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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Wet Shave Club Review

So, is not some fringe pornography site, it’s actually a legit men’s shaving site. And they want me to review their stuff. Given that I love shaving, manliness, and free stuff, how could I refuse?

According to the Internet, I’m one of the weirdos. The prevailing opinion online is that men, as a general rule, hate shaving. It’s seen as a chore; just one more thing to do in the morning. Personally, I love shaving. The few minutes it takes for a man to shave could mean the difference between a huge promotion or a dollar in his coffee cup. What’s more, anyone that says he “just” shaves in the shower, I feel kinda bad for them. I assume they have to pay for hot water at the YMCA or wherever they’re staying.  I get the same feeling when I meet a man who doesn’t read, or watch Breaking Bad – I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but I can’t shake the feeling that he’s fundamentally flawed.
I’m here to hopefully turn the tide. Men, it seems these days we don’t get a lot of time to ourselves. Even when we are alone, there’s a screen of some sort vying for our attention: the game, a movie, or Instagram (shameless plug: follow me on Instagram: @aa_pizzle). And when you consider women spend exponentially longer getting ready, the least you can do, for her and yourself, is invest 5-10 minutes in a good shave.

(By the way: Ladies, great job. I’m one of your Number 1 fans.  Don’t think we don’t notice the effort you put in. We’re grateful that you stick around at all.)

Maybe the problem lies in the tools. Bad workmen aside, maybe your razor and shave soap aren’t up to scratch.  Have you ever written with a dull pencil? Sure, it works, but it’s so much more satisfying when it’s sharp.  Use this way of thinking for your razors, and Wet Shave Club is here to make that a reality.

The last time I was clean shaven was an event in and of itself: on vacation in Turkey, where a man who has been shaving other men’s faces longer than I have been shaving my own had me in and out of the barber’s chair in under 20 minutes. I suspect he splashed some sort of lemon spirit on my face as the grand finale and it wasn’t unpleasant.
This time, though, it’s all me.  I have a beard, I grow it in damn well, so if this gear can tackle it, you know it has to count for something.

The safety razor that Wet Shave Club sent me (above, lower right) is weighty. It feels like an actual tool – way more exciting than the razors that are released by the giant companies.  I feel like there’s actual gravitas to what I’m doing, as if this is the way my grandfather shaved. The next step up from this is the scary straight razor, and while I’m a firm believer in the idea that you can learn anything on YouTube, some things are best left to practice on. I’ll stick with this razor, thank you very much.

The box comes with some handy tips for new guys like me who are used to 5-blade Venetian Blinds we’re shaving with these days. Read them. I deal with people every day so it’s a huge help not having my face sliced apart. I decided to make a real time of it and threw on some Sinatra. The tips say to shower, but I used a hot towel to soften up my hair and it seemed to do the trick just fine.

I started using a badger-hair brush about a year ago, but this one is much stiffer, good for getting all of the hair up and out. The soap, Ellington’s All Natural, has this amazing spicy smell that somehow reminds me of a time I was never part of.

The actual act was much more deliberate: it took longer to shave half my face today than it normally does to shave the entire thing.  Note: that is not a complaint at all.

Once it was all done, I used the aftershave lotion, another new experience for me. Local Gent boasts fresh scent of eucalyptus and mint, and a non-greasy cream was a solid end to the shave. I couldn’t help but notice that the lotion had a small hint of something like motor oil – but that could have easily been my imagination. I honestly feel a little more badass than I did when I woke up this morning.

I’m fortunate in that I don’t necessarily have to shave every day, but the gear Wet Shave Club sent me makes me want to make this a daily routine. I’m totally sold. The shave isn’t just about the shave; it’s about the experience. I dare you not to feel a little bit like Don Draper or Teddy Roosevelt while you enjoy – let’s be honest – what could be the best part of your day. 

Missed a spot...

 And as if that wasn't enough, check out the back of the lid for the soap. It's a sign: 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Only YOU can prevent "Lumbersexual" from Ruining Society

I wrote this not too long ago in the hope of it getting picked up by some men's magazine or something. It's so rare these days that I'm not writing for Mountain Life (which I still love) that the only time I write for myself, I make an event out of it. Pen and paper instead of screen and QWERTY; writing, not typing.

I am proud of this piece, and it'd be a damn shame if it didn't see the light of day.  Let me know what you think in the comments, because this has further implications than stroking my own ego. We stand at the precipice of a treacherous new age. Read on for more.

*          *          *

How the Term “Lumbersexual” could Spell the End of Society As We Know It

I’m starting this article with a disclaimer: I’m not a fashion guy. I’m generally a jeans and button up kind of guy, throwing caution to the wind and wearing a T-shirt a couple times a week. I’m aware that “men’s fashion” is a thing, a thing I’m able to observe from the outside and decide whether of not I wish to partake in the event. More often than not, I find it ridiculous, so I tend to steer clear.

For example, remember when the Fashion Powers-That-Be (I assume a trio of giant floating heads) tried to make us, the purchasing public, believe that men’s leggings – “meggings,” for Christ’s sake – were the next big thing? That was the last time I entered the ring of the industry, arms swinging, with an opinion – specifically, that the Men’s Fashion world could calmly fuck itself.

A grand lot of difference that made, because they changed tack and started selling us “skinny jeans”, or leggings made of denim.

Now, I also take pride in what I call “Manly Pursuits” – not hobbies per se but a set of skills that a man should be able to do. These “manly pursuits" include things like building a stable fire, woodwork, fishing, and of course, telling a good story (in my case, through writing). Even simple things like fixing something instead of buying a new one, or – worse – paying someone else to fix it. If your toilet needs a $5 replacement part, and you hire somebody that charges you $100 for ‘parts and labour’, you suddenly have an expensive toilet, a lighter wallet, and I feel it’s fair to say that you’re a sucker. I’m not saying women can’t and shouldn't follow manly pursuits. It’s actually kind of a turn on when a woman knows how to fix her own toilet. It’s just that men should be able to.  The last 50 years have devolved into a feminization of society (and I say that with full respect to women – I consider myself a feminist).

All I’m saying is that you could get a 27 year old from today, and a 27 year old from the 1950s, I have a feeling the former would be licking his wounds and the latter would be stitching his own up.

Where these two topics collide, sadly, is represented by a word I shudder to even write – lumbersexual.  A quick Google Image Search will reveal hundreds of men that all put a little too much time into making their photo shoot look casual. It makes me want to knock their teeth out with the blunt end of those axes.

I’m sorry. No.  Any man can grow a beard and wear plaid, but give any random man an axe and see who can give you back a pile of firewood. We’ve become a generation of boys without bedtimes, staying up playing video games and not honing our outdoor skills. 

And don’t give me that “faster reflexes” argument. Faster reflexes don’t mean anything when you’re starving in the wilderness – and even if you CAN catch a fish straight out of the water, or a rabbit on the fly, do you know how to prepare it? (I don’t either, but that’s why I’m learning.) Today’s man is ill equipped to deal with real world tasks beyond his taxes. The fashion world, frankly, has no God-damn right on this Earth to tell a man how to dressed, and a real man doesn’t give a shit and goes back to wrestling bears (truly the Manliest of pursuits).

Before you ask: yes, I have flannel shirts. Real flannel. It’s ripped, but still warm. My jeans are boot cut, because have you ever actually worn skinny jeans? It’s like being swallowed by an anaconda from the feet up. Jeans should absorb grease, blood, ink, and mud.  And yes, I have a beard. I live in a ski town. It keeps my face warm, and it’s cheaper than a scarf. 

Sometimes, on really great winter days, I keep snow in it.

Maybe I’ll shave it off soon. Who the fuck cares? It’s my face, and hair grows back.  The old saying says that the clothes maketh the man, but we’re entering into dangerous territory where the clothes are all that maketh the man.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Robin Williams

Just before I turned 15, I ended up touring Western Canada. My mom and dad had divorced not 3 months prior, and - given that I and my siblings were moving to England to live - Pops wanted us to see THIS beautiful country before seeing THAT beautiful country.  We land in Calgary, and of course rent a car. With a tape deck (it was '98).

Honestly, the tape could have been in the car right from the outset. I vaguely recall some sort of cassette display in a random general store, but that might have been coincidence. Regardless, we must have listened to Robin Williams' "Live at the Met" 20 times over those two weeks.

Mrs Doubtfire was one of those rare movies that the entire family went to the theatre to see. Dad was usually the movie parent, so seeing my mom in the cinema at the same time was reason for this strong memory. Like the stand up, many of the jokes were designed for a slightly older demographic but it made me rediscover them later in life. Incidentally, one of the few (possibly only) times my mom exclusively took us to a movie was another Robin Williams vehicle: Hook. 

I won't claim that Williams "got me through" my parents divorce, but his material seems ingrained in my early adolescence. I remember being blown away by his totally insane train of thought, his ability to bounce around and leapfrog from one topic to the next, all in that machine-gun style delivery. 

Of course this isn't the only tribute to his death you'll see out the on the Interwebz, but it's mine. I won't pretend I suffer from depression, but times can get tough for everyone.  It may seem like telling someone you want to kill yourself is totally self-centred, but, just like Mr. Williams, people have no idea what you're going through because the mask of normality is so strongly glued on. Plus, the de facto reply to "How are you?" has become "fine", even when everything isn't.  

For a far better explanation of a subject I can't hope to accurately cover, we go to the oft-underrated that put out a somber piece showing why funny people feel the need to be funny all the time.   Not every funny person is battling with demons, but be conscious that some of them are. 

Anyone who reads this, I consider you a friend, and friends look out for each other. If you ever email me or get me on FB, with a problem about not coping, I promise you I will listen. The Whistler Community Services Society has a 24 hour phone number if I'm not around (I'm not downloading the new messenger, and am debating deleting Facebook on my phone) which is 604-902-0670.  For those far abroad, make the effort to look around for an outlet. Sometimes a stranger is easier to open up to. 

Dammit. Why does someone have to die to make me write on here? Sorry for such a downer of a post. Here's to the funniest man to make my whole family laugh.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Monkeys, Movies, Music, and Magic

Not usual for me, but I want to talk big movies. Specifically, the Planet of the Apes reboot. This is a franchise that has taken its roots and just run - real popcorn stuff, and I'm for sure going to see the next one, Dawn of the Planet of The Apes. The whole origin story is such an interesting concept - we know the story, but the "Outbreak" theme is a great twist on just what led to Charlton Heston's beating the sand at the end of the great original.

Now, there's a series of shorts that have come out. Documenting one year5 years, and 10 years after Simian Flu, it's a really unique teaser series that makes me want to buy my ticket now.  They're all totally worth watching, but my favourite was the third, Story of The Gun. All of the characters brought together in a post-apocalyptic world by an item - a weapon  - is such an awesome idea. I highly recommend them.

Next, music. The weather has finally become Summer - right on time for July. New Season, New Job. I'm taking advantage of working at the GLC inasmuch that I'm taking opportunities as they come. I went to see Pete Murray the other night, and forgot I knew a lot of his stuff.  If you don't know, he's an Australian singer/songwriter who's known for playing chilled beach tunes. One man and his guitar was exactly what I needed after a weekend of work hell. I thought I knew the meaning of "burnt out" but that was, I now realise, the emotion "over it". It took me ten minutes to make 2 drinks, I was all over the joint.

But enough of that. It was a great show, and apart from one little scuffle by two little dickbags, it was an awesome crowd to be a part of.

What struck me about the show, though, was two things:

People are taking videos and snapchats more than ever, and while the little screen in front of me doesn't bother me per sé, it's what it represents.  When have you ever had a Snapchat from a live gig that wasn't drowned out by the audience immediately around the phone singing along? When have you ever taken a video on a phone and watched it back more than a week later?

The hate on phones at gigs is not a new one by any means, but it makes my point nicely. Murray does a song called "Ten Feet Tall", possibly my favourite of his. Its backstory involves, love, death and meaning.

A man's wife died when she was only 32 years old (I don't know under what circumstances). This woman, from when she was a small girl, had said that when she died, she wanted to come back as a butterfly. Not long after the funeral, her widower and some of their friends were having a late one at a bar, when a butterfly flew in the window, flew amongst all of them, and finally came to rest on the man's shoulder, where it remained until he walked home.  This is a beautiful story, made more so by the fact that butterflies fly during the day.

So this moved me. I'm allowed to feel things. So, in the same way that holiday photos never look as amazing as when you're there, how would the transference of this beautiful and touching story be relatable when you say to your friend "Oh, dude, you HAVE to check out this vid of Pete Murray"?  I don't know. Maybe I'm just looking for beautiful things.

Which I found, and brings me to my next point: those that didn't have their phones in their pockets were perceivably having a great time. I always check out the crowd a couple of times at gigs, because people collectively experiencing and enjoying live music is a rare and precious thing.  Electric.  I get goosebumps when I see a couple holding each other and kiss, or a couple of buddies clink beers and bro out. I'm getting goosebumps just writing this!

But it seems that's the way it goes. There is such a stark dichotomy of people: those that live the moment, and those that share. I know which one I am.

Start living moments.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Changing Perspectives

Wowsers. It's been a couple of weeks, but it's ok! I have a sick note reasons! I was in Ontario, a place I shall never again badmouth, or at least will defend when others badmouth it. I got to party in Toronto, something I haven't done in years. I went to Muskoka, discovered a love of fishing, drank like a high schooler, and woke up where I hadn't planned on falling asleep. On the floor, for example. I saw virtually my entire paternal family (with the exception of one second cousin I believe) and school friends, met the "new arrivals" (Anna, the oldest, is 7), and bonded with my stepbrother's kid, Lily, the sweetest little girl whose vocabulary was only outmatched by her willingness to speak it.  I was honoured to be asked to be the master of ceremonies at my step-cousin's wedding, and discovered a love of holding an audience captive through the bullshit I wrote myself. In fact, my only regret is that I didn't get to drop the mic after announcing the bar is open.

My point is this: after 11 days in The Motherland, I saw a whole new side to the province, as well as myself, which has made it a viable destination spot in the future. Thanks to everyone that put Jules and I up at inconvenience to yourself.

I didn't wear a shirt for days.

But I'm back now.

Since I started this site, I have worked more or less full time at "the Corner" as it's known amongst the staff, a building-wide business that incorporates everything from a breakfast bar to a nightclub. It's been over 6 1/2 years since I was hired as bar back at Maxx Fish, and while I do not regret my time spent with my O&R family one bit, the time has come to move along. I recently got a job at the Garibaldi Lift Company, a restaurant/bar regularly featured on Top Ten Aprés Spots across the board. I'm so excited to move on, and pumped to be working with another group of awesome people. I hope I can keep up with them.  La Bocca put more strings on my bow thanks to Sonia and Brenton, as well as the new managers Jenny Boots and Chelsea and the rest of the staff - a group of people I'm proud to have as close friends. Considering the position the place was in 4 or 5 years ago, I'm confident that the corner has been turned, and the young(er) team will take that momentum and do great things. It's still the best patio bar in the summer, so I'll be back, just on the customer side of the bar.

That's that. You know where to find me: when skiing to the village, turn left at the bottom.

By The Way: Jerry Seinfeld's consuming webseries Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee has just started its 4th season. I'm hooked, and so should you be.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Being Happy in a Grown Up World

There's a picture going around the Internet that says something along the lines of "It seems half my friends are getting engaged and having babies, and the other half keep losing their phones."Of course, I can't for the life of me find it at the minute, but rest assured it's out there (I see it about once a month on Facebook.)
The fact is, it's kind of true. In the last two weeks, one ex got married, another (my first girlfriend) got engaged, and yet another is pregnant.  If that doesn't fuck with your head, you're stronger (stranger?) than me.  It's like some bizarre version of Good Luck Chuck, that sorta-ok movie with Dane Cook and JESSICA ALBA AS A PENGUIN ZOOKEEPER WHICH IS GOD DAMN ADORABLE. The admittedly terrible premise is that anyone Cook sleeps with finds the man of their dreams immediately after. Now I'm not saying I'm the one with the Midas touch - it's the law of probability, that eventually, everyone or a large proportion of my friends will do the wedding thing.  Meanwhile, I don't even have a prospect.

This isn't a gripe session - it's sort of a lead-in to my main point. I'm about halfway through the #100HappyDays project, an idea that we tend to take things for granted.  The small things that make you smile, like a toddler jumping in a puddle, are things you document using FB, Twitter, Instagram, and/or tumblr. It's pretty interesting, a photographic challenge for the everyman. I'm using Instagram, and you can look for my pics (apparently on IG only) using #100happydayswhistler. As far as I know, I'm the only one using it. I have everything from a bacon sandwich (Day 1) to Calvin and Hobbes (Day 35) to an absolutely stunning video of motocross goddess Dianna Dahlgren wrestling with a pair of jeans (Day 18). Booty fuckin licious.
Anyway, halfway through, and I'm already a happy guy generally, but it kind of forces me to keep an eye out for things that make me smile. I'm currently at Vancouver Airport to head back to Ontario for a week and a half, so things are about to get a little more hectic than usual.

By the Way, Mountain Life is back to normal. Read even more of my crap that actually has a purpose right here.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Last Call for Citta and The Registry

In the past few days, two iconic bars have closed their doors for good. Last night, local's favourite Citta said goodbye to their loyal customers with a send off that, of course, involved nudity.  This is Whistler, after all. Wouldn't be right without a wang hangin' out. I, unfortunately, was working, and by the time I had finished, there was not a drop of alcohol to be had in the place. $3.75 drinks will do that to a place.

Last week, the bar where I made a lot of memories in my formative drinking years did the same. Portsmouth's Registry (known as the Reg, nerd) has been closed to create student accommodation for the university nearby. This makes me sadder than I thought it would. As a student bar, The Reg was perfect: roomy, cheap, right next door to many of the school facilities, and welcoming. As I think about it now, I spent countless nights there growing up, met more than one girl willing to go home with me, and was an ideal place for the eventual yet inevitable catch up with the old college crew whenever I made the trek across the ocean to say hi.

Bars and restaurants close every damn day, but these two have made me realise the passage of time - both from when I was in my late teens, and the years I have spent here in the mountains. Citta was one of those places that had the killer patio and the staff that were longterm, so they knew how it is in Whistler, but not jaded by the lifestyle.  Working across the street, I used to love running over when we were quiet and saying hi, confident that there would be at least one handshake from both sides of the bar.  Yesterday afternoon, I had my last beer at Citta, and the mood was a weird one. It was too early in the day for things to get really rowdy, so the realisation was setting in for some. It honestly felt like a wake, with the hugs, and "thanks for coming in"s, which I felt weren't just meant for that day, but for the custom over the years.


A mere name does not a bar make. Time will tell, when they re-open as The Beacon next month, if this cameraderie will have remained in the building.  Some people in town are against it, firmly invested in our memories.  But those memories will keep people coming back to that same patio no matter what happens with the Powers That Be. I'm sure more than one person will be back in their role, offering friendly faces to former regulars and new ones. And yes, I will head over and introduce myself, hoping to still have friendly neighbours.  

Thank you to both The Registry and Citta for not kicking me out when I probably should have been. Thanks for being there for meetups, heartbreaks, and long nights. Thanks for stories that I'll re-tell over cold beer on other patios, spilled beer on the tables that the tears from laughing will splash into.

Just... thanks, I guess.