Electronic Cigarettes

I’m a smoker, and recently it has been a huge burdon on my finances and of course quitting is something I have tried many times before and it’s tedious, painful and generally not a nice experience. So to avoid that I’ve gone back to electronic cigarettes. E-cigs have recently gotten more popular, when I brought my first one they were only sold online or special stores now you can get disposable ones in the newsagents or kits in shopping centre stalls quite easily. 

It’s very hard to decide which one is best and you can be easily put off if you buy the wrong one. Now my review or post is for those going from cigarette smoke to electronic cigarettes, it’s not for those “major vapers” out there. 

Ok so my story starts around 3/4 years ago were I bought my first electronic cigarette which was a Gamucci – not sure if they’re still on sale. It was awful. It was bulky with a design that had this fake cigarette toy look. The taste was vile, the throat hit was minimal and it left the harshest burn at the back of throat much like nicotine gum. It put me off for sure. so stay well away from this brand.

Next I tried Jasper & Jasper which i believe is available online at Amazon. It was very expensive starting at £30 for a small starter pack of a USB charger, 1 battery and 5 cartridges. However the design was small, it was plain white with a red crystal end. The throat hit was perfect, the taste didn’t taste like tabacco but it was very pleasurable if not more-ish. It was extremely easy to assemble with packs of 5 cartridges. However, the cartridges that were meant to last “200 drags” lasted about 60/80. The battery was also extremely poor and although they claim “full drags until the battery has run out” this was not the case, about 20 drags before the battery went were extremely weak and tasteless. It was very difficult to figure out what was running out, the juice or the battery. I’d often change cartridges to only find that the last cartridge was still three quarters full. I aso had to replace the device three or four times because it broke so often, although still cheaper than cigarettes it was a lot of hassle and still digging a fairly big whole in my pocket. 

In the past year I bought the Liberro Realis (http://liberro.co.uk/). This is by far the best one, the taste is similar to Jasper & Jasper’s liquid without being overly more-ish. I actually dug up one of the old cartridges from Jasper & Jasper and dropped the liquid from Liberro into it to find that it held about three small drops, compared to the Realis that holds 12. The starter park also comes with a PCC which is basically a pocket charger, it can charge one battery, hold another full e-cig and 5 cartomisers. It’s extremely handy and is not much bigger than a pack of 20 cigs. It comes with 6 of the cartomisers already filled and a bottle of e-liquid which can be used to easily (very easy) refill the cartomisers. 
Now the battery life is a bit minimal lasting around 20-30 minutes if used continuously, However with the PCC on you it can last two days. (This is all dependant on how often you use it of course). It’s also very easy to notice if it’s the battery or the cartomiser, the cartomiser will start to taste bitter when it’s gone where as when it’s the battery going you just get a weak but a full tasting vape before the light flashes indicating dead battery.
It comes in white or black with cartomisers in white/black or brown. I prefer black, because it looks nicer and also if I do use it inside it’s very noticeable it’s an electronic cigarette. 
The starter pack comes with 2 batteries, a PCC, 6 pre-filled/refillable cartomisers and a bottle of 30 ml Liquid which lasts a very long time at £35. 

As I have been extremely impressed with Liberro’s quality, price and customer service I may just try out they’re new range of E-cig called the Vea. 

They also offer a wide range of different flavours, once you are accustomed to your e-cig you may want to play around with it, and try the different flavours and even mix and match to taste. Out of they’re purity range I love the Maple Cured flavour. I mix three drops of Maple Cured VG* with the realis flavour which gives me a nice throat hit with no harshness, nice big vaper production and a sweet taste. 

*VG is a form of liquid alternative to PG which is used in almost all of them the main difference being is that VG has a less throat hit but bigger vaper production and some say it’s sweeter although I haven’t noticed. 

 

I still smoke mind you, in the past week I have cut down majorly, smoking cigarettes only at work and even then it’s only three at the most.

I hope this helps those of you looking to buy a electronic cigarette or those going back to them.

Boycott Brown’s Bar – My Thoughts.

I’m sure everyone has heard just as much as everyone is disgusted by it. In short,

After rehearsing for a fallen comrades funeral servies, a few lads including a grieving brother ventured into Brown’s for hot drinks to calm nerves before the funeral. Unfortunately, for both the establishment and the lads, they were refused service. For being in uniform.

This is shocking, appalling and truly disrespectful. What the hell is going through their minds!? As shocking as it is and as much as it fills us with rage, I think it’s extremely important not to blame the employee staff involved. As most of them were following orders and doing as there told, we shouldn’t vent on them. We should be venting on the person giving these ridiculous and narrow minded orders.

Ken Brown, the owner, said to the BBC

“I can only apologise again to the family and anybody else who was upset during the funeral service. Just that I’m sorry and that it wouldn’t have happened if we had been aware of the funeral at the rear of Brown’s, in the cathedral.”

Whilst I believe he truly is sorry, I mean why wouldn’t you regret your actions of this scale however, what kind of excuse is this exactly? Why in the hell would you turn away men and women in military uniform in the midday (or any part of the day for that matter) regardless of a funeral? I would really like to know the reasoning behind this mans thinking. What in the hell makes his precious little establishment so damn amazing to abuse the right of refusal willy nilly. This cafe/bar has refused service to people for years for pathetic reasons such as – asking for something thats not on the menu, being bald, having a tattoo and not wearing the ‘right’ attire and I don’t mean turning away teenagers in outrages tracksuits or big goth-like boots, were talking turning away people because they were looking ‘too casual’. It is not a celebrity infested bar in central London! It is a bar up the road from the likes of The Golden Cross! I myself work in a cafe and was refused service for wearing my uniform, which by the way, is black trousers and black shirt.

Brown's Bar

Does it look like an upper-class joint?

This establishment is and has been suffering from major delusions of grandeur since the day it opened. It believes to be this pretentious and pompous bar when really it’s shit food, rubbish service and over-priced crap. I hope this is an eye-opener for Mr Brown and his ridiculous thoughts on good service, but it’s probably too late to be saved by now and it deserves everything coming to it.

It is also important to note, that threats of violence against Mr Brown or vandalism towards the bar, is hardly an answer to solve the problems. It will just make matters worse and will be best to just have the family of the fallen soldier in your thoughts and prayers as they grieve.

Soul By Ludacris Review (Model SL150)

It’s been way to long since I did a blog. So I’ll start off by reviewing Ludacris’ Headphone range since it’s recent launch in the UK.

Soul is probably Beat’s biggest contester on the celebrity endorsed headphone market. Of course Audiophiles will will tell you the high prices of these products are not quality of sound but for the fashion statement. That is most certainly the case for Beats by Dr. Dre which are terrible in sound quality with an overbearing bass that washes out any song, but they do look cool, not cool enough for me to fork out £200 on them though. Here is a break down on Soul by Ludacris,

Design and Comfort

The design is very swish and looks fairly similar (but better) to Beats. It has a glossy lightweight plastic casing that fits perfectly snug on the head and is pleasant to wear. It features a soft pleather lining in the top which is again very comfortable. It comes with two detachable jack cables, one with a in-line remote to control your iDevice or Smartphone and one without. It also contains a handy 1/4″ jack converter and a hardcase, which the headphones fold nicely into.
If wearing big cans on your head is your style, then the Soul will fit those needs, detachable cable makes the headphones very easy to rest on your neck without the cable getting in your way. It is again also very comfortable on the neck.

Sound Quality

I was initially surprised and impressed by the sound quality. There is much clarity to Bass without the forfeit of highs and treble.  Hi-hats sound completely different to what I’m used to and they’re so clear! Other instruments and synth instruments also sound very clear. Some songs may appear new and you may notice sounds in songs you never noticed before.

Low-mid frequencies however are a little drowned, which makes listening to classical music a hugely unpleasant experience, especially those with prominent strings. Solo or Duet vocals however sound clear and precise, you can really the feel the reverb effects using the headphones, I wouldn’t suggest listening to a capella mind you. Most other genres especially those that fill the charts will be very pleasant to the ear. There is also a big immersive feel to them and the sounds are on the warm side, giving an extra edge to pop music, rock or R&B. In terms of films they give very good clarity, however watch the volume on the more action type films.
In terms of production, you want headphones that give a very basic sound signature (like a clean pallet). My Sony HD in-ear phones have proven well for this and I have to say I will have to still stick with them. It’s not that Soul’s doesn’t do the job for me. I just prefer to work of something that wont emphasise certain frequencies. Soul’s I would imagine may appear useful for R&B music production, and in fact have proven very well in basic dialogue sound editing. However judging by it’s build, marketing and it’s overall performance, it’s much more of a consumer product rather than an industry standard.

Overall

Sound Quality: 8/10 – It definitely beats it’s initial competitors.
Design & Comfort: 9/10 –  They’re comfortable and they look sleek. It’s extra accessories really help it out too.
Price: 2/10 – Let’s be honest. You pay for the name. If you’re all about design, the £200 price-tag may seem like a normal impulse buy. However in terms of sound quality, you can get the same, if not better for cheaper.

Best & Worst Films of 2011

2011m as far as films go it hasn’t really been the best for me personally. However there were a few golden gems. So to start off, with the best films.

Number 5: Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2

This film had everything the last harry potters were missing. A lot of action! The special effects were incredible, the story-line was dark, I was completely in awe of this film, considering I didn’t think much of the Harry Potter series before. However there were a few set-backs, one major plot-hole for me was the deathly hallows themselves. It didn’t quite explain anything in the film, as far as I gather from the book, the Deathly Hallows meant he could survive Voldemort’s attack. Which is why he had choice to go back in his death scene. Nevertheless great end to the franchise.

Number 4: Super-8

I really enjoyed this film, it had much less focus on the actual alien and more on the human emotion. This I like, and not only that, the actors really outdid themselves (whom were only about 14 and under). The effects was good and the score was brilliantly composed.

Number 3: Thor

Amazing film, brilliantly directed without being another cheesy comic adaptation like most are. I really enjoyed this considering I went into the cinema thinking I probably wont like it.

Number 2: Melancholia

Fantastic imagery and great story-telling. Trier’s film was the most talked about film in the industry. Featuring Kristen Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg. Melancholia casted a new light on depression which was bold, daring but at the same time a huge success. If you have not already seen this, please do. But bare in mind this film is not a blockbuster it’s not for everyone.

Number 1: Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes.

Easily my favourite film this year. After seeing the trailer my first thought of the film was “really?” but I was completely wrong. The performances was just out of this world, Andy Serkis really needs an oscar. The directer and writers managed to take a very out-dated and poor concept into something that was fresh and fantastic. I’m really looking forward to the sequel.

 

And the Fails of this year. I wont number them because there all just as bad as each other.

Worst films.

Source Code: I was confused, it didn’t really capture me. I was just plain bored.

Cowboys & Aliens: Had no real story-line, no real characters. It was so bad, it shouldn’t even be on this list, because this waste of precious film should never of been made.

In Time: A good concept. But thats all it ever was. The film never reached it’s potential, if it had any. It felt like a GCSE student got given a camera and thought WOW. That student then had a great idea which was executed so poorly, he had to bullshit his way to an A* by claiming the same old shit that it, ‘explores our commercial-based society’, blah blah fucking blah.

Rubber: A murderous tyre (that’s right, a tyre) that goes on a killing rampage. Dare I say more? – Although it does have a cult-feel to it, I’m sure there’s a group of Hipsters out there that love it.

Depression and a Huge-ass Planet – Melancholia Review

Lars Von Trier may have recently upset the Cannes Film Festival board for comments (in my opinion) that were really blown out of proportion, but theres no denying his visual art and unique story telling is one that is compelling and captivating. ‘Melancholia’ his new film has gotten quite the following.


Melancholia is the name of the super-earth planet on a collision course with earth. In the prologue, it’s course and the destruction it causes is shown in a montage of beautifully crafted scenes, little pieces of emotion-provoking visual aesthetics along with the Tristan Und Isolde’s prelude in the bed (a common theme throughout the film). It is known within the first sequence that earth never survives, and instantly recognize this will not end happy. However the film is not about earth, the planet nor is it about humanities end. It’s focused on two sisters, Kirsten Dunst as Justine and Charlotte Gainsbourg as Claire.

Split into two parts Justine is first as you spend the first hour watching how a clinically depressive bride spends her wedding reception. Kirsten Dunst is absolutely impecable at playing Justine, Trier is known for his pro-improvised techniques and when watching Kirsten it is quite hard to believe that it wasn’t scripted as such. However I found myself getting extremely annoyed and impatient with the character Justine so much that I didn’t know if I could take anymore. That only made me realise that Trier, possibly in one hour gave the best explanation what it is like to handle someone with that amount of depression. You literally mimic her sister, Claire and Claire’s husband John’s (Kiefer Sutherland) reaction towards her.

Part two of course is about Claire. Claire takes in a very sick Justine, that with the added pressure of the rogue planet Melancholia approaching. Claire finds her relationship with John on a rocky patch as John is fearless and has faith that humanity will survive, unlike Claire who fears otherwise. We follow Claire’s erratic behaviour for the rest of the film which has a little more going on. Charlotte Gainsbourg portrays Claire beautifully and seems to really get involved with the character.

Melancholia is literally beautiful in many ways. The message and the comparison of how the two sister react to the impending doom is prominent backed by visuals that are compelling and outstanding that are obviously a projection of Trier himself. The opening and final sequences are completely captivating as well as terrifying, unlike most blockbusters this film seems to make it real and will have you talking about for weeks after you have seen it. The ending was probably the best ending I have ever seen, not because of some morbid feelings but because the whole scene wasn’t some watered-down hollywood fairytale, but a fantastic depiction of reality and the special effects as the Planet collided into Earth’s atmosphere was scary but also very stunning. The film left me with a weird feeling which was “I must talk about this to people.”

Overall the film is definitely up there 9.5/10 – However I must warn, this style of film is not for everyone, it is not a blockbuster. If you are interested in the film, I urge you to at least try it. Currently available on iTunes and limited screenings nationwide.
(In Coventry – Warwick Arts Centre)

Get your stinking paws to the cinema! – Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes review

If you are film buff and/or over the age of 60, you may understand the title of this review, if you are not, you will find out if you see the new film “Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes.” Directed by Rupert Wyatt, based on the story and concept by Pierre Boulle ‘La Planète des Singes.’

After the critically bashed, yet financial success of Tim Burton’s Planet Of The Apes remake. Fox, instead of funding a sequel, seen fit to keep the money aside for a reboot. The right choice was most definitely made, with it’s all round impressiveness and a concrete plot that’s a fresh continuity reminiscent to the original series in the 60’s where everything takes place on earth, unlike Tim Burton’s version (regardless of it’s hard to handle ending) where the planet of the apes was a distant planet. It would be good to stress again because contrary to popular belief, this film is a reboot and it is not a prequel to Tim Burton’s version.

Will Rodman (James Franco) is trying to engineer a virus that repairs damaged brain cells which would then in turn cure alzheimer’s disease. However it comes with a very special effect, an increased of intelligence proven by a child chimpanzee that Will adopts named Caesar (Andy Serkis). The same virus works on Will’s Dad, Charles (John Lithgow), however his condition soon worsens and finds himself back to square one. After Charles upsets a local neighbour, Caesar comes to a rather forceful rescue which lands him in a local primate captivity. Ill-treated and outcasted by the other apes, Caesar starts planning. It goes without saying then that to everyone remotely familiar with the planet of the apes series, this plot will be very predictable. For the most part it is, but it is done in a way that still keeps your attention without it nagging at you and the ending, although not a twist, is still a big climax.

The most striking part of the film is the CGI that Weta Digital provides. Almost flawless as the apes fit seamlessly into the equilibrium of the film. Andy Serkis, the master of motion capture, performs as Caesar leaving you in complete awe. If you thought Serkis deserved an Oscar for Gollum, you will most definitely be in uproar of the academy’s lack of interest for this role. He brings to life the character that really connects you as the audience, you will find yourself rooting at his every move and maybe shedding a few tears, giving Roddy McDowall (Original Caesar) a run for his money. James Franco gives a great performance as usual, however at times I feel his character hadn’t been fully explored through dialogue, John Lithgow also provides an A* performance as portraying a man suffering from Alzheimer’s. Another notable performance from Tom Felton playing, well, a damn right evil bastard. However lacking was David Oyelowo as Will’s boss, whose script mainly contained disdain towards everything around him, with a ‘I want money and I don’t care how’ kind of attitude, but it just seemed a little unbelievable. Pointless role of the film goes to Freida Pinto‘s character Caroline, who has nothing to do apart from look pretty and give the odd conscience-provoking line.

Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes will surely be the blockbuster to see at the moment, with the right mix of plot and brilliant performances and great CGI. It contains happy moments, some sad moments and iconic moments, most notably what my title is in reference to. However at times it seems the big people at Fox thought playing it safe was the better way to go, which is not a bad thing and probably the best way to go after Tim Burton’s ‘re-envisioning’. I’m sure and I hope the sequel will be green- lit soon, if not already and we may just have the next big franchise on our hands if it can live up to this one.

Overall 8.5/10

Chocolate Truffle Recipe

I very rarely post my own recipes, it might be because one day I’d like to own my cafe (Mikey’s Cheesecake Cafe) but recently being out of work I have divulged more into my cooking passion and tried something new. Chocolate making. After watching Ina Garten from Barefoot Contessa make chocolate truffles, I was inspired, however I  didn’t write down the ingredients and I didn’t have her books. So instead I tailored a recipe for Chocolate Ganache that would be suitable for truffles (and wouldn’t melt!). 

Time: 6 hrs and 20 minutes.

You need:

British
160 ml of double cream,

800 grams milk chocolate (or 400 grams baking chocolate [70%coco] and 400 milk),
1 tsp of Muscovado sugar, (Optional)
Icing sugar.
2 Tsp of almond (or any other flavourings including liqours) flavourings.
200g of Crushed nuts (Optional) 
American 
1/2 cup and 2 teaspoons of heavy cream, 
800 grams milk chocolate (or 400 grams semisweet and 400 milk), 
1 tsp of Muscovado sugar, (Optional)
Icing sugar.
2 Tsp of almond (or any other flavourings including liqours) flavourings.
200g of Crushed nuts (Optional) – Hazelnuts recommended. 

Step 1:
Put the cream in a bowl over simmering water, and chop up 400grams of milk or semi sweet chocolate into very small pieces, when the cream is hot (don’t let it boil) pour the chocolate in and stir into a thick sauce almost pastey like texture. 
Put in the mixture, two teaspoons of Muscovado sugar and two or one teaspoons of your flavouring depending on your tastes and mix well. You can also add smashed nuts here if you like a crunchy middle. Leave to set uncovered for six hours at room temperature. 

Step 2:
When set, have baking parchment laid out, and dust your hands and the parchment thoroughly with icing sugar. Spoon heaped teapsoons of the mixture and roll them into rough balls with your hands. Keep dusting your hands after each ball. You may need to roll the balls in additional icing sugar to ensure they don’t stick to the parchment. 
Don’t worry if there not even.  (If you’re adding crushed nuts to the coating, be sure to crush them now ready)

Step 3:
When you’re finished with rolling the mixture, you then need to temper 400 grams of milk chocolate you have left. If you don’t know how, I chop it all up finely, put 3/4 of the chocolate in a bowl and microwave 15 seconds on high, take it out stir it and repeat until just about melted, then I add the last 1/4 of chocolate and stir until smooth. If it doesn’t fully melt, put it in the microwave for another 10 seconds. Leave to cool slightly. 400 grams of chocolate is quite an expense so you do not want to overheat the chocolate as this will ruin it and you will have to start with new chocolate and ensure your chocolate is not in contact with any moisture, this will seize the chocolate and it will separate.

Then pick up and coat each ball, I use two tablespoons for this and cover it generously. You can also use a cocktail stick to hold the ball and spoon the chocolate over it but it’s more likely to slip off. This process may take a while and the tempered chocolate may start to set, just put it in the microwave for 10 seconds and leave it cool again and carry on. When coated, you can decorate them while there setting with coco power, crushed nuts or make tempered dark chocolate to swirl over. (Be sure to be quick! It will set very quickly). 

Once all coated and decorated, leave to set for 15-20 minutes at room temperature. Alternatively if you’re saving them for later, you can put them in a fridge, but Truffles are best ate at room temperature. 

Truffles will keep for under 48 hours in room temperature and 5 days tightly packed in a fridge.