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This year, with his birthday falling on a school day, and our upcoming vacation plans, Josh opted for a low-key birthday. We picked up a few of his friends for dinner at a local pizzeria in town, and tickets to see A Wrinkle in Time.
The Girl Scout troops in our town host an annual “Daddy – Daughter Dance” which requires everyone to dress up, take photos, go dancing, and spend quality time together. My first (and last) dance was not so Normal Rockwell – most of the fathers stood around while the girls danced with each other, including Lily. Hmmm, sounds like my experiences at clubs and bars!
After the first one, Lily lost interest and so did I. We skipped the next few ones while our neighbors with Girl Scouts continued to attend. I guess after last year, many others also lost interest. This year, in lieu of the dance, a few of us opted to take our daughters to Ruth’s Chris instead for dinner.
Funny enough, Lily and I would have loved go-karting. Nums and Joshua would have loved a nice steak dinner at Ruth’s Chris. I think the Ipes need to schedule a separate go-karting and steak dinner for ourselves.
Last year, we participated for the first time in this “Kids on Broadway” promotional event, where a child can attend a Broadway show for free (for a participating musical) when an accompanying adult purchases an adult ticket. Last February we had dinner at a Cuban restaurant, and saw On Your Feet. Good time, but didn’t like the the late night dash to NY Penn and the 90 min local train ride home on a school night. We didn’t arrive until midnight.
This year, we decided to do it again, but give it to the kids as a Christmas gift. In addition, I booked us a hotel room at the Intercontinental Times Square. The plan was for me to take two days off, and we could have a more relaxed night instead of running to catch a late night train.
Of course, I ended up having to work the morning the day after, so sometimes best laid plans don’t always work out.
There were some other mothers from our town bringing their kids to see Wicked and School of Rock Tuesday night as well, but they had their own separate dinner plans. They were all also driving back home that night.
In any case, we had a good time overall. We drove up to the Secaucus train station, caught the next train, and we cabbed it up to the hotel on 8th Ave & 44th St. I opted for the City View room category, and we ended up with a room on the top 36th floor with nice views of NJ and uptown.
We walked to Natsumi for a nice sushi dinner, then walked a few doors over to the Gershwin Theater. Huge theater. The show was good but it felt a little light and fluffy. If you’re a tourist, I think it is fine. Big production, light entertainment, etc. Afterwards we walked over to a nearby Junior’s on Broadway (or 7th Ave) for some late night cheesecake.
In the morning, I ran out early and took the subway to the office for in-person meetings. Around 11:30 am, I left again and met the rest of the family for lunch at Dos Caminos on Park & 27th, along with old friends Regina and Rick, who I worked with at NY Life. Nice lunch, should have taken a group picture.
We meandered the rest of the afternoon, then took a late afternoon train back to Secaucus to pick up our car. Great little NY family getaway.
I had some free time earlier this month, and I watched Cars 3 (2017) on Netflix, while it’s still on Netflix before Disney moves all of their movie properties to their own streaming service next year. While my wife can’t stand the Cars film series, I think they’re fine Pixar films. Alright, I didn’t particularly care for Cars 2, but the first was a good remake of Doc Hollywood. Cars 2 was kinda dumb with too much Mater. I think Cars 3 was a decent way to close out the film series
Cars 3 stars:
- Owen Wilson
- Cristela Alonzo
- Chris Cooper
- Nathan Fillion
- Larry the Cable Guy (thankfully, less Mater in this film)
- Armie Hammer
- Tony Shalhoub
- Bonnie Hunt
- and cameo roles from Kerry Washington, Bob Costas, and a few others.
If you’ve seen the trailers, the film’s plot is about your hero, Lightning McQueen, meeting his new faster and younger rival Jackson Storm. Actually, there are a bunch of these newer faster guys, and all of Lightning’s old racing rivals can no longer compete against the new guys so they retire and get replaced by these new “Bros”. Soon, Lightning himself is struggling, and ends up in a bad crash. He’s off to recover and find himself, do some training, and decide what to do next. He’s got Cruz Ramirez (Alonzo) and the old crew trying to help him find his way.
The story is basic, but it’s entertaining. The visuals are pretty nice, especially the views from the racetrack. I also liked that the film’s finale took a different direction than you might have expected. I started to get a hint towards the end, but I’m glad the Pixar team took it there. It’s a pretty decent and entertaining film, and won’t hurt your head like Cars 2. Wow, I didn’t like that 2nd film.
Through luck and about two years of determination, Namita won two tickets in a lottery to see Hamilton the Musical at the Richard Rogers Theater. For $10 a piece. Crazy! Gotta give my wife credit for her determination. We had the Girl Scouts World Thinking Day event in the morning, then Josh and I came to pick them up, and drive up to Secaucus. We dropped off the car, then took the train into New York Penn. We dropped the girls off at the front of the theater, and Josh and I walked around for a few hours.
First we walked down to Midtown Comics and perused two floors of comics and collectibles. We grabbed a late lunch at Shake Shack on Broadway (first time!), and it was pretty good (though slightly salty.) Then we walked back around to check out the Midtown Library and the Nintendo store at Rockefeller Center. We met the ladies back at the stage crew entrance where they were waiting for autographs. After that, we checked out the Hamilton souvenir shop, then made our way home via train and car. By the end of the day, it started to snow pretty heavy, so I’m glad we didn’t have any other plans for the evening.
CMB Karate’s Demo Team performed during halftime for a recent Rutgers basketball game in New Brunswick. The demo team has been practicing their new 2018 routine for a few months now, and it looks great. I took photos while another parent took video of the performance. I’ll try to get the video posted at a later date.
As part of Nums’ 5 day birthday extended weekend (how does she always finagle a weeklong birthday?), we took advantage of the kids being away. Lily had a sleepover at the Camden Aquarium the night before, and would be staying over with her grandparents on Saturday night. Josh was away for a weekend camping trip with his Boy Scout troop. That left us and the cats, and we ditched the cats!
We drove up to New Brunswick, checked into our room at the Hyatt. We got dressed up, walked over to The Frog and The Peach for dinner. We then walked over to Stress Factory to catch Arnez J at this 9:45 pm set. Very energetic and entertaining. We even got a photo with him afterwards!
Afterwards we walked back to our room for an easy night. In the morning, we were up early to grab the kids.
We got lucky over President’s Day weekend, and saw Black Panther (2018) on Sunday evening. From what I’ve read, it’s doing gangbusters at the U.S. box office. Damn, that was a good film. I’ll break it down like this:
- Unique story – I think most movie-going fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) are familiar with the basic plot line. So familiar that you’re a little tired of it. The characters are different and some of the details, but you still have rich arrogant man (Tony Stark, Stephen Strange) get their come comeuppance, get humbled, see the world different, fight a bland villain seeking to destroy the world for X reason. I’m not saying I didn’t like the Iron Man films (1.5 out of 3?) or Doctor Strange, but the using the same formula gets old. Also, Age of Ultron was less about the story and more about setting up future films made you wonder what you were sitting there to watch. Instea, it’s the MCU films that were different that really stand out — Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor: Ragnarok in particular. This film doesn’t try to introduce you to T’Challa, since you met him in Captain America: Civil War. Instead, it introduces you to the Wakandan society, introduces a cultural issue of helping others or helping yourself, and the audience wonders whether the hero or the villain is right. I found that Black Panther sets itself up as fresh and different in so many ways.
- The film has a great cast of actors, young and old, and they are great actors:
- Chadwick Boseman
- Michael P. Jordan
- Lupita Nyong’o
- Danai Gurira
- Martin Freeman
- Daniel Kaluuya
- Letitia Wright
- Winston Duke
- Sterling K. Brown
- Angela Bassett
- Forest Whitaker
- Andy Serkis
I consider this a must-see film. Very entertaining and thought-provoking.
I hadn’t mentioned this previous, but the Ipe kids have been practicing for a karate tournament this month. Not that they had a lot of time with all of their other activities, but the tournament was quickly approaching on Sunday February 18th. Lo and behold, both placed 2nd in their respective groups. Kudos!
I’ve got the pictures below, and two videos. I have to apologize for Josh’s video clip, as I had to restart filming at the beginning of his demonstration.