All Mancation Articles, 24 Nov 2014 13:24:21 -0800Joomla! - Open Source Content (Man Tripping)Schlitz Beer is Fighting Back to the Top with Schlitz Bouts! is a beer that your father or grandfather probably recalls fondly but it isn't at the top of mind for most beer lovers today. That's about to change as the same company that brought PBR back from obscurity is now working to promote the Schlitz brand as well and what better way to do that then do a nationwide tour with a 1920's themed boxing night including cigars, dancing girls, orchestra, and of course ... ice cold Schlitz beer!

One of our guys was at the recent event in LA and had an absolute blast. This was his first time trying Schlitz and he said he is looking forward to trying it again soon!

The event was one part stage show with costumed characters representing (and promoting) Schlitz beer, one part authentic amature boxing match, and all wrapped up as an awesome corporate party with a band, ring girls, and fashion show.














This was probably one of the best corporate parties / launch events we have seen in a long time as it was fun but authentic and left us truly wanting more vs just feeling obligated to write a post about the event. That means a lot and if they can combine this amazing branding ability with the distribution network they already have for PBR I am sure you'll see Schlitz on the beer menu at your favorite pub very soon!


Photos credit: Jerod Harris for Getty Images

]]> (James Hills)Mancation BlogSat, 22 Nov 2014 17:23:23 -0800
Niki is Trying Something New: Purina ONE Smartblend Dog Food shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

It's ironic sometimes - I love my dog, Niki Belle, and I love food too but for some reason it never really passed my mind to try and give her something new. When she was a puppy we gave her the dry dog food the vet recommended and 10 years later never changed (aside from moving her from puppy formula to senior formula a few years back). When I had the chance to try this #OneSmartDifference campaign from #CollectiveBias, I jumped at the opportunity to change things up without any risk since if she didn't like it I didn't waste my money trying something new.

What I did discover though is that she LOVES Purina ONE Smartblend: Vibrant Maturity 7+ Senior Formula and frankly from a human perspective it looks a lot more appetizing with a mix of different kernels compared to the brown chunks that she had previously. How do I know she loved it? Well after filming I left her in the kitchen ... a few min later she jumped in my lap and let go a very satisfied burp! For a dog that is normally very dainty and "grazes" all day that is a pretty strong sign that she was happy!


What changes will you see during the 28-Day Challenge?

They say though that it takes 28 days to see a difference in any life change, so we'll be watching her for the next month to see how things go as well. Purina ONE is also asking me to help encourage you guys to take the challenge as well. Here's what they say we should see ...

Day 1+: Taste: When your dog loves the taste of his food, it can make all the difference

Day 7+: Energy: An optimal blend of ingredients provides the energy your dog needs

Day 14+: Digestibility: Highly digestible food helps more nutrients go to work inside your dog

Day 21+: Skin & Coat: Balanced nutrition supports a beautiful coat and healthy skin

Day 21+: Bright Eyes: Your dog’s eyes are a window to his health

Day 28+: Dental Healthy: Great nutrition and crunchy kibble support strong teeth and healthy gums

What differences are most important to you and your "man's best friend?"

Dog food is something I really never paid much attention to, but after taking a look at a couple options out there and then reading the ingredients on this Smartblend formula I was pretty impressed. Purina ONE features real poultry, meat, or fish as the #1 ingredient, features omega 6 to help give your dog a radiant coat and healthy skin as well a containing an antioxidant blend to support the immune system and glucosamine to help maintain healthy joints.  


I use for almost everything from electronics to books, but I never considered using it for dog food. What I found out though is that it works great. With my Amazon Prime subscription, the Purina ONE Smartblend was delivered in just a couple days and Niki was excited to investigate what was inside the brown paper box :)



Are you willing to make a change? Try it and see what happens ... your dog may love you even more than it does already!

Purina also offers Purina ONE Smartblend: Chicken and Rice Formula as well as the Purina ONE Smartblend: Vibrant Maturity 7+ Senior Formula that we tried.

This #shop has been compensated by #CollectiveBias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

]]> (James Hills)Mancation BlogFri, 21 Nov 2014 23:09:32 -0800
Guys Night Out Idea - More than "Popcorn and a Movie Night" shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

Poker night or a guys night out at the bar drinking and smoking ... those are usually the only two options that I hear but I have an alternative idea that was suggested to us to combine some hot Warner Brothers Movies that are currently available at Walmart on a special promo pallet for only $5 DVD ($7.88 BRD), along with M&M's® and Orville Redenbacher's popcorn. Let's do a Guys "Movie Night Out" and part of the fun is creating the snacks to accompany the movie we selected - The Dark Night.

The pallet is available at 1500 Walmart stores nationwide so make sure you check this list to ensure that you go to a store that has it available before you leave the house. It should be available in either the Electronics section or right up front of the store as you walk in until 11/24/2014. However even if the pallet is gone - you can still pull together a great movie night on your own - it might just require you to go on a little tour of the store ... but hey all that walking can help you burn off some of the calories you are about to put back on!


Initially, I wasn't sure which of the movies I should select since there were so many awesome ones available from Warner Brothers including 300, Gran Torino, Braveheart, Goodfellas, Hangover and The Blind Side. Frankly, any of these movies could make for a great movie night, but what really spoke to me when creating a theme night was the iconic characters that came together as part of The Dark Knight and how I could manifest them by combining M&M's® and Orville Redenbacher's popcorn.


First, let's get the simple snacks out to the way ...

Popcorn is good - but have you ever thought about throwing some peanut butter M&M's® in there while the popcorn is still warm? No? Try it - true to the "Melt in your mouth, not your hand" quote, the chocolate inside the candy shell will melt and become soft but the candy shell will keep it together so it doesn't get messy and the two flavors work really well together!

Second, marshmallows are great snacks at the movies, so we grabbed some of those too.

That's when inspiration really hit ... we could combine all those things into one amazing SUPER HERO of a movie snack! Popcorn Bars with a Dark Knight theme!


The recipe is ridiculously simple (which is good since my cooking skills are more honed for grilling and smoking instead of creating deserts and snacks.

M&M's® Popcorn Marshmallow Bar Ingredients:

1 Bag of Orville Redenbacher's Salty and Sweet microwave popcorn

1 Box of Peanut Butter M&M's®

1 Box of Peanut M&M's®

4 Tablespoons of Butter

10 oz of mini marshmallows


M&M's® Popcorn Marshmallow Bar Directions:

1. Slowly heat the marshmallows and butter in a large saucepan till it begins to melt and make sure to watch it carefully, stirring so that the marshmallows don't burn. 

2. While the marshmallows are melting, pour the popcorn into a pan that has been greased with butter so that the bars don't stick and mix with the box of Peanutnut M&M's®.

3. Once the marshmallows are fully melted with no chunks, it's time to pour that over the popcorn and fold it together so that the marshmallow gets into every piece. You'll start to notice that the marshmallow gets stringy as it cools, don't worry about that but make sure that you have everything combined together well.

4. You can never have too many M&M's®, so the next step is to sprinkle even more Peanut Butter M&M's® over the top.

5. Finally, use a large spatula to press down on the mixture so that everything is fused together well.  

6. Wait about 10-15 minutes or place the pan in the fridge to cool down. 

7. Once it is cool, take it out and cut the bars out and place it on a piece of parchment or serving plate.


Oh No, we aren't done Yet!

This is a movie themed snack, so here's how to make it perfect and wow your friends ...

Batman "The Dark Knight" Popcorn Bars:

Take the bars above and cover in melted dark chocolate! He is the Dark Knight afterall, so this way you can have a bar that is perfectly themed for both of his personalities - Bruce Wayne being a little nutty on the inside but covered in a hard shell of Batman on the outside.

Joker Popcorn Bars:

Take the bars above and use a red icing pen to draw a strategically placed (smeared?)  smile lengthwise on the bars to mimic that iconic Heathe Ledger smile from the movie.

Two Face Popcorn Bars:

Dip the bars only halfway into the chocolate and line the edge with the red icing pen.

Like most party planning ideas, it is almost as much fun to plan things out as it is to actually attend the party, so I highly encourage you guys to check out the pallet at your local Walmart and put together your own movie party theme too.

If you are looking for more movie night inspiration from other bloggers, we would encourage you to also follow along with other ideas by using the hashtag #MovieNight4Less and following the sponsors on social media:

Orville Redenbacher's Facebook

Orville Redenbacher's Twitter

Orville Redenbacher's Instagram

M&M's® Facebook

M&M's® Twitter

M&M's® Instagram

Warner Brothers Facebook

Warner Brothers Twitter

This #shop has been compensated by #CollectiveBias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.


]]> (James Hills)Mancation BlogThu, 20 Nov 2014 00:37:12 -0800
Margaritaville Island Hotel to Open in Pigeon Forge this Spring new Margaritaville Island Hotel located in Pigeon Forge on The Island, a shopping, dining and entertainment complex, has opened phase one of the hotel with 55 guestrooms and suites. The grand opening of the 132-room property and event space will be in January 2015. The vacation destination hotel is in the heart of everything the area has to offer and minutes from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park known for its extraordinary beauty, breathtaking views, and abundance of outdoor activities.

The perfect blend of mountain latitude and island attitude, Margaritaville Island Hotel brings a new perspective to the Smoky Mountains experience with its contemporary surroundings, high level of service and attention to detail. Inspired by the lyrics and lifestyle of singer, songwriter and author Jimmy Buffett, Margaritaville Island Hotel is the perfect setting for vacationers to escape the everyday, discover a new outlook and just chill. The laid-back, welcoming approach of the islands combined with genuine Southern Appalachian hospitality, creates an exceptional hotel experience where the comfort and pleasure of guests come first.

The guestrooms and suites at Margaritaville Island Hotel are contemporary mountain-luxe style perfect for unwinding and recharging. Colors of the mountains and the ocean are the backdrop for stacked stone fireplaces, driftwood-finished furnishings and luxurious bedding. Spacious baths designed with walk-in rain showers, granite-topped rustic wood vanities, vessel sinks and wood grain-effect tile create a serene bath experience with the feel of a mountain stream. Every guestroom comes complete with a wet bar, microwave and Margaritaville “Frozen Concoction Maker,” so guests can create their own blended beverages to enjoy by the fire or on the balcony.

Onsite dining at Margaritaville Island Hotel includes the “Changes In Latitude” Lobby Bar for cocktails and lite bites, the Chill Bar at the Rooftop Pool and the Margaritaville Coffee Shop serving everything from lattes to pastries. The Compass Rose banquet room will soon offer meeting and event space for up to 200 including a riverfront terrace. Adjacent to the hotel, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville serves coastal-inspired comfort food and handcrafted beverages. The two-story Margaritaville restaurant has multiple bars and an exterior patio overlooking the Little Pigeon River complete with fire pit and live performance stage. The Island entertainment complex offers a great selection of dining, entertainment and shopping options within steps of the hotel, providing plenty of choices for guests without leaving the property.

“Visitors have been drawn to the Smoky Mountains for generations because it is a great destination that offers something for everyone,” says Kris Reagan, General Manager of Margaritaville Island Hotel. Guests will enjoy a truly new and unique Pigeon Forge lodging experience. Whether they choose to engage in outdoor adventures or just relax and unwind, they will be able to disconnect from the day-to-day and chill, then return home feeling like they have had a real vacation.”

We think this is a great addition to an already awesome mancation destination and can't wait to put the in-room "Frozen Concoction Maker" to good use next year!

]]> (James Hills)Mancation BlogWed, 19 Nov 2014 06:47:08 -0800
Exploring Digital Audiobook Rentals from This Holiday has asked me to share information about their new audiobook rental program that works with iOS and Android devices. You probably remember books on tape and you may have even used some while on a long road trip, but technology has moved on and now instead of a plastic cassette you can download the books directly to your phone or tablet and take it wherever you are.

With the holidays coming up and some of the busiest travel days of the whole year coming up, this is a great time to test it out and see how technology has progressed in terms of audiobook rentals and travel entertainment.

non-fiction has the option of either renting the audiobooks or buying them outright, this gives customers a great option to save money vs buying a book or audiobook and since you'll probably finish the book in a few weeks anyhow the effect is the same and provides the option of 30-day or 60-day rentals to help make things even easier.


After you've figured out what audiobook you want to rent, simply head over to iTunes or Google Play and install the app, it's free and uses the same login that you created online just a few minutes ago.


Once downloaded, open up the app and the books you just rented / purchased should download directly to the app ready for you to play on the phone with your headset or connect it to your bluetooth to play in the car.


Once you've downloaded the rental, the time will start after 10 days or 30 or 60 days from the time you first start listening to the book.

Overall, we think this makes a great option for those of you who will be traveling this holiday season whether you are taking a roadtrip to see grandma for thanksgiving or taking a plane ride to the Caribbean to escape the cold. It is easy to use and has a pretty wide selection across a variety of different categories so there is something for everyone.

This was a sponsored post on behalf of

]]> (James Hills)Mancation BlogWed, 19 Nov 2014 05:24:17 -0800
Daisy BB Guns Make Cool Christmas Gifts for the Whole Family! shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

Things have changed a lot since I was a kid. Back then, we all played games like Cowboys and Indians or Cops and Robbers.

Today things are a bit different and in many parts of the country, guns have been demonized as something only thugs and crazy people use but I feel strongly that it's important to teach kids the importance of respect for guns and gun safety while showing them how much fun they can have with shooting as a sport. Because of this I was very pleased to join this the campaign with #CollectiveBias to help promote how a Daisy BB Gun can make a great gift this holiday season.

We are going to give you a chance to win a $100 Walmart gift card as well and don't forget to follow along on social media using hashtag: #ItsADaisy as well.

When considering what cool christmas presents you are going to buy this year for your family and friends, a Daisy BB gun makes a great option.


Daisy BB guns can be found on or in-store at most Walmarts. Even in the highly restrictive state of California we were able to find it in the Sports & Leisure section of our local walmart however since it was a gift to my cousins in Ohio it was much easier to simply order it online and send it to them that way.


Earlier I mentioned the importance of learning respect for guns and proper shooting education.

Daisy educates roughly one million of America's youth a year through their Ten Lesson Shooting Curriculum about BB gun use and safety (found here).

That's another reason why I like Daisy, since 1948, they have had an industry leading education curriculum and extends that educational mission through partnerships with groups like National Wild Turkey's JAKES Take Aim, 4-H National Shooting Sports, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Royal Rangers, Youth Shooting Sports Alliance and other organizations as well as church and youth camps around the country.

You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.


The gun I selected for my cousin was the Daisy 880 with scope. Initially I wasn't sure if older teenagers were too old for a BB gun but this one looked "real" like an adult rifle so I felt that it was a great starter to help teach him about proper gun ownership.


While I knew that this would make a great gift for boys and that he would love the present and his parents and greater family would also enjoy the opportunity to teach him how to shoot, what I didn't expect was that his sister also loved using the gun and so don't assume that girls will just want to use the pink gun (though some women do like that, it can be a bit patronizing to others).


At the end of the day, a great gift is more than just "Buying Stuff" for someone. It is also about the experience of giving the gift and that's what makes giving something like a Daisy BB gun such cool christmas gifts. It's more than something that will be used once and then forgotten.

Instead, this is a great Christmas gift that will be remembered all year long.

Now's your chance to win a $100 Walmart gift card so that you can give someone special to you the experience that I had. Note: The gift card prize may / will not be able to be sent before Christmas shopping season is over.

a Rafflecopter giveaway]]> (James Hills)Mancation BlogTue, 18 Nov 2014 01:59:00 -0800
100 Years of Dodge Party with Motley Crue at Dodge Rocks Gas Monkey band that spawned such iconic songs as "Girls, Girls, Girls" and "Kick Start My Heart", and the arena anthem "Home Sweet Home" and a dozen or more 80's and 90's smashes made a very rare appearance at a small venue last weekend in Dallas. The "Crue" played a sold out/climb the walls to get in venue last Saturday November 1st at Richard Rawlings' (he of Discovery Channel's Fast-n-Loud reality show), Gas Monkey Live concert club. It was billed as "Dodge Rocks Gas Monkey" sponsored by the car manufacturer-who is sponsoring the Crue's North American farewell tour through the end of the month. The worldwide tour ends in 2015


The audience capped at around 2,000 was mesmerized as one by one the band banged out their hits (and a few covers) during a 90 minute 14-song show. The set list opened with "Wild Side" and closed with an encore featuring the crowd singing along to "Home Sweet Home" that had even the hardest looking biker types adding their voices. The Crue'-only concert was devoid of the band's typical showmanship and did not include Tommy Lee's signature "drum coaster" or flame jets.


There were CO2 jets firing off on a couple songs and a blazing light and video show surrounded the band, but they played with a renewed passion and no doubt buoyed by the cozy, up-close-and-personal proximity of fans. And the audience knew it. This was no corporate meet and greet with a few songs thrown it-it was pure balls to the wall vintage Crue. Everyone in attendance realized this was something special.


The Crue's show layered over the larger Dodge 100 anniversary event which involves Dodge's sponsorship of the band's North American farewell tour. Richard Rawlings, Dodge's marketing partner and spokesperson opened up the grounds of his Gas Monkey Live concert venue to Dodge car owners who pre-registered to show off their rides and attend Dodge Rocks Gas Monkey. The "horsepowerpalooza" featuring Viper drift car rides, Challenger Hellcat acceleration 0-60 blasts, driving simulators, air-brushed tattoos, music and food trucks was the destination for an estimated 1,000 Dodge vehicles of various vintages and thousands more spectators from 38 states and the Canadian province of Manitoba.


Last year Dodge and the band got together when the company licensed the group's 1989 mega-hit "Kickstart My Heart" for advertising. Dodge President and CEO Tim Kuniskis, himself a fan said that the band "fits the brand perfectly," this comes as Dodge is transitioning to a performance brand image. Kuniskis said that the Crue's management approached Dodge about sponsoring the farewell U.S. tour and seeing the marketing potential he signed on.


While on the grounds I checked out the Gas Monkey Garage bar and grille, which according to some of the locals is one of the new happening places to visit when in Dallas. It was bustling with activity and the interior has a fun honky-tonk design with natural wood floors/walls, automotive memorabilia with a little garage design and western flavor mixed in.


Rawlings, is transforming himself from reality-show host to concert promoter, restaurateur, corporate pitchman and now executive producer on some new reality show projects. He indicated that "This was the concert that was not supposed to happen," referring to an earlier statement Vince Neil made regarding small club dates. "I told Dennis (Collins) back in 1994 (Collins is Rawlings friend and collaborator on Discovery Channel's Fast-n-Loud), that if I ever got really successful that I would have Motley Crue play his 50th birthday party and here we are," he beamed then punctuated the comment with his signature "woooo." Rawlings adding it was Collin's birthday. He indicated it helped that Dodge was a partner in all this, but as for his show it took him eight years of aggressive promotion and persistence to get "Fast-n-Loud on the air to showcase his idea of a world-class hot rod shop.


I asked what attracted him to Dodge, "they (Dodge) are forward thinking doing and taking the chances that other manufacturers won't," he said with a huge smile. And he puts his money where his mouth is as he owns two Ram dually trucks a 2500 and 3500, and his current daily driver is a Challenger Scat Pak with a black Hellcat on order. Spending time with Rawlings you learn that he is the genuine article as several of his friends and fellow reality show castmates echoed by stating "with Richard what you see (on the show) is what you get." All afternoon and evening he happily obliged every offer for an autograph and a picture until he was called away to interview or promote on stage. At one point the girls working the bar in the hospitality area at Gas Monkey Live were overwhelmed with drink orders so, without missing a beat, Rawlings got behind the bar and asked "what can I get y'all?" It appears to be a lot of things Mr. Rawlings.

- Guest Post by Jeff Taylor

]]> (Jeff Taylor)Mancation BlogMon, 17 Nov 2014 03:48:35 -0800
2015 Dodge Charger Will Blow Your Socks Off! put, the Hemi Hellcat version of the 2015 Dodge Charger is the most powerful 4-door sedan on Earth and we got a chance to put it through the paces recently during a trip from Washington DC to a track in West Virginia. What's awesome about this car is the extreme range of options that it has from the base model that is a great "around town" car to the 707 hp Hellcat, but after having a chance to drive a few different models, our favorite was the Dodge Charger SRT 392 that still delivered a whopping 485 horsepower but had the perfect balance of power, affordability, and practicality.

The Dodge Charger is a legendary car that goes back to 1966 but has somehow failed to rise to the top of the automotive world the way the Ford Mustang has. That's hopefully going to change this year. The 2015 Dodge Charger lineup starts at $27,995 for the SE model featuring a 292 hp V-6 Pentastar V-6 and goes all the way up to the Charger SRT Hellcat at $63,995 with 707 hp and able to deliver a top speed of 205 mph and quarter miles of 11.0 seconds on street tires while still boasting a best-in-class 31 mpg.


Our favorite though an the one I spent the most time driving on the track as well as in traffic downtown and through twisty turny farm roads in West Virginia was the SRT 392 with 485 hp, six-piston front Brembo brakes, 20 ", 9.5"-wide forged wheels featuring all-season Pirelli tires and a variety of driving modes to allow you to adapt to everything from traffic to the track. 


Our adventure began appropriately in a hanger at Washington's Reagan National Airport where they had the entire Dodge Charger line for display and gave us the opportunity to check them out.

While having a ridiculous 707 horsepower is awesome, the downside is that it overshadows the fact that this car features a beautiful design with tons of great features and details such as the brake lights the tail. While they are still LEDs the way it was built in the 2015 model gives the appearance that it is one continuous ribbon of light vs a series of individual lights.


The V-8 Hemi Hellcat engine is the first application of V-8 supercharger technology by Dodge and SRT and features a forged-steel crankshaft with induction-hardened bearing surfaces. This results in the ability to withstand firing pressures of 110 bar (1,595 psi) - the equivalent of five family sedans sitting on each piston, every two revolutions and has been tested to 13,000 rpm!


Equally impressive is the eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission (above) that has been engineered to take all of that raw power and deliver it effectively to the wheels. 


Wit all of that tech out of the way, the real question is "How did it perform?"

The answer to that is that the SRT 392 model that we drove was a beast on the highway but was still nimble enough to take on country roads. For those of you who are new to driving a rear-wheel-drive beast like this though, it was a little bit spooky going around a turn since with this much power it responded differently than a front wheel drive car would.


Part of the fun of having a car like this - and especially the Hellcat version, is the looks you'll get from people. Sometimes that is a great feeling as the driver of the car above (Hellcat model) attracted a crowd and was asked to open the hood and rev the engine for some people who saw him pull in and recognized the car.


Other times it isn't such a good feeling - luckily this officer simply wanted to check out the differences between his version of the Charger and this new one.


Inside, the design team at Dodge did an astonishing job as well. Simply put - this is a beautiful car that every guy in America dreams of owning one day. (and likely quite a few women too!). 


On the SRT 392, there is only one type of key fob, but on the Hellcat, there are two version. The red fob enables the full 707 hp, the other limits the engine and other features to "only" 500 horsepower and limits peak revolutions to 4,000 as well as eliminating access to first gear and up-shifts earlier than normal as well as setting the steering, traction, and suspension to "Street Mode". It also disables launch control. Clearly even with these limits it is still a beast of a car but that should help limit the temptation of valets (and teenagers) who want to take it out for a joyride without your permission.


In case it wasn't clear before, the interior is simply gorgeous with details you would expect on a luxury car but designed into a racing seat fitting a true muscle car like this. Inside, drivers will find a 7-inch customizable digital instrument gauge cluster and a center stack with 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen media center connected to a 900-watt, 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio system on the Hellcat. Other features such as adaptive cruise control, paddle shifters, and heated steering wheel are also built in.

Just in case you missed the fact that this is / could be a great family sedan - the guys at Dodge even created custom car seats for the Hellcat that they showed off during the introduction. I guess that those 707 horses will come in handy should you be late for daycare!


The back seats are comparable to other sedans, which is to say that despite this being a muscle car there is no compromise there - this is absolutely functional for hauling 4 adults around town.


And the huge trunk just hammers that fact home! 


Now that we've explored the car a bit, it's time to hit the track in the Hellcat. Unfortunately it was raining the day we were driving but hitting 120 mph in the rain is pretty awesome and speaks to the fact that this car is not only fast but it is capable and can handle equally well.


Unfortunately, all god things have to come to an end.


Following the time at the track we had to head back to our hotel in DC where we had a chance to check out the adaptive cruise control and our muscle car turned into a family sedan again. 


However it still looks amazing everywhere we took it and that's a rare combo. A car that looks great, is super fast, handles well, is affordable, feels great, and has plenty of room for people and cargo. 

If that's not enough for you, check this out! People who buy the SRT versions get exclusive access to the "Track Experience". After all, what's the point in having such a powerful machine if you don't know how to use it properly. The SRT Track Experience includes a full day at one of the country's top tracks where you'll work with professional drivers to help hone your skills. It's included in the purchase of an SRT model but it's open to enthusiasts as well for a fee of $699 per driver and $150 for a non-driver.

]]> (James Hills)Mancation BlogSun, 16 Nov 2014 05:22:49 -0800
Residence Inn Arlington Courthouse Review DC and Northern Virginia have lots of great stuff for the perfect guys weekend or mancation including great professional sports teams, history, amazing bars, celebrities, great restaurants, and there's great shopping as well. Unfortunately, as with any major city hotels can be super expensive and while chic and cool, that can cut into your budget for doing other stuff. On a recent trip to explore DC, we decided to stay in Arlington, Virginia - just across the river from the district in the Residence Inn Courthouse where we found it to be an awesome place to stay with a group of guys.


Great Location:

While not located in the district, the Residence Inn Arlington Courthouse is located a couple minute walk from the Courthouse Metro Station and from there you are only a few stops from being able to explore the Smithsonian Museums along the mall, the White House, and you can also take it directly to Nationals Park or the Verizon Center for basketball, hockey, and concerts. 

The other advantage of being here is that unlike the $40 / day you will pay for parking downtown, this hotel only charges $14 / day and that means you have the flexibility to explore sites in Northern Virginia as well, including the NRA Museum in Fairfax or drive through downtown hotspots like Dupont Circle or Adams Morgan (though if you are planning to go drinking, we encourage you to take a taxi).


Of course, if you don't feel like going out, the Wilson Boulevard corridor is still hopping and offers a variety of restaurants including some of my absolute favorites - Delhi Dhaba (great casual Indian), Hard Times Cafe (grab a 32 oz beer and a plate of 5-way chili!), and Cafe Asia (hip bar / pan-Asian restaurant). There's plenty more within a couple minute walking distance including IOTA Club & Cafe for great live music almost every night of the week and of course the Clarendon Ballroom as well.


Room Suites:

The room itself is where things get awesome. For those of you who have stayed in a Residence Inn before, it is fairly standard for the chain. However, for those of you who haven't stayed here, there are a variety of rooms but all of them are suites with a kitchen including full size fridge, stove, microwave, and sink. This makes it perfect for sharing drinks before you go out on the town, or if you are trying to save money this means you could even make dinner in the room.


There are two room styles and both include a king bed and a king-sizes sleeper bed that pulls out of the couch. The difference between the rooms is that one is a studio and the other is a 1-bedroom suite that has a door on it for extra privacy.


There is also plenty of space on the floor if you want to have more than just a couple guys in the room.


Breakfast and Snacks:

The other big advantage here is that each morning there is a full breakfast buffet and Monday-Thursday there is a Manager's Reception featuring snacks and beer / wine. Plus, each night we were welcomed with warm chocolate chip cookies.

Overall, the hotel was very clean and well maintained with courteous staff who welcomed us when we walked through the door each night and I'd stay here again.

When you add everything up, the Residence Inn Arlington - Courthouse makes a lot of sense to consider for your next Washington DC guys weekend or mancation. Ranging from $119-$199, the price is as great as the location. 

We received a media rate discount during our stay.

]]> (James Hills)Mancation BlogSun, 16 Nov 2014 00:01:11 -0800
Once in a Lifetime Norway Cruises with Hurtigruten Cruises

By now you know that I am a HUGE fan of cruising but frankly my experience has been limited to the shores of the United States and the Caribbean and we're sailing in mostly warm waters and tropical breezes. However there is a whole other world of cruising that I haven't yet been able to explore but can’t wait to do so at some point in the future - Once in a Lifetime Adventures.

That’s what Hurtigruten Cruises offers it’s guests and in particular the chance to see sites once reserved for only the most daring adventurers but from the comfort of a cruise ship that can go where roads can't. What's even better is that these adventures start at under $1,000 per person (plus airfare)!


Frankly I'd encourage you to stop reading what “I” have to say and click through to their site right now to check it out yourself, but if you want to read on, I’m happy to share why I think this is a great idea for the ultimate mancation adventure.

Imagine following in the footsteps of famous explorers like Frederick Cook and Robert Peary as you sail your way north and cross the Arctic Circle onboard one of the Norway-based Hurtigruten cruise ships.


Winter Cruise Packages:

Join miniature polar expeditions including a husky sledge adventure or a snow mobile trip through the Polar Night across frozen landscape while admiring beautiful views of the Arctic Wilderness knowing that you are among only a handful of people to have ever seen those sights.

Hurtigruten offers three pages: a 6-Day Voyage South, a 7-Day Voyage North, or a 12-Day Roundtrip Voyage.

During these itineraries, instead of sipping tropical drinks and laying out by the pool, you'll be able to learn about Norwegian culture and history as you explore Tromso, the “Gateway to the Arctic” and select from excursions including: Husky Adventure, Lofotr Viking Feast, dog sledging, and a Wilderness Adventure Camp.

Additionally, while they can’t guarantee nature will cooperate, it’s likely that you'll see the famous Aurora Borealis or “Northern Lights” as you sail through the stunning Lofoten Islands and local fishing villages along the Norwegian coach.

Learn More


Astronomy Cruises:

If Astronomy is more your style, they also offer a special Astronomy Voyage that includes a full tour of the Norwegian Coast and the chance to see the Northern Lights. On board, there will be lectures about viewing the night sky and a chance to learn more about the Northern Lights. Additionally, guests will have a chance to visit the famous Northern Lights Planetarium at Tromso.

Learn More

Each Hurtigruten departure is a purposeful voyage providing a transportation lifeline between cities and villages while exploring stunning fjords and UNESCO World Heritage sites along the more than 1,000 miles of Norway’s pristine coastal waterway. This mixture of local encounters, spectacular scenery and utterly unique shore activities provides an unmatched opportunity to experience and interact with the beauty and charm of Norway and it’s people. Hurtigruten’s 11 ships depart almost every day of the year, from 34 ports along the Norwegian Coast.


So how does that sound?

If you are looking for something different this couldn't be anymore different of an experience from your typical Caribbean adventure and it is certainly bucket-list worthy for you and your band of brothers!

This article is sponsored by Hurtigruten Cruises.

]]> (James Hills)Mancation BlogThu, 13 Nov 2014 23:14:39 -0800
Jewel Carnival Live Concert Experience of you probably remember Jewel from the mid/late 90s - yeah, that’s Alaskan folk singer-songwriter and many of you probably even still are aware of her for some of her later music but what I didn't realize until this week was how utterly amazing she is in concert. Jewel is a true artist and that means you are going to see and hear things you weren't expecting such as yodeling, opera, and requests by the audience that were so obscure (even to her) that she had to flip through a book the size of an encyclopedia to get the lyrics.

However - for those casual fans she also played the songs you you would expect while sharing deeply personal stories about how those songs came to be. This included tales of drug busts while assisting Mexican police and high-speed boat chases on the Sea of Cortez.


This was our second Carnival Live concert (the first being STYX last month on Carnival Breeze) so we were excited to see what the experience was like on a smaller ship, the Carnival Inspiration who’s theater is only 850 seats compared to almost 1,500 on the Breeze.

After seeing the concert, I can say that the experiences weren’t comparable - they were simply different though there were many similarities within the overall experience:


It’s an Event!

With more than 10 cruises under my belt in the past few years, I have never seen onboard entertainment be something that people look forward to, talk about in the line boarding the ship, or dress up for. On both of our experiences the audience was incredibly engaged. That isn't to say you need to be a “hard core Jewel fan” (most of the audience was not - though there were some diehard fans). Instead, this was an event that gives you something extra special to look forward to and for only $20 this concert was an absolutely amazing bargain.


It’s an Intimate Experience!

You simply can’t get around this one. It is really special to see top tier entertainment (Jewel, Lady Antebellum, STYX, REO Speedwagon, Rascal Flats, Journey, and of course Smokey Robinson etc.) in a small venue where you can sit close enough to the performers to smell their perfume.

Compared to stadium or arena experiences - or frankly even concert venues at casinos or resorts - that creates an experience allowing the performers to relax and engage with the audience. In the case of Jewel, that meant actually having conversations with the audience and inviting them to suggest songs that THEY wanted to hear. That’s not going to happen just anywhere.


It’s a Cruise and You Don’t Need to Drive Home Afterwards!

People like to drink and enjoy themselves but when you drive to an event that means you can’t really get into the zone until you get to the venue and then afterwards you need to sober up and get ready to face traffic on the way home.

That’s not the case here.

We had an awesome dinner and drinks, talked with new friends in the bar who were going to the concert too (their second Carnival Live concert as well), and then went to the meet and greet where we got to meet Jewel and take a photo with her.

After the amazing concert people continued the experience in the other bars around the ship and even the crew was into it including the crewmember who delivered our room service order that night and asked if I had photos to show her from the concert. Even tweets by members of the entertainment staff showed how engaged they were that someone they clearly looked up to was performing on the same stage that they did.


It’s VIP Baby! (or can be):

For most concerts, you simply have the opportunity to attend the concert itself but with Carnival Live, you actually get the chance to be VIP by paying a little bit extra. In the case of Jewel, the VIP fee was $100 and considering you got a photo, no waiting in line and awesome seats in the first 2 rows that’s a great deal for a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Granted these past two experiences have been paid for by Carnival, I have to say that I am excited to go on my next one regardless of whether or not is comp’d or not.

The challenge that Heather and I are wrestling with right now (along with our friends who we want to bring with us is do we do Journey in March - or Smokey Robinson in April.

]]> (James Hills)Mancation BlogThu, 13 Nov 2014 21:46:16 -0800
The Marble Arch Hotel In London a hotel in Europe is tough for many Americans because the landscape is dominated by smaller boutique hotels instead of the mega chain brands you are all familiar with and frankly not everything is up to the same standards that most Americans expect. However, there are some absolute gems to be found if you do your research, suck as the Marble Arch Hotel by Montcalm.

Montcalm London is one of the top hotel proprietors in London and as we were exploring hotel ideas in London for the ultimate guys weekend or mancation we came across this The Marble Arch by Montcalm London.

The chic, modern design rivals anything you could find in LA or New York, so there is no worry about it being "dated" or "antique", this is truely modern luxury accommodations.


The Marble Arch Hotel featuring 42 guest rooms, this boutique 5-star Luxury hotel is close to Hyde Park and just a few minutes away from some of the best shopping that London has to offer along Oxford Street, Bond Street, Regent Street, and is a great hotel in Cumberland Place with all the excitement that goes along with that. Other nearby attractions include: Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum and Buckingham Palace.


While taking a London Taxi is something that you'll probably want to experience, this hotel is also close to the Marble Arch tube station which will connect you directly with tourist sites such as St. Pauls Cathedral and the British Museum.

Hotels in Europe aren't the same as the typical American hotel, but don't worry about that here. This is a full luxury experience with all of the rooms featuring large UK King size beds, with en-suite bathrooms, and the other amenities you'd expect such as a flat screen LCD TV with a selection of international and domestic TV channels and complimentary Wi-Fi. However there is one amenity you wouldn't expect - fragrances. Yes, that's right. Each room features a choice of five different exotic fragrances. 

Those fragrances include: Refreshing Lavender, Fresh Clean, Pink Grapefruit, Saw Grass,or Marine Fresh.

]]> (James Hills)Mancation BlogTue, 11 Nov 2014 21:21:59 -0800
Exploring The Manly Side of Hawaiian Vacations Airlines has been flying to Hawaii for 85 years this year and so who better to talk with to get insight into what and why should you plan your next mancation to these sun drenched and wave swept islands! From Luaus to surfing there are plenty of things to do but there's a lot more to it than that. Kaipo Kauka, a flight attendant from Hawaiian Airlines took the time to answer some of our questions.

He was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii and has been a flight attendant with Hawaiian Airlines for nearly seven years. When he’s not flying, he enjoys surfing, DJ-ing at parties, and spending time with his girlfriend and two kids.

What makes Hawaii a great destination for a mancation?

Hawai'i is like no other place on earth. Whether you're looking for pristine beaches, night life, outdoor adventures, culture, food or all of the above, Hawaii is the perfect getaway for just you and the boys where you can find a bit of everything. Best of all, you don’t have to travel very far to get to Hawaii as it is just a plane ride away.


To many people who have never visited Hawaii, it's all "Hawaii" but which islands are "must see" if you are visiting for the first time?

There are six major islands to visit in Hawaii: Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, and Hawaii Island. You'll find each island has its own distinct personality and offers its own adventures, activities and sights. Best of all, Hawaiian Airlines is the only airline that offers flights to all islands.

For first time visitors, I would recommend starting on Oahu where they can experience the birthplace of Hawaii Regional Cuisine, world-renown North Shore, the only royal palace in the U.S., and also the energetic nightlife. When they’re ready to move on, I recommend a visit to Hawaii Island, the largest, but youngest island in our chain and the home to one of the world's most active volcanoes and the world's tallest sea mountain.

Although each island is different, the one thing that visitors will find in common on each island is the aloha spirit: the warmth of Hawaii's people that wonderfully complements the Islands' perfect weather.


What makes Hawaiian Airlines unique?

As a destination carrier, Hawaiian Airlines’ singular focus is carrying our guests to and between the Hawaiian Islands with impeccable service that embodies the unique hospitality that springs from the host culture. When travelers book a trip with Hawaiian Airlines, their vacation starts from the moment they board our aircraft as we entice them with the sights, sounds and tastes of Hawaii through our award-winning on-board hospitality.

When you step into someone’s home in Hawaii, the first thing they do is offer you food. This is the spirit of aloha that we always want to bring forward to the customer experience when our guests fly with us, because when they step onboard our aircraft, they are a guest in our home. That is why it is important for us to be the only U.S. carrier to offer complimentary meals in all cabins in meal time. This is what makes Hawaiian Airlines unique and different from other carriers.

What do you think people don't understand about Hawaii but you wish they would?

There is so much more to Hawaii than surf, sand and sun. More and more visitors are beginning to recognize Hawaii as a destination for extraordinary cuisine, world-class shopping, extreme sports, and energetic nightlife. If you’re looking for off-the-beaten-path suggestions on where to go and what to do, just ask any employee at Hawaiian Airlines, whom most are locally born and raised and proud ambassadors of the islands. They’ll offer you great suggestions beyond the tourist areas where you can do what locals do.

If you had a group of guy friends coming to Hawaii would be the top 3 things you'd make sure they did while they were visiting?

I highly recommend island hopping for the guys, starting off with a pub crawl in the Kaka’ako / Downtown Honolulu areas on Oahu, where more and more new and hip bars are opening up in the nightlife scene featuring one-of-a-kind beers and creatively mixed concoctions.

Then we can fly over to the island of Hawaii where we can spend a few action- and adventure-packed days going ATV riding in Waipi’o Valley, zip lining through Kohala’s forest trails, and then visiting the southern tip of the island at Ka Lae and jump off the cliff into the immaculate ocean.

The magic isle of Maui will be our last stop where we can surf at Honolua Bay or Peahi and check out the hottest restaurants in the scene such as Migrant and Star Noodle, both run by Hawaii’s very own Top Chef finalist, Sheldon Simeon.

Thanks Kaipo!

To provide some additional background on Hawaiian Airlines, their PR team sent over this infographic that outlines how things have changed since 1929 when they first started flying there.


]]> (James Hills)Mancation BlogWed, 05 Nov 2014 17:42:00 -0800
Unique and Weird Shops in London to get That Ultimate Guys Gift Cow! Christmas is just around the corner but instead of shopping for the same old crap from a mass retailer, why not take a trip to London and explore some amazing shops stocked to the rafters with awesome gift ideas for guys. Heck - this would make a great excuse to stock up on some swag for yourself too!

A shopping trip is great, but to turn it into the ultimate guys weekend, make sure to check out some 5 star hotels in London and maybe start your trip of right by getting fitted for a bespoke suit over on Savile Row and getting a chauffeur to drive you on this ultimately London shopping adventure in search of the perfect gifts for guys!

The following shops present some very unique opportunities for gift buying, but we also heartily encourage you to check out some of the more classic shopping venues as well such as Harrods, Harvey Nichols, House of Fraser, and Liberty - especially if your shopping objectives skew into the luxury fashion market more so than the "one of a kind" gifts for guys that the specialty shops below can offer.


From classic 60's rock and roll to out of this world club gear, Cyberdog has something for everyone - or at least everyone that wants to go clubbing, hang out at a rave all night, or jam out to techno beats.


Alice Through the Looking Glass

Know someone who is an aficionado of Alice in Wonderland items? Alice Through the Looking Glass is your place to visit then. They also have a fine selection of first and early editions of Lewis Carroll's Alice books along with unique and unusual interpretations of the Alice story through related items from the 1860s through 1960s.

The Beatles Store

Part memorabilia store and part shrine - this is the place to go if you are looking for rare Beatles memorabilia for the hard to shop for guy.

hoxton street monster supplies

Hoxton Street Monster Supplies

From tinned fear to cubes of ear wax, Hoxton Street Monster Supplies has everything for the discerning monster and human customers are welcome too - since 1818.

James Smith & Sons

You'll be walking a lot in London and frankly the weather can be a wee bit unpredictable at times so make sure you stop here and check out their amazing selection of hand-crafted umbrellas and walking sticks at this family owned shop that opened in 1867.

sea island cotton briefs sunspel


Even James Bond starts his day by pulling up his undershorts and you don't want a guy with a License to Kill to be wearing itchy briefs! In 2008, Costume Designer, Lindy Hemming invited the shop to design Daniel Craig's polo shirt in Casino Royale. Apparently he liked the soft cotton so much that they then supplied all of his tighty-whities and t-shirts since then. (these aren't cheap - Sea Island cotton underpants start at $150, but I am told they are super comfy!)

The Viking Store

This is one of Europe's largest wholesalers of replica military gear and Live Action Role Play wear. At The Viking Store you can find everything from authentic leather armor to tents and weaponry so there is certainly something for every guy you might be shopping for.

]]> (James Hills)Mancation BlogWed, 05 Nov 2014 18:07:40 -0800
A New Taste of Grand Marnier with GM Titanium Cognac is searching for something new these days and classics like Grand Marnier are no different. While the bottle for the recently launched GM Titanium draws from the classic look, it thrusts itself forward into a modern and sleek package that boasts of an almost iridescent metallic, silver ... titanium? finish.

With that initial presence, we were excited to take it for a spin and see where this new spirit can bring us!

While the original / classic Grand Marnier is known for it's orange flavor, GM Titanium features a bold combination of Calamansi citrus, black pepper, anise, fennel, clove, cinnamon spices, wild tropical oranges, and Cognac to bring out a familiar with completely different expression that we look forward to exploring through some new recipes in the near future.

It is intended to be consumed neat or on the rocks as well as featured in cocktails.

Color: As a Cognac, it has a rich mahogany hue with amber tone.

Aroma: GM Titanium is bold and spicy but still maintains a hit of orange as a hint of its heritage.

Taste: By blending spice with orange, it gives the spirit a bold flavor that is clearly more "manly" than other spirits and should make for some interesting cocktails this year and I look forward to experimenting with mixing it into some hot beverages such as tea and cider that lend themselves well to a "spice" profile.

Frankly though, GM Titanium is going to take some work to get into the front of my liquor cabinet as I am just not sure what to make of it. At $40 per bottle, this should be more of a sipping spirit but I didn't dig the taste straight up and if I am going to mix it with something there are already recipes that I know and love that this will have to compete with.

That being said though, this is the fun of trying new things so the best I can say is that next time you go out to the bar, spend a few bucks and try it yourself. If you like it GREAT, if not - at least you have tried something different.

]]> (James Hills)Mancation BlogTue, 04 Nov 2014 10:21:05 -0800