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Coolest Cooler: Kickstarter Raises Nearly $5 Million To Fund Best Gadget Ever

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Coolest via Facebook
This is literally the coolest thing I've ever seen.
Kickstarter may be a metaphor for life itself. The crowdfunding site that allows people to pledge money to entrepreneurs in exchange for getting in on the ground floor of a new idea has had some dumb ideas -- like the potato salad Kickstarter that so far has raised over $50,000.

See also: Potato Salad Kickstarter Raises Over $50,000 So Far

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Rum Renaissance Festival: Judging 19 Rums in Less Than an Hour

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All photos by Laine Doss
Beautiful color.
It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it, I suppose.

Each year, in addition to tastings, seminars, and general rum-infused revelry, the Miami Rum Renaissance festival hands out awards for the world's best rums in several categories. The awards will be announced Friday in a gala presentation where thousands of rum enthusiasts are expected to gather.

Winning an XP award is a big thing, with medals of achievement proudly placed around the necks of the bottles proven superior by a drunk esteemed panel of judges over the course of several days of swirling, sniffing, and sipping. So who are these people who taste rum on a professional basis, anyway?

See also: Miami Rum Renaissance Festival and Miami Cocktail Week

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Draft Beer Jelly Bellys for St. Paddy's Day Available at It'Sugar

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Laine Doss
Draft Beer Jelly Bellys: Magic beans available now.
Jelly Belly beans are known for making grownups swoon. These "gourmet" candies first found their way into our hearts in 1976, changing the landscape of candy forever and making it "cool" for adults to get their sugar fix once again. And they've been favorites of presidents and heroes along the way.

President Ronald Reagan famously always had a jar of red, white, and blue Jelly Belly beans on his desk in the oval office and on Air Force One (in fact, a portrait of the former president, made from 10,000 beans, hangs in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library) and Jelly Bellys have rocketed off into space with Sally Ride on the Challenger. Jelly Belly also sponsors athletes and has its own cycling team.

Of course, Jelly Belly's flavors have always been sophisticated enough for an adult palate with flavors like popcorn, mojito, pomegranate cosmopolitan, and chili mango being favorites. But recently, Jelly Belly launched a new flavor that completely won my heart before I could get my hands on a single bean -- draft beer.

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Anthony Bourdain World Market: Authentic or Epcot?

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Travel Channel
Will Bourdain's market look like this?
Meet Anthony Bourdain. Chef, author, television host, comic book writer, publisher, professional Twitterer, and now food court mogul.

Oh, yes, kiddies. Page Six of the New York Post has shared the exclusive scoop that Bourdain is planning on opening a food court spotlighting all the street food he's been raving about for years on his television travelogues.

Working title? Anthony Bourdain World Market. No, seriously. That's a possible name for the collaboration between the chef and New York entrepreneur/ CEO of WiNK Retail Group, Stephen Werther.

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Van Dyke Cafe to Close

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Van Dyke Cafe via Facebook
Van Dyke Café is closing. Coming soon: some crappy store.
It's the loveliest and most photographed café on Lincoln Road and probably the place associated most with the iconic pedestrian mall in South Beach. Visitors from all over the world recognize the red awnings and ivy-covered walls from pictures and paintings. And locals flock to it for Sunday brunch or live jazz.

It's the Van Dyke Café. And it's closing its doors, probably by the end of January.

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SantaCon Coming to Miami: Is It a Menace or an Amusement?

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Santacon
Lots of Santas. All of them drunk.
The last time I was part of SantaCon, it was a complete accident.

On the way home from a two-week safari in Kenya, I had an overnight layover in New York City. When the taxi dropped me off in Greenwich Village, I noticed something amiss. Instead of the usual streets teeming with people wearing black coats in December, there were hordes of people wearing white beards and plush outfits. SantaCon!

Men and women of all ages and various degrees of intoxication filled every nook and cranny of the sidewalk and spilled out into traffic. Trust me on this one: You never want to see one Santa puking his guts up on a sidewalk while two other Santas stick their tongues down each other's throats in an inebriated attempt to get lucky. It was hell.

SantaCon itself, which took over New York City this past Saturday, December 14, is supposed to be a fun day where you wear a Santa hat, donate a few bucks to charity (which goes to various local institutions like the New York Food Bank), and drink at bars, but the day often goes awry. Mostly because anyone can turn into an asshat when drinking for hours on end. And just because you wear a fuzzy red suit does not make you a jolly old soul.

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The Miami Marathon Is in February: Train Your Stomach With This Infographic

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Laine Doss
The sun rises at the start of the Miami Marathon.
Each year, the Miami Marathon and Half Marathon sees 25,000 athletes bounding through the streets of our fair city. This year, the race takes place on February 2, 2014 and, while that may seem far away, training starts now.

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Stephen King's Carrie Has Coffee Shop Freakout (Video)

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talkstephenking.blogspot
Would you spill coffee on her laptop?
Major confession. My absolute favorite writer is Stephen King. Not F. Scott Fitzgerald. Not James Joyce. Not even Ernest Hemingway.

Ever since my guitar teacher placed The Shining in my hands when I was about 12, I have been obsessed with the author. And I know exactly why. Unlike other science fiction or horror writers, King describes a world that is very mundane. He paints a picture of small towns where people live and work and laugh and fight. He writes about Sunday supper and Coca-Cola and high school proms and baseball. Then, when your guard is let down by the familiar, he lets the monsters come in -- right through the front door of your two-bedroom colonial.


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The Time You Have (In Jelly Beans): Video Puts Your Valuable Time in Sweet Perspective

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For the past few weeks, it's seemed there's not enough time in the day. From the time I wake up., life goes by in a blur... walking the dogs, writing on the computer, doing chores, making dinner.

My husband and I usually have one day off together, and each week we try to plan some quality activity like a nature hike in the Everglades or a boat ride. But the best laid plans sometime go asunder, like this past weekend when lunch and a quick stop at the store ate the entire day. "Wait a minute. It's after four?" I said, looking at my watch. "How the hell did that happen?"

In one of his last songs, John Lennon mused, "life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." Then he was murdered by a crazy person in front of his home and his wife.

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Bring Back Paula Deen: Read the Deposition Transcript

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Paula Deen's Food Network career imploded last Friday after the cable network said it would not renew her contract. Though Food Network's simple statement, "Food Network will not renew Paula Deen's contract when it expires at the end of this month," did not mention a reason, it comes after a video deposition turned up in which Deen admits to using the N-word and talking about a politically incorrect party she was thinking about hosting. Deen's testimony was taken in correlation with a harassment lawsuit filed by Lisa Jackson, the former employee of a restaurant co-owned by Deen and her brother Bubba Hiers.

Now, in a surprise backlash to her corporate blockade, people are standing behind Deen in droves. A "We Support Paula Deen" Facebook page has 288,000 followers. A Change.org petition, calling on Food Network to bring back the Southern cook, has garnered more than 14,000 signatures.

I abhor racism. However, after reading the transcript of the deposition, I agree that Paula Deen has done nothing to merit being fired.

See also: Paula Deen on Today: "I Is What I Is"

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