Wednesday, December 10, 2014
How to Shop for a Man
Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Buying present for your father, brother, adult son, or really any Man’s Man can be difficult this time of year. Let’s be honest… do they really need a new horrible cheap ass tie? Socks that they’ll never wear? A sweater for Christmas dinner that is also ridiculous? Typically, unless the clothing has legitimate rivets or can be accurately described as “retardant” to something, then it’s probably safe to say that he’ll feign appreciation… and then stick it in a drawer and forget about it for a while. The exception to this rule of course being good, thick cotton socks for inside boots… or good underwear. None of that Spongebob BS… just good comfortable skid-resistant underwear. Tools are usually a good thing… if said male knows how to use them or is interested in learning how. The internet is a wonderful place where you can learn to do just about anything via video teacher… especially basic carpentry. Aside from that though, it’s tough to be really original… and if that’s the kind of gifts that they’ve been given over a half-century, then they probably have enough tools to start their own construction company, matched with a dwindling amount of constructive hours in a day as Father Time gets to them.
To be honest, most Men don’t need gifts. It’s all about the gesture… and it’s nice to get something that they’ll use of course… but even if it’s something that you put a lot of time & effort into, they’re very appreciative. That’s great and all… but everybody likes the gift where you give it… and you get that expression where they’re like “Holy crap! This is the greatest thing EVER!!!” Unfortunately we’ve kind of crafted a society where our pleasure receptors are essentially burned out… so it becomes increasingly difficult to get that reaction. So what’s a good gift giver to do? Here are a few tips:
First & foremost, RELAX!!! It’s just a consumerist holiday manufactured by multinational corporations in order for you to make their 4th quarter numbers look incredible. Jesus was born in the spring, so why else would we celebrate his birthday in December? If you worry about it, you’re just feeding into the machine, man! You’re just doing what Big Christmas wants you to do. Don’t be a conformist. That’s for squares… so just RELAX.
Secondly, he also just really wants to RELAX, spend time with his loved ones (including you), eat some good food, throw back a few beverages, watch some football& not have to deal with drama. You’re already pretty much giving him a gift by simply not crying, not reading too much into every single facet of existence whether it really effects you or not, letting the passive-aggressive statements by your sister/daughter/mother/aunt go to the wayside, forgetting about work, & only bringing up the news if it involves sports, movies, bacon, pumpkin, egg nog or local car shows in a positive manner. I must also emphasize that it’s important to get everybody else on board with this idea. That may prove a little difficult… but as long as you’re doing your part to make the holidays merry, well done.
Thirdly, a Man’s Man with a hobby is a godsend. Whether the hobby is homebrewing, wine tasting, cooking, woodworking, metalworking, model trains, some kind of figurine collection (it’s possible), cars, motorcycles, hiking, biking, swimming, all these activities are kind of awesome… you just feed their hobby. Homebrewing requires kits & equipment. There’s always seasonal mixer packs for beer & bottles of wine are often on sale for the connoisseurs of your family. Is there a particular part that he’s mentioned about his pet project in the garage? Is there some new technology that can help make his daily workout fun & exciting? Or at least not as tedious? As mentioned before, tools rock. Find out if there’s some project that he’s been meaning to do… or make for somebody else. This is the kind of gift that keeps on giving!
Fourthly, Dollar Shave Club. Never heard of it? Check it out. Your man has to shave. Shaving can be a hassle. These guys make it hella easy for dollars a monthyou’re your man doesn’t have a membership, take the money that you would’ve spent on a bad tie & put it towards this for an entire year. You’re welcome.
Fifthly, if he has a favorite TV show, the new season probably just came out on DVD… and it might even be on sale. So get him the latest season of “Castle”, “Modern Family”, “Big Bang Theory”, “Game of Thrones”, “Psych”, “Burn Notice”, “Family Guy”, “Bones”, whatever the show is… I know different shows for different folks. Heck, maybe he liked “MASH” for some reason and he doesn’t have it… go for it, get him a few seasons. What’s that? Oh, that b**ch sister of yours is already getting him the new season of “The Walking Dead” and your deadbeat brother is getting him the box set of “The Sopranos”? Where did he even get the money? You know what? It doesn’t matter because…
Sixthly, Guy Movies exist. Not sure what a guy movie is? Well, chances are if you’ve ever looked at a movie on the shelf with a man with an icy glare & the actor’s name in type as big as the title… or read the back description and find terms like “plays by his own rules” or “above the law” or “his own brand of justice”, pictures at least two weapons & a 19-year old supermodel in distress, and thought to yourself “Ugh, this movie sounds awful!” THAT is a guy movie. There are really good ones… and really bad ones… and some in the middle. The thing is though… even the really bad ones… are kind of great. The plots are lacking. Character development is completely optional. The bad guy gets it in the end. The cleavage is plentiful. Explosions are a must. I’ll break down the formula a little later on two movies that I saw this last week to help out a little bit… but I think most guys have at least one actor that they REALLY like or personify with. Do they have anything new? Hidden classic they don’t already have? Heck, you can check some of my past movie lists for ideas. Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen, Bruce Willis, Steven Seagal, Wesley Snipes, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Arnold, Sly, heck… Liam Neeson has revitalized his career by being the badass of a certain age… but again more on this later.
Lastly, you really can’t go wrong with a handmade, heartfelt letter or picture album or something like that. Seriously, it’s always a winner. It shows that you cared, put time into the gift, and are looking to create fond memories for him when/if he becomes senile. However, if you go the photo album route, at least put the first few pages together for him. Don’t just buy the stuff, leave it in the wrapping & expect him to go to work at it. Getting it started is the hardest part. Help him out by taking it out of the wrapping, make sure it has the basic things like pages to put the pictures in/on, and the first few pages have pictures already in them. Feel free to scrapbook a little bit with it & get it started for him. Nothing too cutesy though. Don’t go overboard with glitter & sh*t… it just makes a mess. Then, a quick tug at the heartstrings and he’ll finish out the rest. Even those digital photo albums need a USB with a few pictures added on there. Helpful tip: If you’re part of a family of eight or something, don’t make sure that YOU are in all of the pictures… but make sure that HE is. Basically just remember who the gift is for… and he’ll remember who the gift is from… and if another sibling tries to piggy back onto that gift at the last minute, be the better child & let it pass. He knows that it wasn’t their idea. He can tell… and they’re not that creative… unless they also read my blog, I guess. That’s right… only clever people read this thing. Fact.
Anyway, I hope that information helps you out this holiday season. When it comes to buying gifts for women… I don’t know… shiny & smelly sh*t seem to work pretty well… you know, bath salts, spa stuff, perfume, jewelry, reflective surfaces, pretty decorations, all that kind of stuff. A lot of the same rules apply too… like hobbies, photo albums, chick flicks… heck, maybe even Dollar Shave Club. Chances are it’d be original if anything else. Now for some Guy Movie reviews…
The other night, I watched the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary about former football player Brian Bosworth entitled “Brian & the Boz” about this young man’s rise to collegiate superstardom at the University of Oklahoma on a pension for playing balls to the wall & letting this kind of self-constructed persona of “The Boz” maintain that into his off-the-field life. He played with all of his heart… he had personality & charisma and wasn’t afraid to let it out… and sadly, that as well as a steroid scandal got him kicked out of school… and into the NFL. So basically he fell upwards? Anyway, he was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks… and basically, playing balls to the wall caught up with him… as his body essentially gave out on him… and he was ultimately considered one of the biggest flops in NFL draft history. It’s a great little documentary though with Brian being the main focus and not really being ashamed to admit his mistakes. On that note, speaking of Guy Movie Gifts… apparently the 30 for 30 series has a box set now… and that’s probably a good bet… or a membership to Netflix to check all of these out. Again, you’re welcome.
After watching that documentary, I immediately ordered the movie “Stone Cold” through Netflix. See, after his very brief NFL career, Hollywood tried to make Brian Bosworth an action star. Why? Have you SEEN the Boz? Heard him? EXPERIENCED HIM? Anyway, the movie is about a badass lone wolf cop (Boz) who goes undercover to bring down a meth-peddling biker gang called the Brotherhood, led by their patriarch Chains (Lance Henriksen) and his right-hand man (William Forsythe). That’s really ALL you need to know… except I’m going to go over some of the key points of Guy Movies to let you know why I recommend that you check out this one:
· The Hero – Brian Bosworth is basically the epitome of what every Man wants to be. He’s an incredible athlete, good looking, has a certain swagger about him, the ladies love him… basically 1991 Brian Bosworth is today’s Dwayne Johnson… or maybe more appropriately “Scorpion King” Dwayne Johnson… or maybe more appropriately “The Rock”. I got it… he’s Patrick Swayze on steroids with 15 years of football instead of ballet & modern dance. Can he act? Sure, why not? He was actually surprisingly in his own in front of the camera. Let’s be honest, acting seems like the easiest job in the world until you see it done horribly. He rocks the duster (as ridiculous as it may look in some scenes) as well as the shirtless scenes & everything in between (like riding motorcycles with no shirt & a duster). He delivers his one-liners& probably did a few of his own stunts. The guy even has a Nile Monitor for a pet!!!
· The Bad Guys – It’s simple… the bad guys are bad. Period. These are bikers that are robbing, working with the Mob, trafficking meth, roughing up anybody within the same building, firing machine guns at cops all the time, passing women around like used tissues, basically no redeemable characteristics whatsoever… and that’s a good staple of a Guy Movie. Lance Henriksen may not seem like a physical specimen that could possibly match the Boz… but that’s when the criminal mastermind comes into play… and that’s also why he keeps big guys around… and the crazy loyal guy (Forsythe) who doesn’t trust this new blonde behemoth.
· Ridiculous Action Scenes – The first scene of the movie, there are five guys with large guns robbing… a grocery store (OF COURSE!!!). These criminal masterminds didn’t count on one thing though… recently-suspended supercop Joe Huff (Boz) was looking to stock up on eggs & muscle milk. Basically what ensues is the usual ridiculous & sickly enjoyable orgy of beatdowns that happens throughout this movie… and the one-liner that ends it… “What do you have to say for yourself, Huff?” “(smirk) Clean up on aisle four…” STRUUUUUUUUM GUITAR and roll opening credits… f**king Shakespeare of a Guy Movie!!!
· Explosions – HOLY SH*T!!! Director Craig Baxley was the stunt coordinator for movies like “Predator”, and TV series like “The A-Team”, “Dukes of Hazzard”, “21 Jump Street” but the only other movie that I’ve seen of his as a director is the Carl Weathers’ masterpiece “Action Jackson” that you can read about in past blog entries. I also have a sneaking suspicion that Michael Bay worships at his alter… because this movie has explosions… like EVERYTHING EXPLODES!!! With the slightest tap sometimes. Fender bender? BOOM!!! Fire a pistol shot into the door of a truck? FIREBALL!!! A helicopter you say? ROCKETBOMB!!! I was half expecting a uppercut to send the flaming corpse of a biker into orbit like a comet. If you like explosions, this is your movie.
· Female Actresses – Do you like character development? Then why are you reading about Guy Movies? If there’s one thing that I don’t care for in most of these actions movies… the female characters are more plot devices than anything else. Again, Michael Bay worshipped at this guy’s alter in that regard. The only female character that gets any screen time other than to just show her breasts is Chains’ main lady… who is portrayed as a young lady who just got caught up in the biker scene but she’s in too deep… and doubles as the love interest of our hero. Like every other Breasted-American in this movie… she’s basically possessions of the bikers, used as a form of currency or token to pass around to the other guys or force to do unspeakable acts. Yes, this is done to show that the Bad Guys are Bad Guys… but it’s really done to the point of ridiculousness. Don’t worry, you haven’t seen that actress in anything else memorable.
· Ridiculous Final Battle – Okay, so spoiler alert… but the staple of a good Guy Movie is the ridiculous finale bloodbath. In this installment, the governor of Mississippi sets into motion a series of stricter laws to bring down the biker gang… and execute one of their own, a man named Trouble. By the way, along with the movie’s opening scene, Trouble’s intro scene during the opening credits… he walks up mid-wedding and blasts a Baptist priest with a shotgun through a stained glass window… and that essentially sets the tone for the rest of the movie. Anyway, the final battle is what I can assume is supposed to be the State Capitol of Mississippi… and there are SOOOOO many explosions, gunfire, helicopters, motorcycles driving on marble, falls from 3rd story balconies onto marble slabs leading to bruises at best, oh my God… it’s amazing. Where are the cops? Who the hell cares? If they showed up, they’d just get blasted by the bikers anyway. The Brotherhood is an elite military force obviously! Spoiler alert again: The Boz makes it out alive… and essentially strolls off as the credits roll. Quick question along the same lines as my “Exorcist III” ending: How would the cops know that The Boz isn’t one of the bikers? He’s dressed the same, covered in blood, brandishing weapons, definitely killed a sh*t ton of people inside the Capitol Building, nobody else knows that he’s undercover except like three people & they’re all inside the building. He steps out of that building… best case scenario he’s detained by police… worst-case, he blasted on sight & at least that would explain the lack of a sequel. Hmm… maybe it’s shortly after the credits go black where that happens. Anyway…
· Final Verdict – RENT IT NOW!!! WATCH IT WITH FRIENDS!!! PRAY THAT THE BOZ IS IN “EXPENDABLES 4”!!!
On that note, the other night we finally watched “Expendables 3” starring basically every OTHER action star from the 90’s. Okay, this episode actually cut out a lot of the previously big roles in order to introduce Wesley Snipes, Harrison Ford, Kelsey Grammar, Antonio Benderas, Mel Gibson… and some younger blood into the group with the likes of Kellan Lutz, Glen Powell, MMA fighters Linda Rousey & Victor Ortiz. Also, I have no idea who director Patrick Hughes is… but unfortunately I think the reason he got the job was because Sly was talking to Mel Gibson when he signed on. “Ey yo Mel, I’m really looking forward to working with you.” “Yeah, me too. I’ve seen the other two movies and it seems like it’s going to be a lot of fun.” “Yeah, I loved you in that movie Signs a few years back… with those aliens that were allergic to wood & water or whatever…” “Thanks mate.” “Yeah, I even asked the director of that movie to head up this one since I think I’ll be too busy & we’ve gotta get this out quick.” “Oh… Night’s going to be directing? That’s… that’s great I guess.” “Whoa whoa, who’s Night? This guy’s name is Patrick… Patrick Hughes.” “(blank stare) Never heard of him. The director of Signs was M. Night Shamalayan. The Sixth Sense? Unbreakable? Bruce can tell you about him…” “Ugh… Bruce wanted too much mon… so wait, this Patrick Hughes guy didn’t direct Signs?” “Not the one that I starred in.” Sly checks IMDb… “Oh sh*t! I looked at the wrong Signs movie! This is some indie bullsh*t about finding love… oh f**k!!! OH F**K!!! He signed the contract already!!!” “Oh… that sucks.” “Wait, wait… okay, he also did this other movie… Red Hill… let’s see… about police office surviving his first day… okay… okay… we might be okay… yeah… okay… whew… that was close.” Based on this hypothetical conversation, you can tell what I kinda thought about this movie from the start. Here are some key points for Guy Movie Sequels…
· Keeping the Main Source of Intrigue – Fast & Furious keeps the cars. Alien movies keeps the Aliens (yes, even “Prometheus”). Star Wars keeps lightsabers & spaceships. Taken keeps kidnapping & Liam Neeson being a badass. Arnie movies have Arnie. Nicolas Cage movies have the crazy eyes. This movie is based on all of the “aging” action heroes from the 80’s & 90’s on one team as possible & having them EXPLODE all over the screen! This movie does not disappoint with regards to that… well, at least it keeps a lot of it. I still feel like the first two were more exciting… but they still have a lot of the cast from the first two & plenty of explosions
· Introducing New Characters &Twists - Okay, the plot for this movie… the Expendables are… well, expending… and their leader Barney (Stallone) needs to incorporate some new blood for their next big mission… to take out a man named Conrad Stonebanks (Gibson) who is an international arms dealer… and (twist) co-founder of the Expendables back in the day… and he wants to take over the world & kill the Expendables blah blah blah. Now, I’m all for them trying to bring in a younger demographic… because these guys aren’t going to be around much longer, especially in action movie time. Most of these guys (Statham, Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Li, Lundgren, Ford, Benderas & Grammar) are in their 50’s & 60’s and don’t get me wrong, they look AMAZING for grandfather age… but it’s a simple matter of racing the clock. The only downside is… most of the “action stars” of today who don’t already have bazillions of movie offers are absolutely HORRIBLE actors (Lutz) or just athletes told to act (Rousey, etc). The rest are tied up with superhero movies, the Fast & Furious franchise or whatever action reboot they’re hashing out this summer. This particular installment of the “Expendables” franchise… just didn’t appeal to me at all. You know I love all the main actors. You know I like explosions & ass kicking… but I just didn’t get pulled into the story or anything… and it just seemed to drag & be underwhelming. Basically when I think back on this movie, the two images that come to mind are me struggling to keep interested & Linda Rousey’s b**ch face that I swear is half of her lines. Look, the Fast & Furious may bring back every single character from the previous movies whether their dead or not… but they also bring in The Rock… or Jason Statham… or Tony Jaa… or bad guy de jour consistently & make them somewhat intriguing, give them some sort of character. These characters had none of that. They’re just young & can kick ass a bit.
· The Bad Guy Gets Badder - You know I loved Mel Gibson in “Machete Kills” and he was probably the highlight of this movie. Looking at the career arc of Mr. Gibson, it’s pretty incredible. He was the indie action movie star in the “Mad Max: movies… then he was one of the top grossing action-comedy guys of the 80’s & 90’s with the “Lethal Weapon” series, “Bird on a Wire”, “Tequila Sunrise” & “Maverick”… while also going through his heartthrob phase in “Air America” & “Forever Young”… then he became a Hollywood demigod with his passion project “Braveheart”… then was kinda doing everything all over again with “The Patriot” (American Braveheart), “We Were Soldiers” (Vietnamese Patriot), “Conspiracy Theory” & “What Women Want”… then he got the “F**k Me” money from producing “The Passion of the Christ” and through in a few recorded messages for the paparazzi to run with & basically… he did whatever he really wanted after that… mostly darker stuff but some with his charisma still. This movie is no different. He knows what it is… and he plays the hell out of it. He’s the bad guy… and I can’t wait to see him in “Machete Kills… in Space” as the Man in the Iron Mask.
· The Big Twist Finale – Alright, so there’s the big final shootout… everybody’s happy & goes back to the hideout… or goes their separate ways… and then the movie sequel begs with a big twist finale before the credits roll. In most of these Guy Movies, it’s the main antagonist walking off to his next adventure into the sunset… or does something really badass showing off skills and/or reflexes… when it’s groups, it’s usually the next big case is teased… or some incident they have to take care of… or a new bad guy is hinted at. I think the perfect example of this in action… the end of Fast & Furious 6, when after they just did the impossible (literally), they all go back to their respective lives… but then Jason Statham comes in as the bad ass mutha f**kin’ brother of the deceased bad guy… and he wants f**king revenge!!! Roll Credits & we start shooting next week, boys!!! Now, in this movie… the new team just pulled off the impossible (literally) and they all go back to their favorite bar in New Orleans. By the way, always felt it would be f**king weird to see somebody walk into that bar, see a bunch of greased up guys in their 60’s as the only patrons… and decide to sit down & order a beer & some nachos. That may be my rewrite… I mean… would they just give them a stare to leave? If they still stayed, would one of them throw a knife at them? Who knows? Probably only I care. Anyway, so this is where the big twist should come begging for a sequel, right? What is it? What happens? Who does what? Does Christmas have yet another knife throwing display against one of the newbies? Eh, not really… the big twist… is that Arnie & Jet Li are gay… at least bisexual. What? You don’t believe it? Well, watch the movie & find out. It’s not a big moment or anything… but they’re chatting & laughing in rather flamboyant outfits (let’s face it, they’re all in them) at the edge of the bar… Sly says “Hey, why don’t you two get a room?” They laugh about it, give a quick play-filled hug, and then onto the next resolution. It’s quick, it’s weird, and that’s basically the only big twist. A giant 60-something Austrian bodybuilder mercenary has a twink of a boy-toy… that’s pretty much the most memorable thing about this movie… and I had to confirm it with Izzy when I saw it. “Did they just…? Sweetie?” She was checking her phone or something… so we watched it again. Confirmed. Awkward. Roll credits, I guess.
· Final Verdict – If you liked the first two, check it out. It wasn’t horrible, just not as captivating as the first two… and even though it didn’t make a sh*t ton of money compared to the first two, I’m sure there’ll be a fourth edition of the series… but they only have a few more actions stars left to include. Could we see the triumphant return of Jackie Chan to American badassery? Nicolas Cage? Will Seagal break his feud with JVCD? THE BOZ??? I keep hearing about & aroused by the “ExpendaBelles” spin-off with all the lady action heroes like Milla Jovovich, Gina Carano, Zoe Bell, Sigourney Weaver, even Meryl Streep & Linda Hamilton & sh*t… but hey, until it’s opening at a theatre near me, this will hafta do.
Anyway, I hope this little rant about Christmas gift ideas for Guys and the movies they love helps you out this holiday season. Stay tuned to future updates as this weekend there should be Biblical rainfall, a journey to the barren wastelands of the San Fernando valley, adventures with the “in-laws”, and probably a few beer related shenanigans as well. Have a great weekend everybody!!!