Meris Cherian

CONTENT SPECIALIST COPYWRITER FOOD BLOGGER CHEESECAKE BAKER

Hello

I'mMeris Cherian

Copywriter / Content Specialist

Several leaps of faith brought me to where I am now. I am a Literature grad, and started off my career in the print era of marketing, and transitioned into new media. I am truly passionate about everything digital, and yet believe in the transformative power of simple storytelling through language and good design. I believe in surprising, elevating, and inspiring people through stories—through all forms of broadcast. If we were to sit down and have a conversation, it would be about everything art, books, calligraphy, food, photography, decor and antiques, films, travel, and culture. I am also a baking connoisseur and operate a cheesecake space. I live in lovely downtown Toronto.

All good work take form through great collaborations, so feel free to drop in a line either through the contact form or through any of my social channels!

"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives"

- Annie Dillard

Beyond being a content person...

...I am a photographer treading through the very tricky line between an amateur and a professional. I spend a lot of time photographing and capturing life

When not writing...

... I write! As an aspiring author, I have been working on a collection of stories. My life is fuelled by mugfuls of coffee, and good books. Currently reading: The Emperor of all Maladies

My pet project...

... is Midnight Cheesecake, a space where I write and curate, taking my love of cheesecake to the next level. Maybe a book is in the making too, who knows!

experience

Advertising copywriting

I started off my career in the print era of advertising as a junior copywriter, you know, jotting down twenty ideas on scraps of paper and basically throwing it all in the garbage. I have a strong agency background and campaign experience

Web content

Remember how cork boards evolved to become Pinterest? When the world turned digital, so did I. As a content specialist, I write web content and create strategy for online platforms including social media. I am also passionate about branding, design and typography

Features Writing

I love a well-crafted long-form piece. I am constantly sharpening my skills in writing rich, compelling, well-researched, and elegantly crafted stories and features. My areas of interest are food and culture

UX

Here’s the part where I tell you I am more than just a writer. I make sure every single touchpoint and microcopy engage with users and their emotions. I make sure the words are seamless, the process convenient and smooth

Get inspired

"If there is a magic in story writing, and I am convinced there is, no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another. The formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge of the writer to convey something he feels important to the reader. If the writer has that urge, he may sometimes, but by no means always, find the way to do it. You must perceive the excellence that makes a good story good or the errors that make a bad story. For a bad story is only an ineffective story"

John Steinbeck

"The list doesn't destroy culture; it creates it. Wherever you look in cultural history, you will find lists. In fact, there is a dizzying array: lists of saints, armies and medicinal plants, or of treasures and book titles. Think of the nature collections of the 16th century. My novels, by the way, are full of lists"

Umberto Eco

"Whatever inspiration is, it’s born from a continuous “I don’t know.""

Wisława Szymborska

Skills

Content management, Strategy and Analytics

Wordpress, Joomla, Adobe Experience Manager (Digital Asset Management-CQ5), Squarespace, Grammarly, Content Inventory and Audit, Content Strategy, User research, Google Analytics, Information classification, Analysis and interpretation

Photography, Web design, and Social Media

Adobe Creative Suite, Photoshop, Lightroom, Sketch App, Content calendar building and strategy, Hootsuite, Social Media applications

Digital Copywriting

Landing page copy, Copyediting, Microcopies, Presentations, Mailers, Magazines, Templates, SEO, Style guides, Branding, UX writing (microcopies, product names, and more), Customer Service responses

6000

LINES WRITTEN

657890

CUPS OF COFFEE

5000

SNAPS SHOT

100

HAPPY CLIENTS

Blog

The remarkable Julia Child - FOOD


As a top secret researcher at the Office of Strategic Services, the 6'2” Pasadena-born Julia McWilliams' first attempt at culinary arts of any sort was to cook up a very critical shark repellent concoction. From fat roasted chicken to Boeuf Bourguignon took her quite a while, and a few adventures. This meant meeting the gourmet Paul Child, trying to learn cooking at the Los Angeles cooking school, failing disastrously in the kitchen (while making brains simmered in red wine for Paul), moving to Paris, and enrolling at the Cordon Bleu.
While Julia was a very loud, blithesome girl with simple aspirations to become a writer, Paul Cushing Child was way older, a diplomat, cosmopolitan, an artist and a lover of fine cuisine who spoke flawless French. They met at the OSS as colleagues, became friends (despite her being a “sloppy drinker”, and his “unbecoming mustache and unbecoming nose”) and married after a few months of getting to know each other. Paul Child was transferred to France after their marriage, and Julia's life changed. Paul took her to Rouen, where Julia Child had her first taste of a French meal—of oysters, sole meunière (a French fish fillet dish), and wine—which was, in her words, “an epiphany”. She even pleasantly discovered “onion-y” shallots during that lunch at La Couronne.
In Paris, Julia went to enroll in the famed Le Cordon Bleu, under the mentorship of Chef Max Bugnard, at 37 years of age. She graduated from the Cordon Bleu, not before failing her exams in her first try. But France enthralled her. She talked of Paris as a magical city, la belle France, her favourite place on earth. Surrounded by some of the best food in the world, Child learned French, and was determined to learn and cook la cuisine bourgeoise—traditional home-cooked food.
Her days in France were accented by walks down the gourmet shopping markets on Rue Cler, visiting patisseries and boulangeries; Jeusselin was where Julia Child came to buy foie gras. Meat was always sourced from Savenor's Market (her favourite butcher shop for years), where she developed a kinship with the butcher. “Every woman must kiss her butcher”, she has quipped. The cremerie on the way to the Rue de bourgogne had freshly churned butter ready to be carved, fresh milk, the best of French cheese—boxfuls of Camembert, Brillat-Savarin and Brie—some with texture so soft to the point of oozing out of the rind. There, Julia watched in awe as the owner judged the right kind of ripe cheese, with a touch and a sniff. She took in the smell of sage, munched on croissants and sipped coffee at Les Deux Magots, walked through local marketplaces and talked to grocers. Roaming the famed Les Halles (food market in Paris), Julia Child was taken on a culinary journey through smells and sights of food—ham and sausage, cabbages, pig trotters, mussels, and champignons (button mushrooms). She stood flabbergasted at the doors of Dehillerin, a kitchen equipment and restaurant supplies store brimming with copper pots, pans, spoons, knives and choppers, platters and gigantic mashers. As she sat soaking up a soupe à l’oignon gratinéea (French onion soup) at her favourite brasserie, wonder whether she asked for an extra grating of gruyère atop her hot soup?
Later, meeting Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle led the trio to come together to work on a French cookbook for Americans, spending hours, days and even continents between their correspondences. Repeatedly testing and trying out recipes, their 850-page manuscript was rejected at the first go, for being too tedious and long. After a major revision and another rejection, the now-celebrated book, 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking' came out. With her groundbreaking television show, 'The French Chef', Julia Child showed the world how easy it was to cook even the most ambitious of French food at home. Her television show, the precursor of all modern cookery shows, presented her eccentric, slightly quirky self, telling viewers it was okay to make a mistake; that you could burn your fish.
Most of the world did not know about Julia Child until Julie and Julia released, a true story of a young blogger named Julie Powell who takes on Child's books and cooks her way through it. Although in real life Julia Child did not take well to Julie and her kitchen adventures, the film hit a nerve among many millions who were inspired to start cooking at home. With her trademark humour and distinct trill in her voice, she says, “Remember, you’re all alone in the kitchen; who is going to see you!”, as she picks up crumbs of potatoes fallen off her pan when she tries to flip the potato pancake. It reassures so many of us that we are all mortals capable of mistakes. And should anything like this happen, “all is not lost, turn it into something else,” is the voice we often need to hear in the kitchen sometimes. Thank you, Julia.

FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE WEEK
https://www.theweek.in/webworld/features/lifestyle/The-remarkable-julia-child.html

Top 10 food you should try, in the spirit of Rio Olympics - FOOD STORY

WHEN IN RIO, EAT LIKE A CARIOCA!
The 2016 Rio Olympics is at our doorstep, and is expected to draw in thousands of tourists and locals. Though the biggest sporting event of the year is rife with issues like Zika, doping scandals, sewage problems, theft and muggings, people across the globe are waiting for a spectacular show, the opening ceremony of which will be held on August 5 at the Maracanã Stadium.
As the whole of Rio de Janeiro prepares for the Olympics, the officials, with the help of Marcello Cordeiro, Rio's director of food and beverages, are hard at work, ensuring that the food for the games is not going to be left out of the race. According to reports, there will be five cuisines for the athletes to feast on, like Brazilian, Asian, International, Pasta and Pizza, Halal and Kosher, even Kimchee, shipped straight from Korea.
They say when in Rio, the best way is to eat like a 'carioca' (term for a Rio de Janeiro native). Influenced by African, Amazonian, European and Amerindian cultures and traditions, the cuisine of this city is very diverse and extravagant, much like its exuberant carnivals. If you are headed to watch the Olympics, or planning a vacation in this seaside city any time soon, here's what you should not miss—the local delicacies! Bom apetite!
1. TRY THE ICONIC FEIJOADA
(Pronounced fey-jwah-duh)
You do not want to come all the way to Rio, and not sample Feijoada, a Brazilian national dish, the equivalent of the Sunday roast. Feijoada is a black bean stew in meat (beef or pork) gravy, with salted or dry meat, and smoked sausage thrown in for good measure. Just like a lot of traditional dishes, this one too has a history of having originated back in the day, by African slaves. Back then, cheaper cuts of pork (like tails, nose, ear, tongue, and feet) would be added in the stew. A fejioada takes up to 24 hours to make, and is served with bowls of rice, slices of oranges, farofa (toast manioc flour), and pork bits on the side.
2. THE ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT-CHURRASCO
Go to the Churrascaria to witness the carioca's love for barbeque. Churrasco means barbequing different cuts of meat—from chicken heart to pork and beef to lamb and wild boar—on the 'Churrasqueira', a barbeque grill—mostly had in 'all-you-can-eat' barbeque steakhouses called the Churrascaria. In what is a style termed 'rodízio', waiters in these steakhouses walk around with espeto (skewers) of meat, slicing them on to plates, sizzling hot.
3. A TASTE OF ACARAJÉ
(Pronounced ah-cah-rah-ZHAY)
Falafel lovers will come to appreciate the Acarajé (also a popular street food), fritters made out of a batter of mashed black-eyed fradinho beans deep-fried in boiling dendê (palm oil). The dumpling is then split in half, and filled with vatapá (a creamy paste of shrimp, bread, coconut milk, finely ground peanuts and palm oil), diced tomatoes, and a brutally hot malagueta pepper sauce (let's just say 40 times hotter than Jalapeño, for your reference!)
4. SATIATE YOUR SWEET TOOTH WITH THE QUINDIM 
With origins in Portugal, the Quindim (a name curiously coming from Bantu language, explains the contribution of African slaves to this dish) is heavily inspired by the Portuguese love of egg yolks. This smooth and glossy delicacy made with eggs, sugar, and coconut, is baked in moulds into a very firm custard-y dessert. A staple in bakeries, grocery stores and supermarket shelves, Quindim is best eaten chilled.
5. GET CHEESY WITH PÃO DE QUEIJO
(Pronounced pown-deh-kay-zho)
Baked cheese rolls are popular snack items, and even eaten as breakfast food in Brazil. Pão de queijo, meaning cheese bread, originated in the 16th century, when African slaves originally made it using remnants of the cassava root, without cheese. Once milk became available, cheese was added, and is now made of tapioca flour, eggs, and grated cheese. Pão de queijo is crispy on the outside and a pain to pronounce, but is very milky soft and chewy at the heart of it.
6. DO NOT FORGET TO BITE INTO THE COXINHA
(Pronounced ko-shee-nya)
More or less, a Coxinha is fried dough filled with chopped or shredded chicken. Shaped in the form of a chicken leg (or more precisely a pear, one would think), Coxinha literally means 'little thigh', and are sometimes filled with soft cream cheese and salad-thin shreds of chicken. These croquettes can also have other variants of fillings like crab meat, and is a very popular snack item in Brazil.
7. THE STEAMY MOQUECA
(Pronounced mo-KAY-kuh)
Like the Bouillabaisse to the French, and the Macher Dhol to the Bengalis, should be what Moqueca is to the Brazilians. This dense fish stew in coconut milk, with tomatoes, onions, coriander and garlic is heavily based on the very nutty dendê (palm oil). Salt water fishes are preferred to make this, especially shark and swordfish, and is eaten with rice, pirão (a paste of the yuca root flour), and farofa, which helps you mop up the juices of the stew.
8. PACK IN THE PAÇOCA
(Pronounced pa-KOW-kah)
Paçoca (the term originates from 'Posok', meaning 'to crumble') is peanut candy made of ground peanuts, cassava flour (made from the root of the manioc plant), sugar and salt. Dry and crumbly in texture, the savoury version uses sun-dried meat and seasonings instead of sugar.
9. BRING IN THE BRIGADEIROS
(Pronounced bree-gah-DAY-ru)
Also known as the Brazilian truffle, the Brigadeiro is an ubiquitous dessert at any celebration or party, which makes it Brazil's national candy. Condensed milk is cooked down with cocoa powder and butter, rolled into balls, and are coated with chocolate sprinkles. Soft and chewy, this delicacy is also quite a treat when had right out of the pot and tastes like a chocolatey dulce de leche (a caramel spread confection). Story goes that the Brigadeiro was created in 1940, when it was made for a brigadier general in the army.
10. GET TIPSY WITH SOME CAIPIRINHA
(Pronounced kai-pee-REEN-ya)
Caipirinha, the quintessential cocktail and the national drink, is made by adding Cachaça (a hefty local spirit made from fermented sugarcane juice), into a mix of muddled lime and sugar. Fruit juices of all kinds go into the modern-day Caipirinha—passion fruit, different kinds of berries and cashew are added in instead of lime. Watch out for wicked hangovers though; the Caipirinha has a mean kick to it, all thanks to the Cachaça.

Burn it like the Bard - SHAKESPEARE STORY


Are you a lousy swearer in this frustrating world where profanity is the sole refuge of the times? Turn to Shakespeare. There is not a sharper tongue than the Bard's himself. Is there? Methinks not. (Forget Malcolm Tucker— he is on a completely different level). Almost 198 pieces are attributed to Shakespeare, including 154 sonnets, six long poems, and around 38 plays. He also invented a string of words and phrases that we all still use today. However, no one can forget the enormous number of cuss-words and insults that Shakespeare has so kindly and so generously contributed through his plays. Shakespearean profanity is in a class by itself. Extracted from these are some of his juiciest, sharpest, most colourful burns that can sear your ally’s bottoms like anything. Ready for some Elizabethan vilification?
If you have nothing nice to say, say it like the master of put-downs!
insults-1
1. “Thou damned tripe-visaged rascal!”: Henry IV, Part II
In Henry IV, Doll Tearsheet in her fit of temper lashes this out at the first Beadle as he arrests her, calling him a scoundrel with a face resembling tripe. Being told your face looks like offal? Priceless!
2. “Out, you mad-headed ape!”: Henry IV, Part I
insults-2
Henry IV is chock-full of such flaming insults. Here Kate, Lady Percy, says this to her husband Hotspur, calling him a crazy fool and belittling him in the worst possible way. She knows that her husband hasn't been sleeping with her, and has been preoccupied with something. She wants to know what is carrying him away. Hotspur chooses to use sarcasm to answer her, saying “Why, my horse, my love, my horse”. And then he ignores her to discuss horses with a servant. Is there then any amount of surprise why Kate cusses at him? That's what you get for being a jerk of a husband who cracks a bad joke when your wife asks you a serious question!
3. “Away, you scullion, you rampallion, you fustilarian!I’ll tickle your catastrophe!”: Henry IV, Part I
Falstaff, in Henry IV, can be seen shouting out to Mistress Quickly (aka Doll Tearsheet) calling her all sorts of names like a worthless scoundrel, a kitchen wench and a fat old hag. On top of all this, he also tells her he’ll tickle her catastrophe, meaning, “I’ll kick your arse”. Why do I feel tickling someone’s catastrophe sounds way more eloquent? That’s how you swear at a lady!
insults-4
4. “Thou art a boil; A plague-sore or embossèd carbuncle; In my corrupted blood.”: King Lear
King Lear did start off with a mild “I prithee, daughter, do not make me mad. I will not trouble thee, my child,” and then suddenly goes on to say that she, his daughter Goneril, is a disease in his flesh, a sore and a nasty pustule in his blood. He is then quick to take back all the insults in the very next line—but well, once it’s thrown, it’s thrown isn’t it?
5. “I was seeking for a fool when I found you.”: As You Like It
As You Like It has a fine battle of wits between Jaques and Orlando, where Jaques utters this burn, and Orlando then crushes him with this answer, “He is drown’d in the brook. Look but in and you shall see him.” You’d think Jaques has the last laugh, but Orlando is the man of the hour here with his sarcasm and well-aimed blows all leading up to his parting lines, calling Jaques ‘Monsieur Melancholy’. I have to mention Jaques does think that Orlando’s wit is quick, and made of Atlanta’s heels. The repartee is joyous to read, to say the least!
6. “Thou elvish-mark'd, abortive, rooting hog”: Richard III
insults-6
Get those earplugs out, kids—this bitter rain of insults between Queen Margaret and Richard of Gloucester is an event in itself. Margaret, a foul-mouth by character, at first lashes out at Queen Elizabeth, Hastings, Rivers and Dorset. But then saves the worst curses—the nastiest ones—for Richard after he calls her a foul-wrinkled witch. She says Richard is an inhuman, bestial, deformed, premature-born, rooting hog. A "slave of nature”, and “the son of hell," a "slander of thy mother's heavy womb”, and the “loathed issue of thy father's loins.” He is a birth defect, and an insult to his mother's womb. Ouch!
Let me add another favourite exchange here (They doth hate each other with such passion!)
Richard: “I cry thee mercy, then, for I did think
That thou hadst called me all these bitter names.
Queen Margaret: “Why, so I did, but looked for no reply.
O, let me make the period to my curse!”
Richard: “'Tis done by me, and ends in “Margaret.”
7. “The tartness of his face sours ripe grapes”: Coriolanus
insults-7
Menenius, who is gifted with great wit, prefers to describe his friend Coriolanus in battle this way. What an insult to have your face to be described being too tart that it turns even ripe grapes sour!
8. “Why, thou claybrained guts, thou knotty-pated fool, thou whoreson, obscene, greasy tallow-catch”: Henry IV, Part I
Quite illustrative, I must say. This tirade of onslaughts is hurled towards Falstaff by Prince Henry. A clay-brained son of a whore, and an obscene lump of fat, that's what Falstaff is! After this, clearly showing the prince's rhetorical skills are his further visual insults that describe Falstaff as a 'sanguine coward', a bedpresser, a horse-back-breaker, and a huge hill of flesh. If you start deconstructing these snubs, you'd never ever want to be in Falstaff's shoes. There is no dignity left in being. Whatsoever.
9. “Methinks, thou art a general offence, and every man should beat thee.”: All's Well That Ends Well
insults-9
Lafeu, our feisty old nobleman, detests the phony, witless Parolles and his over-dressing. In fact, he is so disgusted and angry at how pretentious Parolles's clothes are that Lafeu would like him to be given a good beating. The boastful Parolles probably deserves this one, since Lafeu has a point about his dandy and outlandish dressing sense, that sort of says oodles about Parolles's character (“The soul of this man is in his clothes”).
10. “When I know not what else to do, I'll see thee again”: The Tale of Timon of Athens
Timon's put-down above is followed by Apemantus's retort, “When there is nothing living but thee, thou shalt be welcome.” Apemantus's hobby is being crabby and hating everything around him including Timon, the wealthy dude whose hobby is giving away money and gifts to his friends. Timon of Athens is also sprinkled with burns like, “Were I like thee, I'd throw away myself”, “I'll beat thee, but I should infect my hands”, “I do wish thou were a dog, that I might love thee somthing” and “Would thou were clean enough to spit on.”
Shakespearean insults that would still work in today's times:
•Fit to govern? No, not fit to live.
•Your sole name blisters our tongue.
•Out of my sight! Thou dost infect my eyes.
•Thou art unfit for any place but hell.
•More of your conversation would infect my brains.
•You speak an infinite deal of nothing!
•You of basest function!
•I do desire we may be better strangers.
•Pray you stand farther from me.
•Alas, poor ape, how thou sweat'st.
•Villain, I have done thy mother!
•Let's meet as little as we can.
So if profanity is your most favourite pursuit, you know where to go. Simply go read a play of Shakespeare, and learn the art of insulting from the master. Remember to use sparingly. And since this is a Shakespeare dedication piece, I beg thy pardon for my approaching farewell lines and my choice of words. So long you scurvy companion, you lack-linen mate!
Away, you mouldy rogue, away!


FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE WEEK:  
https://www.theweek.in/webworld/features/society/Burn-it-like-the-cuss-master-shakespearean-insults.html

For the love of fish - NEW FOOD TREND STORY




In the midst of all the doom and gloom in the world, the heavy adrenalin-filled Rajinimania, and Bhai’s big bucks, here comes a little respite in the form of a Bengali singer-composer through her ballad of Machher Jhol. Yes, we are talking about the ubiquitous fish stew on the Bengali platter. Move over, Vikas Khanna. Later, Sanjeev Kapoor. Sawan Dutta is in the building, and she is what all the food channels need right now.

In Kolkata, where fish is second to none, the jhol (curry) is the most popular way of making fish. And the machher jhol, akin to the standard Provençal fish stew called the Bouillabaisse, is a spicy, tangy, mustard-y stew of fish and vegetables (often potatoes) and is a classic often paired with rice. Trust a bowl of machher jhol to warm your insides on a winter evening. Ever heard, ‘the machher jhol to my bhaat?’ That’s ‘fish curry to my rice’, for Bengalis. A fish called Rohu, also known as Rui, is usually used in the making of this light and soulful delicacy. Mustard oil provides the robust flavour, while tomatoes are also added in to the stew for richness and colour. The jhol, or gravy, is a motley of flavours, headed by the quintessential five-spice mix of Panch phoron (black cumin, black mustard, fenugreek, fennel and cumin seed). If this hasn’t made your mouth water yet, wait till you hear Sawan Dutta’s rendition of the whole recipe—her late grandmother’s—taking the Bengali’s undisputed love affair with fish a notch higher. "Today our goal is to make machher jhol", and in her true Bengali aunty avatar, big bindi and all that, she croons, 

"Enjoy with rice, or straight from the bowl 
Machher jhol, machher jhol. 
Good for your tummy, and good for your soul 
Machher jhol, machher jhol." 
Sawan is a real delight to listen to, with the ballad falling like soft rain drops on your window sill, as the fish curry boils in the pan, evoking a sense of monsoonal nostalgia. She takes on a distinguishable Bengali accent, throughout the sublime, hummable melody, describing the method of preparation. Sawan also warns how you could get your machher jhol terribly wrong—by not turning the potatoes fast enough, you could end up with a pan of burnt potatoes! The tune itself is so soothing, it is sure to get rid of any 'ombol' (acidity) you may have, without even having to dig into the dish.
Sawan Dutta’s Metronome is a video blog that has been around for an unbelievable eight years, with most of her videos getting average views. A relatively unknown fact, she also brought an Indian twist to the theme music of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, for Kaun Banega Crorepati. It wasn’t until a few months ago, when she put out a song called Boroline, ode to an antiseptic ointment that Bengalis hold so dear, that she started getting recognised. The views came flowing in, and Sawan came out with Winter is Coming, echoing the Bengali's constant lament of the cold, featuring the inevitable monkey cap. As she mentions in her videos, what Sawan basically does is “sing about anything and everything”, and is inspired by the eccentric Phoebe Buffay of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Calling this Bengali songstress the desi Phoebe might be stretching it too far, but her knack to create music out of the ordinary—like a tube of Boroline—is pure genius.
So, confused about dinner tonight? How about some home-made machher jhol with bhaat? Head over to The Metronome, and let Sawan Dutta sing to you. Hum it, loop it, and cook it up!

FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE WEEKhttps://www.theweek.in/content/archival/news/entertainment/sawan-dutta-recipe-song.html

To catch a Pikachu - TECH TREND STORY




Pokémon Go has become an obsession with people taking to the streets, noses buried in their phones, waiting for the rustle of leaves that implies a Pokémon that's close at hand

If you have not heard of Pokémon Go yet, then you are probably living under a gigantic rock. Pokémon Go is an augmented reality based video game, which uses GPS to get you to hunt and catch Pokémon creatures in your neighbourhood. Just like the original Pokémon, Pokémon Go has become an obsession with people taking to the streets, noses buried in their phones, waiting for the rustle of leaves that implies a Pokémon that's close at hand.
Within minutes of the game's release, a player fell in a ditch and suffered fractures on his foot. Another player walked straight into poles—at least four times and a waitress bruised her shin as she tripped over a cinder block while playing Pokémon Go. In another case, the chase for a Pokémon led a teenager to a dead body in a river. Interestingly, Pokémon creatures have been popping up in weirdest and inappropriate places. While a Squirtle appeared on top of a coffin at a funeral, someone's house was tagged on Pokémon Go as a Gym, a Pokémon battle place. Also, a man caught Pidgey as his wife was giving birth. To top it all, website developers are coming up with local online portals that guide players to rare or exotic Pokémon in their vicinity.
In the latest turn of events, a coding error gave the game-developer Niantic complete access to players' emails, forcing them to make emergency fixes on Pokémon Go.
It all began with Pokémon.
Born in 1996, Pokémon video game series, conceived by Satoshi Tajiri for Game Boy, took over the world soon after its release and blew up into a media franchise and merchandise monster much like Hello Kitty and Tamagotchi. Pokémon is the short form of the Japanese title Pokémon Monsters. The players, or Pokémon trainers, have to collect all Pokémon fictional creatures found in this virtual world of pocket monsters. When a trainer comes across a wild Pokémon, he has to throw a special tool called the Pokéball at the creature to capture it. Once captured, the Pokémon is under the trainer's ownership and will obey the trainer's orders.
Pokémon's founder Tajiri got the idea from his interest in catching insects, a popular pass time in Japan. With its iconic catchphrase, “Gotta catch 'em all”, Pokémon went on to become a worldwide phenomenon. It inspired numerous feature films and an anime TV series featuring a Pokémon trainer Ash Ketchum. In 2015, Pokémon merchandise generated revenues worth $50 million. Pokémon began with 151 creatures and has since expanded to 722. While Snorlax, Bulbasaur and Psyduck have been very popular, Pikachu, a chubby yellow Pokémon, went on to become the brand ambassador.
So what's the brouhaha about Pokémon Go?
This Nintendo-Niantic game opens up an alternate world in the real world. As you turn on the app/game you could be sitting on your couch and a Pidgey might jump up behind the TV. Or, a Rattata could be right in front of you while you are waiting for your train. There are in-app Pokéstops—spots where you obtain items like Pokéballs, Potions or Lure. In the real world, these could be anywhere—churches, coffee stops, public toilets or even the near-by supermarket. The Pokémon creatures exist in their natural habitat, which means to find a water-type Pokémon you need to be around a water body. A walk into the woods would get you a bug-type Pokémon. If you are going out hunting at night, you're sure to sight nocturnal Pokémon. However, encountering a Zubat in the middle of a dark street may not be a pleasant experience, to be honest.
Chasing down these pocket monsters has also turned into the new fitness fad. Players have claimed that Pokémon Go has helped them lose weight and charge up their social life as it needs you to go out of your home and walk for miles. Reportedly, going outside and spending time outdoors with like-minded trainers (read fellow-smartphone users looking for Pokémon) are also doing wonders to people's mental health.
On the other hand, there has been reports of armed robbers luring prospective victims to isolated locations using the geolocation feature on Pokémon Go. This happens when in a particular level in the game, players have an option to assemble at public landmarks to join teams and battle. A police station was featured as a Pokéstop and the officials had to put out a statement asking Pokémon trainers to not go in. Police officials have put out cautionary messages urging players to not travel to unfamiliar or private places in search of Pokémon. Players have been urged to Pokémon with safety and not to Pokémon behind the wheels. In what can be termed only as absurdity of the times we live in, the Holocaust Museum and even the 9/11 Ground Zero memorial have been tagged on Pokémon Go as Pokéstops.

Pokémon Go's popularity has already surged ahead of Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, has been downloaded more times than the dating app Tinder, and is all set to break Twitter in the number of daily active users on Android devices. It has also come on top of iTunes store’s free apps. Many people from places where Pokémon Go is not available yet have found third-party apps to get the game and have been infected with Malware. Nintendo's market value has skyrocketed, Niantic’s servers have crashed. And all this started over a weekend.
So what’s the bad news for the biggest augmented reality game in the world right now? It drains the battery like crazy.
 But that does not seem to be affecting ardent Pokémon Trainers who are out and about on a hunt for Jigglypuff.
Pokémon Go is currently available on iOS and Android, in the US, Australia and New Zealand. According to the Wall Street Journal, Pokémon Go will come to Europe and Asia in a few days.

FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE WEEK
https://www.theweek.in/content/archival/news/sci-tech/know-all-about-pokemon-go.html

10 quirky facts about Tom Hanks - HOLLYWOOD STORY


How can one forget his iconic dialogue, “My mama always said, 'Life is like a box of chocolates'”, in Forrest Gump, and “Houston, we have a problem”, in Apollo 13? How can one not swoon over his romantic comedies You've Got Mail, and Sleepless in Seattle? In Cast Away, he lost 50 pounds to play Chuck, whose plane goes down the Pacific, and gets marooned in an island. Remember his portrayal of Captain John Miller in Saving Private Ryan, even though he missed out on an Oscar for that role? There are just too many movies with unforgettable and effortless performances, like Saving Mr. Banks, Bridge of Spies, Catch Me If You Can, The Terminal, Captain Philips, Splash, The Green Mile, etc.
As actor par extraordinaire, this award-winning actor, producer, and writer can handle a tense drama as well as a completely idiotic comedy. From the Academy Awards to the Golden Globes, he has been honored for his masterful performances, even winning the Academy Award for Best Actor twice, back-to-back, in 1993 and 1994 (For Philadelphia and Forrest Gump). He is the voice of Pixar animated Toy Story's Woody, the voice that said, “That wasn't flying. That was falling in style”. He is Tom Hanks, and he turns 60 on July 9.
And on his birthday, we bring you 10 of some of the most quirkiest facts about Tom Hanks that you may not have known!
1. HE LOVES COLLECTING TYPEWRITERS 
'I am TOM. I like to TYPE,' he wrote in The New York Times. Not only does he collect over 50 antique typewriters, he actually uses them! Hanks states that he uses a manual typewriter, writes snail-mail letters and thank you notes, to-do lists, and office memos. He also knows how a Remington from the 30's should sound like (THICK THICK). Listen, millennials!
2. HE HAS AN ASTEROID NAMED AFTER HIM 
Asteroid 12818 Tomhanks, discovered in April 1996 by astronomer Joseph L. Montani, and named by his colleague Jim Scotti, is well-deserved for the man who played an astronaut in Apollo 13, don't you think? 
Bonus fact: Tom's co-star in 3 rom-coms, Meg Ryan too has an asteroid named after her. They even passed each other somewhere in space, when these asteroids made their closest approach to earth.
3. HE IS A GREAT FAN OF LAW & ORDER 
Tom Hanks is said to be obsessed with the drama tv series 'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit', and has always expressed desire to have a guest appearance in the show. Seeing that so many other celebrities (Amanda Seyfried, Jennifer Garner, Fred Savage, Bradley Cooper, Robin Williams) have already guest starred in SVU, we don't see why it should be that difficult?
4. HE WAS ONCE A HOTEL BELLMAN 
Yes, he used to be a bellhop at the Hilton, and even carried the bags of some celebrity guests like Cher, Slappy White and Bill Withers much before his acting career waved at him. He also gave a ride to Sidney Poitier to the airport. He has also reportedly said, that being a bellman is the greatest job.
5. HE HAS STARRED IN A SEX COMEDY
We are talking about Tom Hanks, alright. In 1984, a little comedy film called Bachelor Party by Neal Israel hit the cinemas. This mad flick is about a bachelor party thrown by a totally crazy group of friends for their buddy Rick Gassko played by Hanks, on his wedding eve. Things go horribly wrong, and a little more than wild, and it puts Gassko to the ultimate test—whether or not he will yield in to temptation. Bachelor Party was deemed very vulgar and juvenile by critics.
6. HE WAS VERY CLOSE TO PLAYING LEAD IN JERRY MAGUIRE
Hanks was offered to play the dynamic sports agent Jerry Maguire in this eponymous sports drama-romantic comedy, but he turned it down since he was busy directing That Thing You Do. Hanks had rejected an earlier version of the script, and this time, he was glad that it was then passed on to Tom Cruise, who got a Best Actor award for the role.
7. HE PLAYED A CLOSETED GAY LAWYER, AND A CROSSDRESSER
In Hank's academy award-winning portrayal of Andy Beckett, he blazes the screens as the gay lawyer at a high-profile law firm who has AIDS, and sues his firm for discrimination. This high-powered performance in the movie Philadelphia changed people's attitudes towards HIV-AIDS. In an 80's sitcom Bosom Buddies, Hanks also played an advertising professional, who had to cross dress as a young woman to stay in an all-woman apartment complex.
8. HE IS CALLED THE MODERN JAMES STEWART
When the editors of Life magazine brought together the screen legends of today, and put them up with their counterpart thespians of yesterday, the then 30-something Hanks was placed with James Jimmy Stewart, and actor who did classics, comedies and courtroom dramas, with elan. Stewart's small-town aura, and debonaire is often compared to Hanks' own.
9. HE IS RELATED TO AMERICA'S GREATEST PRESIDENTS, ABRAHAM LINCOLN
Hanks is Lincoln's third cousin, four times removed, and the connection comes through the former president's mother, Nancy Hanks. Actor George Clooney is also said to be related to the Honest Abe.
10. HE TWEETS LOST GLOVES, SHOES, AND SOCKS
Have you lost a shoe or a sock on your stroll around New York city? Tom Hanks is always here to help. If you check out his Twitter, you will find random tweets of lost items he regularly spots in the streets. Other than a Fordham University student getting back her ID card after his tweet, there has been no news of owners getting back the lost items he tweets about.
Bonus fact: The actor signs all his tweets with 'Hanx'!
Happy Birthday, Hanx. You are the best!

FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE WEEKhttps://www.theweek.in/content/archival/news/entertainment/Tom-Hanks-10-quirky-facts.html

The Great British Bake Off is back! - TELEVISION


Unlike other cooking reality shows on television that is more into tough love, the Great British Bake Off stands out
Basically everyone thought the Great British Bake Off (GBBO) would end up like one of the soufflés on the show. But not only did GBBO rise, it also went on to scale bigger heights, becoming a massive hit, all set to turn up the ovens for a 7th season. In the show, which has now been moved from BBC Two to BBC One, home bakers battle it out throughout episodes of different baked goods, each divided into three rounds: signature bake, technical bake, and showstopper.
Millions tuned in last year to watch the 2015 Bake Off finale, where Nadiya Jamir Hussain took home a cake stand. Yes, the winner, in unlike other cooking reality shows does not get a cash prize, but a rather dull looking cake stand made of glass.
Exactly what goes against television reality shows is the main soul of GBBO. Instead of cold, steely kitchens, there is a white tent in a picturesque British estate. In place of foul-mouthed and nitpicking judges is the suave, blue-eyed king of breads, Paul Hollywood, and the mother figure and culinary writer, the very demure Mary Berry. Comic duo Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc bring in the humour filled with puns, innuendoes and double entendre. The closest GBBO has come to seeing a controversial moment in the show is in the episode “Bingate”, when Iain Watters threw his Baked Alaska down the garbage bin and when another contestant took his ice-cream based dish out of the freezer. There is no immunity, and the 'star baker' of the week gets a... badge.
WATCH IT FOR
1. Paul and Mary: Their inimitable low-key and elegant style is only complemented by their knack to see each contestant as a school kid, mildly correcting them through their tasks. They are tough, but if tough was dipped in honey. They also do not seem to agree, respectfully, on many occasions while judging. Paul's harsh critiques range from "The middle of that cake–the carrot is dry," to “There's been hardly any egg-wash on this at all—if any”. Mary's “Oh dear!” is really the voice of impending doom. The Great British Bake Off has also seen Mary Berry's style transform from boring pastel cardigans to glamorous designer floral jackets.
2. Mel and Sue: They are the best part about the bake off, what with their real-life friendship (of 27 years) and camaraderie, and their incredible comic timing to put out a perfect pun. They are as funny as funny gets, and have been equally shocking and amusing to viewers with their smutty one-liners (“Grease your muffin tray and grab your jugs”). Plus, how can you not love their melodic “Get, set, bake!”
ABOUT-MEL-AND-SUE
3. The bakes: We have seen everything, from Charlotte Russes to Petite Fours, shortbread houses, to Croquembouche, from a baker creating a lion-shaped bread, to another contestant using exotic hemp—made from cannabis plants—in flour form in one of his bakes. Did you know that a Baumkuchen literally means 'tree cake'? Or that a Kouign Amann even existed? Watching the GBBO also doubles as a lesson in baking.
4. The gorgeous illustrations: What is more mouthwatering than the baked masterpieces on the show, are illustrations of the creations by Tom Hovey. They are a treat to watch.
The Great British Bake Off may sound a tad tame for those who are only familiar with the 'Hell's Kitchen' class of cooking shows, but warm up to it and you will never go back.
The Great British Bake Off is returning to BBC One on August 24.

FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE WEEKhttps://www.theweek.in/webworld/features/lifestyle/The-Great-British-Bake-Off-is-back.html

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