Tales From The Ipe!

I sit by and watch the river flow. I sit by and watch the traffic go.

The Ipes go to Broadway to get “On Your Feet!”

Last Christmas, Namita and I didn’t want to purchase more “things” for the kids. Sometimes they use it, sometimes they don’t. Instead, we bought 4 tickets to see On Your Feet!, The Musical for Tuesday February 28 2017. Namita found this deal / event called “Kids on Broadway” which promotes getting kids interested in musicals. You buy one adult ticket, get 1 children’s ticket free. You had to see one of the participating shows that specific night.

I had to be in the office that day, so the family ended up taking the train right after school, and meeting me in Times Square. I made reservations earlier at Havana Central on 46th St. Come on, how fitting? Cuban cuisine for dinner, then a musical about a Cuban Latina crossover pop star? Besides a common theme for the evening, Cuban food is delicious. The restaurant was very crowded with many other folks who had come out for the Kids on Broadway promotion. We had a dinner reservation for 5:30 pm, but we didn’t get seated until 6 PM. By the time we received our entrees, it was 6:40 PM. We Ipes know how to hustle, and we scarfed down our dinners in 15 minutes. We quickly paid the bill, then jogged quickly to the Marquis Theater (also on 46th in the Marriott Marquis hotel), without messing up our perfect hair.

The show was very entertaining, and the entire family enjoyed it. I thought it was a little slow in the beginning, but the pace picks up 25% of the way in. The music is good too. Afterwards, we had an opportunity to stay after the show was over, and participate in a Q&A session with some of the cast members. We couldn’t stay very long, because we had a 73 minute train ride to still catch. We  grabbed a cab down to 34th St, then caught the next train (packed with Rangers fans) to Princeton. It was a long day for everyone, and we got home around midnight,

Joshua’s 12th Birthday Party

Joshua turns 12 this year (I know, a tween, it’s shocking), and we were looking for what would be a good way to celebrate. He ultimately decided to invite a bunch of friends to come out to the Dave & Busters at Franklin Mills mall near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for games and dinner.

Due to timing, we went with the Sunday about 10 days before his birthday (late February.) Their parents dropped them all off to our house early Sunday afternoon, and Namita and I drove everyone about 45 minutes to the place. The parking lot was crowded on a Sunday afternoon.

We bought arcade / game cards for everyone so they could play for an hour. The kids separated and ran off. Namita and I walked around to supervise, ensure no child was stuck inside one of those claw machines. After the kids ran out of money, they bought prizes, and we took them bowling (available at this particular location.) We did order some appetizers but it took an inordinate amount of time and wasn’t ready until we were wrapping up a 2nd game of bowling. This was maybe my 2nd time at a Dave & Busters. It’s an interesting place, huge even, but it’s not well staffed. Way too many patrons, woefully understaffed. Everyone I spoke with (bowling guy, servers, bartenders) were frazzled and irritable.

We originally planned to eat dinner here, but it was too crowded and there was a line at the one restaurant. We called up to few local places e.g. Friendly’s, and they also had extended wait times or simply hung up. Sunday most be and popular day to go out in Pennsylvania.

We ended up taking the kids to a nicely rated pizzeria (also crowded) called Pat’s Pizzeria that still found a way to accommodate us all in four booths. After eating a bounty of garlic bread and pizza, we took pictures, drove everyone home, and called it a day.

Namita’s 40th birthday dinner party with friends

On Saturday night, a bunch of us got together for dinner at the Erini Restaurant in Ewing NJ. We started with drinks, ate in a private dining room, went back for more drinks, and ended up shutting the place down. Surprised?

Namita’s 40th birthday painting party with the family

For Namita’s grand 40th birthday party this year, we had a number of parties, get-togethers, and trips.

On her actual birthday, I left the office early, the kids took their sweet time finishing their homework, and we were off to a painting party at Art Around the Corner in Freehold. Instead of sitting around a dinner table at a restaurant, I suggested we do something different like painting. So that’s what we did.

Namita and Josh opted to paint a sample piece of artwork of their choosing. Lily and I were not as sure of our own painting prowess, so we opted to paint pottery. Namita painted a nice romantic couple. Joshua ended up painting an unexpectedly forlorn fox. Lily painted a cat. I painted a robot.

Afterwards, we got out of there pretty late, so we didn’t have time to make it to the Vietnamese restaurant that we had originally planned. Instead, we moved the car 50 feet away from its original spot, and had dinner by ourselves at Mahzu in Freehold. We laughed, we ate …. you know how it is with family.

Joel’s review of Bad Moms (2016)

I wanted to like this movie.

It is not a good use of your time.

Bad Moms stars Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn, Kristen Bell, Christina Applegate, Jada Pickett Smith, and Annie Mumolo.

When three overworked and under-appreciated moms are pushed beyond their limits, they ditch their conventional responsibilities for a jolt of long overdue freedom, fun, and comedic self-indulgence.

The writing isn’t very good.The characters aren’t remotely believable. I love movies that are well-written, raunchy, and/or funny. This film tried most for raunchy or “outrageous”, but it was meaningless. Mila Kunis plays Amy Mitchell, a mother who works really part-time as a sales rep at some imaginary “hip” coffee company in Illinois (what?), and is overstressed and overworked running around between work and family. Again, she works part-time. My wife works full-time, does most of the organizing of our life. She’s justified in being tired. Eventually, she flips out after a PTA meeting that outlined fascist rules for a bake sale. Is this a possibility? No. Amy decides she doesn’t care, and decides to be hands-off. Hahn and Bell are also mothers, and join in on this. They will eventually go up against Christina Applegate’s fascist PTA president.

I don’t say this often, but you can skip this film. I like the actresses in this cast, because they’re talented. The writers? Not so much. Nothing in this story made sense — it was all a construct to allow the writers to show some scenes, like going wild and crazy at a supermarket.

Bad Moms (2016)

Bad Moms (2016)

Joel’s review of Ghostbusters (2016)

Namita picked up Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters (2016) remake from our local library. The film was strangely controversial last year, as a number of people were up in arms about this film threatened their respective childhoods. Some people need to take a chill pill every once in a while. Hollywood remakes films all the time.

The film stars Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones. The film’s plot is somewhat similar to the original 1984 film, except there’s no Gozer the Gozerian or ancient Sumerian deities. Here’s the summary I found on IMDB:

Following a ghost invasion of Manhattan, paranormal enthusiasts Erin Gilbert and Abby Yates, nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann, and subway worker Patty Tolan band together to stop the otherworldly threat.

The Ghostbusters take up residence upstairs from a Chinese restaurant and go hunting for the source of recent hauntings. They do discover there is one individual involved who is summoning these ghosts. I could tell you more, but……. meh. You get the gist.

The film has its moments, and the actresses are great. There are cameos from the old Ghostbusters cast, and Chris Hemsworth is kinda funny as their idiot assistant Kevin. Unfortunately, the film’s story was a bit lacking, in my opinion.  It wasn’t engaging at all. It had some small moments, but the writing and story could have been much better.

I enjoyed the original 1984 film immensely, and I loved the Saturday morning cartoon also. I’d be happy to give these talented ladies another shot if the writers could give them a better plot.

Ghostbusters (2016)

Ghostbusters (2016)

Joel’s review of John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

I enjoyed the original John Wick film back in 2014. I didn’t know much about the film at all, but I was pleasantly by the film. A character played by Keanu Reeves, whom you felt genuine empathy for. Amazing action sequences. Good background soundtrack. What do you want in the sequel? More of the same please.

Sitting down to watch John Wick: Chapter 2 after it came out in February, I was mildly disappointed. Maybe I’m crazy, but there was no heart in this movie. Was there action? Yes…..  but this wasn’t about revenge or retribution or something else you could get behind. Without giving away too many spoilers, John agrees to perform a hit, and is then on the run due to the consequences. That sounds like a decent story, but after the umpteenth action sequence that was fairly repetitive of the last 14 action sequences, you get bored. Well, I got bored by this film.

Side note — let me tell you what also really bugged me about this film. I’m a New Yorker, and we kinda know our landmarks. I understand that the cinematographers are looking for the best shots and sites, and will dress up one place to look like another. No big deal. And the audience will never know the different. Fine, whatever. Do what you gotta do.

In the first film, we established that John lives in NJ — he has NJ plates. Early in this film, however, John walks from his house in NJ (long story), across the Brooklyn Bridge (?), and checks into the Continental hotel. Who would do that? That’s not how you would get there from NJ, and also, why not call a cab or take an Uber/Lyft?

Speaking of the Continental hotel (the one that that hosts the various assassins in NYC), the real location is really not a hotel. The building is downtown in the Financial District near Wall and Water St, and in the lobby, it’s a Japanese restaurant that sells somewhat overpriced sushi. But it’s a hotel in these films. Fine, whatever, who cares. Soon after John enters the hotel, he goes to the roof, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral (normally located in Midtown) is next door. Hmm, that’s odd. I mean, it’s St. Patrick’s, and that’s a long way from downtown.

During a important fight scene, John is running through what is obviously Lincoln Center (up in the 60s), and heads down into a nearby subway station…. and pops into what is obviously the World Trade Center Oculus mall (again, way downtown.) There’s a shootout that continues onto the PATH train platforms, and continues onto a PATH train, which normally only go to NJ, but are now heading to Brooklyn for some reason. Now I can only assume we’ve entered into some alternate dimension.

Is this  a big deal? I suppose not, but man, I really found this all very annoying.

Anyway, I didn’t like this film as much as the first one. There’s not a lot of story, the action was repetitive very quickly, and overall meh.

 

John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

Celebrating a belated Valentine’s Day

We celebrated Valentine’s Day a few days later on Saturday night. Filet mignon, roasted potatoes, and asparagus with bacon. Kids played video games in the basement and we enjoyed a candlelight dinner together.

Beautiful weather so we went to hang out the local winery

Beautiful weather today, so hung out in the afternoon at Working Dog Winery.

Grillin’ steaks on a Saturday night

Time for dinner on a Saturday night.

“What should we make for dinner?”
 “You know, we have some NY Strip steaks in the freezer…..”

I gotta say I really enjoy grilling up steaks at home. Season ’em, let ’em marinate for 30 minutes, and grill them on high for 4 minutes for side. Done!

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