I think Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) has got to be one of the all-time great Spider-Man films

Who doesn’t love a good Spider-Man film? Peter Parker is your every day man who dons a suit to fight crime and protect his neighborhood and the city of New York. People love the story so much, Hollywood featured Peter as Spider-Man in countless tv shows, animated series, and movies. We’ve never had an animated film about Spider-Man, or one about Miles Morales – Ultimate Spider-Man.

For those of you not familiar, Miles Morales’ takes place in Marvel’s Ultimate Universe / comic book line. On that alternate Earth, Peter has been Spider-Man for a while until the Green Goblin kills him. Around this time, teenager Miles Morales is bitten by another radioactive spider. As I recall, the film touches on much of the origin story. In this film, the producers and writers have merged his origin story with this somewhat recent development about the Spider-Verse, a strange connection between all of the different Spider-People in different parallel universes.

The film is animated uniquely with much harkening back to the character’s comic book roots. The story of Miles will be unique and original and fresh to many people overly familiar with Peter’s Spider-Man. The music is also pretty good. 

You should go see this movie. And stay for the one post credits scene.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

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Christmas with the Ipes in 2018

During the Christmas holiday season this year, we hosted three separate parties or gatherings of friends and family. We had friends over for a Secret Santa gift exchange, and then separately had my sister’s family, and my wife’s extended family over. It all went well.

When we bought the house, we had the intention to have people over all the time. We didn’t make that happen because we felt partially self-conscious that our house needed lots of updating. We would go over to other people’s houses and they were all sleek and modern and… their names are the Jones and we desperately wanted to keep up with them.

But you know, although the house isn’t perfect, does it matter? It matters that we provide a fun place to get together with family and friends, eat good food, drink, and have a good time. It doesn’t matter all that much if haven’t painted the interior yet or haven’t gotten a nice chandelier yet.

I think we’re feeling better now. In 2019, we are inviting more people over. I swear as God is my witness! 😉

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On Dec 14th we went to see Jay Pharoah perform at Caroline’s

A few months earlier, my wife got us tickets to see Jay Pharoah perform at Caroline’s in Midtown. I’ve never been to Caroline’s and Jay Pharoah is hilarious, so it was a no-brainer.

We both worked from home on that Friday with an expectation that we would leave around 4:30 PM, drive to the city (or nearby Secaucus), have dinner and drinks, then go enjoy the show. Most of that never happened. I got roped into a fire drill at work that took way longer to resolve and complete than expected, and we left an hour late. 

We hit traffic and the rain all the way to Newark. While we didn’t have time for dinner, we made it with enough time to get some stools in the back row of the comedy club. At least it was spacious. 

We had thought as a backup to grab at appetizers at the club and then dinner afterwards, but my wife got motion sickness in the car with all the stop & go traffic, so we skipped eating altogether. We ended up coming home pretty late, and I ate leftovers. She felt better the next day after taking dramamine. 
Not the evening we had planned, but you make due. The show was very good, and all of the comedians were great. Caroline’s was nice and I would definitely go back again.

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The Christmas tree is up!

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Would you believe we had our 3rd basement leak in 4 years this month?

Water is crazy. Water is formidable. Water is life-giving. Water in your house where you don’t want it to be is a pain in the ass.

Our first Spring in 2015, we had a bad leak from a pipe that feed the backyard hose. Sorry, not a leak — it was water spraying an entire basement room. Later in the summer of 2015, the bottom of our hot water heater sprung a leak and flooded our basement. This month, Lily walked into a basement room and found a small flood and water dripping from the ceiling. It was a team effort for us to catch the water, turn off the water, and clean up the mess.  We caught the water in buckets and bowls, and I raced to the garage to grab the big ladder, and sprinted with it from the garage, into the house, down the basement stairs, and into this room. There were hot and cold water valves and I turned them off to stop the water.

Why would this pipe start leaking like this? Where did the hole come from?

The prevailing hypothesis is that when the contractors were nailing in the baseboard in the bathroom back in August, a nail shot through and punctured this pipe. The nail acted as a plug with maybe minimal leaking, but there’s no way to know. In the following months, the nail may have slowly rusted until it finally fell out from the pressure, resulting in all that water dripping out this week.

It’s a crazy story, but that’s all we can figure out. I’m glad we caught it in time. This is the 3rd leak in the basement since we’ve moved in, and we don’t go into the basement every day. Now I’m considering setting up water sensors all around the basement so that we have more of an early warning system.

We had some minor damage from the water, but nothing too terrible. I guess we lucked out a bit. The plumbers ended up charging me $500 to cut a whole in the powder room closet, cut the section of pipe, and replace it with a new section with a better quarter-turn valve.



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We’ve begun our final home improvement project of the year – updating our master bedroom

You know what’s ironic to me? This year, we had planned to add recessed lighting to the family room, and paint the interior walls for the entire main floor. If we were lucky, we wanted to paint/stain the railings as well. That was the priority. That was what we were going to budget for, save up for, and get done.

Yeah, that never happened.

Instead, over the past 6 months, we updated the main floor bathroom because all our guests used it, we replaced and installed brand new landscape lighting around the house, we replaced our garage doors and all of the associated hardware when the main garage door broke, fixed a broken pipe, removed some horseshoe pits, and decorated.

What happened? We looked at these areas and realized they seriously needed updating (and cost more than we planned), or something broke (garage doors, plumbing). We’ve gotten good pricing on the recessed lighting and painting, and we have the contractors selected, so that’s something.

It’s November and we were looking at our master bedroom. And we asked ourselves is this really the bedroom we want? It’s old. It’s dated. It had stained carpeting. The closet and its builder-grade wire shelving didn’t work for us, and it was dark. Here are two sample pictures from before we moved (not our current setup), and a current picture of the closet:

From what I read online, the master bedroom is generally the last place that people renovate. Yet it’s the place you spend a lot of time in. It’s supposed to be relaxing to us. We get dressed up here. And why are we living in a dark room? It was a hard decision, but we pulled the trigger on updating our bedroom in November. We sat around looking at this room we’ve had for four years, and it was depressing. I think it was the dark discolored drapes, and the closet that threatened to toss my clothes my back at me every time I tried to put my clean clothes away.

Seriously, do you see those piles of clothes precipitously stacked on top?

  1. First up, the the flooring. We went back down to Wholesale Flooring in Lawrenceville, and picked out a dark engineered wood with nice wide planks. The floor would be installed in early December.
  2. Next up, we spoke to a representative from Closets by Design, and we designed a brand new walk-in closet. Closet will be installed in late February and will accommodate all sorts of shoes and belts and ties and save the planet.
  3. Third, we had some fits and starts trying to find contractors to help us do lighting, changing up our sitting area, painting, etc, but contractors are flighty and hard to nail down. We briefly considered merging the sitting area with the closet, but we’ve decided to leave our sitting area as-is. We are turning it into a dressing area with future-state full-size mirror, places for shoes, etc. For now, new floor, new lighting, new paint. Dressing room furniture later.
  4. Fourth, we found a new electrician down in Englishtown to remove our single ceiling fan light, move our 2nd floor thermostat (located in our room) to accommodate a future TV, and install 10 new recessed lights in our main bedroom area and extra sitting area. We’ll have them back to add lighting to the closet in February.
  5. Fifth, we had our bedroom and the extra area painted, and Josh’s room as well (as he’s been asking.)

That is a lot done in a few weeks. Here are pictures below. I think it came out so nice so far. I love the amount of ambient light in both rooms, plus the floor and paint look great. It feels cool and modern.

We are still waiting to install a 55″ TV on the wall, Ethernet jacks and power, and get a TiVo Mini. We spent a lot so taking a breather.

The closet won’t be installed until February. That gives us time to save up a bit before we work on that room. What that will involve is replacing the two flush mount ceiling lights in there now with 2 – 4 recessed lights. We have to remove all of the clothes, remove the wire shelving hardware, spackle and then paint.

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We saw Ralph Breaks the Internet and I found it worked on two different levels

It took us a week after opening weekend, but we went to Freehold to watch Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018). The film is a sequel to the original Wreck-It Ralph that came out six years early. That’s kind of unheard of. I mean, six years later in this day and age? I walked in knowing very little of the film, which is a little unusual for me. I’ve been so busy with work and other life stuff that I haven’t had time to keep up with upcoming film spoilers or even updating my blog. It’s not a bad omen, so don’t worry. I plan on being here for a while longer. 🙂

The film stars much of the same core cast members, but it’s really Ralph and Vanellope and the new characters that you’ll see from the Internet. Yes, the characters of Felix and Calhoun are in it, but it was probably a day’s worth of voice over work as they have a very minor subplot that could have been dropped.

Long story short -> The arcade game Sugar Rush is physically damaged, and it’s going to be discarded. To save Vanellope, the two of them travel through the Internet to buy a replacement part via eBay before the deadline. Typical. However, what helped the film stand apart was at the same, Vanellope is getting bored with racing. She wants to move onto other things, and gets introduced to the new exciting world of Slaughter Race (a mobile game.) Ralph, on the other hand, is happy having everything in his life (including this relationship) stay the same.

There’s a whole subtext about friends growing up, growing apart, evolving, letting go of the past. The movie is chock full of Internet-related jokes, which I thought were funny. I thought the Disney princess scenes were also funny. But this whole theme of letting your friends go was a smarter route and gave the film more to it.

Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018)

Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018)

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Raj’s surprise 40th birthday party

My friend Raj recently celebrated his 40th birthday party. His family threw a surprise party for him at Spice Rack in Franklin Park. We met up with some old friends and acquaintances, plus a little dancing to boot.

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A photo shoot in Central Park after Thanksgiving

For our Christmas / holiday cards, we have tried Sears and JC Penney with middling success. Often the photos need a lot of editing and cleaning up in Photoshop (by me) to make them decent. Last year, we were so fed up that we did our own photo shoot in our house and went with a candid shot that looked the best.

This year, Nums found an offer where we would meet a photographer in Central Park at a specific time slot, pay a flat $15 fee, take a number of photos, and then we only pay for the photos that we liked the best. Nums looked into finding a local photographer, but they were all charging $300 for an indoor photo shoot, so this seemed like a great idea. I also liked the idea of an outside photo.

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We bought the clothes, made the plans, etc. Unfortunately, the Friday after Thanksgiving was looking to be freezing. I mean, we’re talking 20 degrees Fahrenheit. And we were asking the kids to take off their coats and smile? Up until maybe that morning, we were having serious doubts. However, we said we’re Ipes, and we soldier through crazy ideas all the time. We drove into Midtown, found parking near 59th Street and 5th Ave. Right on time, we met the photographer at the General Sherman statue, and we took a number of photos near some trees, and also down at a pond. I think many of photos came out really nice.

Lunch (dinner?) at Katsu-Hama

Afterwards, we took a brisk walk to Katsu-Hama for a late Japanese lunch / early dinner. First time there, and we expected to find sushi/sashimi and hibachi items, but it was totally different than what we expected. We stayed and tried new types of donburi and katsu dishes, and it was all good. Wow, photos taken, no frostbite, and we tried new dishes. Win win!

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The rest of our Thanksgiving weekend was sorta laid back with some minor running around

I hope everyone else out there enjoyed their Thanksgiving weekend. On Saturday, we tried to relax a bit during the day. Except Toasty as he avoided us for some reason.

Saturday evening, the four of us drove down to south Jersey for a wedding reception for friends Kitty and Connor, who got married earlier this year in Ireland. We weren’t able to stay for the entire evening (just appetizers and entrees) as we had to drive back home, drop off the kids, change our clothes, and head up north to New Brunswick for drinks and dancing and to celebrate our friend Lenny’s birthday at La Esquina. We took a Lyft there and back in the rain, which was an interesting experience.

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