Tuesday, 3 December 2013
Back in the day, I was addicted to Bejeweled. (Read: still a bit now) . But there's a new kid on the block. I was dubious about sharing this with you all because it's just so good (yes, I'm that person) but nobody should miss out on this.
So, the new love of my life is called Quiz Up. I came across it the other day, while looking on the iPhone App charts. Having spent many a fruitless hour searching for great quizzes online (I'm that person, too), I felt excited that I'd found a free app, full of quiz questions.
But once I'd fannied around (who remembers their Apple ID?) and finally loaded it up, I realised that it was better than I could've hoped. First you choose a name and a photo - can be a mugshot or you can choose one of their cute animal cartoons. Then it's quiz away! (Sorry).
To get started, you pick a category and then a sub-topic (music -> Britney Spears) to be quizzed on. Then the app finds someone else who clicked on that topic at the very same time as you. Mind-blowingly, members are from all over the world. Chicago to Egypt. So on the first few goes, despite my knowledge (her first album was my first album, and so our relationship bloomed), I kept losing because all I could think was, 'I am here and it's 7pm, they are over there and it's probably like 11am, and we are playing the same game in real-time.' That shit can really warp a brother's mind, you know.
Anyway, you play seven rounds (a question comes up, you choose the right answer from multiple choice. Answering quicker helps with point score) and then there's a winner. By playing the same topics over and over, you add strings to your bow, meaning you naturally get better and soon acquire an amusing title to replace 'Beginner' which is what everyone starts with (think delights such as 'Culinary King').
The range of categories is incredible, too. Friends to botany, the premier league to South America. There's everything you can think of. And it's addictive, especially when you're competiting with a real person (interestingly, I get even more riled up when I'm playing against someone from the UK).
There's also a messaging system, so you can interact with users. I only came across this because after winning a spelling quiz against a man in America, he sent me a message. 'Smarty pants, how are you?' he wrote. I didn't reply because I thought he either 1) was chatting me up or b) had confused me for someone he knew. I don't know why else he would ask me how I am.
I'd like to message people from other countries just so I can have a virtual penpal, but I don't know how to start up a conversation without seeming like the aforementioned guy.
Anyway, now instead of audibly impersonating the Bejeweled narrator (GO!), I find myself shouting obscenities at Rich from Arkansas. Well, his cute panda avatar anyway.
Sunday, 1 December 2013
Last weekend, my sister and I were in John Lewis, when we were told that the Jersey Boys were going to be performing a few numbers in-store. According to lucky folk who have seen the musical, their voices are out of this world. Well, they kind of have to be if they're hoping to emulate Frankie Valli and his Four Seasons - Frankie and his high voice in particular.
Anyway, at 1pm, we secured a spot on the balcony, opposite the area usually reserved for mini product displays.
Before long, the four dashing young men came out in their red suits, and kicked things off. They were absolutely tremendous, as was their discography. You don't realise just how many well-known songs Frankie and the guys are responsible for, including Bye Bye Baby, Beggin', What A Night and Workin' My Way Back To You.
I've included some videos below (excuse the shaky camerawork, the fact both videos end early and the ladies gassing and laughing - not me, I assure you).
Here's a video of the lead singing Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You.
Below is one of my faves, Sherry.
Thursday, 21 November 2013
This week, I was lucky enough to see a preview screening of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Having loved the books, and the first film (it captured the book perfectly), it's fair to say I was pretty psyched. Being a big J-Law fan (who isn't?) definitely ramped up my excitement, too.
The film opened up showing Katniss' new life - living in the Victor's Village and touring around districts, making press appearances. Not as dull as it might sound. Within the first few minutes, the film shocks . That's the essence to this film - the action is non-stop, but not overdone or just for the sake of it.
For those of you who haven't read the second book, I won't spoil it for you, but just expect brutality and everything to be gripping, even the slower scenes. New characters are introduced and some are just as strong as the leads. Despite having read the books, there were still times when I wasn't sure of the outcome, or which characters were on Katniss' side. Some real shining stars in the film alongside J-Law are the squeaky, strange Effie, who shows a different side to her personality, and Cesar, who's even more hilarious and wonderfully charismatic than in the last film.
Best of all, I felt like I was right in there, feeling as apprehensive and frightened as Katniss. The concept of The Hunger Games is unrealistic, of another world, but the characters and the emotions and the traits are real. Several times during this film, little tears escaped my eyes. Those moments were unexpected and left just as swiftly, when the fast-moving action scenes intervened. It gave me an idea of how quickly Katniss had to deal with her emotions amid the chaos. Both of the lead guys are great in it too, both strong yet very different. It goes without saying, the effects and cinematography are just wow.
It hits cinemas today. Exciting!
I am not a classy diner. By that, I don't mean that I throw my food on the floor and have stain-laden clothes after a meal, but rather I don't often go to fine dining establishments. Brasserie Zedel was the fanciest place I'd ever been too - note the past tense (although it's still one of my favourite places). So, Three O Two was a whole other world.
My sister and I booked a table using a Taste Card (explains a lot. Or the whole thing), so we could go wild and not feel the brunt of it at the next reluctant online banking check. Having entered the hotel lobby and taken the lift up two floors, we got to the restaurant at 6pm.
We were seated immediately, and had some cocktails to, er, pre-start, before ordering actual starters. We shared bread with tomato and garlic, and ham and cheese croquettes. Just as we were tucking in, a lady came around with a well-organised bread tray, and asked if we'd like any. I chose a wholegrain roll (there were baguettes and all!), which was then accompanied by a surprise, complementary salmon mousse amuse bouche. 'What is this joint?!' I laughed, like a pop star who's realising what it's like to live the high life, before they get their babs out and it all goes wrong.
Once we'd devoured those, the bread lady came around again. Then it was down to the main meal. I went for the 8oz sirloin steak, with dauphoinoise potatoes and Cabrales blue cheese sauce. Man alive, it was delicious. The potato was a piece of art on it's own. Stood like a sturdy square, all soft inside but crisp on the outside. The steak lived up to steak's sterling reputation (well, you rarely ever get a bad steak) and the sauce was on the side rather than all over my meal, which I appreciated (even though it was tasty).
My sister had the suckling pig with poached garlic and herb potatoes, and we got sautéed mushrooms with garlic and parsley on the side.
The whole experience was so fancy that at several points in the evening, my cutlery was taken and replaced with other cutlery, and arranged in a certain way. They even enlisted DIFFERENT waiters to do each part, so one would take a knife away, and another would bring the replacement and so on. I felt like Mia in Princess Diaries. E.g. lost.
Pudding was a delight as well. I had a brownie with ice cream, and my sister had 'Red Fusion', involving rose ice cream. But forget scoops in a bowl, it was a masterpiece. I don't even know what half of the things on that 'plate' were, but they all tasted incredible (I tried them, of course).
For a chain hotel, rocking an outdated exterior brick vibe, and located on a random road, this restaurant blew me away. I don't remember exactly, but using the tastecard, we saved a lot of money, and it ended up coming to about £60. The service was impeccable, like nothing I've ever experienced before. Definitely worth a try if you have a tastecard - it's a bit pricey otherwise.
Wednesday, 20 November 2013
Disclaimer: I am not complaining.
In most companies there is an unspoken give and take rule. Outside company gives us this, we give them that. It's no different in magazine journalism. And it’s all good, man. We need each other to get by.
But this system is causing an office epidemic. I have creatively named it... TREAT OVERKILL.
Now, I am the first person to reach for the menu when someone politely suggests dessert in a restaurant, even though everyone’s busting a button. I am also the first, and often only, person at the pudding section of a buffet that has just opened. Sweet treats are my body’s biggest enemy – especially if all of this ‘sugar is worse than fat and all the other things we’re scared of’ stuff is true. But for a long time, not even the fear of looking and feeling hideous could slap my hand away from the biscuits.
So when I made my first foray into this working environment, I was loving life. Krispy Kremes? 12 of them? In exchange for a lovely social media mention? My tiny brain couldn’t comprehend it. In most magazine offices there are even designated treat tables (as furniture goes, nothing special - usually just random, unneeded tables lurking in awkward places - but their significance, wow). And in no time at all, I became reliant on the goods, like a horrible, spoilt treat fiend, pretending to be casual. 'Strange that the treat table is empty.' 'Do you think the treats have been misplaced?' (and in reply 'I hope they're ok')
But soon, despite feeling disappointed when treats were MIA, I started to care about ending up fat and sad. The royal icing sheen had worn off, and I was torn between being greedy and increasing my chance of bad body things, and just...resisting.
You might think that all of this is no different to struggling with treats at home, in everyday life. But it is. Because at home, you don't go out and buy cakes in bulk. THAT would be too indulgent, ridiculous. But when they arrive at the office, with your company's logo piped all pretty in purple sugar, it's different. It wasn't like we were going out and buying sweets (although, I'll hold my hands up and say, that has happened before) - they were coming to us, box after box. Sitting on the treat table, looking like they were ready to mingle. With our mouths. (Sorry).
There's having chocolate and not being a twat about it ('I don't care about calories, I just want to enjoy this') - which I fully recommend - and then having chocolate X a million and having to face the truth because it's happening on such a constant basis that you actually feel bloated and tired and disappointed when it's not there. It becomes a 'thing'. Not just the usual food body battle that most of us have fought, but an actual problem for weaklings like me. There are good days and bad days. You know the score. But ultimately, I've got a feeling that there's no easy way out.
It's like H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. Except, instead of mankind versus martians, it’s my brain versus the treats. It's an obvious victory for my sugary compadres. But I am going to ease up on the treats for a little while. In the New Year, that is. Because Christmas is coming, and it's going to be treats galore. I hope.
- SK (is this wanky? I think it's wanky. I'm stuck between knowing it is and wishing it wasn't.)
Friday, 15 November 2013
|Margarita, that looks a lot like that little energy blob from the EDF adverts|
Big Easy is a busy, dimly-lit, random-American-paraphernalia-laden restaurant, living, a bit strangely, in Chelsea. We were there for their Thursday night special - surf and turf. That's half a lobster, a sirloin steak, fries, salad and a margharita or a beer. Oh, and happy hour, until 7:30pm.
|Their specials menu, and an example of how dimly-lit it was, I suppose|
The main area had a fair few tables in it, but we were led downstairs to another dining room. With low ceilings and even more paraphernalia (fishing nets and coloured Christmas lights, which I deemed, silently, fire hazardous but 'kitsch' nonetheless), it felt cosy and full of belly laughs and joy. Like the bar, it was pretty tightly packed, so we had to do a bit of shimmying and sliding to get into our chairs, but once in, all was well.
|APOLOGIES for this awful photo that looks like it's on a restaurant menu in Majorca|
The special (including cocktail) was £19.95, so it was pretty good for what we got. It was a nice evening, and even included some live music (by music, I mean ok covers of popular tunes by Train and Eagle Eye Cherry) which added to the loud, chatty atmosphere. The food was big. And it was easy, apart from the lobster bit. They do other special nights too - all you can eat shrimp and all you can eat barbecue. I'll be at the latter soon then...
Wednesday, 6 November 2013
|These aren't the ones in question. Funnily enough, I can't even find pictures of the bloody things|
Every winter, I find myself in the same predicament. I spot a nice pair of boots in a shop in September. Think to myself, 'I'll look at getting those soon'. Come late October, when I'm ready to make the purchase, it's too late. They're all sold out. In every branch, online. Like delicious handcrafted apple pies straight from the oven. Gone. This year was no different. I had my eye on a pair of burgundy boots. But they left the universe shortly afterwards, couldn't even find a picture online (to cry over what could have been, you see).
But this weekend, there was a glimmer of hope. I was in the shop that sold said boots, checking out the (lack of) other boot options, when a girl nearby pulled THE BOOTS out of a plastic bag. The ones that I saw that one time and never again! I lurked behind the shelf as I watched her try on the tan ones.
'Well, don't rub it in woman. Not only do you have the sacred boots, you can afford to get them in tan, too!' I cried, in my head.
'I love those,' I smiled, trying to keep it casual.
'Me too. I bought these burgundy ones, but I think I might want to swap them for the tan,' she smiled.
My brain went mental.
'I'm desperate for the burgundy ones but they're sold out everywhere! If you decide to swap, I'll follow you to the till and see if I can nab them right away,' I babbled, scaring everyone in the vicinity.
'Ok,' she replied, backing away.
Then she asked the old lady next to her which colour she preferred.
'Burgundy,' old lady grunted.
I quietly tutted at old lady. She should know better. Over the next ten minutes, the girl ummed and ahhed, tried them on and took them off again. I loitored awkwardly nearby, pretending to be looking at the price of some really ugly boots - simply because they were closest to her. I couldn't let them get away, not again.
Eventually, she came over to me. I acted surprised, as if I was engrossed in ugly shoes' barcode.
'Sorry, but I'm going to keep them,' she said.
Heartbreaking. But the worst part is, I bet if I'd kept quiet about wanting them, she'd have gone with the tan. Essentially, I reminded her how sought after they were and made her keep them. The boot quest continues.