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I Just Want to Get Married…..I Want it to be Affordable, and No…I Don’t Want to Buy Your Crap

Wedding of Mr & Mrs Henry McDonnell. Alice Rac...

Do you think THEY spent forty grand? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What the hell is wrong with the “Wedding Industry“?Yes, I will call it an industry because that’s what it is.  According to www.weddingindustrystatistics.com, “For the first time since 2008, wedding budgets are on the rise,” said Carley Roney, cofounder of The Knot. “In 2011, one in five US couples spent more than $30,000, and 11% spent more than $40,000 on their weddings. Our research shows that couples and their families are less concerned with the economy and are increasingly comfortable investing more in the once-in-a-lifetime occasion of their wedding.”  So most “average” couples would rather go into debt over a wedding than eat for the next 6 months.  Wow…..genius.

It’s not hard to see why.  As you may have gathered from previous postings, I am currently engaged and set to be married to my lovely fiancée in September.  As a result, we have spent the last few months scouting venues, talking to caterers, DJ’s, bands, photographers, florists and the like trying to plan our special day.  It’s amazing how much things cost, and what a huge business this has become for so many people trying to sell you crap.

This is nowhere more evident than at a wedding show.  If you haven’t been to one of these, it’s just like it sounds.  It’s a damn wedding show…..basically a collection of vendors get together and decide that they’re all going to get in your pocket all at once.  It’s fantastic.  We also had to pay to get in, so now I am actually paying out money for people to sell me things.  Doesn’t that seem backwards?  Now I would expect certain vendors to be there…..country clubs, dance halls, florists, cake shops, etc.  What I did not expect are all the other losers that really have nothing to do with weddings that show up.  Wow, I’m a wedding show…I’d love to look at some closet organizers while I’m here.  Awesome.  Hey, check it out….I was actually thinking about getting laser hair removal, tattoo removal, and personal training.  I’m so glad I came so I could knock all this out in one place.

I guess all these things do have a very very loose connection to getting ready for a wedding, but seriously folks.  These weddings are getting out of control and you’re the reason why.  I talked to my mom, who has been married to my dad for over 30 years.  She didn’t get laser hair removal before her wedding, and she didn’t have a personal trainer.  I am pretty sure that things were simpler then, and all this nonsense is just something that we’ve created over the years as a way for even more people to make more friggin money.  I’m all for the free enterprise system….please save your nasty emails, but sell your crap to someone who wants it.

My fiance and I decided that our wedding was going to be simple, memorable, and affordable.  We are not taking on a mountain of debt to get married.  We are cashflowing the whole thing ourselves.  We have been smart and frugal about hiring our professionals.  Here’s a couple tips that we’ve discovered to keep the cost of your wedding down.  No big surprises here, but maybe there’s something you haven’t thought of:

1.  Plan Early –  Sure, the idea of a whirlwind engagement sounds like fun, but if you’re planning a ceremony and reception this is not the way to go.  We’ve had months to plan and it’s still been a headache.  Giving yourself plenty of time will allow you to have the most flexibility in your decisions….more people will be available and not yet booked out to help you.  Also, with many vendors, if you book well in advance, they will give you a discount if you just ask for it.

2.  Try Some Different Sources – Did you know that you can find service providers for these types of things a lot of different places?  I would actually say that somewhere like a wedding show is the worst place to hire people.  Maybe go there and get some ideas on what you want to do, but seek out better deals elsewhere.  We found scads and scads of DJ’s, photographers, and the like on Craigslist.  Yes, Craigslist.  Now, these people are not pre-screened so you have to do your due diligence in checking their references and abilities, but if you’re willing to spend the extra time, you can find a smoking deal.  Make sure you call their references, do not give them more than a reasonable small deposit to reserve your date, and ask them to see lots of examples of their work.

3.  Make Things – We found that the materials to make a lot of items like centerpieces, invites, place cards, menus, favors and so forth are available online for a fraction of the cost you pay to buy them.  Websites like www.tablelinensforless.com and www.koyalwholesale.com have a lot of great products to make just about everything you need.  In conjunction with Item #1, if you give yourself enough time to make these things, you can save a boatload of cash.

4.  Ask For Discounts – Do not underestimate the power of negotiation.  Obviously, some people are just flush with work and will not negotiate at all with you.  That’s fine.  Look for the skilled vendor that you want that’s maybe not as busy as the others.  Then ask them to lower their price.  Then ask them to lower it again.  Make this job the job that they want to take.  This job is going to be a showcase for them to build their portfolio.  Anything that you can use as a negotiating tactic is to your advantage.  For example, our wedding is at a secluded mountain lodge.  We sold this as a chance for our vendors to have a nice relaxing weekend getaway as well as do our event.  Room and board was included in their package.  Of course, we offset the cost to put them up with highly discounted rates for services.  We made out in the end.

5.  Be Smart – Do you really need that many flowers?  Do you really need that particular candle or napkin or whatever?  Making unnoticeable substitutions and cuts that no one would ever miss is a good way to make yourself some money.  Remember, you’re into the details of the day during planning.  On that day, your guests will be into seeing you get hitched and then downing as much free food and booze as they can.  They won’t care that your beautifully arranged candle ensemble came from Pottery Barn.  Keep it simple….elegant can be simple.

Guys, we know that we’re not geared towards this sort of thing.  We don’t plan weddings.  Take it from me, if you’re there to support your fiancee and help her as she goes through this, it will make your life a lot easier.  Don’t fight it.  Just drink a lot of beer samples at the wedding show, and you will get through it.

 

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Crappy Movies Not to Netflix: Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol

I am too cheap to go to the movies.  Sorry, but I just don’t have $50 to drop on a crappy movie that may or may not be worth a damn and a tub of “over saturated with butter” popcorn and some Skittles.  My fiancée and I rent a lot of movies on Netflix, and while we sometimes agree on what to rent, usually we don’t.  This means that I have an interest in seeing about half the things that we get, and do not have an interest in the other half.  I am still made to watch this crap, and therefore, I will review both types of movies.  Hey, it’s all a valuable service to you, right?  So without further ado….my first edition of “Crappy Movies Not to Netflix”!

Netflix

Netflix (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

May 12, 2012 – Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

This movie sucks.  Let’s just get that right out there.  I am not going to make you wait until the end of my rambling for a verdict.  I’m just going to come right out with that.  I was a fan of the Mission Impossible series and of the first two movies, to a degree.  The first movie was cool….hey, Jon Voight was a bastard and all the Mission Impossible nerds out there got pissed off because Phelps was a bad guy, there was a hot chick, explosions, and it’s always kind of fun to see a TV show get converted into a movie.

I also typically like Tom Cruise.  He’s a bit of a douche in real life, and his movies are hit and miss, but overall he’s usually pretty entertaining.  Ghost Protocol only served to highlight for me that Tom Cruise is getting and looking old and his weak attempt at rocking a nice mop of hair in an effort to look younger and cooler.  Fail, Tom.  Cut that hair.  Keep it high and tight like you used to.  That works better for you.  You’re not a skater, and you’re not a beatnik.

Spoiler Alert:  I’m going to talk about the movie now.  If you have any interest in seeing this garbage, I’d stop reading now so I don’t ruin it for you.

Tom has a hard time acting his way out of this one.  The script is plodding and unimaginative.  Ooooh…..we’re back to fighting with the Russians, again?  Really?  I thought we were all friends now.  Tom’s (er, sorry…..Ethan’s) locked up in a Russian prison.  Some new fill ins from IMF break him out, and the fun begins.  We have a witty british dork who I guess is good with computers….nowhere as cool as Luther (aka Ving Rhames from the previous flicks) and your gratuitous love interest chick whom we all know Tom will hook up with eventually.  That’s the new team?  Hmmm….at least before we had “The Professional”.  I digress.

This weak plot proceeds.  We find out that there are some Russian nuclear launch codes “in the open” and IMF needs to get them back.  There’s a guy who is trying to acquire them.  He’s a nutjob with a cool name…Cobalt.  IMF needs information on this guy, so the first order of business is to…no way….wait a second….this must be a mistake…..break into….THE KREMLIN?!?!?!?  Dum dum dummmmmm.  Wow.  I can’t believe they’re even going to try this.  Again, I thought that we were friends with the Russians.  Why we can’t just ask them for the information we need, I’m not sure, but Tom and the gang break in anyway.  Of course they use some cool gadgets to get past security…..hey, security is pretty weak at The Kremlin….but the tapes they need are gone.  Cobalt’s already been here.  Then he sets off a bomb that blows The Kremlin to kingdom come.  Holy crap.  That is bad.

Of course there is a big misunderstanding, and the Russians think that Americans are responsible for the bombing.  Tom escapes the hospital and is picked up by the IMF secretary.  This guy’s new….I don’t remember seeing him before.  They’re riding along in a limo when the secretary drops the bad news….because the Russians think that IMF is responsible for the bombing, the President has invoked…….wait for it…….wait…….wait…….GHOST PROTOCOL!!!  Oh damn.  IMF is shut down and all agents are now disavowed again.  They are always disavowing people.  It’s amazing.  You’d think they’d stop disavowing people cause that’s gotta create a lot of extra paperwork.  Maybe IMF just uses the disavowing thing as a way to extract more work out of them.  I’m sure they complain a lot about having to work all these crazy hours and the crazy travel schedule.  Anyway…..the secretary gets offed and Tom’s on his own again.

So they come up with this brilliant plan to try to intercept the sale of the codes from the assassin to the Cobalt people.  All that involves is going to Dubai and wasting an hour of my time as Tom attempts a worthless stunt to climb up the side of the building for god-knows-why and also using a cute little machine to change the suite numbers at the fancy hotel.  After a lot of drama, the plan gets messed up, people end up dead, there is a big sandstorm….big freakin’ whoop.  Tom and the gang are nowhere closer to solving this problem or getting this movie anywhere closer to being over.  Sadly for us, now they have to go to India to track down a guy that controls the satellite that Cobalt needs to launch a nuclear missile.

The one saving grace for this movie is the interaction between the female IMF agent and the rich Indian guy.  That was pretty funny, but not worth the 2 hour wait to see it.  Are you kidding me?  This thing has gone on for two hours.  More things blow up and Tom saves the day.  The end.  Oh, there’s other stuff too but it’s just pointless to talk about.  Some of the effect are cool.  Most of them have been done before.  Most of all this has been done before, and better.  You get the idea.

Instead of renting this beauty on Netflix, save that two-day turnaround for something more worthwhile.  You will thank me for it.

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Reflecting on the Passing of a Hip-Hop Great, MCA

When I heard the news last week that Adam Yauch, aka MCA from the Beastie Boys had passed away, I probably had the same reaction that a lot of people had……”Wow, that sucks.”

Now I have to admit that in recent years, I hadn’t followed the Beastie Boys as much as I had in younger days.  It seemed as though it was ages ago when I couldn’t stop listening to those guys, and they were always a staple in my CD player (yeah, CD player….lol).  I started to think about that a little bit and reflect on where I was when I was a big Beastie Boys fan and where I am now, and I have to say that it got me thinking about a simpler time in my life.

Beastie Boys

Beastie Boys (Photo credit: Serjao Carvalho)

Those guys liked to party….hell, “Fight For Your Right” was a theme song at our high school parties.  Smashing beer cans on your head, drinking with pretty girls, yelling and screaming and pretty much not giving a damn about anything was what those guys were about, and as young impressionable high school dudes, we embraced that.  MCA was an idol to us….we emulated him.  We looked up to him, and so did the music business.  If you go back and listen to old school and newer rap alike, just think about how many times you’ve heard a sampling of a Beastie Boys beat, lyric, line or idea.  It’s ironic that three white Jewish boys from NYC did so much to influence so many people at the early dawn of rap, but their mark on us is undeniable.I had the opportunity to see the Beastie Boys here in Denver back in 2000, and while it was one hell of a show, I did not realize at that time that this would be the only time I would have the opportunity to see them live.  They had a huge mural with a dragon on it behind them as they performed and even at that time, I felt as though I had lost some of my youth as I had fallen away from being a hard core fan.  Obviously, the group evolved over time to somewhat keep in sync with an older following, but I feel that they never lost their original hip-hop origins.  I guess they didn’t really change….it was me.

I’ve been listening to a lot of old Beastie Boys for the last few days, and I have to say that it feels good.  Maybe there is room in our adult professional lives for a little “illin” and “body rockin”.  Maybe the next time you’re leaving a terrible business meeting that you just got your ass kicked in, or a fight with your wife or girlfriend that totally pissed you off, you should think about rocking a little “Brass Monkey” or “Jimmy James” to “put you in the right mood”.  We’re not too busy and important for that, are we?  The passing of MCA has reminded me that you’re never too old.  I’m afraid that I’m getting to the age where a lot of my musical favorites will get older and start to pass away and leave us for good.  It’s all a part of the game.  I’ve got a new appreciation for the mortality of the musical acts from my younger days, and I think that some of those old forgotten songs will find their way onto my iPod in the very near future.

MCA, you will be missed.  Time to get ill on the other side……and rest in peace, old friend.

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Booze on a Budget – What Every Man Should Know

Times are tough…..

Maybe you’re unemployed cause the boss’ son who now controls your old department laid you off because he was tired of stealing all your great ideas.  Maybe you’re only halfway to saving for that new Harley, or maybe you’re just a cheap skate.  There is nothing wrong with trying to save a little money, and let’s face it guys…..going to the bar or club can be an expensive proposition.  Add a thirsty woman into the equation, and you’re broke before you know it.

Should you opt for cheap booze, or drink specials in the God-awfulest hole in the wall dump you can find just so you can drink on the cheap?  Ummm…..no.  Enter the hip flask.  Now you might be telling yourself that bringing your own little supply of your favorite booze to a swanky bar or club is tacky, lowlife or below the belt.  I beg to differ my wanting-to-be-hammered friend.  The hip flask is your savior, and may be your best ally against high drink prices, jerk-ass bartenders, and the ever dreaded light handed pour.

Dansk: lommelærke English: hip flask Polski: p...

Dansk: lommelærke English: hip flask Polski: piersiówka (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are some rules and regulations that you should follow when employing your new little secret.  These rules will not only keep you in the bar, but keep you nice and buzzed as well.  There is a little bit of etiquette to observe when sneaking liquor into a bar or club that is dead set on selling it to you instead.  Think of that pimple faced kid at the movie theater who’s keeping you from bringing your own Twizzlers into the movie cause they want you to spend $8 for that in their joint.

Now, back to the flask…..make sure that your flask is a dark color.  A lot of the flasks being sold are shiny silver….no good.  They stick out like a sore thumb.  Try pouring that thing into your drink in a dark bar with flashing lights and it will be like your signaling for a rescue plane on a deserted island.  You’ll be detected and 86ed quickly.

Second, pick a flask with a thin profile that contours your leg.  With the right fit, the flask will be completely undetectable and you’ll have no trouble getting it into the bar.    Once you get in, you’ll be able to sit comfortably with your well shaped flask in tow without having to adjust yourself to enjoy the night.  You will be tempted to buy the biggest, most voluminous flask you can…..but picking a good sensibly sized flask is key.  I would recommend either a 4 or 6 ounce model for the best results.  Also, spend the extra couple bucks and get the funnel.  You’ll thank me for that.

glenlivet hip flask

glenlivet hip flask (Photo credit: bigbahookie)

Finally, practice your pouring technique.  It’s a good idea to be able to add a little happiness to your drink right there in the social area of the bar.  Ok, ok….so as a beginner, if you need to excuse yourself to the men’s room to pour your drink, that’s fine, but eventually you’ll need to learn to do it without being detected or drawing attention to yourself.  In addition, some bars don’t allow drinks in the restroom, and that obviously screws up your plans for the night. To properly pour in place, practice opening and sealing the flask under a table without looking at it.  Don’t look down!  Looking down while you pour is a dead giveaway.  It takes a little practice, but with time, you will master the art of sophisticated flask ownership and it will be one of the most satisfying tools in your man tool belt. Save money and drink the smart way.  Do it with a flask!  Your wallet will thank you.  As a real man, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you’re getting hammered the smart way…..and that’s just boss.

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The First Post

Congratulations….

You’ve found the next big thing.  Really.  It may not seem like it now, but this blog is gonna be big.

Why are you here?  Men don’t blog.  This is something for ladies to do about celebrities.  This is something for nerds to do about computers and video games.  Well, you’re neither a lady or a nerd so why check out this blog?  Simply put….you need this.  The Man Blog is for us guys.  We’ll be discussing everything from A to Z from a man’s point of view.  A smart ass man’s point of view, no less.  You need an outlet and this is it.

It’s my intention to provide you with the most entertaining, informative, and unique experience you’ve had on a computer in a long time.  We are not going to candy-coat shit here.  As a smart ass man myself, I will strive to provide you with meaningful content on a regular basis that will help you in your daily life as a man.  We’ll discuss the finer points in life….liquor, booze, alcohol, women, and beer.  We’ll discuss dealing with your woman when she’s pissing you off.  We’ll talk about how stupid people in our society are.  We’ll review new and worthwhile products that every man must have (suggestions welcome….oh, and send me your stuff and I will review it).  We’ll talk about society and other notable topics that affect men like us.  I say “we” on all of these things because I want this blog to be interactive, and I want you to participate with your comments and feedback.  Follow this blog.  Tell your friends.  Ladies welcome, too……but this is a Man Blog.

As the great Jackie Gleason was known to say…..”And awaaaaay we go.”

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