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A guide to help the average man... look less average

Moncler

Mark Kwak

I have mixed feelings about Moncler coats. For those of you who have never heard of the brand, they are a premium luxury goose down coat company (wow that's a lot of adjectives), and frankly, they are amazing quality and design. Fantastic materials, incredible warmth, wonderful build quality... what's not to like?

Well, there is one thing. They are supremely over-priced. The coat above is my personal one, and its retail price is $1,495! Truly a luxury designer piece. You could own six Patagonia down jackets for the price of one of these. 

I was lucky enough to find a damaged/ripped one at a sample sale in New York for a quarter of that price, but even still, it wasn't an easy hit on the wallet since it also required some repairs.

If you have the cash and live in harsh winter conditions, I would consider grabbing a Moncler coat (or also Canada Goose), but in the case that you can't, stick with Patagonia, Arcteryx, and possibly North Face. Down jackets from those brands aren't cheap either, but they sure aren't $1500. 

Valet Tray

Mark Kwak

To continue this streak of showcasing things in my room, I want to bring up something I've found quite indispensable, despite its lack of sexiness. What am I talking about? My valet tray.

A valet tray is simply a container (or tray, what do you know?!) that holds your everyday items while you're at home. Mine, above, is a really cheap one I bought from Marshall's several years ago. I like it because it has six separate sections, which helps me organize my stuff just that tiny bit better.

There are also valet trays out there that look super fancy, are made of expensive woods/leathers, and cost a lot of money (like this one that I'm a fan of). Only you can decide if something so basic is worth the extra cost, but the good news is you don't have to spend much to get a decent looking tray.

What do I usually keep in my valet tray? In case you're curious- the following:

Wallet, watch(es), money clip, leatherman, keys, shoe horn, zippo lighter, Visine, chapstick (and a lot of it, I must have insanely chapped lips, wow), earbuds, and a record player stylus cleaner.

Anyhow, Xmas is coming soon so wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas! I hope I'll write another post before the 25th, but in case I don't, enjoy time with the fam and stay warm y'all!

Stendig Calendar

Mark Kwak

There's something in my room that I absolutely adore, yet at the same time it couldn't be more boring. As you can probably tell from the photo above, I am talking about my wall calendar.

Oh but worry not, this is not just any ordinary calendar, it is of course the infamous Stendig Calendar. Not only does it have a truly unique design, going from black on white to white on black every month with elegantly drawn numbers, but it is absolutely HUMONGOUS. Normal calendars are what, 12 inches by 24 inches at the most? The Stendig is a whopping 3 feet x 4 feet in size. It dwarfs all other calendars I've seen, and does it brilliantly.

Frankly, I'd say it's more artwork than a normal calendar, but all the more reason I'm a fan of it. Once a month is finished, you can use a page of the calendar to draw on, use as decoration, or whatever your heart desires.

Not much more costly than other calendars out there ($38 vs ~$25) but if you have a super boring blank wall in your apartment/home, I'd suggest picking one of these bad boys up.

Too cheap not to use

Mark Kwak

If you've ever thought about taking up bartending or mixology as a hobby, I highly encourage you to take the leap. I'm not a bartender but I do have an interest in making cocktails and at the very least, it helps you catch up with old friends and practice some hospitality.

As a result of this hobby, I've been able to acquire a bunch of fancy schmancy glassware to serve my drinks in. Every now and again, a friend will ask for my recommendation on what glassware they should purchase if they were to start making cocktails themselves, and I always point them to small mason jars.

Look at that - 12 for $7. Can't get cheaper, cooler, and more durable than that. Plus you can use them for beer (see pic), wine, water, etc. I even use mine as a piggy bank for change. Before venturing into the land of Nick and Nora, Schott Zwiesel, etc. go with the tried and true Ball mason jar. They've been cool for a while and will likely remain so for some time.

Playing Vinyl - Rega Planar 3

Mark Kwak

I am an audiophile. The first step towards recovery is admission, right? Just thinking back- it's quite sad how much time and money I spilled into this hobby of high-fidelity audio. Believe it or not, I used to buy, sell, or trade at least 3 headphones a week for almost a full year before I realized I was going a bit crazy. And we're not talking iPhone earbuds, we're talking $2,000 headphones. Pretty insane for a college kid with no income.

I scaled it down for a while as I was happy enough with my headphones and speakers setups (plural on purpose), but living in San Francisco got me really thinking about the piece that has always been missing from my high fidelity audio setup. Vinyl.   

Thus, I recently bought myself a little present. The Rega Planar 3 turntable. For those in the know, this is quite a legend of a turntable, one that's been around for many decades. This is Rega's newest 2016 edition of this popular turntable, and I found a deal that I just could not say no to. 

Beautiful, huh? So far I love it, and it's really got me enjoying music again. Went out on craigslist, bought a bunch of old records, and have been enjoying that amazing sound quality only vinyl can provide. I won't get into the "does vinyl sound better than CD/MP3/etc." debate, as I think there are benefits and cost to all formats, but I can say the tangible element of setting down a record on a spinning turntable is quite rewarding. 

In case you think it's a waste of money to spend this much on a turntable, I do have some recommendations at the lower price levels. Take a look at the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC, Denon DP-300F (get the upgraded ortofan stylus if you can), and of course the legendary Technics 1200 Mk2. You'll need to find that last one used. 

What have I been digging?

Mark Kwak

It's been a blue moon and a half since my last post, and fourteen blue moons since my post previous to that. For the past year, I've really lowered Simpler Man as a priority in my life and though I am truly sorry for those who have tried to continue following me, I hope you understand that life can sometimes just gets in the way.

However, I do want to continue posting if I possibly can, so I'll try in baby steps. For this post, I figured I'd let you guys know of some of things I've been digging recently. Without further ado...

Patagonia Long Root Ale. Yes, Patagonia makes beer now. Apparently it saves the world too, though let's be real, I don't really feel like I'm saving the world by drinking beer. Well, maybe the world inside my head? Overall, great tasting beer, but too expensive for what it is. $10 for 4 cans! 

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Japanese Whiskey. My interest sparked a while back when Yamazaki won best whiskey in the world with their Sherry Cask Whiskey. So which one did I get in this picture? Well, none so far. But I did get a chance to taste a couple in the recent weeks. Ultimately, I'd like to know what I'm getting myself into before committing to a whole bottle. My favorite so far from my tastings? The Nikka Yoichi. Unfortunately it's a cool $82. 

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Leica M240. Wondered where these pics came from? From my new toy- which cost me an arm and a leg. And another arm. Yes this picture is black and white, and the camera looks like a film camera, but it's actually a color digital one. The last sentence makes me sound like a poser but I swear to you the camera's actually quite well-reviewed. Anyhow, this will NOT be the last I talk about this particular item, but thought I'd share.

Where have I been?

Mark Kwak

That's a Baracuda G9 Harrington jacket in case anyone is curious.

That's a Baracuda G9 Harrington jacket in case anyone is curious.

Hi guys,

It's been a really long time, and I'm so sorry for that! If you're still with me, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

For the past eight months or so, I've been working on a exciting project that has been a dream of mine for a very long time. I wrote and directed a short film called Rules of Exchange - a suspense/thriller about a negotiation gone bad. Unfortunately, with only so many hours in a day, it was at the cost of updating Simpler Man. Perhaps since the film is now completed, I can get back on the horse!

If you are or have been curious of what I've been up to, here's a way to support! (October 6, 2016 edit: we succeeded with the Kickstarter campaign!) Hopefully it's a piece of work you really enjoy.