Review: The 2015 Corvette Stingray

Posted by Mark

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I don’t test drive that many American muscle cars, in fact I’ve only reviewed one before and that was the very evil Camaro ZL1 back at the end of 2012. What made that car so much fun back then is it rained when I had it. So you can imagine my bewilderment when it started raining this weekend right after I picked up a brand new arctic white Corvette to review. What are the odds that the second time in two years that I pick up a tail happy monster American car, it freakin rains again! Either someone up there loves me and wants me to have a lot of fun, or hates me and is hoping I’ll end up wiping out. Luckily it turned out to be the former.

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I’ve been a fan of Corvettes ever since I was a little kid and I nearly even purchased one when I moved back to Kuwait after university. So when I was dropping off the review Escalade a few weeks back and heard they might have a Corvette to test drive I jumped at the opportunity. My persistence finally paid off when I was told I’d be able to pick one up this past Thursday to enjoy over the weekend. Strangely though I ended up picking up the Corvette from a rental firm in Salmiya. Alghanim’s test drive vehicle wasn’t going to be available for sometime and since they had just delivered a brand new Corvette to a car rental company on Thursday, they ended up renting it back off them for the weekend to give to me. I was actually the first person to drive the car and so had to remove all the plastic from the dashboard, doors and seats. A brand new Corvette all to myself for the weekend, I thought it couldn’t get better, and then it rained.

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The 2015 Corvette is a beast of a car with a 6.2L V8 engine, 480HP and a 0-100 acceleration speed of 3.8 seconds. Its badass and when I first drove it off the lot I knew it was going to be a fun ride. I ended up spending most of the weekend going sideways while trying to be obnoxiously loud. It was a repeat of my weekend with the ZL1 and my friends calling me هيلق (hooligan) while I’m smoking the rear tires. No sort of civilized driving took place this past weekend. I mean seriously though I drive an FJ Cruiser as my daily driver so there was no way I wasn’t going to end up driving like a moron in a Corvette that wasn’t even mine.

The Corvette has five drive modes to choose from, Weather, Eco, Tour, Sport and Track with each one of these modes calibrating 12 different performance variables like the exhaust mode, steering, traction control and even the cluster display. By default the car starts in Eco mode but in case you want the loud exhaust sound of the track mode you can turn that on permanently from the settings screen. Speaking of the screen, the Corvette has a touch screen media center which like every other American car I’ve been in, looks like it was designed to be used with Windows 95. I don’t understand why it’s so difficult for American carmakers to hire decent interface designers, it would make such a big difference in the overall experience of the car. On the other hand there is a super cool hidden compartment behind the touch screen. With a touch of a button the screen slides down revealing a compartment with a USB port (Check out video below). So if you have an iPod you can just plug it in there or you could just use it to store your wallet, glasses, keys, cocaine or other trinkets. In case you’re wondering there are two more USB ports in the center console which are better located to plug your phone in.


[YouTube]

One of my favorite features in the new Corvette is the targa top since it allowed me to remove the roof and drive as a semi convertible when the sun came out. The ability to remove the roof when the weather is great is such an added bonus and it’s so easy to do. I watched one YouTube video and then was able to remove the roof within seconds and store it in the trunk. Putting it back on took a bit longer but it’s still really easy and a one person job.

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One question I always ask myself when driving a sports car is if it can be a practical daily driver. With the Corvette I think the answer would be possibly, but not for me. The car is pretty low and I was scraping the front spoiler on some speed bumps and even while entering my underground parking. But other than that it’s actually a fairly easy car to drive as long as you don’t step on the gas pedal more than half way. In traffic it’s easy to maneuver and when in Eco or Tour mode the exhaust sound is muted and very civil. My biggest gripes with the car are mostly superficial. I didn’t think the interior felt premium, the car I drove had a red and black interior but the red made some of the blemishes in the leather finishing more visible. The whole interior also felt very plasticky which is an issue with most American cars. On the bright side it didn’t have any of the awkward touch controls of the Cadillacs and instead uses real buttons and nobs for the various interior controls. One thing I really found odd is how the door doesn’t have any handles, not on the outside nor the interior. Instead it uses a touch button for the door on the outside which is fairly common, but it also uses a touch button to open the door from the interior. I didn’t know that and when I first tried to open the door to get out I couldn’t because I couldn’t find the door handle. Anyway I finally figured out it was a button I had to press to get out and it made me wonder what would happen in an emergency or if the car battery died while you were in it. For that it turns out there is an emergency door handle on the floor near the seat. I don’t know, it just seems to complicated and over engineered for just a simple door handle.

For those of you wondering when the souped up Z06 arrives to Kuwait… they don’t know. The 2016 Middle East version of the Z06 keeps getting delayed and the dealer doesn’t have an estimated arrival date as of this post.

The 2015 Corvettes start at KD22,795 which is a ridiculous value for the performance you’re getting. Colorwise if I was to get one it would most likely be the shark grey metallic exterior with a full black interior. If you’d like to test drive any of the Alghanim Automotive cars then click [Here]


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New Film on the 1990 Iraqi Invasion

Posted by Mark

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Popular Indian movie star Akshay Kumar is going to star in an upcoming film based on the 1990 Iraq invasion of Kuwait called “Airlift”. The movie is based on a true story and one I hadn’t heard of before. Here is the film synopsis:

Ranjit Katyal (played by Akshay Kumar), a wealthy and powerful Indian businessman, who has always seen himself as a Kuwaiti, rather than an Indian, realises that he no longer wields any influence on the Iraqis, and that he and his family are in as much danger as anyone else. Ranjit unknowingly becomes the man who all 170,000 Indians look up to for getting them out safely from Kuwait. Airlift is the story of Indians stranded in Kuwait during this traumatic time. A story of how they, with the help of Ranjit Katyal, managed to survive the Iraqi invasion, and against all odds travelled a thousand kilometres across the border into Amman, Jordan. From Amman, 170,000 Indians were brought home by the largest and the most successful evacuation ever attempted by any country, in the history of the world. Over 59 days, the Indian government systematically flew over 488 Air India commercial flights into a war zone to evacuate all 170,000 Indians and safely bring them back home. Airlift is an uplifting and entertaining edge-of-the-seat thriller and is the story of the biggest ever human evacuation in the history of mankind.

Airlift, directed by Raja Krishna Menon, starts filming April 2015 and is presented by T-Series and Cape of Good Films; produced by Crouching Tiger and Emmay Entertainment. Bhushan Kumar, talking about the film, said, “It’s my conviction that the story will be equally appreciated once on celluloid as much as I loved it during narration. The character that Akshay plays is filled with heroism and I am sure he will add to the perfection with this central character role that he essays.”

It’s definitely going on my must watch list. The movie comes out January 2016. [Source 1] [Source 2]


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Sahara Restaurant Village nearly complete

Posted by Mark

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The Sahara Restaurant Village located right outside of the Sahara Country Club is nearly complete with just the electricity left to come on before the doors open. The last list of places opening up there I had were the following although I’m not sure how accurate this is right now:

Slider Station
Burger Boutique
Jar by Choowy Goowy
Villa Fayrouz
Tatami Japanese Restaurant
52 Degrees
Caribou Coffee
Costa Coffee
Athletes Foot
Skinny Cloud
Emirgan Sutis
Le Relais de l’Entrecote
Khaneen
Ubon

According to one tenants they’re expecting the village to be open sometime end of April or early May.

Update: I’ve updated the list of restaurants based on new information


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Breakfast at Gia

Posted by Mark

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Gia, one of my favorite cafes launched a breakfast menu sometime back and I finally had the chance to try it this past weekend.

The Gia breakfast menu is divided into four main parts, “A Healthy Start” which includes granola, fruit and oatmeal bowls, “Eggscuze You” which includes three kinds of egg dishes, “Sandwiches” which also includes three dishes and finally the “What Diet?” section which includes french toast and waffles. I ended up going for the Poached Eggs on Avocados with a side of sausages while my friend went for two eggs any style with a side of bacon.

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My Poached Eggs on Avocados turned out to be pretty good, the eggs were perfectly cooked and were really runny just like I had asked for. Flavor wise it might have lacked a bit but healthy food generally does. My friends eggs were fine as well since you can’t really go wrong with scrambled eggs plus I think he ordered the most boring dish on the menu.

Now the sides on the other hand were both so not worth it. The bacon was just 4 small strips, not crispy and weren’t even warm. The sausages were also 4 small pieces and weren’t that great either. Each of those sides cost KD1 which I think is overpriced considering my favorite breakfast place Cocoa Room gives you so much more for the same price and also taste so much better. I’d definitely not order any sides the next time I’m there.

Ignoring the underwhelming sides, breakfast was enjoyable and Gia is now going to be one of my weekend breakfast destinations. If you’re interested their instagram account is @giakwt and they serve breakfast from 9AM to 11AM. Here is a link to their [Menu]


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Alcohol in Kuwait being destroyed by a bulldozer

Posted by Mark

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo… [YouTube]

booze


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Where to get a custom picture frame made

Posted by Mark

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Last week I went looking for an 18″x24″ picture frame for an artwork I had recently purchased. First place I checked was IKEA but they had European sizes which were either larger or smaller than the size I wanted it. I then decided to check other places like Pottery Barn, The One, West Elm, A2Z and Ace Hardware but none had the correct sized frame. Out of frustration I decided to ask my followers on twitter for an alternative place and was recommended to get a custom frame made. One of the locations recommended was near Avenues where I was, so I headed there straight away to see how much it would cost and how long it would take to get one made.

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There were around three frame shops next to each other but I ended up choosing one which had a picture framer working. The other places looked like they just took size orders and sent them somewhere else to be made.

The reason I didn’t head to a picture framer first is because I thought it would be a complicated and expensive thing but surprisingly the process was fairly simple and affordable. I showed the picture framer the artwork, he measured it and then asked me to choose a frame which I did. He then quoted me a reasonable KD10 and told me to pick up the frame the next day.

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The next day I went back, gave him the artwork and he mounted it in the frame. A very easy and simple process. The picture framer I went to was an old Lebanese or Syrian guy who according to him has been making frames for over 40 years. I’ve heard of other picture framers located next to Coops but this is the one I ended up going to and the one I’d go back to.

If you’re interested in getting a picture frame the shop is called “The Kuwait Center for the Installation of Glass and Frames” and the guys number is 99810731. Also here is the location on [Google Maps] but its easy to find, take the right turn before Sultan Center on the 4th Ring Road and the place will be on your right hand side around 200m in.


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Fire at the Airport

Posted by Mark

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A friend of mine traveling on Highway 51 spotted the fire above at the Kuwait Airport. No idea if the plane is on fire or another vehicle near it.

Thanks Edgar

Update: According to a reader it was a controlled fire drill.


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Interview: My Assthetic

Posted by Mark

Last month I posted about an image that was going viral of a butt naked man posing with the Kuwait City landscape in the background. I thought it was funny, a lot thought it was offensive and many were curious to how he didn’t get caught. So for this week I decided to interview @myassthetics and try and get some answers. Since he’s not in Kuwait I ended up doing the interview by email, here is it:

How long were you in kuwait for?
I was in Kuwait for about 4 days visiting a friend.

What did you think of the country?
I thought the country was really cool! What stood out most to me was the restaurant scene in Kuwait, there were some really trendy spots with really delicious food and drinks. My favorite was probably this spot called Almakan, but I also went out to farm a bit outside the city and had a really nice farm to table meal. We also saw some very cool art while we were there and I was surprised to see how prevalent the kind of underground street culture was there. Lastly the people were incredibly nice and hospitable in Kuwait, very interesting to talk to and all in all a very intellectual and worldly group of people (at least the ones I interacted with).

Where did you stay?
I stayed with a friend I had met outside of Kuwait and his family.

You’ve got a project in which you go around the world taking photos of your backside naked in front of different monuments, whats that all about?
Ya it all started kind of by accident. I was in South Africa and had just been swimming in a lake with some friends, and as we were changing back my friend took a picture on the dock because “the contrast of my pale ass and the red sunset was too funny”. The picture turned out to be a great one and people thought it was hilarious so it kind of stuck with me. The next picture was about a year later in Iceland, and I had to take my pants off to wade through some water to a waterfall, which reminded me of the other picture so i stripped down and took another one. This one got an even better response from everyone I showed it to. The third one came about a year after that on a little island in the British Virgin Islands that was just sand and 1 single palm tree. After that picture it became a thing and now I actually look for places to take them. In the last year and a half I’ve taken well over a hundred of them.

That was the origin of it but now I think of it kind of like a project or even a social test, and I’ve gotten some really interesting responses out of it. Some people think it is brilliant, others think I am an idiot, some think its really artistic and some even think its a weird sexual fantasy of mine (I can assure you that it is not haha). I just think that its fascinating how you take a picture of a beautiful landscape with a person in it and everyone focuses entirely on the landscape as if the person isn’t there, but as soon as that person is naked they become the sole focus of the image no matter how small or inconsequential they are to the picture. My favorite pictures of mine are the ones where you barely even see me because you really see how people’s perception of the picture changes when they realize there is a naked person in it. Call it whatever you want, I just enjoy the challenge of finding new ways to push the boundaries and keep people’s interest along a theme that could be quick to lose its appeal.

What made you choose Kuwait?
Kuwait was particularly appealing because it adds a whole new daring aspect to the picture. In most places if people saw you they would laugh or even if you got caught it would just be a stern warning or maybe a fine. In Kuwait the stakes are raised so again you have this picture of the skyline which people would have no interest in if I were clothed, and now because my ass is in it it’s practically gone viral.

Did anyone see you while taking the photos?
Aside from the person who took them, no. I want people to enjoy the pictures if they seek them out or are shown them, but I understand that this may be offensive to some people and I respect that. I would never want a kid to come walking around the corner and see me naked and be scarred. Obviously you can never be 100% sure but I scouted out the spot a bit first to make sure nobody would come by and I’ve gotten very quick at getting undressed and dressed again haha.

What time of day was it?
It was right in the middle of the afternoon, probably 1 or 2 PM. Definitely not the easiest time to pull it off but maybe we got lucky by hiding in plain sight.

Were you scared you would get caught?
I guess I was a little nervous because I know they take it a lot more serious in Kuwait than other places (that’s probably an understatement), but I tried to make sure I could get away with it and had a little bit of safety in being a foreigner. I’m actually somewhat shocked that I haven’t gotten caught yet but Kuwait certainly would not be the best place to start!

Were you aware of the law in Kuwait regarding public indecency?
No honestly I still have no idea what it is. I’m glad I didn’t have to find out the hard way.

Planning on visiting any neighboring countries soon? Saudi maybe?
So I actually have a picture in Saudi (well 2 but the other was in the hotel pool so it doesn’t really count), wearing only a shemagh and you can see the Kingdom Tower in it. I’ve showed it to some of my Saudi friends and they think it is hilarious but believe it or not I don’t think I quite have the guts to post it publicly at the moment. I honestly didn’t expect the Kuwait pictures to get as much of a response as they did and I’d be a bit nervous about what that could mean in Saudi.

——————-

@myassthetics doesn’t have any nudity if you’re interested in checking it since all the nudity has been blurred. I don’t have an interview lined up for next week yet so if you have anyone in mind let me know.


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Opt-Out of SMS Ads

Posted by Mark

teavana

I’m not a big fan of SMS ads because brands subscribe to them without my permission and there never seems to be a way to unsubscribe from them. Two days ago I got an SMS ad from Teavana, one of the only brands I don’t mind getting ads from since one time their ad was like come by and pick up 100g of free tea (which I did). But, in their latest ad I noticed they’ve now added an “opt-out” option at the end. I’m not going to opt-out of their SMS’s but I think every brand should have this option since it’s so much more professional and as a consumer, I don’t end up hating a brand because of their spam (I’m looking at you BMW). I’ll be filing this under Kuwait win of the week.


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Sneak Peek: Al Shaheed Park

Posted by Mark

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Last week I posted a link to an article on Al Shaheed Park which contained beautiful photos as well as a bit of information on the park. Well on Thursday I was lucky enough to be invited for a walk-around tour of the park which still hasn’t opened to the public and I have to say, it’s as impressive as the pictures made it out to be.

In this post I’m going to try and share some information that I think hasn’t been shared yet anywhere as well as answering some questions some readers asked under my previous post. First here is a photo from the park map listing all the different spaces:

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The primary areas of the park are the two museums, the Habitat Museum and the Remembrance Museum. The Habitat Museum will house information on Kuwait’s environment, animals, birds, vegetation and weather, while the Remembrance Museum will house an interactive exhibit on the historical battles of Kuwait and the Gulf War. There are a bunch of other sections as well which are also important.

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The Aviary for example is a large open enclosure for the birds, mostly migratory ones. There is a very modern and beautiful mosque located in the park. There is a 3KM cushioned jogging track that goes all around the park. There is a large lake that is used to irrigate the whole park. There is a flag pole which will replace the one that used to be in Kuwait City near the Sheraton roundabout. There is a community garden and a bunch of restaurants and cafes all around the park. There is also a two storey underground parking which will be used by the park visitors and Al Tijaria Tower across the street.

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As of this post they hadn’t finalized how the park will function. By that I mean they’re not sure if it should be an open to everyone no entrance fee public park like a park should be or a park with some sort of entrance fee, or maybe a park with no entrance fee but a very controlled environment. If the choice was left up to me I’d probably go with the no entrance option but with a VERY VERY controlled environment with lots of security cameras and security guards everywhere. Why? Here’s why…

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Al Shaheed Park is beautiful in person as it is in those wonderful photos that were posted on ArchDaily. It’s also a very fragile park with glass railings everywhere, glass windows all over the place and there are even very thin and pretty lights that look like flowers all around the park. Basically it’s a place that can easily be vandalized. Now there will be guides at the park who will take people around to see the various spaces and museums, they’ve also recently decided to triple the amount of security at the park and there will also be supervisors stationed there. But will that be enough? I’m not sure and neither are they. For now they’re going to be opening the park to the public with no entrance fee and little control so they could see what will happen. If everything remains civil then they’ll keep it that way, if all hell breaks loose then they’ll consider alternative options.

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One area of the park which I think could be a big hit are the restaurants and cafes. Right now they don’t have any operators and there is a tender taking place but if the right brands take over these restaurants and cafes then I think the park could be even a bigger hit. Some the restaurant spaces looked a bit casual, others a bit more formal but all looked fantastic.

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I asked about the maintenance of the park since the majority of the government projects when completed end up falling apart years later. They assured me that they’ve signed a maintenance contract and if anything breaks or if a light goes out it will get replaced right away.

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Although the exterior of the buildings look great I thought the interiors looked even better, or at least if you’re like me and think retro is cool. I fell in love with some of the furniture and if the security doesn’t end up being so tight I might end up leaving the park with two chairs, a table and a lamp. So take note park people, tighten up the security detail.

When is the park opening? Very soon. They didn’t want to give me an exact date since they’re currently doing some minor fixes to the park but what I understood is that its probably going to open sometime next month but don’t take my word for it.

Anyway this is the information I thought was interesting to share but if you have any questions let me know below and I’ll try to answer it myself or have someone connected to the park answer it. Also I like to point out again that if you haven’t checked the ArchDaily post already then do so for much nicer photos.

Finally if you’re Kuwaiti, bilingual and are aged between 18 and 30 then you can apply to be a tour guide at the park [Here]


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