Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone. On Friday night after work, we got together with some friends for Happy Hour / dinner at Ruth’s Chris. Fun fact – they have a decent Happy Hour menu.

I spent four hours on Saturday driving Josh two and from a Boy Scout Merit Badge Fair over at Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania.  That’s one hour each way, back and forth, back and fourth. My God, so much driving. The good news is that Josh is on the way to earning four merit badges. Still, my butt was sore from all that driving.

On Saturday night, Namita and I went out to Bar Louie at the Brunswick Square Mall for drinks. Big place, nice sized crowd, a DJ playing good music, and very nice drinks. I definitely want to come back for more.

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Random cat photos

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Joel’s review of A Wrinkle In Time (2018) – I’m sorry, but I didn’t care for it

I remember being introduced to the book by Madeleine L’Engle in 5th grade, but after attempting to read past the first few pages, I do remember being confused and losing interest. Unusual, to be sure. 30 years later, I’ve never read her young adult novel A Wrinkle in Time, released back in the early 1960s. Until this day, I didn’t even know that the book was the first novel of a 5-book series. Good for her. With Disney adapting the book into a major motion picture, the kids wanted to see it. For Josh’s 13th birthday this year, we took a bunch of his friends (plus Lily) and went to see A Wrinkle in Time.  It’s a big production written by Jennifer Lee and Jeff Stockwell, and directed by Ava DuVernay.

After dinner, we settled into our theater seats, and I was seriously underwhelmed for 1 hour and 49 minutes. I can’t tell you how underwhelmed exactly, but it was up there. The film is full of visual spectacle, and it has a pretty big decent cast (almost) in major and minor/cameo roles:

  • Storm Reid
  • Reese Witherspoon
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Mindy Kaling
  • Chris Pine
  • Zach Galifianakis
  • Michael Peña
  • Gugu Mbatha-Raw

The film is about the Murry family. The parents are supposedly brilliant scientists with  two kids Meg and Charles Wallace (more on him later) living… somewhere in the U.S. When they’re still really young, their father (played by Chris Pine) disappears one night, never to be seen again. 4-6 y years later, Meg is now 13 years old and struggles in school. No friends, depressed, etc. Her brother, Charles Wallace is now a pretentious 6 year old (?) who is super mature for his age, supposedly super intelligent (?), and I don’t know what to tell you.

Soon enough, this precocious Charles Wallace characters knows all these strange characters like Mrs. Whatsit (Witherspoon), Mrs. Who (Kaling), and Mrs. Which (Winfrey), and he secretly knows what’s going to happen, what’s the plan, and Meg and her friend Calvin are playing catch-up. Charles Wallace is a 6 year old who is somehow 20 steps ahead of everyone, and…. gah. I can’t.

I’m not trying to knock young actor Deric McCabe, but I really did not like how this kid’s character was the Mary Sue of story. He’s 6 years old and there’s no reason why he’s so confident, knows so much, and is running the show. I don’t care how smart he is. This character was ridiculous to me. Absolutely ridiculous.

The film spends most of its time about the journey they all take to find Chris Pine and bring him home. Somehow he used his mind to teleport himself across space and time (without aging) to a few different planets. And he’s being held prisoner by a CGI black-tentacled cloud of bad feelings.

I was glad when this film was over. I’m sorry.

A Wrinkle In Time (2018)

A Wrinkle In Time (2018)

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The kids went to bed and the adults rocked out to Outsourced in Bridgewater

Friday night, the kids went to bed, and we took drive up to the Green Knoll Grill in Bridgewater to hear the Outsourced band play. I’m not sure what time we left, but it was sometime after 12 or 1 AM. We grabbed a late night snack at a nearby diner, then made our way home.

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Joshua’s 13th birthday

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.

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Daddy – Daughter… Steak Nite

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.

Not to be left out, a few of the mothers took their sons for go-karting and dinner at Chickie & Pete’s. I heard it was a fun time, and Josh came in 1st at go-karting.

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.

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We went to see Wicked the Musical on Broadway

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.

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Joel’s review of Cars 3 (2017)

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.

Cars 3 (2017)

Cars 3 (2017)

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.

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2018 CMB Karate Demo Team performance at Rutgers

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.

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Saturday night dinner and a show in New Brunswick

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.

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