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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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)
We knew a professor who had so many things on his mind, he once walked out of the changing stall with nothing on his business. He did however have his trunks in his hand, and we’re willing to guess that if they were Apolis trunks, the lady lifeguard may have been two units less offended. Apolis seems to get better and better at what they do, and their men’s swimwear is no different. For this season’s Chambray Swim Trunks they partnered with a local manufacturer in LA who has been making board shorts for lifeguards since the 1960s.
You probably wouldn’t call these board shorts now though, as they’re shorter and more fitted (like how board shorts used to be). Men’s swimwear jumped in price and attention a few years back, but we’ve had these for a short while now, and they wear and soften delightfully with use - and they also get a fair amount of attention. We still like our Onia trunks, but the Chambray can take a little more abuse.
Apolis aims to be “a socially motivated lifestyle brand that empowers communities worldwide,” and with that in mind, most of the prices for their wares are very competitive. These trunks fit great, have excellent style and are made well… just don’t forget to actually put them on.
My measure of a hotel is to be had in how comfortable it makes my home away from home experience. Some travelers view hotels as simply a bed to fall into at the end of the day… call me needy, but I have a few more boxes I need to tick. Given that I travel frequently on business, and these business trips typically involve not only long days, but regularly working into the early hours of the morning, I typically end up spending quite a bit of time ensconced within the confines of my hotel room, bathed in the neon glow of my computer screen. So, things that top my list of hotel needs are: plenty of natural light within my room, a room that is of a suitable size so as not to feel cramped and large enough to roll out a yoga mat on the floor, a nice bathroom, gym facilities, a wifi connection, and a room service menu. All these conditions must be met for me to even consider staying. I can take or leave the coolness factor - I’ll opt for natural daylight and a large well appointed room over hipsters and electronic grooves in the lobby any day. The Sheraton Porto Hotel & Spa rates highly in all these categories (and pretty low in the hipster one).
When walking into the lobby (should it happen to be during the day), the first thing that will strike you is the feeling of bright airiness. Tall sweeping ceilings framed by a magnificent glass wall facing the street that stretches impossibly high, allows the light of the day of bathe the lobby. The lobby is clean, contemporary, uncluttered, and on this particular trip, is also playing host to a 1953 Corvette (hipster points building). Reception is to your left, with a bank of elevators in the middle of the open room, wrapped in glass and steel, gliding silently like a cooler version of Charlie’s Great Glass Elevator. The hotel plays host to guests of all demographics: primped ladies with expensive handbags merge seamlessly with large families containing well-dressed kids, and business travelers wearing their identifying dark suits and briefcases.
The Club Room is quite large and laid out in shades of white, cream and rich brown, with floor to ceiling windows at one end, and a wall of dark wood paneling sitting in perfect contrast against the tall padded leather headboard directly across from it. The overall feeling is modern, yet warm. Picture a classy gentleman’s smoking room. A chocolate leather armchair with matching footrest sits in the corner, framed by a floor lamp and a glass side table. The work desk is impressively large for a hotel room, with plenty of room to spread your files, papers and pajamas on. However, the absolute best thing about the Sheraton Porto rooms are the bathrooms. I could wax poetic for paragraphs about the bathrooms alone, as they are unique in my hotel experience. The wall that divides the bathroom from the main room is entirely glass, floor to ceiling, with tidy venetian blinds that are controlled by the touch of a button (find two White Stripes references). The remaining walls of the bathroom are frosted glass - the end result being a bathroom that is large and bright. When you are thousands of miles from home, away from the things that you know and love, there is nothing quite like a gorgeous bathroom to make it all feel more tolerable. Especially if that bathroom comes with an oversize soaker tub and independent frosted glass walled shower with an massive rain shower head (and deliciously perfect heat and water pressure). Hats off to the designers who thought of this bathroom. They certainly got it right, and I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t influenced by this bathroom when I recently remodeled my own.
So… The rooms: comfy. The bathrooms: ecstatic. The pillows: fluffy. The option for natural daylight in your room: perfect. And the ability to ring up service at 3am for a relatively healthy meal: priceless. That’s one thing that the Sheraton Porto does really well… caters to guests that are interested in health and wellness. In the room conveniently placed upon the desk, where you will first see it as you are throwing down your passport and emptying your pockets after a long flight, is a small square card, thoughtfully laying out their recommended 10k jogging route. Now that is service. The first page of the room service menu is a pull out flyer with a completely separate ‘healthy options’ menu… blueberry granola, steamed veg and salmon, and yes, soy milk for your espresso if you need it. When on extended business trips, contrary to popular belief, eating out every single night at fabulous restaurants gets old. I know… shocking. Sometimes you just want to wrap yourself up in the provided fluffy white robes, lay low, and order up some room service. So, having a great menu, with healthy and varied options is not only a life saver from too many rich and alcohol fueled meals, but for me, can be the deciding factor on whether I will return to a hotel or not. Now, we’re not talking a five star gastronomic experience - let’s not get too excited here. But, let it be said, that I have yet to be disappointed with something that I ordered from the menu.
Their gym facilities are some of the best I’ve seen. To put that statement into perspective, this traveler has sampled hotels in Mexico, Poland, Peru, Ecuador, England, France, Italy, Germany, Canada, the US and China. Having been in hotels where the gym consists of one tiny claustrophobic basement room with a broken treadmill, the gym room at the Sheraton Porto is luxuriously large: approximately 400 sq ft, well-lit and mirrored, and filled with treadmills, arc trainers, stationary bikes, rowing machines, free weights, exercise balls, resistance bands, and a very complete collection of top of the line free standing machines (instead of those horrible all-in-one towers that one frequently runs across). All this and a dedicated stretching area. The gym at the Sheraton is my sanctuary and I have happily spent hours there, getting my sweat on, and recalibrating. After all that, you can swim in their beautiful indoor 70m pool. And did I mention they have a spa? And a beauty salon? I haven’t used the spa services, preferring to work out my jet lag by way of jump squats and pushups, but the spa services appear to be very popular, if I am to judge by the nearly constant stream of diverse bath-robed spa attendees flowing past the gym in the afternoon.
All in all, the Sheraton Porto is probably one of the most welcoming hotels I’ve had the pleasure of staying at. So much so, that I’m willing to overlook the costly internet (9 euro per day, or 15 for two days) and over priced (yet very complete, with it’s own omelette station) breakfast buffet. The service is impeccable, the food is quite good, the rooms are bright and supremely comfortable, and on top of that, you have a fantastic gym, a luxurious spa, and a pool, in a hotel that is easy to get to and very centrally located (with a grocery store a few blocks away). Honestly, I don’t know what more you could ask for (helicopter service or celebrity turndown perhaps?). It certainly makes being away from my own bed, warmed by two cats and my family, and my familiar and loved surroundings, and working long hours at a job that I love, much more bearable. That, friends, is how this traveler measures the success of a hotel, and the Sheraton Porto wins.
(Silvana Rivadeneira - Civil Writes)
We have had such fun with Chronicle Books’ 642 Things to Write About. It’s like the fun part of that creative writing class you took, without the judgement, marking or public reading. Each section whether a 1/4 page or a full page gives you a lead in to get your juices flowing and then off you go to the private, fun, tale twisting creative races! Write a scene that begins with ‘It was the first time I’d killed a man’ or Describe each person in your extended family with just one word. It gives a fantastic daily exercise to writers, or to anyone with a creative kink. Thank you San Francisco Writers’ Grotto!
If you want inspiration, how about the fact that the entire thing was written in 24 hours by 35 writers from the SF Writers’ Grotto? A friend called another friend and suggested it, and there it was. It’s a great lesson in what can be accomplished sometimes by just being open to a new idea. And if no one is calling you with their good ideas, just start writing on any one of these ideas, if only to remind yourself how capable you are of creating something unique.