Tag Archives: Treat Yourself

A Season Of Predicaments

10 Feb

Valentine’s Day is the fickle beast of holidays – your feelings towards the fateful day can swing wildly from year to year, and you never know when it will be great, or when it will leave you confused, drunk, and alone.  With all of the fluctuating emotions in the air, it can be tough to be young and (maybe) in love during this time of year.  It’s important to remember that you’re not the only one.

There are plenty of people out there facing predicaments like your own, and we here at Dan Swanky’s have been there ourselves.  We want you to get through this holiday without any broken windows or restraining orders, so we’ve studied a few predicaments common to Valentine’s Day and have come up with some insight.  We are not responsible for whatever happens as a result of taking or ignoring our advice.

1)  Just started hooking up

So you finally got up the courage to make a move on that cute and limber newcomer in your Bikram Yoga class, and a couple of ‘casual meet-ups’ have led to some ‘casual make-out sessions’.  You’re both interested in seeing where this goes, but here comes Valentine’s Day, the rose-tinted elephant in the room.  The first part of any kind of relationship is rife with potential for awkwardness and uncertainty, and when mutual attraction is involved, you can find yourself second-guessing even the smallest of gestures.  If V-Day falls within this early period, all kinds of issues can come up that could ground your love before it gets off the ground.  We’re sorry this happened, but don’t panic just yet.

Probably the biggest problem with this kind of situation is that the holiday forces the issue of love for both people, way too early.  When you both want to keep things casual, the holiday shines the harsh light of True Love upon your relationship and dares you to do something about it.  Neither of you are ready for a candlelit dinner on the beach followed by a marathon lovemaking session over a bed of rose petals, but the fiends behind Kay Jewelers and Hallmark will try to make you think different.  This is time for you to remain impervious to commercial pressures, and find that happy medium between coming on too strong and cutting off all contact until March.

DON’T:  rush to make reservations for two at your nearest Olive Garden.  Probably cancel that Edible Arrangement you had sent to their office, and keep jewelry out of this.  If your new friend brings up the holiday in conversation, don’t panic and try to defuse the situation with a forced joke, like “I’m doing something with my other girlfriend [or boyfriend].”  They won’t laugh, the awkward silence will be deafening, and you also just equated them to a serious relationship.  Pump the brakes.

DO:  acknowledge the holiday and, while keeping it casual, take the opportunity to show that you’re interested in keeping things going with this person.  Throwing alcohol in the mix, with moderation, always helps to alleviate the awkwardness as well.  Maybe go out with a couple friends to a nice bar and invite your casual lover along, or eschew the ‘love’ theme and invite them over for a bottle of wine and a scary movie.  Just not the “Blue Valentine”-type of scary movie.

2)  Playing hard to get

This can be a predicament year-round, but if there’s a special someone that you’ve been admiring for awhile and they’re playing hard to get, then Valentine’s Day presents unique opportunities for both success and failure.  Before you start the wooing process, you should at least be sure that there is a mutual attraction there, because otherwise a restraining order is on the horizon, and Dan Swanky’s does not condone unwanted advances.

Now if this romantic pursuit is a healthy one, then you can use the holiday to impress your crush without going overboard.  They could be playing hard to get for a number of reasons, but if it’s a beautiful girl, there’s a chance she has dozens of other suitors banging down her door, and she needs to see why you’re different.  Of course, we know that you’re different because of your staggeringly awesome personality, but sometimes that charm of yours needs to be supplemented by some romantic gestures, and Valentine’s Day gives you the chance to do that.  If it’s a studly guy that you’re pursuing, he may be inundated with other suitors as well, or he may be too concerned with taping his Lax stick to notice how great you are.  Now is the time to get in his face with romance.

DON’T:  give some generic gift like assorted flowers or a box of chocolates.  Sure, these things are nice and have their place, but you’re trying to show this person that you’re different from everyone else.  Also, don’t come on too strong.  If the object of your affection rebuffs you after your efforts, be an adult about it and walk away with your head held high.  Maybe they’ll remember your dignity and will come around in their own time.  Regardless, the sobbing and love manifestos need to be kept to yourself.

DO:  take the time to think of a unique and personal gift for your potential lover – but make sure it’s one that will come across as thoughtful and not creepy.  For example, if you’ve had a thing for that cute barista who likes photography, why not slide her tickets to a local photo exhibition when you buy your Valentine’s Day coffee?  Hopefully she’ll like your thoughtfulness, and you’ll score cred by appreciating art.  A beautiful night could be in your future.

Also, you can take advantage of the holiday to let your crush know that if they don’t scoop you up, someone else is waiting in the wings.  If you’re interested in that cute guy from Accounting, maybe order up a couple flower arrangements for ‘anonymous’ delivery on the big day.  He’ll walk by your desk and see that if he doesn’t act quick, he’ll lose you for good.  The next thing you know, your Sunday mornings will be full of spreadsheets and  breakfast in bed.

3)  In it for the long haul

If you’ve managed to tiptoe through the minefield of the courtship period and now find yourself happily dating or married to a special someone, then congratulations.  But you can’t rest on your laurels now.  If you’re with someone who treats you well then they’re going to expect you to reciprocate, and like it or not, Valentine’s Day is proving time.

It’s often the traditional view that it comes down to the guy to pull out all the stops for the holiday – he’s got to do something like shower his special lady with chocolate-dipped diamonds while giving her a foot massage.  We’re not saying that guys can’t do that.  But we do want to emphasize that the Big Day runs both ways, ladies.  In a celebration of love, both people should be giving and taking.

DON’T:  do something you saw on one of those jewelry commercials.  Those things seem like they were all written by a 12-year-old girl and filmed in 1993, then re-run every year during sporting events to make guys feel guilty for blacking out on a Sunday.  You can get jewelry, but make it something nice or personal, not a trinket based on a doodle done by Dr. Quinn the Medicine Woman.  In addition – we said it before, but don’t rent “Blue Valentine.”  That’s a very well-made movie, but trust us, things will turn cold quickly.

DO:  something unexpected.  If you’ve been together for a while, your go-to romantic moves and gifts have probably been played out at this point.  She knows you can play “Wonderful Tonight” on your ukulele.  He’s seen your cheerleader outfit before.  Nothing quickens the heart rate like an unexpected surprise, so think outside of the box this year.  A little bit of themed roleplay never hurt anybody – maybe you show up at the front door in a Geek Squad outfit and ask about her hard drive issues.  Or maybe you bribe the owner of your local theater and get a midnight screening of his favorite movie, while you two run it back to high school with some heavy petting in the back row.  Get crazy.

Part Two of Swanky’s Guide to Predicament Season is coming soon, with a little bonus advice from our resident Steed on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern dating scene.


Super Bowl Cheat Sheet II

2 Feb

[We continue our guide for how to throw the Super Bowl Party that will elevate your social status to dizzying heights]  

Cheat Sheet I

4.  You are what you eat.

There isn’t typically a straightforward meal associated with Super Bowl Sunday, but food is an absolute necessity at whatever kind of party you throw.  When deciding on your culinary gameplan, make sure you know what the effect your dishes will have on the party’s atmosphere.  If you just put out some chips and salsa and call it a day, you might as well just slap your guests in the face as they walk in.

For your heavy-partying guests, the nuances of flavors aren’t going to make a big difference – Big Kyle isn’t going to taste the slight hint of mango chutney in the buffalo wing he’s inhaling between beers, so don’t waste your time trying to be fancy.  Just put out your standard foods that soak up the alcohol, and which can’t be thrown easily across the room.

On the other hand, when you’re having a nicer get-together and possibly looking to impress some potential bosses or lovers (or both), you should show off your refined tastes with items like handmade guac or a cheese spread straight from France.  Make sure you make a lot of loud comments about how you made snacks with ingredients from your urban garden, and that you can’t imagine not eating locally sourced food anymore.  It will make hearts race and pulses quicken.

Steed Says:  I used to always bring my own dish to Super Bowl parties, to show that I was a good guest and also as sort of an advance peace offering to make up for the tomfoolery that often ensued.  I changed that habit after last year’s game, though, due to a little brownie incident.  I was running late for a party at my sister-in-law’s family’s house, and didn’t have time to make anything fancy, so I grabbed a fresh dish of brownies that I had made a couple of days before.  I have a problem with forgetting things sometimes, and this time I forgot that I added about $80 worth of the finest bud to this particular brownie mix before baking.  

Well, I got to the party and thought nothing of it as the brownies were passed around, even grabbing one myself.  Things were fine until halftime, when my father-in-law Bud suddenly jumped up and ran out of the house, yelling about the “robots on the tube.”  We just thought he was being an Old about the Black Eyed Peas, but then several other people became transfixed with a particularly soft chair in the room, and my mother-in-law tried to take a bat to the TV, to get that “long-haired Ferguson guy out of my house.”  

By the end of the game, several people were refusing to put their clothes back on, and a particularly nosy off-duty cop had indicated my brownies as the culprit.  I wasn’t invited back, and had to buy them a new TV.

5.  Keep the party rocking.

Good music is a fundamental part of any party worth going to, so make sure your tunes are on point for Sunday.  You’ll definitely want to have appropriate music cued up and ready for the pre-game festivities and halftime – the halftime show should only be shown on mute, if at all.

For the pre-game, we suggest something inspiring that gets the party juices flowing for your guests.  At a classy party, maybe throw on the soundtrack to Braveheart or a similar movie – it will be inspirational and could pass for modern classical if people don’t listen too closely.  At a Party party, you can’t go wrong with something along the lines of Appetite For Destruction or Van Halen II, although this could lead to massive rounds of shotgunning, so watch your carpet.

During halftime, you want the music to keep the party energy from lagging, so it’s crucial that you throw on a good mix of upbeat crowd favorites.  For the indie parties, toss on your LCD Soundsystem mix and then make sure that cute girl knows you’ve been listening to them “forever.”  If you put on any Skrillex during halftime, you better be sure that most of the people at your party are already browning out, and that they’re predominantly frat dudes.  Otherwise, Don’t.

Steed Says:  I’m partial to a good mix of Bob Seger and Skynyrd for most of my party activities, but I’ll pretty much get down to anything with a solid rhythm section and some tasty licks.  Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m personally pretty pumped to see what the Material Girl busts out for the halftime show this year.  I’ve had a Madonna pinup in every apartment I’ve owned since ’88, and if anything, I think she’s gotten better with age.  

I went on a two-day bender a couple years back when her and Guy Ritchie split – I felt real bad for her personally, but she was once again an available woman.   I couldn’t deal with all the conflicting emotions and sort of lost self-control for a bit.  But anyways, I’m holding off from the shots of Jag during the first half this year, just so I can be coherent for the big halftime show.  Can’t wait.

6.  A little bit of action on the side never hurts.

The Super Bowl is one of the few times of the year where the general public will acknowledge and celebrate the massive enterprise that is sports gambling, so it would be a good idea to keep your guests entertained with some wagering options.  There are the standard Super Bowl Squares games, along with the straightforward bets on the game outcome, but you should look to set your party apart by incorporating some unique gambling ventures tailored to your guests.

If you’re throwing a rowdy party, eschew the game entirely and encourage the partygoers to wager wildly on drinking games among each other.  Nothing gets the energy up like a little competition in games like quarters or Fuck You, Friend. Just make sure you keep an eye on things, because you don’t want a fistfight breaking out – unless it’s in a homemade boxing ring in your backyard and you’ve got action going on both sides.

If you’re trying to impress with the classy party, you might want to keep the high-stakes gambling under the table.  Unless your boss is known to love the ponies, and if that’s the case, go crazy.

Steed Says:  Love the gambling aspect of the Big Game, but just be careful because it can get out of hand very quickly.  A couple of years ago for the Giants-Pats game, I was under the assumption that I had placed a huge bet on the Giants with my bookie Tobias.  As the Giants fought their way to a victory, I was losing my shit, thinking I had a few grand coming my way.  

Right after the victory was sealed, I proceeded to round everyone up for an after-party at Shooters, where I bought several rounds of Washington Apple shots before bringing back two lovely ladies to my place for a nightcap.  By the time I passed out, I had purchased a king-size water bed, three round-trip to tickets to Hedonism in Jamaica, and a mini Escalade to putt around the house in – dropping cash for everything because I knew I was going to get it back from Tobias.  

The next day, I woke up to Tobias pounding on the door, holding my scrawled ticket for the Patriots that I had made while under the influence of several ‘luudes.  Hedonism was a good time, but I ended up having to take out three credit cards for the tickets.

Super Bowl Cheat Sheet I

30 Jan

There will be a lot of chattering about the Super Bowl this week, most of it probably coming from people who haven’t watched football since last year’s Big Game.  In fact, a lot of the people watching this Sunday could probably care less about the action on the field, unless it’s the national anthem or the halftime show – they just want to see the spectacle, get titillated by the commercials, and have an excuse to party.  And it is that last item, the party, that Dan Swanky’s is most concerned with.

The decision to throw a Super Bowl party is not one that should be passed up lightly.  Do it right and it can establish your dominance over the neighborhood/apartment complex/dorm floor/campsite social hierarchy for the rest of 2012.  But do it wrong, and you could very well wake up Monday morning to find that the only friends you have left on the ‘Book are your mom and a couple of porn bots.  Obviously, we recommend that you put it all on the line and go for the social glory.  But you might need some help, and that’s what we’re here for, with some added assistance from D. Swankys’ resident Steed.  Take notes.

1.  Know who you are.

What kind of party are you going to have?  Is it going to be geared towards the actual football game, with all of your sports junkie friends ready to analyze that double wishbone sweep that was clearly blocked wrong?  Is it going to be a heavy drinking party, with copious amounts of Natty Light kegs, plastic handles and two-liters of Fresca?  Or is it going to be a higher-class affair, with hummus chips and gourmet dip, pleated pants, and the game volume on mute in favor of the latest Bjork album spinning in the background?  Knowing what kind of party you want is key, because it will influence pretty much everything else you do.

If you want a heavy drinking affair, you’re going to want to hide your breakable items and keep a fire extinguisher handy, in case Uncle Jimbo gets out of hand like he did on Christmas Eve.  If you want a dignified affair in order to impress the beautiful brunette who just moved into 5C, you’re going to have to spend a few afternoons this week taking off-center black-and-white photos of inanimate objects (cup of coffee, your shoe, park bench), which you can then frame and hang in prominent spots around your place.  The key is to know what you want, and then you can know what you have to do to get there.

Steed Says:  This is definitely a good place to start.  For me, I’m going for a full-blown party scene, so I’ve learned in the past that it’s best to change the numbers around on the front of my house before the party.  That way, when the cops come – and they will come – we can get a little more fiesta time as they drive around looking for my nonexistent address.  Also, I know to keep plenty of food on hand, because the munchies will inevitably come for the attendees, and you don’t want anyone screaming at you to give them their keys during the Bruce Springsteen halftime show so they can go to the Pizza Hut/Taco Bell across town.

2.  Invite the right mix.

Once you have decided what kind of party you are angling for, the next step is to determine the best mix of people to invite.  This can be a delicate science, because if you make just one misstep, you could be responsible for long stretches of awkward silences, the loss of a job, or full-blown assault.  We know that your friends probably have all kinds of different backgrounds and personalities, and we will be the first to tell you that variety is the spice of life.  But you know as well as we do that your vegan co-worker is probably not going to have a good time sitting next to your frat bro Chas as he chases his wings with Maker’s Mark.

So the best option is to tailor the invites according to what kind of party you want.  Make sure you don’t invite your buddy Steed and his lady friend Chrysalis to the wine-and-cheese party that your boss is coming to.  And don’t invite that cute artsy girl you met at the Sufjan Stevens concert to a party where all of your fantasy football friends are going to be berating you for picking a TE first this year.

Steed Says:  This is a big one.  A few years back, I had charmed my way to middle management at IBM and had a clear shot at a VP title in a couple of years.  I decided to throw a Super Bowl party that year, and just sent out a mass invite to everyone in my phone book.  A bunch of work people showed up, including some of my bosses, and they were introduced to all of my old pals from my bartending days at Laredo’s.  

At some point in the third quarter, I was distracted by a round of quaffers and when I turned back to the living room, two of my buddies were shirtless and having a slap fight for shots in front of my horrified bosses.  I tried to calm everyone down, but when my bosses got up to leave, they were caught in one of my buddy Robo’s Pound Town Beer Storms, in which he sprays the keg tap over everyone in the area.  I was seen giving Robo a fist bump for his PTBS, and that was it for my IBM job.  Not to say that I’m disappointed in where I am today, because I love to party, but still ya might want to take this seriously.

3.  Set up appropriately.

You probably don’t have access to an all-purposes event tent in your backyard, so you’re going to need to situate your apartment/home properly if you want a successful party.  If you’re going for the heavy partying theme, it might be a good idea to keep the activities over hardwood flooring or tile as much as possible, as those jello shot stains on the carpet can really add up.

Also, depending on what kind of heavy partiers you’ll be inviting, you may want to keep the doors to your bedroom/home office/kid’s room locked.  No one likes to walk in on your buddy and your barista going at it on your bed, or find white residue caked all over your mouse and keyboard.

If you’re going for a classy affair aimed at impressing the ladies, you’ll definitely want to move your vinyl record collection into clear view, and make sure that the Charles Shaw has been taken out of your wine rack.  You could also go crazy with the Japanese tea lights to give a proper ambiance, but that might be a bit too much.  It’s up to your discretion.

Steed Says:  I’ve always found it a good idea during parties to keep everything contained in the living room and kitchen area, because it keeps the clean-up easy and keeps the valuables in your possession.  One time, I forgot to lock my door and I walked in to my buddy Robo angling my bed out the window, right in the middle of a kegger.  I’ve kept my shit locked since.  

Also, when it comes to layout, I’ve learned not to leave out anything that could easily be used as a weapon, ever since the SB Party of ’09, when a couple of guys grabbed my putters and proceeded to have a Bat Fight in my kitchen.  One ambulance ride and a few police reports later, I told myself no more.


Continue learning with Cheat Sheet II

Personal Soundtrack

27 Jan

The Song

We Must Go On by Pretty Lights


Two Pretty Lights soundtracks in a row?  Yes.  Derek Vincent Smith, a.k.a.  the man behind Pretty Lights, has dropped a new track and it’s here just in time for your lazy Saturday/Sunday enjoyment.  “We Must Go On” is a departure from the hard-hitting bass-driven tracks that PL has released lately, bringing in a catchy soul sample and a laid-back drum beat that takes its time grooving along.  The song builds up a propulsive, low-key momentum, while at times it threatens to follow the soaring vocal sample and drift off into the ether – giving everything a feeling of dreamy, perpetual motion.  Hopefully this track is indication that Pretty Lights will release an EP or full-length album in the near future.  In the meantime, let this one ride and enjoy 5+ minutes of stress relief.

The Activity

You were in a hurry to make some appointments this morning, and didn’t have time to make a proper breakfast.  So you grabbed the muffin your roommate left on the table, not stopping to wonder why it was wrapped individually, or why it tastes kind of funny.  And by the time you recall your roommate’s tendency to indulge in the occasional edible, you’re already in your car and are starting to feel nice and laid back.  At that moment, you take a look at the sunny day outside,  and the good looking people headed to the park – you can’t fight it.  You pull over to your friend’s place, borrow his dog, grab a leash and some headphones, and head out for a nice long walk.  Followed by an ice cold microbrew and some good company.  A long stressful day has become a Treat Yo Self day, and you couldn’t be happier.

2012 To The Max

16 Jan

With 2011 more than two weeks in the rear-view it is time to face reality and analyze our survival chances for 2012. It is true that an impending apocalypse threatens the status quo unlike ever before, but what if a doomsday scenario is the least of our worries? Nobody is certain what will really happen, but that doesn’t stop scholars from fantasizing about alien invasions and the collapse of human civilization. With these facts in mind, 2012 seems like the perfect year to stash the Atari, put on some pants, and head outside to enjoy some paid time off.

It is common knowledge that Tom Cruise likes to splurge on nice things, but what about Joe Schmoe as he anticipates the end of days? Here are three suggestions to spark the firestorm of decadence that will be 2012:

1) Redeem those credit card offers and start maxing out like there is no tomorrow. Exotic furs? Original Van Gogh? 15-day rave in Ibiza? Nothing screams irony like material possessions in the afterlife, so get to it.

2) In the scenario that a catastrophic event does occur, the only record of human civilization will be the internet archive shot into space. Don’t be the last one on your block without a personal YouTube channel. Record yourself singing love ballads, showing off your collection of Hello Kitty gear or just talking Farmville strategy with your faithful followers. If the world doesn’t end, you now have a mildly lucrative side gig that will keep you off the streets and ensure your digital fame for eternity.

3) The final step is more of a security precaution, but to the right people, it is the ultimate treat. Head down to your local animal shelter and adopt some cats, selecting the fiercest kittens from multiple litters. Raise these beasts as your own while training them in modern combat technique, negotiations, and stealth. When weaned off the leash, this feline crew will have your back indefinitely.

When followed strictly, the formula above will net maximum pleasure and hopefully will tip the scales in 2012’s favor.

Disclaimer: We are not registered financial professionals. The strategies above carry a certain level of risk that may result in physical and financial ruin. Please consult your local financial professional, or Shaman, for additional considerations before attempting to treat yourself.