Christmas Walks & A Kitty

We went home for Xmas again. Mango was quite excited about it…

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Though less so for the plane ride to get there. I didn’t quite luck out as much as for Thanksgiving, but there weren’t many people on the plane again so the flight attendant let me keep him on the seat next to me at least.

He did settle in quite quickly once we got home, though.

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Holiday Shopping in NYC


Since Justtwomorethings moved to the east coast, the Holiday Markets in NYC have been a favorite of hers to go gift shopping before the holidays. The past couple of years, she has taken me along too, since I’ve been in the area (alas, we always seem to go when Santacon is going on).

The Union Square Market, in my opinion, it still the best, but this year we went to Bryant Park Market as well. Its a bit smaller, but the vendors seem a little more upscale (probably owing to the fact they are housed in little glass huts instead of tents). There’s also a big ole Xmas tree right in the middle that’s decorated up quite prettily.

A Friendly Halloween

Halloween! Alas, I live on a busy main street, so the traffic keeps all the cute little ghosts and goblins away. I’m saddened by this, as this was one of my favorite parts of the holiday once I stopped trick-or-treating myself (I’m talking about little kids dressing up; teenagers who show up with no costume at all and still expect  to get pillow cases filled need no apply).

Also, my birthday fell in the middle of the work week this year, and I was not able to take the day off because of everything else going on. So, you know, boo. (and I don’t mean in the fake scary way).

So this weekend, to cheer myself up, we went to Friendly’s.

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Morristown: Festival on the Green

The first time I went to Morristown’s Festival on the Green was last year. It was hot, humid, and packed. This year was not as hot or humid, but just as packed.

The Festival is not a huge one, just surrounding the town square (the Green), and nothing really unique about it (save some circus performers, which was new this year, but the rest of it is tents done by local businesses and restaurants) but its a nice way to spend some time. Justtwomorethings and I walked there a couple weeks ago–the weather was a perfect sunny 70-ish, so I didn’t feel like I was melting on the sidewalk, and we walked around trying some of the offerings at the tents…which of  course included the fried goodness pictured here.

Roadtrip: Morristown and Surrounding Areas

Justtwomorethings arrived around mid-day on Thursday–and I felt bad about it since I was still at work and she had to spend 5+ hours wandering around doing god-knows what. So I let her pick the dinner place – the somewhat non-sensically named The Office Tavern Grill – and made it my treat.

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New Mattress…from IKEA?

This week was exhausting. I spent 3/5 days offsite (2 hr roundtrip–too close to justify a hotel, but enough to be a pain when the meeting is 8am to 6pm everyday) and logged in for a few more hours every night to keep my inbox from exploding. Then I had to get 3 cavities filled on Friday (fun, let me tell you, especially when 1 of the fillings fell out when I got home, and the office is closed until Monday). And this morning I took the melon to the vet for his yearly checkup, and my easy-going fuzzy face morphed into this angry, hissing, rage-drooling thing. Which made me feel bad for disrupting the kitty zen that is usually his life–especially when the vet next told me that he had lost nearly a pound in the last 7 months, making him a little too thin. A pound! How?? He eats more than I do!

I went home, stuffed his face and thought about collapsing in bed for a nap. Except my bed is awful. I got it five years ago, and being a cheap innerspring its been in a steep decline for the last two. It’s been really messing up my back, so I’d gone to Sleepy’s last weekend, but was gobsmacked by sticker shock. But a co-worker mentioned that he had an Ikea mattress that was pretty decent at an even better price. A little dubious, I decided to give it a shot.

The nearest Ikea is in Paramus (ok, actually there is one equidistant in Elizabeth, but everyone is pretty unanimous in its horribleness). Its, well, Ikea, and full of clean, white, Swedish modernity, though they appeared to have stepped up their in-store restaurant game–my lunch of salmon with dill lemon vinagrette, lingonberry juice and sweet potato chips was surprisingly good.

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Its very easy in Ikea to get distracted by all the shiny at reasonable prices, so I set my face and made a beeline for the mattress section. I also didn’t like Sleepy’s because of the dizzying number of options –Ikea was refreshingly simple. On the floor, there is innerspring or foam/latex, and only 3-4 options of each. I bounced around and narrowed it down within about 10 min.

The next part was tricky, and what I had been dreading…how to get it to the car. But Ikea helps there too. They vacuum wrap all mattresses into tight rolls that include straps to haul away–it was very easy to fit my final choice (Sultan Morgedal, $299, Firm, Foam, Queen) into the trunk of my tiny subcompact as long as I put the back seats down. And the roll-packing with straps made getting the mattress up the stairs of my 2nd floor walkup much easier than anticipated (a neighbor eyed me dubiously when I declined his help)

I made it!

I made it!

Ikea has a 90 day return policy along with their complimentary 25 year limited warranty, so I’m going to give it a test week. Its about 1/2 as thick as my old innerspring, but feels much more supportive for my back and pretty comfortable so far.

Tribeca Film Festival Reviews

My third year going, entropyenator’s first.  The weather on the second weekend wasn’t quite as good, being a good deal chillier, but it wasn’t raining and it was decently sunny most of the time.  Entropyenator lucked out of having to stand in line under a miserable drizzle, so I suppose we’ll have to try again next year and see if we can properly introduce her to NYC rush lines.

Shorts: Be Yourself: Six short documentaries.  American Renaissance had probably the most non-traditional structure, impressionistic and grounded versus explanatory.  Live Fast, Draw Yung and All-American Family explore their subjects by focusing on internal family dynamics that then spiral out to the “hook” (child prodigy artist, Deaf culture).  Elder and Eternal Princess are basically monologues, although Elder was by far more emotionally resonant; Eternal Princess never rises above hagiography (also, super-awkward moment when everyone was asked to clap for each director as they were announced, and Katie Holmes got polite applause to the whoops of the others).  My Enemy, My Brother did some creative interpolation of flashback/reinactment that convey visually how PTSD bubbles up afresh every day for its subjects.

El Cinco: A very naturalistic, almost to the point of documentary, movie about an aging soccer player who decides to retire, and who has to figure out the second act of his life.  The nonjudgmental, nondramatic filming style suits the main characters, none of whom are particularly deep thinkers (the main character is, honestly, an asshole who loves well but loves tribally), but all of whom feel deeply and honestly.  If the camera was jump-cutting and using tricky angles to signal every dramatic development, I think it actually would have cheapened the emotion with the artificial setting.  Put in context, the conflicts in these characters’ lives are nothing new but they’re intimately relatable.  Also, although the movie revolves entirely around a man, the female lead is unusually well-developed and realistic in that her attempts to support him are sometimes misguided, often ineffective but well-intended, rather than some perfect pixie girl.  Which goes a long way towards making the sex scenes (including an aborted outdoor sex scene) playfully earthy rather than porn wish fulfillment.

Mojave: Really pretentious mangst about how a rich white guy in the entertainment business overcomes his inexplicably tortured psyche to become a better sociopath than a bonafide serial killer.  There are some overly cute and meta in-jokes about Hollywood and the movies and how they eat people alive (Mark Wahlberg shows up just long enough to prove he’s terrible at playing not badass).  Oscar Isaac appears to be having a ton of fun playing a cut-rate boogeyman, and lifts a couple of scenes to interesting all by his lonesome.  Otherwise, the lack of suspense here makes you nostalgic for the Scream franchise.

When I Live My Life Again: Dysfunctional child comes home to dysfunctional family and is forced to confront her childhood traumas.  There’s a through-line about songwriting and musical comebacks and evolution, but it’s got no ommph behind it (also, the song that the movie takes the title from, it’s a terrible Sinatra pastiche).  Every parallel about destructive parent begetting destructive child is drawn, every terrible decision that could be made by a character is made, and every dated assertion about selling out is tossed out there.  Christopher Walken and Ann Magnuson at least seem to be having a lot of fun, but Amber Heard is horribly grating as the self-righteous unlikable heroine who just seems to exist as somebody’s daddy issues mouthpiece.

Weekend in the City: Tribeca Film Festival

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Spring! And it actually felt and looked it!

Last weekend, Justtwomorethings and I were in the city for the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival.

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I had just spent the last two weekends stressed out over a very important presentation, so I was ready to relax. The films we wanted to see were in the evenings, so that left most of the day free to walk around. Union Square is always a staple, though we resisted buying food at the Farmers Market so we wouldn’t have to carry it around (though I was tempted by the world’s tiniest radishes).

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Random street art (with felt pigeons) is always fun too.

Lunch was at Momofuku. I hadn’t eaten there before, but it’s an NYC attraction. The apple and bacon chutney thing was a little disappointing (decently good, but not a standout) but the Momofuku O.G. bowl and roast duck were very yummy. As was the Thai tea cake, though it could have used a little softening up. The tamarind top layer was nice and bright, balanced out by the smooth almond cheesecake-y base.

Justtwomorethings: Momofuku Ssam Bar.  Apple and bacon kimchi, actually, and the problem was that although the apple slices looked like they’d been kimchi’ed, in reality they didn’t taste the least bit like kimchi spice.  Great idea in theory (spicy heat playing off the sweet apple), poor execution.  And the Thai tea cake was just a little too chilled to sink a spoon into easily.  Roast duck, as always, was delish.

Our evenings, on the other hand, were spent in the theaters. Justtwomorethings is better at film reviews than me, so I’ll leave those to her. But I did get to see 4 famous people during my first TFF though, so that was cool. Alas, I did not get an autograph from any. We were too far away from Katie Holmes and Nadia Comaneci, Amber Heard was swamped, and Christopher Walken booked it to the door 😦

Justtwomorethings: For the record, the only autograph I would have been interested in was Christopher Walken (Nadia Comaneci is cool, but I’m not into gymnastics).

Chinese New Year 2015: Food!

Last weekend was Chinese New Year (ok, technically Thursday was) so justtwomorethings and our parents came to NJ to celebrate with me. The melon was ecstatic and spent the first bit running around, trying to sniff everything and everyone and get into justtwomorethings’ luggage.

In case you haven’t guessed by now, FOOD is a big thing with our family, so we spent the weekend stuffing ourselves. Our best two meals were at Penang and Fatty Crab though. I first took our parents to Penang after picking them up from the airport – we’d never eaten there before, but its right next to the nearest sizable Chinese grocery so we gave it a shot. That was a good idea, because it was quite good and deemed fairly authentic by our Penang-born dad.

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Fatty Crab is in NYC. Justtwomorethings and I ate there before, but arrived too early for the dinner service. The bar apps were pretty good though, so we made a reservation for dinner this time. Fatty Crab is more Malaysian-inspired than the true on Malaysian of Penang, but still quite good. Especially the crab of the restuarant’s name–I had trouble with the shell, but the curry sauce was amazing.

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