UE Boom Review

We’re often told that people like it better when you under promise and over deliver. By naming their Bluetooth speaker Boom, Ultimate Ears runs the risk of over promising… on both product, and corporate naming. Having said that, out of all the Bluetooth speakers on the market, this one seems to cover all the bases. One of the biggest complaints is often quality volume, and the Boom is one of the best we’ve heard.

It’s a terrific design that actually serves a purpose in that its cylindrical shape allows it to project sound equally in all directions (except up and down obviously). The Boom is light and compact and boasts a 15 hour battery life. It’s waterproof so feel free to use it when having a shower, although we wouldn’t recommend holding it under a direct stream.

Small enough and light enough to throw in your bag on the go, The Boom is one of the best Bluetooth speakers on the market for the money.

Cursor & Thread Bows and Braces

In a world of dichotomies, the good people at Cursor & Thread have been making some of the best Bow Ties and Braces in the business, to help you keep up in your casual formalities. As the old story goes, a Philosopher and a Scientist walked in to a bar… and 18 years later decided to launch a men’s accessories line. With everything being made in Canada or the US in small batches, you can rest assured that the goods you get are special (and good).

The Bow Ties are self tie, but also come tied, with a clip. What this means is they work for the purist and the novice alike (more dichotomies). And if you want to make the transition to start self tying, there are instructions on the box, or you can see their post on How to Tie a Bow Tie. Even their braces have two options: you can use the clips, or the button-in fasteners - both are included with the beautifully packaged braces or suspenders.


As men’s fashion continues to grow in Main Streets everywhere, Cursor & Thread can offer a little style to your everyday. It may feel risky at first, but as they say, good people will embrace it.

Dripping Chips at Hoi Polloi

Off for a Sunday treat at Hoi Polloi in the Ace Hotel London on Shoreditch High Street, the restaurant name an aperitif in itself for would be street smart bourgeois like ourselves. Ancient Greek for the common people, Hoi Polloi is an ironic reference to the East End’s former history as the stronghold of London’s cockney working class now displaced by the genteel spillover of banker toffs from the City. It’s a send up, echoed in the language of the menu, which mimics cockney taste in otherwise sophisticated style.

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Dripping chips are, we presume, cooked in the fatty juices saved from the roast, once the only item the poor could afford, spread on bread as a meal in itself. ‘Does your mother keep dripping in the house?’ was a music hall joke. Here however the chips (which are indeed bloody wonderful) are listed amid an extensive panoply of dishes, from the conventionally brunchworthy to the eclectically epicurean. Eggs Benedict and their relatives might be preceded by turnip and horseradish soup or superseded by plaice with fennel and borlotti beans. Desserts extend the medley of styles and materials, from the exotic to the folksy with Medici almonds and Cambridgeshire cream. Trendy items include ricotta pancakes and  the fashionably sanctified distillations of  beetroot and kale that lie in wait in the juice bar. Our choice from the adventurous menu is faultlessly delivered and appreciatively consumed to the discreet strains of a string quartet, far too classy perhaps for any hoi polloi who might venture in, but tasteful without being stiff necked.

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The setting is somewhat institutional, previously the dining room of an undistinguished chain hotel. But the comfort and placement of its seating  gives the room a welcome intimacy, relaxed without being soporific, very much hangover friendly. For tourists and visitors, Hoi Polloi provides an ideal weekend brunch stop after calls at Hawksmoor’s wondrously restored baroque church, Spitalfields market and boutiques, and the Columbia St flower market. And don’t miss those dripping chips!

(Peter Bailey - Civil Writes)

Phonesuit Flex iPhone Charger

We have to admit something… we’ve been using this charger for months now and we could have written this review after 3 weeks, we used it so much. The Phonesuit Flex iPhone Charger has quite honestly been the first thing in our Gentlemanbug carry-ons when we pack, it is so essential. Without repeating what everyone knows about iPhone 5 batteries, we’ll simply say that everyone needs some sort of charger… but this is the best one, giving you 125% of a full iPhone charge, while still being small enough to fit in that tiny pocket in your jeans that no one uses.

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It’s tiny, cool looking, simple as a potato, and fast - it might as well be coloured white or black and come with every iPhone. You have full functionality or your phone while it’s working and you can even charge your phone and your charger at the same time if you’re lucky enough to find holes with electricity.

If there weren’t so many of you out there, we’d buy you all one, but feel free to treat yourself - you really won’t regret it.

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Slimfold Wallet

We can officially say we have tested this wallet more than we’ve tested any review product. We’ve been using this Tyvek, thinnest wallet on the planet, Slimfold Wallet everyday for 5 months, and would never go back to our previous wallet - a style that we’d been happy with for 10 years! We’ve tested loads of slim wallets, but this one is thinner, waterproof, stronger, and with a smaller footprint when folded over twice which is our preferred practice. It’s more of a Swatch than a Rolex, but in this case, the Swatch actually works better!

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In terms of designer Dave Zuverink’s Inspiration: I became obsessed with finding a wallet that was thin enough to go in my front pocket along with an iPhone without creating a big bulge. I also wanted to be able to fit receipts and oversize checks in it without them hanging out over the top and getting frayed. I discovered that traditional wallets overlap the credit cards in their slots, which adds tremendously to their thickness. Instead, by arranging the cards next to each other, the thickness is cut in half! The cards then act as splines to provide strength to the wallet, thereby eliminating the need for a thicker more structured material such as leather. This brought me back to the idea of making a wallet out of the credit card sleeve material you see, which I had since learned was Tyvek, an almost indestructible material which is waterproof and almost impossible to tear. It is also made from 25% post-consumer material and is itself recyclable.

Slim Genius…

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Three Years of Gentlemanbug

Gentlemanbug is now three years old and still wears the crown of “Best Pretty Good Culture, Style, Travel, Arts Website on the Internet” as voted by a significant number of people in the industry or other industries. We’re all very proud of that status, so thank you… and you’re welcome.

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To celebrate we are going to stop stopping, and return from our summer holidays to get back to what we do pretty well… publish posts about things that we like, as best we can. We may only be a toddler, but we have big dreams of Kindergarten.

Grand Hotel Stamary - Poland

A wise man once warned that when Polish sparrows sing and bolt against a night sky, it means rain in the morning - in our case it meant sheets of rain for days. As it turned out, most of our work was indoors, but it immediately made us thankful for the elegant and handsome (if somewhat dated) Grand Hotel Stamary in Zakopane just outside of Krakow.

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A hotel can be forgiven many faults with strong water pressure, and although The Stamary Hotel had nothing to be forgiven, it was a wonderful surprise. The rooms were spacious, bright and quite regal. It seems water was the theme of our whole trip, as the pool and spa gave wonderful relief from the daily tasks, not to mention, even an excellent spa in Poland is very affordable in comparison to other parts of the world.

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Breakfast was delightful and always served in an environment surrounded by the soft rock hits of the 80s and 90s (someone had forgotten that November Rain gets very heavy at the end). Almost a perfect soundtrack to our trip, although the sparrows never sing in November.

August Smart Lock

And you thought having your phone stolen was already scary, it’s soon going to be the key to your house. However, like all the reasons you can’t live without your phone, August is going to be so cool that it will be worth the added risk. Designed by Yves Behar (is there anything this guy can’t do?) the August Smart Lock allows you to keylessly and codelessly get in and out of your house, but more importantly it allows you to do the same for guests you want while keeping out guests you don’t want. Surely that’s more worthy of the word ‘smart’ than a fridge that tells you you’re out of that rare variety of kale.

It works with your existing deadbolt, and you can still use your key if you want, but why would you when August can tell when you’re close and unlock the door for you? That would be like using stairs to get into an elevator. Get ready to have all your delivered packages left inside the door, and never having to worry about getting your key back from that insane ex-roommate of yours. (Sidenote: August is only functional in the Fall.)

Ace Hotel Portland

Room 226 is a good room. It’s neighbours with a fire extinguisher. This is reassuring. Should a guest whose character I’ve badly misjudged have a fit of pyromania, I won’t have to leap from the second story window. I have a bad Achilles - the fall wouldn’t help. But Room 226 is also a good room because it’s so close to the breakfast room from where, in the morning, the scent of toasty brioche and artisanal cheese wafts through the door cracks. When I wander into that cove of comfort food, swaddled in my standard issue Ace Hotel robe, and I sit down with the New York Times and a Stumptown coffee and fresh OJ and locally-sourced granola with honey made, I presume, only by bees born and raised in the great State of Oregon, I realize that it’s gotten to the point that I come to the Ace Hotel Portland for the breakfast and I stay for the everything else.

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Ideally, I’ll rise around 8 a.m., feast on croissants and coffee, lose myself in the Times, and then declare “brunch” just before 11, at which point I’ll dig into the smoked trout and cured meats and cornichons (or, as we call them in Canada, little pickles). For $10, I’m not sure there’s more happiness out there in the world. Truth be told, I’m what’s known, in the travel biz, as a Starwood Whore. That is, someone who only stays at Starwood properties when they travel, in order to amass loyalty points, gain fake social status (I’m Gold, for the record), and enjoy sweet perks like free internet that your company was going to pay for anyway. But the Portland Ace now feels like a home away from home, and the Westin or the Nines, well, they now feel like somewhere my parents, or a high-maintenance partner, would love to stay.

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The Ace does not have Heavenly Beds, but it has character, and soul, and the beds are big enough to have sex in, and comfy enough to get a decent sleep, and what more does one need? The rooms are functional; the wallpaper whimsical. The vibe’s a vintage-bohemian-industrial-army fusion. There are rooms with record players, and more affordable rooms with shared bathrooms and showers. It’s minimalist, but there are nice touches: The (MALIN + GOETZ) conditioner has a hint of cilantro. Your follicles will thank you.

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The biggest problem with the Ace Hotel Portland is that, if you like exploring cities, it’s rather hard to escape the immediate vicinity (though, conveniently, there are free bikes in the lobby). There’s frankly no good reason to venture more than a few steps. You can waste the day away on the cozy lobby couches, sipping Stumptown from next door, working, reading or people watching. Look over there: it’s a burly-bearded white guy knitting. Mesmerizing. And there’s an older, burlier-bearded white guy playing the harmonica. Dogs come and go. So, too, do giggly girls and mushy couples, wandering in to abuse the photo booth. On my last visit, Reggie Watts, the wonderful comedian-musician, checked in, sat down, and chilled. Nice guy. At lunchtime, you can stumble a few feet to Kenny & Zukes Delicatessen and drown in pastrami, bathe in brisket. Walk it off, ever so briefly, with a trip to Powell’s City of Books, where hours evaporate. The Living Room Theater, which always shows compelling films, is across the street. And at around five, when you breathe in the bourbon that’s seeping into the lobby, sidle up to the bar at Clyde Common, also next door, and succumb to an evening of cocktails and seasonal delights. When the caffeine wears off and the boozy haze takes over and it’s time for bed, you won’t have far to go. And you’ll go to sleep dreaming of breakfast.

(Marc David Weber - Civil Writes)

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The National: Trouble Will Find Me

Since the Fall of 2011 when the Orpheum hosted these gents in an ornate delving of life’s often eviscerating emotional meanderings (that we were fortunate to witness with the kind of friends that feast at love’s funerals), anticipation for this album’s release has been unfalteringly building at a heartbeat pace, akin to the slow burning embers that emerge after the bonfire of a summer love. Full-well knowing the kind of remembering The National ignites, in a silken celebration that sheds a yearning glow on even the most crumbled of our lost loves, we waited baited and barely breathing. Trouble Will Find Me makes the kind of hazy promises, like the ones we tell ourselves after the fall apart and before the next time, that are certain to deliver those precious final drops of your shredded heart. 

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Honest? To a degree we barely afford or allow ourselves, the adept lyricism engulfed in hymnal melodies and the kind of song-making that five albums and 14 years of touring learn, the shifting tempo that begins with I Should Live In Salt, beckons us to open up to the whole album, revisit our present and reflect on how we got here. Welcome friends, welcome lovers, The National makes a melody of all the moments you rarely share, in a fête for the harrowing reality of what it means to look, lose, learn and lest since the last time, while alluding to a knowing of how it is, and seeded with the few lessons to grasp for when we aren’t Fireproof, even though we’re soaked and adrift, clinging to the smallest of debris, after the shipwreck, on a fathomless sea…or maybe you’re graced with the love of your life.

(Jer Jaud - Civil Writes)