The Camaro ZL1

Posted by Mark

I was contacted by Alghanim Automotive asking me if I’d be interested in reviewing the new Camaro ZL1. I’m honestly not a big fan of American cars and if they were asking me to review the regular Camaro I would have most likely said no, but… the ZL1 is a different kind of Camaro, it’s a Camaro with a V8 6.2L 580-freakin-HP monster engine. So I said yes.

There’s a popular saying that people don’t change, well that’s not true. I’m usually a law abiding, non-agressive and courteous driver, but once I started driving the ZL1 I changed. In my neighborhood I became the asshole down the street with the loud car who tries to run down all the cats. On the highway I became the jerk that cuts everyone off, at u-turns I became the douche that slides his car at full thrust and at red traffic lights I was the dipstick who kept revving his engine loudly. This car is dark and evil. It changes people. All I wanted to do is drive around with my middle finger sticking out the window while doing donuts in the middle of every intersection on the Gulf Road. Oh and a large FUCK YOU sticker on the rear window would have been nice as well. I really loved this car.

The ZL1 I picked up was pretty aggressive looking. The color was a very dark gray (jet black), the 20inch wheels were black and the interior was also black. If I was to choose a color combination for my car this would have been exactly it. I am really thankful to Alghanim for not providing me with a bright yellow Camaro with black stripes running down the middle since I would have most likely puked all over it. The interior as I mentioned was also black but they also used Alcantara (suede like material) for the steering wheel, gear stick and dash which made the interior very sporty looking. I had a choice between an auto and manual but since my stick shift skills are as good as Kim Kardashians acting skills, I chose the auto to the dismay of all my friends. I don’t regret I did. Although the automatic gearbox has a lot to be desired in term of responsiveness and speed, it didn’t really matter to me since I wasn’t on the track and I was just having too much fun with the car to notice. The car really is a lot of fun to drive. The first two days when I picked up the car it was raining so obviously the roads were wet and a 580HP rear wheel drive car on a wet surface is asking for trouble (the good kind). You really do need to respect the power which I wasn’t really doing hence why I got the scare of my life when I was driving at around 110KM/H and gave the car a kick down which to my surprise slid the ass sideways so much I nearly hit the car on my right. This car is a beast. It’s loud, it’s angry and it wants to kill you. I have no idea how I didn’t get stopped by the cops and deported in the five days I had the car. It was crazy good times.

I do have a bunch of negatives about the car though. For one thing the seats aren’t sporty enough. I would have wanted them to be deeper bucket seats and tighter since I was sliding left and right on my seat without much side support. The stereo was also a disappointment even though it was a 250w Boston Acoustics sound system, it just didn’t have the oomph. Externally, the front and sides of the car look pretty aggressive but the rear not so much. If I bought this car the first thing I’d do is replace the rear wing with a carbon version to match the carbon on the front hood, I’d also black out the chrome around the rear lights and more importantly replace the rear bumper with one more aggressive looking and possibly one with a rear carbon skirt. Finally gas consumption. If you drive the car like an old women the gas consumption is actually not that bad. On the other hand if you drive the car like it’s meant to be driven then you’re going to consume a lot of gas, and I mean A LOT of gas. There was one day where I filled the gas tank full three freakin times! I’ve never done that with ANY car before not even on long road trips.

The price of the auto ZL1 in Kuwait is KD19,695. The manual version is for slightly less at KD19,195. If you’re looking for a very fun monster but one that’s still comfortable as an everyday car then I can’t think of anything better than this. I want this car.

Note: No cats were harmed during the making of this review


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Review: The Nintendo Wii U

Posted by Patrick

Wii U 1

It’s pretty impressive that a company founded back in 1889 still exists today and is considered one of the most innovative and creative companies in their field. Nintendo has survived throughout these years not by sheer luck, but by being able to adapt to markets and get ahead of the game. Nintendo didn’t always make video games – it started out making playing cards and when that business was waning the CEO of the time Hiroshi Yamauchis decided to move into other businesses like instant noodles, a taxi company, and even a TV network. Eventually, Nintendo made its way in the video game business and released the NES; 27 years later, Nintendo has finally released its sixth console, the Wii U.

Nintendo’s philosophy has never been about creating the most powerful console with the best graphics, but to create a console that anyone could enjoy, developers could create fun games for, and is affordable. They constantly try to innovate without going overboard. The Nintendo 64 was the first console to introduce analogue sticks and 4 player controller ports right out of the box that competitors adapted in the future. We’re seeing similar advancements with motion controls that Nintendo introduced with the Wii and now Nintendo has taken another step forward by introducing the Wii U and the Game Pad.

Mark was able to hook me up with a Wii U from X-cite to review and I got the chance to test it out by playing Super Mario Bros U, ZombiU, Nintendo Land and Batman Arkham City.

Wii U + gamepad

The first thing I was curious about was Nintendo’s new social network called the Miiverse and so far it’s been informative, entertaining, and pretty promising. For those who don’t know, the Miiverse is where you interact with other Wii U users through a community for every app or game out for the Wii U. So if you want to discuss some Youtube videos, you can go to the Youtube community and post about it there and other users can reply or give you a “Yeah!” (equivalent to a Facebook “Like”). If you want to discuss a specific game and you’re unsure about buying it, you can go to that game’s community and ask them about it. Other times, people will draw some really elaborate drawings using the Wii U’s gamepad and the community walls turn into a temporary art exhibit. And it works well – comments are posted instantly without delay. People will comment and try to solve things. For example, I was going through the ZombiU community and found a thread with over 25 comments of gamers trying to decipher some code someone found spray-painted on a wall in the game. I wouldn’t be surprised if communities like this sprang up in the next iteration of consoles Microsoft and Sony release.

Read the rest of this entry »


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My new years resolution

Posted by Mark


[YouTube]

I’m going to take part in a Spartan Race. [Link]

Update: Just found out about the Tough Guy competition (video below) which is based in the UK. Here is a exceprt from Wikipedia:

It has been widely described as “the toughest race in the world”, with up to one-third of the starters failing to finish in a typical year.

After 25 stagings of the winter event, Wilson still claimed nobody had ever finished the course according to his extremely demanding rules. The race, and its summer equivalent, has suffered two fatalities during its history.

Tough Guy™ from Mr Mouse on Vimeo.

Sounds like a lot of fun and the UK version of anything is usually more hardcore than the US one (Dirty Sanchez vs Jackass).


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No more dumpsters

Posted by Mark

Last month I posted about how trucks were coming and dumping garbage in the empty sand lot behind my house. Well luckily that stopped but they also removed the garbage bins that were there. Now everyone is just throwing the trash in a large pile. It’s pretty gross. I understand they’re going through a transition phase between two different garbage contractors but that shouldn’t be an excuse to remove dumpsters.

Now according to a reader who faced a similar issue, he called the baladiya hotline which is 139 and within an hour they had the garbage cleaned up. I’m going to give them a call tomorrow and see how effective that is.


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Review: China Kitchen

Posted by Mark

China Kitchen is another Chinese restaurant recommended by my readers to try out. They had an outdoor seating area and since the weather was good thats where I ended up sitting. When I got the menu I found it slightly confusing at first because they have the meats and sauces separate. So instead of having a chicken section with all the chicken dishes under it, they have a “Meats” section where you choose for example either chicken, beef, crab, prawns etc.. and then they have a “Sauces” section where you can choose the sauce you want like sweet & sour chicken, Mongolian, Schezwan, Manchurian etc.. I personally prefer it the old fashioned way.

We ended up ordering the following:
Chicken Spring Rolls KD1.000
Wanton Soup KD1.000
Crab Corn Soup KD1.000
Shrimp on Toast KD3.000
Shrimp Dumplings KD3.000
Vegetable Fried Rice KD1.250
Sweet & Sour Chicken KD2.250
Kindo Chicken KD2.250
Beef with Mushroom & Bamboo Shoots KD2.750

My friend had the Wanton Soup and liked it, I had the Crab Corn Soup and didn’t think much of it but that’s because I compare all Crab Soups to the one I have at Caesars and no one seems to do it better than them. The Spring Rolls were boring but the Shrimp on Toast was pretty good especially since they give you three different sauces for it. The Shrimp Dumplings were ok as well but what really stood out for me were the main courses. Both the Sweet & Sour Chicken and the Kindo Chicken were probably the best I’ve had. They were full of flavor and really really delicious. The Beef with Mushroom & Bamboo Shoots I didn’t like at all but I didn’t really care since I was more than satisfied with the two chicken dishes.

The service was good and friendly and I really liked the fact they had outdoor seating. I do think their shrimp dishes were a bit on the pricey side but everything else was priced reasonably. I’d definitely go back there again just for the Sweet & Sour and Kindo Chicken.

China Kitchen is located in Salmiya and their phone number is 25738756. Here is their location on [Google Maps]


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Recommend a Chinese Restaurant

Posted by Mark

My favorite Chinese restaurant used to be Peacock but since it closed down I really haven’t found a good alternative. I still go to Caesars every now and then but that isn’t really authentic Chinese food.

I’m looking for a new place and figured I’d ask, what’s your favorite Chinese restaurant (preferably a hole in the wall and a dine in) and how can I find it? Let me know.

Picture above is of the Chicken Thai Dynamite from Pei Wei


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Review: Oriental Cuisine

Posted by Mark

I’m probably one of the few people left in Kuwait who hadn’t been to Oriental Cuisine before. I had heard about the place but never really felt like going until a couple of days ago. For those of you who don’t know, Oriental Cuisine is a Thai restaurant located in Kuwait City. It’s not a new place but it started off as a small and awhile back expanded into a larger restaurant.

I went with a friend and we ordered a whole bunch of things including:

Chicken Satay KD1.750
Khanom Pang Na Moo (Shrimps on toast) KD2.750
Tom Yum Soup (prawns) KD2.750
Kaeng Khiao Wan (chicken green curry) KD1.750
Honey and garlic chicken KD1.750
Pad Thai (chicken) KD2.000
Plain rice KD0.300

People told me everything on the menu is good and from my one time experience there it seems that could be possible. All our dishes were at the very least good but most were great. My least favorite was probably the chicken satay since there wasn’t much flavor there but on the other hand my favorite dishes were probably the honey and garlic chicken along with the shrimps on toast which I couldn’t have enough of.

Their prices are pretty affordable and they weren’t stingy with the food quantity. My only complaint about the place would be the fact that their service wasn’t that great. When I arrived no one greeted me and I had to wait at least 5 minutes for anyone to give me any sort of attention. Other than that minor quibble it’s a pretty cool place. If you’re interested, they’re open all week except on Mondays and their phone number is 22470400. Here is their location on [Google Maps]


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Review: Bose Soundlink vs Jawbone Big Jambox

Posted by Mark

This review turned out to be tougher than I expected since I was expecting the Big Jambox to easily come out on top but the Soundlink put up a pretty good fight. Both speakers are similar in that they are compact and very portable, run on rechargeable battery and connect to your music player wirelessly using bluetooth.

From the two speakers right off the bat I’ll say the Big Jambox is the better sounding of the two. There is no question about that. I played a variety of music ranging from Mumford & Sons and Zulu Winter to 16 Bit Lolita’s and Guy J when testing the speakers out. Switching between the two speaker was very easy using the iPhone and so I was easily able to compare the same songs on both speakers. In each and every case the Big Jambox topped the Soundlink when it came to the sound quality. The Jambox always sounded richer, had deeper lows as well as clearer highs. To top it off the Jambox could also go a lot louder than the Soundlink.

So you’d think there was a clear winner here but there isn’t. The thing is although the Big Jambox did sound better than the Soundlink the difference isn’t that dramatic in most cases. Because I was switching from one speaker to another instantly I was clearly able to distinguish the differences but if I had heard the two speakers on different days for example it would be a lot more difficult to distinguish the differences.

What I think clearly separates the two really depends on what you’re planning to use the speaker for. A friend of mine was looking for a speaker to take when traveling and use in hotel rooms, the Bose Soundlink would be the one to recommend in this case because although slightly taller its lighter and more compact so will fit easier into a suitcase. On the other hand if you have a gathering and want a portable speaker you could move out onto the balcony or onto the beach than the Big Jambox is the one I’d go for.

Design wise I personally prefer the colorful and chunky Big Jambox over the Soundlink. It comes in a variety of colors and it just looks funkier than the classier and more conservative looking Soundlink. The Soundlink has a 6 hour battery life while the Jambox has an astounding 15 which is why I’m guessing the Jambox is much heavier. Both speakers are selling for the same price of KD99 here in Kuwait.

So which one is better? Sound and design wise the Big Jambox is the clear winner for me. But the Soundlink does sounds pretty good as well and comes in a more compact and lighter package. For my needs though, I’d go with the Big Jambox.

Jawbone Big Jambox is available at Blink [Here]
Bose Soundlink is available at Xcite [Here]


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How I ended up right in the middle of the demonstrations last night

Posted by Mark


[YouTube]

Last night I was on my way to the Harvey Nichols launch event when I somehow ended up getting stuck in my car right in the middle of the demonstrations. I was with a friend and we decided to take the 6th Ring Road since we figured it would be quieter than the 5th but suddenly traffic started slowing down to a standstill and people started parking their cars on the side of the road and walking towards a pedestrian bridge.

Suddenly there were cops all over the place, people shouting and demonstrating and we were just sitting there bewildered to how we ended up being stuck right in the middle of the demonstrations that were supposed to be held miles away on the Gulf Road.

Then all of a sudden the riot police started firing flashbang’s and tear gas all over the place with a few canisters landing on cars ahead of us. It was crazy and that shit is strong! I opened the window for a bit to take pictures and the tear gas just overwhelmed my eyes and nose like nothing I had ever experienced before. Finally traffic started moving again after being at a standstill for at least 30 minutes and we got off the 6th and headed towards Avenues. A completely random night.

Note: I am closing the comments on this post since I don’t want to turn it political, this is just a post about my experience.


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My Grand Cinemas Experience

Posted by Mark

Last night I watched Skyfall with some friends at Grand Cinemas in Hamra Tower. Unlike my brother I didn’t think too highly of the movie. I mean it was good but I didn’t think it was great. One thing I regret not doing is getting a jacket. My brother wasn’t exaggerating when he said the theater was freezing. The cold could actually be one of the reasons why I didn’t enjoy the movie much, I just wanted it to be over so I could get outside where it’s warmer. Tip: Take a jacket!

The food stall outside the theater is very similar to Cinescape except they were a lot slower. A LOT slower. The theater seats were comfortable and really other than the fact it was freezing cold the only other issue I noticed was that there was dirt on the projector lens which could be seen on the top left of the screen.

If you’re interested in booking tickets their website is now live and you can check it out [Here]

Update: It seems the link doesn’t work for some people but it works for me. No idea why.

Update2: The link seems to be working now for everyone but you can’t purchase tickets from the website as of now since their KNET system isn’t active yet.


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