matter if it’s warm and sunny or Minnesota–it’s summer and therefore copious amounts of tequila MUST be consumed.
  • Order margaritas. Blended. With salt. C’mon, how badly do you want to pull over at that snow cone shack every summer? But you don’t, because you’re not a pedophile and would therefore feel weird standing in line with a dozen 8 year olds. Well now’s your chance. (And hey, it’s yet another great opportunity to drink tequila.)