Less expensive manly Christmas gifts

December 15, 2008

As requested by my friend, MJ, here are some manly gifts that are less expensive.

For those who are on a really tight budget, the best gift may be a bit of information and time to follow where it leads.  With that in mind, give your man this reference, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/army/fm/,

and promise not to pester him for spending hours reading the massive number of US Military field manuals that are available on line for free.  Just be sure that, once he gets into reading this stuff you remember to make him eat and drink occasionally.

Any man will be quite pleased with the gift of a pocket knife, and this one…

… will be even more appreciated as it’s not the run of the mill multipurpose tool, but is specifically designed to be useful in emergency situations.  At $90 it’s at the top of today’s price list, but it has a blade designed to cut through safety glass, which is mucho manly.

And if you’re looking for a gift that leads to a bit of hands on fun…

… this massage ball should do the trick.  It’s only $11 and, well, if you only use it once I’d say that’s money well spent.

A more practical gift is this set of multi-purpose tools…

… with the key being that, while they’re not heavy duty implements, at $20 they are a handy addition to the tool box and give one the option of taking one or two tools to make a minor repair without having to tote a large number of tools to hard to reach locations.  I know several professional service and repair people who wouldn’t be caught dead without these items.

If your man cooks, he can always use one of these

… 4″ paring knives from the same people who make Swiss Army knives.  At only $50, it’ll be a useful gift that lasts a life time and also shows that you have exceptional good taste.

If your man grills, and he most likely either does or wants to, a pair of tongs like this…


… will be most appreciated.  Since most men have some form of “grill tool set” they find themselves stuck with the crappy pair of cooking tweezers which is included and is nothing more than a piece of metal bent into the shape of the letter U.  This item, however, is a larger model of the standard and indispensable kitchen tongs and, at $11, should be something he can’t wait to play with.

Finally, and best, if he doesn’t already have one, get him a copy of this book…

… which you can pick up at most any book store for less than $20.  While it’s a bit old, it’s also probably the most manly book ever written, offering as it does such bits of wisdom as, “where you are weak show strength and where you are strong show weakness.”  This is unquestionably required manly reading.

Merry Christmas,
Mister Manly


Manly Christmas gifts

December 9, 2008

As Christmas approaches some of you may be having trouble choosing the perfect manly gift for your man.  In honor of Gov. Palin and the First Dude, I’ve decided on an Alaskan theme.

And what could be more manly than elk hunting?

I suggest a stay at Afognak Wilderness Lodge up near Seal Bay.  They have great scenery, rustic cabins, and lots of giant elk just waiting for that bullet with their name on it.  You’ll have to call for prices, but I suspect they’re in the “if you have to ask you can’t afford it” range.

Another hugely manly gift would be an entry in the Iron Dog snow machine race.  This event has been described as:

The Tesoro Iron Dog™ is the longest snowmobile race on the planet. Racers reach speeds in excess of 110 miles per hour as they speed over Alaska’s frozen tundra, enduring wind-chills which plummet down to a bone-chilling 50 below zero!

While I have never been in such a competition, it seems logical that one would require a snowmobile…

… and this one, a Ski-Doo’s MXZ Adrenaline with 600cc E-TEC, sounds like it would do the job.  For around ten grand you get a 120hp monster that has a better power to weight ratio than most sports cars, which should propel it at speeds far beyond anything a wimp would dare think about.

You’ll also need to get the cold weather gear and such, which will run you a few more hundred.

Another mental image that’s often conjured up at the mention of Alaska is…

… dog sledding.  While most people probably won’t have the need or desire to own a sled and a team of dogs, it would be a manly adventure to rent those things and learn how to make them go.  Fortunately, this is available at Northern Sky Lodge and Kennel.  You’ll have to call for prices, but if you can afford it Mister Manly says to mush on up there.

Another part of Alaskan life is flying…

… and learning to fly, besides being a good song, would also be a manly trial.  So pilot lessons would make a great stocking stuffer.  Prices will vary by area, but you can find a flight school near you here.  That site also has links pertaining to the actual purchase of a plane, but if I’m going to suggest you spend that much money I’ll direct you to a sports car page.

Finally, near the top of the big list of manly occupations is lumberjack.  This fact is celebrated in a series of lumberjack competitions that can be seen on any of the multitude of cable sports channels.  Obviously, most people won’t have the time or opportunity to devote themselves to perfecting their skill in most of the events, but most everyone has the time and money to practice this…

… the manly art of ax throwing.  While this is most likely a sport that apartment dwellers should shun, if you have a back yard then $90 can equip your man with a competition legal throwing ax, which comes with the rules of the sport and instructions for building a target.  Heck, buy two so you can both play.  Just be sure to let him win.

Mister Manly

Manly gifts for these unsettled times.

November 12, 2008

While it’s not manly to talk politics outside of an environment that doesn’t allow physical contact between those involved in the conversation, it’s also not manly to ignore how things are going in the country in general.  With that in mind, and not casting blame in any particular direction, it’s interesting to note that we are in unsettled political and financial times, and that this presents an opportunity to pick up some of those manly gifts your man wants at really good prices.  Thus, the items I’m listing today won’t have a price or source of purchase, but will be things you  should keep an eye open for a good deal on.

What man wouldn’t want to be part owner of an automobile manufacturer?


And let’s face it, regardless of their fiscal soundness, General Motors has been the leader in making manly transportation for years.  Besides, even though the value of their shares has dropped enough that picking up a certificate for a hundred and having it framed for display on the garage wall is now in the stocking stuffer range, since the Government seems hell bent on propping the company up, it might even be a good investment.

On the other hand, what with high gas prices and economic woes, some of the more manly vehicles are not selling as well as usual, and good deals may be had on both new and used ones.


So, while in normal times a Hummer or a sweet sports car might have been out of your price range, it couldn’t hurt to look around and see if something this manly can find its way into your drive way for Christmas.

Another industry that’s seeing hard times is home construction.


And that should mean some excellent deals on the manly tools of that trade.  I’m thinking that the prices on used power tools, like nail guns, are so low that you’ll need an extra large tree to put them under.  Make sure you buy name brands that aren’t visibly beat up, and there should be some great man pleasing values around.



OK, you’re probably not going to get a deal on these.  Still, considering the new Government’s view on private firearm ownership, this might be the last chance you have to put something like this AR-15 in your man’s hands.  Trust me, he’ll be most grateful for it.  Oh, and don’t forget the extras – ammunition, large capacity magazines, and such.

What with large car engines being out of favor, some are finding creative ways to use the unwanted parts.


While any man would drool over a V-8 grill, there are probably many more unique creations out there that would also be manly fun.  It couldn’t hurt to look.

It has also come to my attention that, due to the general fear for the economy, air travel rates are down, and the air lines are begging for customers.  This comes at a perfect time, because it should be quite reasonable to hand your man round trip tickets to California, so he can get in on the Prop 8 protests.


While I have no general view on the manliness of gay marriage, I do think that, at times, a man needs a good fight, and I’m thinking that if your man can’t find a good reason to pound on either of these groups, then you’re probably reading the wrong blog.

Let us not forget the manliness of building stuff.



That is a cargo container.  It’s a big steel box about the size of the trailers semi-trucks haul around.  They’re used in great quantity to ship things around the world on ships, trains, and trucks.  Fortunately, in a way, since we in the United States import more goods than we ship out, they tend to pile up over here.  This makes them right cheap.  They have all sorts of other uses, from extra storage to forming the basis for construction of an underground bunker.  My friend at http://renaissanceronin.wordpress.com/, is using them to build a house.  Still, whatever purpose that are put to, they are technically buildings once on the ground, so if you put two in the back yard, your home turns into a compound, and that is manly.

This last one is off theme, but after I found out the price I was compelled to include it.  It’s a motion sensitive automatic camera.


It’s sometimes known as a game camera because biologists use them to monitor wildlife movement along game trails, and it is really manly cool.  The concept is that you strap it to a tree in a spot where you want to know what’s happening when you’re not there, come back later, and it has a picture of everything that moved in front of it, even in the dark.  I haven’t mentioned them before because I figured they would be far too expensive, but it turns out they can be obtained for around $100!  I would point out that, while I want some to keep an eye on what the critters are doing on my farm while I’m not looking, they have a large number of uses even in urban areas.  Are your children sneaking out at night?  Who’s raiding the refrigerator while you’re asleep?  Who swipes your newspaper most mornings before you get down to fetch it?  Who’s tossing trash in your yard as they drive by?  Now you can find out.  I’m putting this on my Christmas wish list, and if I get one I’ll post some of the resulting photos.

Mister Manly

Manly gifts for the politically active.

October 8, 2008

It has been brought to my attention that there is a lot of political activity in the country at this time, and that some men seem to be almost as interested in supporting their favorite candidates as in football.  While I find this difficult to believe, people do crazy things and even the insane deserve to follow their individual delusions in a manly way.  Thus, if anyone out there wants to gift one of these men with something to appeal to their political passion here are some ideas.

The first one is a do-it-your-self kit rather than a single purchase.  I highly recommend this one if you want to get him to stop screaming at the TV for a while and back into the workshop so you can relax.  This group of products, combined with a bit of basic manufacturing and some elbow grease, is intended to counter that most dastardly form of political activity, the stealing of yard signs.

The starting point for this project is a steel fence post:

These are known as T-posts and are frequently used instead of wooden posts to support field fencing designed to keep cattle weighing a ton or so from wondering away from where they are supposed to be.  Compared to the thin wooden stake that the normal political sign comes with, these are like a main battle tank parked next to a skateboard.  They come in various lengths, and for this purpose I recommend the 7″ version.  Your average political sign is displayed at most 3 feet high, so that leaves 4 feet of metal to pound into the ground as an anchor.  They cost less than $7 each and can be purchased at most of the big hardware stores and at Tractor Supply Company.

Of course, to get them into the ground the proper tool is needed,

and that is a post driver, around $40 from the same store that sells you the T-posts.  Basically, this is a section of metal pipe with one end firmly capped and handles wielded on.  To use it, you ram the post into the ground deep enough to hold itself up, put the open end of this over the top, and lift and drop until the post is pounded to the desired depth.  This process makes a lot of noise, so you may want to toss in some ear protection.  It’s also really good exercise, so you may want to toss in some pain killers.

The next item needed is a metal sheet,

I recommend 12 ga stainless steel which you can get for well under $100, depending on the size.  Measure one of his yard signs to determine the appropriate dimensions.

Next is a sheet of high grade acrylic,

This is the stuff they make bullet proof windows from, and this one is coated to resist scratches and chemical stains.  The 1/8″ should do just fine and is less than $80.

Have him drill matching holes in each corner of the steel and plastic sheets.  Take the wimpy stick off the political sign of his choice and place it face up on the steel plate.  Cover with the acrylic.  Bolt it in place (he should have these on hand or will know where to get them.)  Pound in the T-post.  Spot wield or epoxy the steel plate to the post.  Oh, and prior to driving in the post, make sure that no underground infrastructure will be damaged, like gas lines and such. 

The result will be a political sign that will last for years, be the envy of the neighborhood, and easily withstand any casual assault.  Just the mental image of the look on the face of the first person who attempts to snatch it on a middle of the night run is well worth the expense and effort.

Speaking of which, if you’ve got a great sign, why limit the viewing of it to the daylight hours?  Thus a few of these may be appropriate:

These being high intensity solar powered disguised as rocks flood lights. They’re less than $35, buy several, make sure everyone sees those signs.  During the non-political seasons you can use them to light your drive way or something.

Then there are those times where the political signs must be carried around.  This is usually called a “demonstration.”  Most often, signs are handed out on site and consist of a thin wooden handle with a bit of printed cardboard stapled to it.  Hardly manly, and next to worthless when the riot police show up.  That’s where this:

telescoping aluminum rod comes in.  When the three automatically locking sections are fully extended they form an 8′ rod, but when collapsed will easily fit into even a small car.  A few drops of super glue will quickly attach any bit of lightweight political display.  At full extension this item will allow your sign to be seen above the crowd, and when collapsed it makes a much better weapon than a cheap softwood twig.  It’s a bargain at $35.

Of course, sometimes it’s manly to go overboard and this:

probably falls into that category for most people.  That’s an Xtreme-Beam portable laser light show system, ranging in price and power from $6,000 to $30,000, and with which you can paint your desired political slogan on anything from the side of your house to a skyscraper.  In the off season you can use it to display all sorts of other stuff.

On the other hand, there are other senses beyond the visual and this,

gives the politically active individual leverage on what others hear.  It’s MiniVox Lite PA System, and for less than $400 allows one to walk around for up to 12 hours amplifying whatever you want to say to 109 dB.  Personally, I want one just to make my wife listen to me when I talk and to scare the heck out of the dogs.  I can also see some fun applications it might have in restaurants with less than attentive waiters/waitresses.

Finally, for the man who likes to staple signs to telephone poles,

get him the right tool.  The Stanley Bostitch Power Slam Hammer Tacker is that tool.  For around $35, this implement will allow you to pound a staple into a hard surface just by swinging it like a hammer.  I have, in my youth, used more primitive versions of this tool to plaster political, and other types of, signs all over and, with a tiny bit of practice, I developed the ability to affix a sign to any wooden surface, with three staples for a sure hold, in less than a second.  I can only have marvelous dreams as to how fast posters can be put up with this high tech tool.

Oh, and remember to vote.  It doesn’t matter for who, but the act of voting fulfills a responsibility, and that is manly.  Of course, these days it’s also womanly, but historically it was manly, so everybody go vote!

Mister Manly

Manly Gifts for suicidal Wall Street types

October 1, 2008

Down through history it has, upon occasion, been necessary for some individuals to kill themselves for various reasons.  I figure that, given the current economic crisis which, without presenting any evidence, our political leaders insist exists, at least a few Wall Street types may decide to take this way out.  So, I continue figuring, they may as well go in a manly fashion.

One of the earlier methods of suicide was “falling on one’s sword.”  The Romans, if I remember correctly, were quite taken with this, so:

what better gift for your brave executive than a modern replica of the standard issue weapon of the Legions.  And this one is better than the original, being made of modern steel, hand fashioned in the Damascus tradition, making it worth every penny of the $600 price tag.  I would also point out that, once someone rich and famous impales them self on it, the resell value is bound to go up significantly.

If, however, your Wall Street Warrior is looking for a more modern ending, then

the Smith & Wesson Model 500 revolver is THE classy tool for the job.  While this stainless steel pistol only holds five rounds, since those bullets are .50 magnums packing something like four times the muzzle energy of Dirty Harry’s .44, a single shot should, even with a grazing hit, do the job quite nicely.  I would also point out that the gun is a good deal heavier than most, which should cut down on hand trembling as the trigger is pulled that last time.  Even if you can’t get the police to wipe the blood off for several weeks, the metal and rubber grips should hold up nicely, leaving you a functional weapon for your $1,100 investment after the investigation is over.

And don’t forget the ammunition, which can be purchased from the same source:

On the other hand, if your guy picks the “going postal” route and decides to settle a few office grudges before the police do him the favor of ending his existence,

go for the Heckler & Kosch MP5.  Sure it’s an older bit of technology, but it’s reliability and ease of use continues to make it a favorite of SWAT teams and special forces units around the world.  It’s also small enough to smuggle into the office in a briefcase along with a few dozen 30 round magazines.  So, for $20,000+ your man can make up for his lack of marksmanship (I’m guessing that most financial executives haven’t had much firearms training) by spraying 700 rounds a minute around the office.

Then again, if your greedy evil rich man is the sort who wants to make a final statement out of his passing,

nothing adds that touch of nostalgic drama like a quick slice with a straight razor, and this one is about as good as they get, making the $250 price tag most reasonable for a final going away present.

While it may not be as news worthy as mass murder in the work place, I’ve always considered plowing into a bridge abutment at high speed in a fancy sports car a highly manly way to make a lasting exit.  If this would be your man’s preference in eternal travel arrangements, then it would be hard to go wrong by imitating James Dean.

If you have the cash, and I’m thinking that anyone sufficiently involved in the crimes leading up to our “financial crisis” pretty much has to, then for a mere $800,000 you can pick up a 1956 Porsche 550A/1500 RS Spyder escape vehicle.  I would, however, ask that you don’t snap up the last one, as I may need one some day.

Which ever path your guy chooses to make his way to the Great Beyond, he would almost certainly appreciate a last drink,

and I would be hard pressed to find something better on short notice than Macallan 30YR Single Malt Scotch Whisky.  True, I haven’t had the opportunity to sample this elixir, but at $900 per bottle it pretty much has to be good.

Mister Manly

Manly gifts, volume X

September 2, 2008

Today’s manly gift selection consists of items to make entertaining large numbers of house guests easier.  These items are manly, as having to put up with so many people invading one’s domain is stressful, very stressful, and while offering refuge in your castle is manly, breaking down and going on a killing spree is not, thus, anything that helps maintain the peace is manly.

The first, and most important, item needed for a high quality evacuation camp is sufficient bed space.  People who have just had to abandon their homes and run for their lives are touchy enough, without the added pressure of sleeping in chairs or on the floor.  That’s where a supply of these,

comes in.  That’s an inflatable air bed, $10 at Target.  Without the air, they fold up into a very modest space, and with air included they provide a surprisingly comfortable place to sleep.  Don’t forget to pickup some cheap fitted sheets for them.  We’ve had 15 or so for several years now, and they’ve survived serious use by hordes of college students, relatives, and dogs (who love these things,) without a single leak or puncture.  They’re also handy to have on hand for sleep overs, camping trips, and those party guests who become unfit to drive home.

If you invest in the air beds, you’ll also need one of these,

which is a rechargeable pump to inflate them.  It’s $22, and you can save a few bucks by getting the plug into the wall model, but freedom from extension cords is well worth the extra cash.

Even if you’re not going to provide full meals for your guests, just the extra sodas, beer, and milk will fill your refrigerator in no time, so you should have one or more of these,

on hand.  That’s a 40 quart wheeled cooler which, for $50, will expand your chilled storage capacity enough to accommodate an extra 5 to 10 people, depending on their consumption rates.  The wheels are important, as it will need to be moved around a lot to accommodate the changing uses of your floor space.

You will find it useful to entertain your guests, to keep the chances of armed revolt down to a minimum.  One of the best ways to do this is by playing poker,


and this item has everything you need.  It may seem a bit steep at $130 with shipping, but it’s got enough chips and cards to support a ten handed game, and packs away neatly into a briefcase sized container for easy storage. 

You should also have one of these,

and other board games, available at Wal*Mart for around $20 per.  If you suspect children may be invading your home, pick up a few that are intended for lower age groups.

One of the prime points of friction in an over full house is the shower.  For some reason, even people who haven’t done anything but eat and play poker all day, insist on taking a daily shower.  Thus, there will be a constant line waiting for their turn as soon as the water heats up again, so, unless you want to spend endless hours doing laundry constantly,

a few dozen extra towels will be worth their weight in gold.  Not, of course, that you should pay that much.  Get the cheapest white towels you can find.  They need to be white because you’ll obviously want to add lots of bleach to the wash cycle.  As an side item to this, you should keep a box or two of plastic lawn bags on hand.  Then you can accumulate the wet towels and take them to a coin operated laundry.  This will save wear and tear to your home appliances, and give some of your guests an excuse to get out of the house.

Assuming your guests drink coffee, a 12 cup brewing appliance isn’t going to be sufficient, so get one of these,

40 cup commercial monsters.  At $55 it’s not that expensive, and they also come in handy at parties.

If you expect to be swamped by several lap top bearing guests, you must have one of these,

wireless Internet routers.  This one is a Belkin Wireless G Plus MIMO Router, which for $40 is currently allowing over a dozen Internet addicted people to share my cable modem connection, with little or know noticeable degradation of service.  I would also mention that, even though we have a fairly large house, which has two stories at the far end, no one has reported any problems connecting.  In addition to those grand features, this post would have been delayed for days, as I would never have gotten enough time on my computer to put it together.

Finally, I have found that a standard kitchen is not really designed to cook for more than 10 people.  One of these helps a great deal,

Which is a Breville Gourmet Grill, available at Williams-Sonoma for less than $300.  Truly, even if you only throw the occasional large party, this is a must have.  It folds up to about the size of a brief case, so it can be stored in a closet until needed.  It functions as a flat grill on one side, and a ribbed grill on the other, so you can cook bacon and pancakes for a dozen or more, and keep you regular stove free for the eggs, grits, and gravy.  It also works as a sandwich press, with enough room to cook two giant creations, or four lesser works of art at once.  Even if your man never plugs it in, it has enough adjustment levers and knobs to make him happy just playing with it.

Mister Manly

Manly gifts, volume IX

August 21, 2008

One important manly characteristic is being constantly aware of your surroundings. With this in mind, here are some gifts to help your man know what’s going on.

Tired of having to look out a window on each side of the house to see what’s going on outside? Then this,

Set of surveillance cameras is what you need. With 8 cameras, 4 of them wireless, and it’s own computer to monitor and/or record them with, it’s worth almost every penny of the $7,000 it costs. Smaller and less expensive sets are available.

Then there’s that pesky problem of seeing at night. You either have to have flood lights all over your property, or get one of these,

night vision monoculars. I can’t believe something this useful only costs $200. This baby is on my Christmas as of now.

Of course, one has to keep an eye on things during the day as well,

and this pair of binoculars is just the thing to help with that task. They’re military spec, waterproof, shock resistant, and have a built in range finder. What more could you expect $125 to buy?

On the other hand, seeing isn’t everything. Sometimes it’s important to listen as well,

and the Detect Ear will let you do it better than most. This top of the line model, at $500, may be more than you need, so a less expensive unit may be appropriate.

It’s also important to know how fast things are moving, which is where your,

Bushnell Velocity Speed Gun comes in. At less than $80, it’s worth it just to know how fast cars are going by your house.

Temperature is also an important piece of information to have, and with this,

infrared thermometer, you don’t even have to touch something to know how hot/cold it is. At less than $80, this is going on my want list as well.

This next item,

which is a Mini Sound Meter for around $140, may be the best buy of the post. Seriously, with this gadget you have scientific proof of why it was necessary to punch out your neighbor for allowing his teenage brat to play overly loud music. If it only gets you off of one assault charge, it pays for itself.

Then there’s the weather, which everyone supposedly talks about, and with this,

home weather station, you’ll know exactly what you’re talking about. Sure, you can always get weather information off the TV or Internet, but not for your backyard! Why the hell do you care what the temperature is across town when, for $90 you can know exactly what the weather is right where you are. Besides that, it has a radio link to an atomic clock, and atomic stuff is very manly.

Sometimes it’s best to go with low tech solutions, such as this,

visual body scan device, which I hear is going to be used in airports starting next year. So, how can you possibly resist spending $3 for the added home security scanning every visitor for concealed items will bring?

Good shopping,
Mister Manly