Consumerist Missive

Loves good products, hates bad execution

Time for your Daily Dose… of STUPID pills!

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Businesses regularly add me on Twitter; the lovely Sugar Cupcakes from a couple of posts back is a prime example. Today I was added by a business so ridiculous that it has been mere minutes since they added me, and I simply MUST blog about what a stupid business this is.

Imagine the most cretinous rip off you have ever experienced, then imagine adding a really gut-wrenchingly, brain addlingly stupid twist and voila, you have Daily Dose!

This company puts SWEETIES in PILL JARS. Yes. Kids’ confectionery + medicine style jars. Oh, what a genius idea – for the person who wants to spend £3.75 on half a packet of Haribo that you can get from Home & Bargain for a quid. For the person to whom spending 46p on a packet of Smarties just isn’t enough money.

Cola bottles: 30p. Stupid joke in which the name ‘Michael’ is spelled incorrectly? £3.45

For the person who, hopefully, never comes across their child writhing on the floor in foamy mouthed agony because they just took mummy or daddy’s Tamazepam, because they were in a similar looking jar. I mean COME ON! What was going through their minds when this was thought up? What’s next, fizzy pop in bleach bottles? Cadbury’s crack pipes? The mind literally boggles.

Sesame’s Treets?

Unsuprisingly, the incomprehensible moron who came up with this ‘concept’ is one of the contestants on the new upcoming series of the Apprentice. Perhaps they are going for the Stuart Baggs approach to prattery – but sadly they’ve failed. The site claims that the concept is the ‘ultimate hangover cure’ – hence the ‘hilarious’ (read: tenuous link) pill jar + sweetie mashup, I reckon it’s more like it was thought up during a binge drinking session. I hate them already. At least Baggs was funny.

Who wants to bet that someone’s going to try out a punworthy crack at hoping Lord ‘Sugar’ will endorse this madness?

The Apprentice starts tomorrow night (21st March) at 9pm on BBC1. Please let them get booted off at the first available opportunity so that they don’t earn enough money to invent razor blade playing cards.


Written by Vixx

March 20, 2012 at 5:49 pm

10 Reasons to Live – Breathe

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If you’ve ever lost someone, please listen and watch, then hit ‘reblog’ or share using the various options below.

Although you’re gone, you’re never far away…

More good stuff HERE!

Written by Vixx

March 20, 2012 at 9:34 am

What a SUG8R Rush!

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Homemade cupcake houses are springing up all over the ‘Pool at the moment. I currently follow three of them on Twitter – Little Cake Could, Laura’s Little Bakery and the one I’m going to RAVE about today, SUGAR Cupcakes!

Sugar is a Liverpool based, home-baked confection producing powerhouse run by sisters Joanne and Tracy Gardner. The concept is simple, but effective: Luxury desserts at a price you can afford – bespoke too, if you check out their website and menu lists.

But enough blah, onto the cakes themselves! I mean, lovely Tracy was kind enough to bring me a wee selection round to review, the least I can do is brew up a Fakebucks (instant coffee in a posh mug), get out my trusty cake-slicing knife and dive right in…

First off, the packaging is gorgeous. Simple, clean white window boxes tied up with silvery grey ribbon, complemented perfectly by the prettiest little business card, which will fit right in your purse for those big cupcake-related emergencies.

Inside the box we found a selection of the most popular cakes Sugar sell. From L-R: Strawberries & Cream, Chocolate Caramel (top) and Lemon Meringue and the much coveted 99-er, which is fast becoming Sugar’s ultimate signature cake – so much so that its silhouette has been given the privilege of flying Sugar’s flag in the form of their logo.

The boyfriend bagsied the Flake from the 99-er cake immediately. This little beauty looks exactly like the top of everyone’s favourite summer treat, and I swear, tastes like it too! The rich creamy vanilla frosting gives way to a moist crumbly vanilla sponge, filled generously with sticky raspberry jam. Topped off with a raspberry sauce swirl and a REAL 99 Flake, it’s easy to see why Sugar’s customers love this one so much.

Next up was the Strawberries & Cream. A simple, soft sponge topped with a flavoursome strawberry buttercream. Hiding inside is a generous glob of gooey strawberry jam. The jam is incredibly fruity, and you can tell it isn’t your common-or-garden supermarket basics jam. These are quality products made with expensive ingredients. The sheer quality of the sponge itself speaks to the fact that this has been made by a confectioner who knows what she’s doing.

The Lemon Meringue cake is a sweet, sharp delight, oozing with rich lemon curd and surprisingly actually topped with a real French-style soft meringue topping, as opposed to a buttercream-posing-as-meringue topping. The topping is piped on in a decorative traditional style, and finished with a quick blast with a handheld blowtorch. The subtle lemon flavour in the sponge was also noted, and enhanced the experience of the entire cake.

Now, as a lifelong member of Chocoholics (not) Anonymous, it was imperative to save the Chocolate Caramel cake until last. And there was NO WAY that the Boyfriend was getting his mitts on the Rolo that sat atop this glorious confection. A smooth, thick, creamy caramel topping was all that stood between me and crumbly, moist and deeply chocolatey perfection. The sponge, delightful and rich, encased a truly decadent soft caramel centre that began to ooze out lasciviously the second my knife hit the plate.

And the Boyfriend’s opinion? Well, it kind of went like this… “Umf… nomnom… wow! Really good… gimme Flake! Next one? Chomp chomp… fufly that! Oooohmm memonf! Why can’t I have the Rolo? Scoff… munch… are they all gone? When can we get more?”

The delicious box that the Boyf and I just shamelessly demolished, diet-be-damned would set you back a mere £7, making the cakes less than £2 each which slightly undercuts certain competitor prices that I have seen. Sugar caters for parties and events, can turn any cupcake into a giant version and also makes delicious cheesecakes. Bespoke orders can be considered and everything is delivered directly to your door. Tracy tells me that the girls are currently shopping around for a good retail outlet and if you want to walk-in-off-the-street to try their cakes, you can do so in both Pablo’s of Lark Lane and Jalons restaurant on Smithdown Road.

For more information, visit their website at Sugar Cupcakes – tell them I sent ya (and that next time I want to try the Black Cherry, Rhubarb and Custard, Cookies & Cream and what undoubtedly will be my ultimate favourite, the Chocolate Overload!) 😉

PS I love my job.

Ant & Dec NTA – FTW?? WTF?? BBQ??!

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Howay consumerites!

11th March UPDATE! Since this blog was posted, the NTAs official Twitter feed has posted this:

So, the Sun was LYING? Gasp… that is such a shock!

Continue reading original 10th March post below…

Ant & Dec, FTW.

Today, that well-renowned fact peddler The Sun has run a story stating that the National Television Awards have decided to ban regular front runners Ant & Dec from entering the best Entertainment Presenter category, because they’ve won 11 times already, giving some guff compensatory gesture about naming the award after them instead. Say what?

I remember being in school watching the Brits and it seemed like almost every year, Annie Lennox would win best female. A friend and I discussed how “Once again, Annie Lennox wins the Annie Lennox Award for Being Annie Lennox,” – little did we know, some 20 years later, some cretious NTA exec would rob our idea. He must have been gegging in on us during Mr Jones’ music classes.

Ant & Dec worked the teen club scene during their Peej and Deej days, so I interviewed them a LOT back then. They worked their arses off to get to the position they are in now, and from what I can see, on TV and in interviews, now that they are super famous, they haven’t changed, not one bit. That’s rare. VERY rare.

Ant & Dec win every year for a reason; they’re the best! They are all round super professional, perfectly matched and witty as hell. Not a single TV presenter can hold a candle to them. Upon reading the full story, Ant took to Twitter and this little exchange with presenter cohort Dermot O’Leary ensued:

Assuming that this story is true (it could be absolute dirge, it is The Sun, natch) the reasons for its circulation I can only assume are thus:

1. Ant & Dec are quite possibly the most famous scandal-free pair in UK celeb history. They are extraordinarily popular. In order to get people talking about the NTAs, they use a story about Ant & Dec, and make up some scandalous but non-libellous detail and feed it to a rag. Of course, the backfire of this is that this now makes the NTAs about as popular as a fart in a duvet.

2. Dermot O’ Leary, Keith Lemon, Michael MacIntyre and Graham Norton have formed a Harry Potter style male witch’s coven and are holding the event organisers’ filthy secrets to ransom ala Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in that boardroom scene from Dogma if they don’t get a go.

It’s true that no one can touch Ant & Dec in the telly presenter stakes, but is it really fair that they’re not allowed to enter what is, in effect, self-flagellating paid advertisement for telly shows, on the grounds of ‘being too good’? What kind of message does that give to their vast audience, which, at the end of the day due to the nature of their work and audience, WILL include kids? That it’s OK to be second best so long as you eliminate the competition first?

Surely it’s also a swift kick in the teeth to whoever DOES win it too, “Here you go, you win, but only cos we didn’t let Ant & Dec have a go this year…” Congratulations, you’re the silver medal in the gold medal’s clothing is really quite crap.

What a ridiculous story – it’s either completely untrue, made up because The Sun wanted to run an NTA story but it’s so boring they had to create some ‘scandal’ to liven it up – OR – some idiotic berk in an NTA scratchy beard meeting made a completely stupid suggestion that leaked out and now makes the whole event look staged and pathetic.

The only way that Ant & Dec won’t win is in a year where they are either not working, or if some other telly presenters out there up their game – A LOT – plus matched them year for year in the ‘flogging your guts out on kids telly and on Saturday mornings’ stakes.

See, it’s not just teens voting, or housewives. It’s the people who were all kids when they saw PJ blinded on Byker, and Duncan tell Debbie that he won’t be her pet dog… or the dads who got up early just to see that lovely Cat Deeley and got hooked in by their chirpy demeanour and likeability, or the girls, like me, who bought their singles and albums when they were teens, and who now, in their 30s, still think they’re great, relevant, talented and entertaining.

Part of me thinks it would be great if Ant & Dec said that they didn’t WANT to be nominated, and all resultant expected nominees followed suit. THAT would be great… but they’re just too darned nice for any of that nonsense.

I’m still waiting for a full and frank denial from the NTAs, and to find out that the Sun was just spinning bullcrap to sell papers – AGAIN. But in the event that it isn’t, whichever way it swings this year, Ant & Dec winning or not winning, it will certainly put a sour taste on the whole event. Ant & Dec don’t deserve that, and neither do their fans, who vote year in year out for a pair of TV presenters who are absolute model celebrities in every way, shape and form.

Lesser people might have a big promo field day with this… they simply don’t need to, they’re THAT well-respected. The only brand that this story has hurt is the NTAs. Well done Sun, you did it again.


Google+ Social Networking Tool

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Just like popstars or football strikers, there’s always a ‘next big thing’ waiting in the wings to de-throne the current ruler.  If Facebook is our social networking King right now, Google+ is surely the wayward cousin secretly planning to spike everyone’s punch at the Christmas party.

Strangely, the main celebrity pusher of Google+ appears to be Tom Anderson.  Yes, that’s ‘Mr MySpace’ Tom Anderson himself.  His profile, with the heading ‘Former MySpace friend, now retired’ alongside the same ‘thummbies up’ chirpy chappie picture he always had, claims that he is not being paid by Google+ and does not work for them.  It seems like more of a little tongue-in-cheek dirty protest at Facebook’s expense.  Judging by his (at time of writing) 1,406,198 friends, it would appear that quite a lot of people are actually using Google+.

However, if you then consider that I am one of those friends, and the only reason I have a G+ account is because it got automatically ‘created’ one day when I clicked on a link saying a friend of mine was on there, who probably clicked a link saying their friend was on there, you have to wonder, how many people on that friends list are ghost friends or friends by proxy.

Perhaps a more tangible example of a celebrity endorsement, at least for us here in the UK, is TV petrolhead, part-time Kryten-from-Red-Dwarf, and self-confessed Google+ fan Robert Llewellyn.   In recent weeks he has tweeted major props for Google+ and defended naysayers with all the vim and vigour of a man on a personal crusade.  His claims include that he and his 3753 friends (14,920 including ‘circles’) enjoy a vast and highly intellectual conversation, more than he could ever experience from, I assume, Facebook users.

Despite the fact that respected media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal recently referred to Google+ as a ‘ghost town’, anyone who dares to say to him that G+ is ‘rubbish’ or that ‘no one uses it’, particularly if they are a non-user or have only been a brief user themselves, is met with haughty derision.   His latest G+ post reads:

Couldn’t help it, inspired by last few posts I’ve just tweeted this.
“I just want to say something low key, not in the least contentious, Facebook is quite boring, Google + is a brilliant hothouse of ideas.”

Already had a soup bucket of corrections from people who ‘know better.’

To be fair (and I am always fair) friends of mine who do use G+, see it as a useful resource tool rather than a chatting outlet and they find that there is less spam, like Facebook ‘Farmville’ requests and the like.  A fair assessment would be that perhaps not enough data collection has taken place in order for that to be much of a problem right now.  I remember back in 2007 when Facebook wasn’t really all about the in-your-face ads like it can be now.  You’ve got to start somewhere.

Also, an apt analogy under the circumstances could be that Google+ has a ‘cult’ following at the moment.  Much like my beloved Red Dwarf, once Facebook gets too popular, jumps the shark and replaces Claire Grogan’s Kochanski (original format) with Chloe Annett (Timeline) for the sake of its new millions, it won’t be so much fun anymore for the ones who were there in the beginning.

@TheSimondo on Twitter thinks that with all the negative reactions to Facebook’s new ‘Timeline’ concept, we may be seeing Google+ defectors sooner rather than later.  Personally, I like Timeline (and Chloe Annett, for what it’s worth), and agree with PRNewser that what brands like Coca Cola have done with its potential is great, but from the posts I’ve read from friends, I’m in the minority – at least amongst them.

Perhaps come December 2012, we’ll find out if the projected 400m users a recent Google+ report suggests they will have, are all real or merely figments of an under-active social network’s imagination.

“What sort of Godforsaken place is this?”
“This is worse than Rimmerworld!”
The boys from the Dwarf realise that Google+ has less point than a Steve MacDonald cameo.

Written by Vixx

March 6, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Supersize vs Superskinny is BACK!

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So, the thing about SS v SS is this: Marvellous Dr. Christian of Snazzy Shirtville (that’s his full title, it’s on all his bank statements…) off the telly finds two people who have issues with food. He then pits them against each other in a battle of the belly-wits to see if they can literally stomach each other’s lifestyles.

In between this, there will be clips of Americans who have taken obesity to the extreme, people who have had toes fall off through weight-related diabetes, and anorexics who have recognised their issues and are working through them.

The good old Daily Fail, true to form, has been on a pious rampage, wittering on about how this programme is ‘irresponsible’ and ‘triggering’ to people with ‘eating disorders’ (they mean anorexics only). Quite frankly, it’s the ONLY programme I have ever watched that shows, clearly, that abuse of food by binge eating is just as much of an eating disorder as being borderline anorexic and how you CAN get over both extremes, by eating better. Little lifestyle changes will change the way your body runs, and to see that happen before your eyes during a one-hour show is really useful, and inspirational. Remember, NEITHER patient in the feeding clinic would be there if they weren’t deemed medically viable beforehand.

A number of people, including @HFChange on Twitter said: “constant mentioning of weights is triggering, insensitive and glamourises illnesses rather than being educating.” – Now, I’m not underweight, I’m overweight, so I don’t see how the mentioning of weights will be a trigger, so I would like someone to educate me – but for me, the triggering things are seeing someone’s toe fall off due to weight-related diabetes. Listening to someone say they were in the shower and they heard a crunch and they’d broken their ankle just by standing on it. Seeing bones protruding through skin, seeing a fingernail so soft it was concave and looking at what appeared to be a slab of rotten meat then being told it was someone’s tongue.

In retalliation, @DrChristian said: “Some people have criticized us for showing eating disorders on tv. I think showing them is vital.” He’s right. The first step towards getting better is recognising you have a problem in the first place. If it makes you feel ‘triggered’ towards illness hearing that someone weighs 5 and a half stone, perhaps you need to ask yourself if you need some more help? In which case, surely the fact that this programme pointed that out to you is a good thing?

There’s also choice. There are enough channels on the telly for you to go and watch something else. Unless you go around and get rid of every pro-ana site (as it does seem to be a trend of the underweight eating disorders to mention the triggering rather than overweight people) then you can’t possibly slate this programme for highlighting in a REALISTIC way the true effects of vastly under or over eating. It has to cover every eventuality, factually and as responsibly as possible, for ALL of their audience – fat, thin, obese, anorexic – or simply people who get their kicks from watching people struggle like this and slagging them off (oh yes, I saw those tweets too). Using shock tactics include the images of decimated bodies and using drastic visuals such as the 50 stone woman in America are not new tactics of this show, and if you think they could be damaging or distressing for you, it’s best you don’t watch. I don’t like violent horror movies, they really upset me. So I don’t watch them.

In any case, I’ll be back for the rest of this series, and as someone who lives with her food issues – albeit *not* anorexia, I find all the methods used by the Supersize vs Superskinny programme makers not only shocking, but effective. I don’t want to be ill, I don’t want diabetes or intolerances, or fingers and toes that fall off. I have been a number of weights, from one extreme to the other in my life, and I still can’t see the difference in the mirror, all I see is the American woman when I look in the mirror – so to hear what people weigh and comparing how they look makes me think that perhaps the mirror lies but the camera definitely doesn’t.

On a lighter note (pun ALWAYS intended) it kinda pleases me the way that the Supersizer gets a free trip to America when the Superskinny doesn’t. Makes the fat girl in me go “neeeennerrrr… all you get is cold Chinese food for breakfast…” Oh, and no food tube? Apparently this was the second biggest criticism on Twitter tonight. Bring back the Food Tube, Doc, before it becomes so big it gets its own website and pushes your snazzy new dark haircut down into third!

Written by Vixx

February 28, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Charlotte Church – Hero or Hypocrite?

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IMG: Reuters, Nov 2011

Today Charlotte Church landed a whopping £600,000 (half damages, half court costs) for her part as a victim of the phone hacking scandal. Now, I’ve never bought her albums, not really arsed about her marriage to terracotta Rugby prat Gavin Henson and I didn’t buy the issue of OK magazine with the pics of her baby in either. Quite liked that Crazy Chick song she did though and I remember when she was on Richard and Judy and everyone called her ‘The Voice of an Angel’ and how she paid for being the Nation’s Sweetheart with her childhood. However, I regularly read the news; I know that NOTW were accused of at least the following:

• Hacking her family’s voicemails when she was a teenager, resulting in at least 33 stories printed.
• Putting her under surveillance and gaining access to her private medical records
• Coersion of her mother to give an interview when she was suffering from mental anguish after attempting suicide

Now sure, I can understand disgruntled journalists arguing that Charlotte can talk to the press about her relationship with her husband, or sell pics of her baby to the highest bidder and THAT’S ok, but as soon as she’s courted outside these parameters by the press, it’s deemed inappropriate, intrusive etc. Basically, she likes the support the press gives her when it suits her and she kicked up a huge stink when it didn’t suit. What I’m saying is… what’s your point?

Let’s say you’re out on a date with someone you’ve been courting for a little while. The person is perfectly nice, you’re going to see them again, and in fact you set a date for Thursday. However, on Tuesday night, you’ve just got out of the bath, you’ve put on your slippers and you’re about to tuck into a hot chocolate and the next chapter of the book you’ve been reading when the doorbell goes… Gasp! It’s HIM!

“But we weren’t meant to meet til Thursday…” you stammer. “You like me, right?” He says. “So what’s the difference? Let’s do it now.”

“But I have … things to do!” You argue. “So? I want to see you, so here I am. You’ve been out with me before, and will do again, and let me just say that you got PLENTY out of it last time we went out. So this is my right.”

How would you react? You’d be pretty pissed off, yes? You’d tell him where to get off and to chill his boots, right? You might even break it off with him right there and then, yeah? (NB: sexual equalitististists, feel free to flip reverse the sexes and get HIM to kick HER to the kerb, it works either way.)

Now imagine you get out of the bath, put on the slippers, grab your book and your hot chocolate and pad into the living room. You switch on the reading lamp and out of the corner of your eye you see a flash. Was that a camera, or did a street light go out? You tuck your dressing gown up tighter and draw the curtains. Surely you’re being paranoid.

“I thought you had plans and couldn’t see me til today…” he snaps at you when you turn up for your date on Thursday. “You were sat in all Tuesday doing nothing… you could have seen me.”

Now tell me, does your mind spin back to that camera flash? How do you feel about this? Now times that by a million and think about how Charlotte Church feels, and remember that she’s found out that this has been happening to her since she was a TEENAGER. The fact of the matter is, if she conducted an interview with you and you sold papers and she sold albums off the back of it, you’re even so far as I’m concerned. If you took her picture on a red carpet, and sold it, made some money from it and she sold albums off the back of her appearance on that red carpet, plus her mate who works for Dressy Dress Designs and made the outfit she was wearing sells a few frocks too, you’re also even.

Now here’s the tricky part. Celebs know that paps are an occupational hazard. If you snap her buying nappies in Tesco and she’s rude to you… don’t moan about it. That’s YOUR occupational hazard. You can still sell the photo, she looks rough as hell cos she has a baby and has been up all night, so what’s in it for her, other than the pleasure of telling you to piss off out of her face?

Where I personally think the line gets drawn is quite grey. I understand that journos think this paparazzi analogy works for print journalism too, but really, it doesn’t go further than writing the caption for the photo that reads ‘Charlotte Church prefers Pampers and Tesco’. A photo on the street in broad daylight, or outside a club is fair game, after all the celeb is well aware that their face sells, and if they were that arsed, they’d get home delivery or just not go to the regular pap-haunt nightclubs. Choice Power.

Breaking into her personal medical files and doorstepping her mum after a mental breakdown is like being the world’s worst cut ‘n’ shut car salesman pretending to your grandma that the vehicle with the dodgy tyre and the leaking petrol tank that’s half Ka and half Vectra, the car that will probably blow up after 2000 miles, is in perfect nick. Both utterly wrong, and illegal.

Whether I personally agree on an ethical level that selling pictures of her baby to OK magazine is right or wrong is irrelevant. The fact is that those pictures were hers to sell. HERS TO SELL! You don’t go to Tesco, buy your bread and pay for it, then later on go and break into Sir Terry Leahy’s house and steal his Flora so you can make your toast, do you? And then argue that it’s ok because he was happy enough to take your tenner earlier when you were in his Peckham branch at 3pm, do you? And why? Because you’re not entitled to it… entitled, you understand? Also, it’s against the law. Two very strong and valid points, the ONLY valid points really.

I’m probably not making many friends in the journalism community right now but frankly, there should be a good few journos out there with saddle sores today, mainly to do with having to get down off their high horses and take a look at what’s right versus what you’re entitled to. Not even Katie Price, with her tabloid flogging fanfares and her brand spanking new Sun column deserves to have her privacy violated when she hasn’t herself personally invited it. Just because you go to the Smiths’ house for dinner on Sunday doesn’t entitle you to half their dessert whenever you feel like it. The Vampire law that says once invited, always invited does not apply here, no matter HOW popular those Twilight books are at the moment.

Jerry Springer style Final Thought time: The way you feel about how NOTW treated the Dowlers is exactly the same way that you should feel about what happened to Charlotte Church, and Jude Law, and Sienna Miller, and even, *gasp* Heather Mills. Just because they’re famous or because you don’t like them or because you think that because they court publicity in order to flog their wares whereas all the Dowlers did was to be devastatingly unlucky enough to have a child cruelly ripped from them by some sicko does not mean that one person deserves to have their private life laid bare and the other doesn’t. You don’t get to judge who’s suffered more and compensate accordingly. The law is the law and regardless of the type of victim here, the result should be the same.


Written by Vixx

February 27, 2012 at 5:00 pm