Rage inside the machine: 5 items to soothe (or encourage) you when you’re pissed off

We at ShopSquad cater to every living, purchasing being on the face of the earth, which puts us in a bit of a pickle when it comes to these product guides. However, at least one common experience unites us across lines of gender, age, nationality, and class: anger. Or, to be more specific, fleeting moments of of white-knuckled, red-faced, purple-spandex-shorts-stretching incandescent rage, whether you’ve discovered that your parents have cut you out of the will again, or that you forgot to TiVo the latest episode of Community.

"That's the one in which Annie and Britta almost make out! Nooooo!"

In recognition of occasional fiascos and freakouts everywhere, here are some tried & true items to soothe the pure fury chunneling through your internal organs.

Personalizable bottle opener – While you’re drowning your sorrows like a burlap sack of kittens in the river, let this handy item be a reminder that life goes on. We recommend engraving something uplifting, like a quote from Tuesdays with Morrie, or Scarface.

"Where you get the beauty scar, tough guy? Eating pineapple?"

The Gashlycrumb Tinies — This macabre Gorey classic depicting the alphabetical deaths of hapless Victorian children should take the edge off even the Heathcliff-iest mood.

Easier than reading Camus, and just as droll.

Mr. Axe — Want something more tactile? This sheepish-looking plushie lets you playfully go Lizzie Borden on your loved ones, and you’ll be supporting independent designers while chopping through your rage issues.

Headphones — Several generations of lovelorn teenagers can’t be wrong; slap on a huge, heavy pair of headphones to let the world that you hate everyone forever/always. Ear-buds are a no-go in this case, as you want the largest headphones possible to broadcast your excess ire.

So no one can hear you playing Dashboard Confessional.

Duffel bag — Sometimes, even the illusion of escape is enough to calm one down. The cool grey-and-tan color scheme of this dashing Herschel Supply Co. bag from Karmaloop is casual enough for the gym, but elegant enough for a weekend extramarital jaunt. We recommend packing this baby with sneakers, a just-in-case shirt, a towel, and a waterproof notebook, so you can remember where you hid the body.

Stylish and ready for mayhem.

As always, you can get product advice at ShopSquad, even when you’re not pissed.

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3 Minimalist, No-Bullshit Essentials for Work-to-After-Hours

While our personal style icon is Paz de la Huerta in anything ever, we can understand the need to look polished for evening events, and not like we’ve spent the last 72 hours marinating in whiskey and back sweat.

She is our heroin. As in, we inject her and shiver deliciously in the corner, dreaming of babies crawling on the ceiling

However, we at ShopSquad like minimizing the time we spend transitioning from the office to the bar, so here are three gender-neutral grooming essentials that every working stiff / aspiring debauchee should keep at his or her desk and/or laptop bag:

Deodorant — “Clean” and “smells nice” are pretty much the baseline for pleasing personal impressions, much like “not dead” and “can read” are commonly accepted standards for romantic relationships (then again, we’ve dated Bukowski fans before, so… yeah, not so much on the standards). Swipe on some industrial-strength deodorant in the morning and refresh at 5 p.m.; you’ll avoid the potential awkwardness of coworkers walking in on you giving yourself sponge baths in the company kitchenette.

Face wipes — Half physical, half psychological. Slough off the detritus of modern-day commuting and work-induced agony. Sure, your boss may have humiliated you in front of all of Accounting three hours ago, but that fetching bartender at Trivia Night doesn’t have to know. It’s like a new you!

Lotion – You know that tight feeling you get in your face right after you wash it? It’s a sign that your skin is thirsty and vulnerable, like Keira Knightley in A Dangerous Method. So before you step out the door, rub a drop of unscented lotion on your face to minimize dryness/flakiness. And if you worry about your forehead getting shiny, well, that’s what toilet seat covers are for.

moisturizing: kind of Freudian

As always, you can get expert advice on purchases, grooming or otherwise, at ShopSquad.

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Giveaway: $50 iTunes gift card

Our first ShopSquad giveaway is here… win a drawing for a $50 iTunes card! To enter the drawing, you need to:

(1) Like us on Facebook

(2) Tweet about us using Option 3 on the “Invite Friends” twitter tool. Plus, you still get the $5 bonus for each of your friends who sign up and sell $50 through ShopSquad.

Ends Friday, 7/1/11 at 12pmPDT. Tweet away!

Swarovski DJ headphones not included.

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3 Retro Costume Party Ideas That Don’t Involve Mad Men

While we’re thrilled that Banana Republic is launching a Mad Men-inspired line this August, we can’t help but suppress a dainty yawn at the thought of attending more costume parties inspired by the show.

If we wanted to surround ourselves with rich, stylishly miserable people, we'd visit our parents more often.

So here are three fresh ideas for your next referential soiree:


Although not as inherently appealing as martinis and philandering, this theme offers surprising flexibility: You could go the traditional 1984 route, with blue coveralls and a deliberately limited vocabulary, or try the Philip K. Dick cyberpunk aesthetic. Fans of The Handmaid’s Tale can don long-sleeved red dresses, winged hats, and pop out babies in the corner. Or if blissful hedonism is more your bag, do Brave New World, with color-coded wardrobe by caste (AP English Lit refresher: gray for Alphas, Mulberry for Betas, khaki for Deltas, green for Gammas, and black for Epsilons) and lots of drug-fueled sex. Hmm. We’re going to have to side with Huxley on this one.

Ironic pickup line for the occasion: "Everyone says I'm awfully pneumatic."

Or you could tackle the hottest girl at the party and shave her head. We can't tell you how to run your love life.


This isn’t some half-assed affair in which you can show up as Van Gogh with a bandage clasped to the wrong ear — that’s akin to saying your favorite book is The Great Gatsby, or that your favorite band is Coldplay. Choose your favorite art movement and dress accordingly: Art Noveau for the waify dreamers, Futurism for the fascists, Surrealism for the delightfully insane. We once knew a man who wore a bowler hat to a party and held a green apple in front of his face the entire time: that’s dedication.

We want to love this mustache and never let it go.


Mr. Bridges has enjoyed a long, venerable career, and it’s about time you paid homage through drunken costuming. The Big Lebowski, Tron, and True Grit are gimmees for the novices, but hard-core enthusiasts could attempt The Fabulous Baker Boys or The Last Unicorn.

Bonus round: Nic Cage, although some may express concern that either of these themes may prove difficult for female party-goers. We say that any girl willing to dress up in a bear suit and punch Leelee Sobieski in the face is a woman of great wisdom and valor.


As always, you can get expert advice on purchases, pop cultural or otherwise, at ShopSquad.

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4 Simple Essentials for Setting Up Your Super-Villain Lair

We at ShopSquad have recently moved to more spacious digs, which naturally brings us to thoughts of how tough burgeoning super-villains must have it. Say you’ve got a unique plan to disrupt the staid industry of evil, but limited funds. It’s natural to dismiss decor when you’re focusing all your energy on R&D (e.g. kidnapping scientists, kidnapping heiresses, kidnapping precocious children with magical powers), but it’s impossible to convey elegant menace when all of your headquarter fixtures come from IKEA. Fortunately, we’ve come up with a list of essentials to pimp out your villainous lair so that it elicits terror and awe, rather than awkward pity when visitors spot bean bags in the lobby.

oh, the puckery, non-lumbar-support shame.

1.) Solid wood conference tables – Glass tables are the cranky grandmothers of furniture – they’re difficult to transport, they get smudgy really quickly, and have an unfortunate habit of shattering when you and your nemesis tumble on them in the midst of climactic fisticuffs. Go for mahogany; it’s classy and relatively low maintenance, with a subtly dark sheen that encourages dastardly brainstorming.

2.) High-backed leather swivel chairs – High-backed, because it’s imposing. Leather, because it’s comfortable. Swivel, because it’s fun. Unless if you’re one of those hands-on masterminds consistently out in the field (micromanage much?), you’ll probably spend a lot of time in your office brooding, cackling, and monologue-ing in front of petrified cronies, so a nice chair is worth the splurge.

3.) Electric tea kettles – Curb your scoffing; even upstart evil-doers get thirsty, and you can’t exactly maintain an aura of chilly mystery with Jamba Juice cups strewn about your office. Drinking tea (we recommend Mariage Frères Marco Polo ) connotes refinement and European-ness, so you can get your caffeine fix and still look composed when your henchpeople (equal-opportunity evil is the wave of the future) enter your office with the latest kidnapped scientist/heiress/child in tow.

4.) Snow globe – So you don’t have enough funds to plunk into an original Mondrian for your inner sanctum. No matter; De Stijl is for squares, anyways. Minimalism is a godsend to financially strapped villains. All you need is a heavy paperweight rich with potential metaphorical commentary for a captive (literally) audience. Then when you’re finished expounding on rocking horses, your distant father, and Paris in the snow, you can idly pick up the globe and smash your enemy’s face.

the perfect accessory, whether you're orchestrating malevolent multinational conspiracies or banging some French dude behind your husband's back.

As always, you can get expert advice on purchases, villainous or otherwise, at ShopSquad.

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3 Non-Shitty Ways to Do Dinner+Movie Dates

There’s a reason why the dinner-and-a-movie combination remains a staple for date nights. As a species, we need food and the passive contemplation of professionally attractive people to survive.

But what if you don’t want to brave the Friday night masses at the cinema, with the squalling infants (who brings a baby to Saw VI, anyways?), sticky floors and ursine jerks who totally block your view and laugh obnoxiously at every vaguely amusing line before resuming their regularly scheduled mouth breathing? Well, you could always stay in and watch a movie over takeout, but that sounds kind of… lame. Diffident. Flaccid.

We at ShopSquad pride ourselves on our creativity and romantic potency (at least, that’s what our Real Dolls tell us at night), so we’ve devised several fresh variations on the old dinner-and-a-movie routine. Read these ideas over and give them a whirl. You can even claim them as your own; we won’t tell on you.


In Greek, nostalgia literally means “the pain from an old wound.” It’s true, because Don Draper said it, and that guy was crawling with women.

His wife looked like this, and he still thought, "Hmm. I can do better." That's a man with a plan B through Z. And potentially, lots of STDs.

Curate a selection of your favorite snacks from childhood, whether they’re Capri Sun or Gushers or wine coolers. Put on a movie that the both of you have already seen, and play a classic game like Jenga (an adroit metaphor for sexual tension) or Hungry Hungry Hippos (we’ll just leave that one to your imagination) . The indigestion is temporary, but love lasts forever.

Difficulty level: 2
Recommended for: winsome indie types, slightly awkward May-December romances
Pair with: vintage Pixar


Everyone has a favorite food. Everyone is an expert on something (we even built a little site on that premise). Taste tests let your date share his/her expertise in a fun, low-pressure setting, and hey, free food and blindfolds!

We think many dates would be greatly improved with the addition of blindfolds

True story: a friend of ours claimed that he was a lemonade connoisseur during a meet-and-greet with a girl. His date then purchased ten varieties of lemonade and set up a picnic gauntlet, in which he had to determine the brand of each drink during a blind tasting. He scored an abysmal 4/10 on the test, but he got the girl; they’re married now, and he won’t return our calls to hit up the gentlemen’s clubs. Asshole.

Difficulty level: 5
Recommended for: cute-but-snooty know-it-alls who need to be taken down a peg or two
Pair with: Last Tango in Paris


Maybe watching movies from the safety of your private property is too bourgeois. Maybe you are in possession of an impatient heart and ninja stealth. If so, all you need are the following ingredients for a recklessly romantic evening:

1.) Access to an abandoned building
2.) Miniature projector
3.) Lightweight laptop
4.) Laptop backpack
5.) Blanket

Just break into the building, set up your laptop, and project the cinematic masterpiece of your choice on the wall. Might want to keep the running time down, though, in case any cops or deranged, frothy hobos come knocking.

Difficulty level: 9
Recommended for: smitten, agile lotharios who do not fear death
Pair with: Heat, Double Indemnity

As always, you can get live expert advice on all purchases, gifts or otherwise, at ShopSquad.

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3 Insanely Functional Gifts for Graduation Day

Leis wither. Flowers die. Here are several gifts that your soon-to-be grad will keep long after they’ve been ushered out of the stadium.


A must for outdoor ceremonies. These Gucci Unisex Aviator Sunglasses are useful for shielding your grad’s eyes after a night of cataclysmic partying or cathartic sobbing. The recipient can also discreetly catch a quick snooze while 9,000 other classmates are tromping across the stage to collect their $100,000 pieces of paper. Come to think of it, you should probably snag a pair for yourself, too.

Non-Alcoholic Beverage Holster

We wouldn’t actually suggest swigging beer during commencement, if only because these events can be terribly dehydrating. Water bottles are usually complimentary during graduations, so this Red Envelope Beer Holster leaves your grad’s hands free for bouquets and beach balls and diplomas and whatnot. Plus, if you’re worried about aesthetics, those voluminous polyester robes can hide, like, anything.

Instant-Film Camera

For the actual procession and ceremony, you want high-quality digital. Instant cameras are no good for capturing large crowds or taking a flurry of photos. However, Polaroids (sorry, “INSTAX Fuji film prints“) provide the perfect mix of ready-made nostalgia and intimacy for the after-party, when grads bid adieu to their friends and the warm cocoon of academia. The photos will develop at the same rate as the dawning realization that this is real life, rapidly encroaching, and they will never again be this young and suffused with ambition and hope. Smile!

As always, you can get live expert advice on all purchases, gifts or otherwise, at www.ShopSquad.com.

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