I watched Deadpool 2 (2018) over the weekend — the sequel is not as good as the 1st film

On Saturday night, I went with two other guys to see Deadpool 2 (2018), the sequel to the R-rated 2016 action comedy superhero film from 20th Century Fox in collaboration with Marvel. My wife and I were supposed to see it with friends, but we had a family emergency to tend to, so she was unfortunately out. 🙁

The first film was a surprising, irreverent film and fun. While it’s always difficult to catch lightning in a bottle twice, you always gotta try. This film was alright though, but I didn’t find it as enjoyable as the first. Mild spoilers ahead.
The plot isn’t about saving the world, or finding a MacGuffin before the bad guys do. Cable (played by Josh Brolin) is portrayed in the commercials as the villain, but he isn’t the villain. To summarize – there’s a kid named Russell with the mutant ability to harness fire (he refers to himself as “Firefist”), and Cable wants to kill him. While Deadpool has been making a living as an assassin for hire for two years since the events of the first film, he is still in love with Vanessa (Morena Baccarin.) 

Events happen. I won’t get into it. 

For specific reasons later on, Deadpool decides that he is going to save Russell from certain death. At one point, he even assembles his own band of mutants (“X-Force”) to help him save Russell. The film is somewhat different than the Fox Marketing Department has portrayed it as, which is fine of course. The story is small. It’s not about saving the world. Only saving a kid. While the film has its moments, the pacing seemed off. At little moments here and there, I found the jokes to be a little dumb or the story dragging. There’s one scene in particular during the climax that is initially “Whoa!” that then drags on for 10 minutes it feels like. Again, I think it’s pacing.

Overall, I don’t consider it a bad film. But at the same time, I would strangely say it isn’t a film that you have to rush out to see. Want to see it now? Go ahead. Want to wait for the home release? Sure. It’s entertaining but not that entertaining. It’s just fine.

Oh the mid-credit scenes are funny though.

Deadpool 2

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Lily and I went on a field trip to the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton NJ

Lily’s 5th grade class went on a field trip to the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton NJ. Now, I’ve never been there before, but I know Nums and Josh have gone on a field trip prior. I’ve seen the statures around the Hamilton area. Never had an opportunity to go before, so why not now?

I agreed to be a chaperone a month ago, and I’ve never chaperoned one of the Lily’s field trips before. Pretty sure I’ve been on one of Josh’s though. I took the day off from work, but still had some calls in the morning. I ran out the door after 9 AM to grab some coffee and a bagel, then made my way down to Hamilton. Driving another route through Hamilton, I found so many other statues and other large artwork. I had no idea there was so much other Grounds for Sculpture art all around the area in Hamilton. Pretty neat.

I was one time to the place by 9:45 AM, but the place doesn’t open until 10 AM, the gate was locked, and no one was around. I hung around 15 mins, then the doors opened. I parked and waited another 10 mins for the buses to arrive. I found my group of four kids, got a map, and we wandered the place with an unstructured itinerary We only had to find some time for lunch, and meet back for the bus by 1:45 PM.

We walked the grounds, and I found it to be an interesting place. Lots of cool sculptures. We found a cafe and we ate our bagged lunches. We also found other groups of kids and parents and wandered the place. We had seen everything by 12:30 or so, so we hung out leisurely for a while until it was time to check out the gift shop and then get the kids on the buses.

Good time overall.

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Blondie’s “Dreaming” is one of my favorite 80’s pop songs

When I met you in the restaurant you could tell I was no debutante
You asked me what’s my pleasure, “A movie or a measure”?
I’ll have a cup of tea and tell you of my dreamin’
Dreamin’ is free
Dreamin’, dreaming is free

I don’t want to live on charity
Pleasure’s real or is it fantasy?
Reel to reel is living rarity
People stop and stare at me, we just walk on by
We just keep on dreamin’

Beat feet, walking a two-mile
Meet me, meet me at the turnstile
I never met him, I’ll never forget him
Dream dream, even for a little while
Dream dream, filling up an idle hour
Fade away, radiate

I sit by and watch the river flow
I sit by and watch the traffic go
Imagine something of your very own, something you can have and hold
I’d build a road in gold just to have some dreamin’
Dreamin’ is free
Dreamin’, dreamin’ is free

Dreamin’, dreamin’ is free
Dreamin’, dreamin’ is free

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I watched Sunset Boulevard (1950) for the first time

On Mother’s Day, we rented Sunset Boulevard, the 1950 American film noir directed and co-written by Billy Wilder. It’s a famous American film starring Gloria Swanson and William Holden. Supporting actors and actresses include Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olson, and even a few scenes with famed director Cecil B. DeMille. We had originally intended to watch it at a nearby theater, but we realized, on second thought, why don’t we watch it at home when we can be all comfy?

We rented it from Amazon for a few bucks!

The film begins in media res, where we find the officers from the LAPD and reporters are swarming around the body of a man floating in a swimming pool. His name was Joe Gillis, and he narrates how he ended up dead in the pool. Six months earlier, he was a down-on-his-luck screenwriter, attempting to pull in favors, looking for work. While running away from some men attempting to repossess his car, he surreptitiously ends up in the garage of a seemingly abandoned Hollywood mansion.

Except it’s not abandoned. Joe soon discovers that it’s owned and lived in by famed (and fictional) silent film star Norma Desmond. Norma has gone slightly mad in these years after her silent film career died off. She’s served by a single butler named Max, and she sits at home answering fan mail, watching her old movies in her in-home screening room, hosting the occasional small party, and attempting suicide.

Joe ends up moving into the mansion while he helps her write a script for Norma’s big comeback vehicle. She doesn’t want a small role. No no no. She wants the a epic film, directed by Cecil B. DeMille, and she’s of course the star. Joe spends much of the story vacillating, torn between being comfortable living comfortably with crazy Norma, or being uncomfortable but happy writing screenplays with other young Hollywood industry folks like sweet Betty Schaefer.

It’s an interesting movie, but the kids and I found it a bit long and dragging at times. There’s plenty of character development, especially as you see how nutty Norma is in her twilight years. I’ve never seen a Gloria Swanson or Bill Holden film before — I’ve only seen Bill Holden when he had a cameo in that old I Love Lucy episode — so it was cool to see them both on screen.

Sunset Boulevard (1950)

Sunset Boulevard (1950)

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Ryan & Ethan’s 1st Communion

Last Saturday, we attended a 1st communion for two boys Ryan and Ethan. It wasn’t a random event — we’re friends with their parents. 😉

We had a number of commitments that day, so we ended up arriving at the actual communion service in Somerset at the end of the service. We  had a little bit of time after the service to say hello to a few people, buy cards at the local Rite Aid, then head up to Piscataway for the dinner portion at Diwan Banquet.

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One Dad, three Moms, four Sons and at least one Daughter went out last Friday Night

Last Friday, we spent the evening in separate family quality time events. Nums and Josh got together some friends at Ruth’s Chris for a Mommy-Son dinner. They ate steak

Not to be complete outdone, Lily and I made plans to go bowling instead. We had bowling alley quality nachos and mediocre chicken wings. More importantly, I beat Lily by 11 points.

She used the bumpers. I did not. I should have scored better. I blame the mediocre nachos and wings.

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The Girl Scouts learn some self-defense forms with Master Brooks of CMB Karate

Lily and her Girl Scout troop visited CMB Karate recently for one of their regularly scheduled troop meetings. Master Christopher Brooks spent time to teach 6 out of 7 of them self-defense moves. I say 6 out of 7, because according to Lily, she knew everything already.

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Saturday night out in New Brunswick for dinner and Roy Wood Jr.

My wife and I learned some time ago that comedian Roy Wood Jr would be coming to the Stress Factory in early May. We also made plans to go out beforehand for dinner at Delta’s, a southern American cuisine restaurant that we used to frequent before both kids started sucking up all available money. 😉

We had few other friends agree to come out dinner, and make it a post-actual-birthday-but-why-not-celebrate-anyway dinner for me. Well, at least dessert.

Dinner and drinks were nice but I wasn’t all that impressed with the fried chicken. It needed seasoning- that’s right – I said it. The hush puppies were average. Everything else we had was good.

The restaurant wasn’t full. In fact, the streets were empty and other restaurants & bars were partially empty. We passed a Irish bar with a sad employee standing outside wearing a sombrero (it was Cinco de Mayo), waiting for anyone to show up. I briefly looked inside and the lights were colorful and the DJ was spinning, but it was empty. It was weird but Stress Factory is always packed with a long line out the door.

No line.

We get inside and they’ve already started. The club is half empty on Cinco de Mayo that’s also on a Saturday night. What gives? We had the pick of the table in front while the entire back area was empty with seats stacked on tables. I was (and still am) befuddled.

The show itself was good and we enjoyed both the warm-up comedian and Roy Wood Jr. By the time Wood Jr got off the stage, it was 11 PM but it felt early. Like the entire experience was abbreviated. We were hoping to get a photo but Roy hung out at the bar with a intangible buffer space between him and the line of people exiting, and I didn’t get the feel we were supposed to cross over.

Oh well. Fun night at first, but it got weird at the end. Cinco de Mayo, Saturday night, good weather, and the city felt empty.

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Everyone gets a new phone! We purchased two new Galaxy S9+ phones this week

Let’s talk about irony. Irony laced with suspicion. Let’s also talk about the state of phones in the Ipe household.

It’s been 2 years and 2 months since we purchased our dueling Galaxy S7 phones back in March 2016 during a trip to Philadelphia. Our phones have survived drops, a Jamaican waterfall, trips, the beach. Namita’s phone took an accidental float at the beach last August, and something bad happened to her micro USB charging port. It wouldn’t charge so she stuck it out with wireless charging until January 2018 when she bought a low-cost Samsung J7 phone. It’s cheap but slow and no bells and whistles. You can live without bells and whistles and undercarriage rust protection, but slow is annoying. She had to pay off the old phone as well.

My phone was doing great – can you believe it? Sure I needed to charge it often throughout the day, but no cracks or scratches. I made my final payment in April 2018. Finally! Phone is paid up and we can have a lower bill. Come May 1st, I am troubled to find my phone isn’t charging as fast as it used to. I can plug it in, but the rate of recharging has slowed to a crawl. My battery would run down quickly but I’ve learned to keep it topped off with wall chargers or the Anker portable charger. But now, I could keep it plugged in, it is barely charging, and my battery is still running down quickly. I read somewhere that rechargeable batteries such as the ones found in cell phones are good for approximately 500 charges. After that, you’re likely to see deteriorating performance.

As we technologists like to say…. “Oh crap.”

On Wednesday May 2nd, while I was in the midst of my quandary, I learned that Samsung & Verizon were running a promotion for $300 off the cost of the 64 GB Galaxy S9+. It was probably because Samsung was taking preorders for new models with 128 GB and 256 GB internal storage capacity. I had an S7 with 32 GB RAM and a 64 GB microSD card. I could live without those newer models.

The promotion was to end Wednesday May 2nd!

After talking it over, Nums and I met up at a specific Verizon Wireless store, and we bought two new S9+ phones — black for me and “Lilac” for her.

I won’t post all of the technical specs here. So far, I like the faster processing speed, and the biometrics like iris scanning and improved fingerprint reader. The larger screen is also nice but holding it takes some getting used to. I’m stil having some trouble with typing accurately with this Invisible Shield screen protector.

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Joel’s review of Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

It was finally here. The big culmination of this Infinity Stone arc — Avengers: Infinity War (2018) — Dun Dun DUN! This was a big one, because they had a lot of characters in this first half of the big story. We were able to secure decent seats on the Sunday evening at the tail end of opening weekend. I didn’t necessarily need to see it opening weekend, but Josh was concerned about some classmates spoiling it for him Monday morning. We made it happen, but let me warn you, it’s a long movie at 2 hours and 29 minutes. We had a 7 PM show, and by the time we were in the car driving home, it was after 10 PM. I may want to see this again on IMAX 3D this time.

The film starts with a distress call from Thor’s ship seen at the end of Thor: Ragnarok. That means, it’s been five seconds since the last movie before the events of Infinity War kick off. Without spoiling too much, we get introduced to Thanos and his crew as they have boarded the ship, kicked everyone’s posteriors, and many of the Asgardians are now dead. Thanos wants the Tesseract, and he’s already got the Power stone. That means he’s already done some have damage to Xandar (not witnessed on screen.)

After these scenes at the beginning, the movie turns into a true heist film where Thanos and his minions are out stealing the remaining stones — Reality (last seen on Nowhere in Thor: The Dark World), Mind (last seen on Vision’s forehead on Earth in Captain America: Civil War), Time (last seen with Doctor Strange on Earth in Doctor Strange), and Soul (not yet seen.) Everyone is broken up in teams trying to stop Thanos from collecting all of these Pokémon. Kidding, I meant Infinity Stones.

Meanwhile, Thor, Groot, and Rocket Raccoon are off to Nidavellir to ask the dwarves to help them forge Thor a new weapon.

It’s a busy movie with a lot going on. There were a few scenes or events that I expected would happen. There were many scenes of events that I did not expect to happen. I was fairly impressed by how deadly the Black Order was – they were not simple low-level henchmen. They were formidable warriors, but I’ll admit I don’t remember their names.

The filmmakers certainly demonstrated that the events of this film, which I believe transpire over the course of 48 hours after Thor: Ragnarok, were a big deal. Thanos and his crew were not to be trifled with. This was not a walk in the park. Favorite heroes die in this film, and while no one ever truly seems to die in the comics, I believe a number of them aren’t coming back.

I have to say that the filmmakers did a nice job with Thanos as the villain. He didn’t want to rule the Universe. He wasn’t out for revenge because someone took his puppy. He strongly believed that wiping out half of all living creatures in the entire Universe was the best thing for it to properly survive. He also showed a lot of emotion about what he had to do, and he was a pretty well-rounded character.

I did have some reservations about the special effects in this film. Some of the CGI when you see Banner or Rhodes pop their heads out of their respective suits look unfinished and jarring. Also, Tony’s latest suit for himself, and the Iron Spiderman suit for Peter Parker, are unrealistic. The Iron Man suit can do all these things and create gadgets, but there’s no respect for mass. Don’t these nanites have weight? How does he carry an infinite number of nanites ro create an infinite number of add-ons or gizmos? How does Spiderman retain the ability to adhere to surfaces with a metallic armor as a barrier between him and his fingertips? It all looks cool, but it’s bordering on fantastical.

I enjoyed watching Thanos using the Stones, and you can quickly see how they’re a game changer for the one wielding them.

It’s an interesting film, but even with the big horrible fates that appear to befall our heroes…. you also know that Disney/Marvel announced sequel films for them. So, it’s only a flesh wound? Hmmm. In any case, I still may see it again. More than anything, I’m looking forward to the Captain Marvel film next Spring.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

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