Le Jazz Hot

This is my new baby. I’m taking possession of her on Saturday.

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She needs a name. At the moment, it may very well be Victoria (because she is Le Jazz hot).

Suggestions welcome. And go. 

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Do I have wine in my whiskers?

There’s a new wine website on it’s way. Yes, I know. Another one. Although this one will be quite unlike any others you’ve come across.

It launches at midnight tonight (Friday 5 October). http://www.winewhiskers.co.za/. If you want to come along, go over to http://twtvite.com/WineWhiskers and RSVP.

It’s going to be the cat’s miaauw.

M

Anti-science morons and the people that will be the end of us

I’m writing this post on the fly, so excuse any lack of elegance in my writing (espcially the title…).

I just had a lengthy exchange with an anti-vaccine, anti-GMO, anti-science nutter all the way from the UK. The exchange ended up with her calling me a “misinformed twat who believes in fairytales”. Now – for those who don’t know me or haven’t read my bio – I hold a Masters degree in biotechnology and currently work in a virology research laboratory. So while I’m no PhD, Nobel prize-winning scientist, I do know my genes from my Levis and my science from my quackery.

Below a tweet-by-tweet account of my exchange with the quack. It started with my tweeting of a link about the new HPV vaccine finishing up its clinical trial.

I received this reply (I do not follow this woman at all and I’m quite unsure as to where she found me on the Twittersphere) The cretin in question is @ursulariches if you want to go look for her on Twitter. I’m pretty sure she just blocked me. I also think she deleted the tweets directed at me. But too late, I have them all right here…

Admittedly, I was more annoyed towards the end of the exchange than I should have been. The woman is clearly a loon and a troll. Her lack of sensible reply or willingness to discuss anything rationally coupled with her insulting and blocking me really tells me all I need to know. And I know I shouldn’t waste my energy on these idiots.

But the problem is, these idiots are everywhere.

The make me feel so very, very tired. They  may very well be the end of us one day.

Real Time Wine – The App

If you are a lover of wine and a habitual Twitterer, you will almost certainly be familiar with @realtimewine  – the 140-characters-or-less wine review account, started by Andy Hadfield (@andyhadfield). Initially it comprised of Andy tweeting short, sweet and simple wine reviews and encouraging others to do the same. These tweets were compiled in blog form. After a while, the sheer volume of tweets suggested that there might be more to this idea than just Twitter and a blog. And the idea of the Real Time Wine app was sparked.

Real Time Wine

Real Time Wine

The app has a simple, colourful and intuitive interface. Upon launching the app, you are greeted with three tabs: Latest, Popular and Specials. There is also a drop-down menu and search function at the top of the screen. As the name suggests, Latest directs you to the newest entries to the app. Popular presents the top 10 rated wines currently on the app and Specials (which is yet to go live) will in future alert you to any specials and promotions in your area.

Real Time Wine app interface

You can search for a specific wine, browse through existing entries and rate them as you go, either with a quick rate (Yum, Hmm or Yuk) or with a Check In where you can add a short review as well as the retail price. You can also add a new wine, with a review, picture and retail price. For every check in, quick rate or review you complete, you get points. You start out as a New Grape on the Block and as you rack up more points, you move up the leader board until you are a Don Vino. That will require working your way through a lot of wine though. I can think of nothing more enjoyable.

Example of a Real Time Wine review

Andy is very particular about the wording of the Real Time Wine reviews. Typical jargon and snobby clichés are strictly forbidden, with the app geared to pick up on them and suggest you use something else. The rationale behind this is to make drinking and enjoying wine more accessible by keeping it simple and honest and keeping the snobs at bay.

The app also goes a long way to deciphering the heavily-laden shelves of supermarkets and liquor stores, where hundreds of estates, varietals and blends are stacked together for consumer to browse. The downside of being so spoiled for choice is that the average buyer faced with such a plethora of packaging, names and labels either blindly chooses a bottle that “looks nice” or sticks to what they know. Admittedly, there is nothing wrong with either approach, but the exercise of choosing a wine has been made much less daunting by the existence of the app. So the next time you’re faced with a wall of wine, simply whip out your smart phone and let the ratings speak for themselves.

You can also keep track of our own tastes and preferences. Each individual’s user profile keeps track of a number of factors, including average spend, favourite wines, top varietals and average bottles per month.

Real Time Wine’s bottom line is real people talking about real wine. In real words. The app is fully functioning with a database that’s growing by the day. A few bugs creep up from time to time, but Andy and the team are quick to address any problems to ensure it runs smoothly. The app is available for smartphones or as a standalone app available from iTunes and Google Play.

Rethink, Revamp, Refresh.

Dear readers.

Looking at two of my previous posts here and here, you would perhaps notice that this is not the first time I have joyously rediscovered my own blog. That, of course, infers that it is also not the first time I have grossly neglected my blog. Erm. Oops.

The last year has been one for the books, in more ways than one. Highs and lows, ups and downs, the beginning and the end of a job opportunity, lots of studying, a few weddings, a couple of funerals and everything else life has decided to dish up for us in between. While I love writing, life always seems to get in the way of me doing it. A poor excuse, for if I truly considered myself a writer (which I don’t) I would make time or the writing would simply find me. But this is how it goes. Also, I seem to suffer heavily from the information overload syndrome the internet causes in many of us. So much to read and explore each day, as my Twitter stream fills up, or my Scoop.it alerts me to a new article that is begging to be read.

As a result of this information overload, I am considering splitting my passions and interests and creating a secondary blog, separating my more personal entries and keeping them here and launching a second one aimed more at the factual. The question is: will I be able to keep up running TWO blogs when have so often not been able to maintain just the one? Well. We’ll just have to see, won’t we? I think a secondary blog will allow me to manage my interests more efficiently, as well as give me the opportunity to carefully craft posts of a slightly more detailed calibre. I’m going to have some extra time to potter about during the next month or two and I hope to be able to use that time to plan, design and launch my secondary blog. I suspect it will be related to current events, both of a general nature and also related to science and technology. And wine. Lots of wine.

A bit diverse, perhaps? Then it suits me perfectly.

I trust I can count on you for some feedback if/when the new blog is up and running. If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave me a comment. Always fantastic to hear what you think.

M

(mmmmmmmmmm)Magic Mike

Last night I had the opportunity to join a few gal pals for the Nu Metro Girls Night Out premiere of Magic Mike.

Magic Mike

(Side note: as far as the whole Girls Night Out enterprise goes, it’s more than a bit of a disappointment; a fair idea with quite bad execution. We attended at Canal Walk and everything felt slightly disorganized and somewhat overcrowded. John Dory had a sushi table but guests were limited to two pieces. And for some inexplicable reason, there was a Reuteri stand -a probiotic product. Of course, it didn’t help that the nature of the film on show attracted quite a few middle-aged women who went wild at the bar and spent the first hour yelling unoriginal, crass comments at the screen. I found myself wishing they’d rather stayed at home reading 50 Shades of Lame. At least there presence explains the need for the intestinal flora promotion)

Sub-optimal viewing conditions aside, we settled into the film with our stale popcorn and overpriced drinks and waited to be immersed into an idealized cinematic world filled with impossibly well-built pecs, abs and some fine specimens of gluteus maximii.

The cast, fully clothed. As NOT seen in the movie.

We were not disappointed. Now, I don’t usually review films and I don’t consider myself a film critic by any stretch of the imagination. I enjoy movies and have a sizeable knowledge, but compared to the calibre of film buffs out there, I am a mere novice. That is why I’ve decided to put a review of sorts on my blog: because the intense, semi-professional film critics often end up killing the joy of cinema completely by ripping apart what was often only intended to be light entertainment. I’ve Googled a few reviews of Magic Mike and opinions differ greatly, from a 6.6 rating on IMDB to 79% on Rotten tomatoes.

But those reviews are all long-winded and boring. Either skipping over the good parts completely or belly-aching over the bad stuff. One review actually says it’s “…much more than a movie about strippers. It’s a film about aging and self-discovery, and above all, it’s a compelling human drama.”  (iAfrica.com review) I don’t know if I would go quite that far.

Gratuitous eye-candy

So here is my review. I’ll keep it concise, clear and honest.

Magic Mike is a film about strippers. One of the strippers has a dream (Magic Mike, played by Channing Tatum). One of the others is a bit of a loser type 19-year old who gets into the stripper business quite accidentally and then just gets into trouble after that (Adam, played by Alex Pettyfer) . The rest are all a bit odd. And most of them are known for characters played in popular TV series: Tito, (played by Adam Rodriguez from CSI Miami), Ken (played by Matt Bomer from White Collar), Tarzan (former WCW wrestler) and – my absolute favourite) – Big Dick Richie (played by Joe Manganiello from True Blood). Mmmmmmm. The cast is topped off my Matthew McConaughey as Dallas, the owner of the club. No real Oscar-winning potential there then.  But they have 8-pack ads of an unimaginable standard. So it doesn’t really matter. The first half of the movie is mostly about the stripping. Then the plot kicks in, which in itself is quite predictable but short and sweet.

Oh yes, there are some girls in there too. But truth be told, I wasn’t paying much attention to them. The rest of the film is made up of a lot of this:

And this:

And some of this:

And not forgetting, some of this:

You’re welcome.

 

****UPDATE: Apologies, I was so immersed in finding a few images for my post, I completely forgot to add the trailer for the film. WordPress doesn’t seem to want to add it in a convenient ‘click to watch’  inset, so all I can offer you is the link to Youtube. ***

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4eqIV-XMnA

What Obstacle? – The Epilepsy SA Cupcake Challenge

I’ve been playing around with the idea of revamping and resurrecting my blog for a while now. While I’m still undecided about the issue, I did think it worthwhile to dust it off and publish a post in favour of a good cause.

Epilepsy South Africa has launched a Cupcake Challenge to create awareness about epilepsy. These people do a lot of good work to spread awareness, create understanding and generally support people living with this neurological condition. If you go to the site, they have a quiz where you can test your knowledge of how much you know about the disease. You’d be surprised how little we know and how misunderstood it is.

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So, in support of the EpilepsySA Cupcake Challenge, I went baking mad this weekend (fittingly, using an Eric Lanlard recipe…of course) and churned out a couple dozen cupcakes. Now the trick to the challenge is not your baking prowess itself… the cupcakes are not actually sent anywhere to be tasted and tested. So if you aren’t the world’s greatest baker, have no fear. All you need do is make an effort. Make a cupcake (or get someone to make it for you, or buy some and scrape off the store-bought boring icing) and then let your creative juices flow and your imagination run wild as you put every ounce of creativity in you to work and ice that bad boy as best you can.

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Then you snap a picture of your iced creation and upload it to the EpilepsySA Cupcake Challenge website.

Easy a pie. Or cupcake. Whatever.

As I mentioned, I did a little baking myself and managed to come up with two semi-decent attempts which I entered into the competition. I’m quite proud of Cookie Monster. Teddy Bear Picnic is a bit less exciting but to be honest, I just got too frustrated trying to tame the fondant and nearly sent the cupcake flying across the kitchen.

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**GRATUITOUS SELF-PROMOTION ALERT: You can vote for my entries here and here****

The Bf also had a go and he came up with a pretty awesome Ode to Tim Burton Jack-O-Lantern cupcake (complete with Nightmare before Christmas background courtesy of Antony’s iPad).

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Special mentions must go to the crew at Tomcat Advertising Agency who do all the pro bono work for Epilepsy SA. They worked on the concept and did all the design on the Cupcake Challenge website. They also happen to be some epically rad monkeys. So rad, in fact, that I sent all the cupcakes we made to their offices to be shared amongst the hard-working creative folk. But just taking the cupcakes wasn’t good enough for them so for each cupcake devoured, a donation was made, and that money is going straight to EpilepsySA. Good job guys. I also received photographic evidence of the aftermath, including blue icing-stained fingers and massacred cupcakes. Image Image

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Now it’s your turn. Bake. Make. Decomarate. Snap. Upload. Be awesome.