My Shiny New Bike

A week ago I decided that I was going to go out and get a new bike. I’ve always wanted a real high quality bike, with multiple gears and a comfortable seat. So I went to my local bike shop, talked to the sales associate and picked out a beautiful new Schwinn bicycle. It was expensive but my intention was to have this bike for many years.

I immediately took it for a ride down the Hudson river on a beautiful afternoon. The pedaling was perfect, and when I finally went home I was in such a good mood. I was making plans to ride my bike all over the city this summer, and rely less on public transportation.

I went on Amazon and ordered a brand new lock and helmet, the helmet in orange to go with my blue bike so I could have Mets colors.

My new helmet and lock finally came in the mail last night, and I was so excited to take my bike out for a long ride today. My plan was to ride down to Lincoln Center and catch a movie. I rode through central park, and came down 72nd street and chained my bike up on 69th and Broadway, then went into a diner for a quick lunch.

After leaving the restaurant, I thought I would go check on my bike before heading into the cinema. But it wasn’t there. I thought maybe I had mistaken where I left it, paced the street back and forth hoping I was just missing it, but I wasn’t. Some bastard had taken my bicycle, that I worked for and felt so happy and thrilled about it. In just matter of minutes, some crook took it away without thinking twice.

I went to the police station, where they told me to go back to where I left it and call the police. I did so, and after a few hours the cops never showed up. So I went home and registered my bike in a few databases for bike theft, but I know I’ll never see it again.

I take some blame for leaving a brand new bicycle and locking it with just a wire lock. But still, thieves disgust me. They really do.

Whoever out there took my bike, I hope you take it home and give it to your son. I hope he’s thrilled and over the moon to have a shiny, new, blue bicycle. I pray this weekend he takes it out, shows it off to his friends and brags about the bike his dad got for him. I hope he parks it outside a deli and runs in for a soda, and then when he comes out it’s gone, and he feels that sense of shock and sadness when some asshole takes away what’s yours, and that because of it he grows up to never be a cold son of a bitch like you.

A Painful Watch

All over the web, people are buzzing about 13 Reasons why. There are memes, annoying listicles why it’s great, even more annoying ones about why it’s horrible. Well, the other day I finally finished all 13 episodes of Netflix’s newest hit, and it was truly an experience.

First of all, this isn’t a fun thriller that you kick back and binge while chowing down on a chick parm and a pep. This show is as dark as dark can be, and it got to me.

Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) earns your sympathy rather quickly as she tells the story of how all the super popular kids knock her down one-by-one, until she ultimately takes her own life. It’s a show full of unknowns, and every actor knocks their part out of the park, especially the douchey kids.

Our hero, Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette,) wins us over as the heartbroken and internally destroyed young man who never worked up the courage to tell Hannah how he really felt before it was too late. Minnette is fantastic, and it’s easy to feel what he is feeling as the narrative unfolds.

Overall, this is not a series that you really end up enjoying. It’s more of an experience that hits your emotions in a way we rarely find in film and television, and will leave you up thinking it over at night. It might not be a show that love you to relive over and over, but it’s one that will stay with you for a long time after it ends.

Baseball is Nigh…

Finally. Finally. FINALLY! We are less than a week away from baseball and I cannot wait. Spring training is usually the hardest part of the off-season to get through because of the meaningless baseball on TV that just taunts and teases, reminding you how much you missed the game.

Luckily for me, I will be attending my first ever Opening Day as the Mets take on the Braves at Citi Field and I am pumped up. Noah Syndergaard takes the mound, most of the lineup is healthy (minus poor David Wright) and it’s going to be a great day-off from work.

As for the 2017 season for the Mets, I really don’t know what to expect. Last year was an injury plagued season and I’m having trouble believing this year will  be any different. We’ve already seen Steven Matz go through his usual elbow issues. On top of that, who knows how Matt Harvey, Jack deGrom and Zack Wheeler will bounce back, and how much of a workload they each can take on.

When it comes to the offense, I feel we have a pretty solid squad 1-8, provided everybody stays healthy. I don’t really feel there is any major plus in the lineup outside of Yoenis Cespedes, but I also don’t think there’s a major weak link in the chain. Cespedes had a fantastic spring and I think he’s ready to show he deserved that big contract extension.

I’m definitely not one to make predictions, so I’m just going to hope for the best and enjoy the ride. Let’s go Mets and thank God baseball is almost back!

Lego Batman

When I first saw the trailer for Lego Batman a few months back I was pretty pumped up. Hilarious, fun, and starred Will Arnett and Michael Cera as Batman and Robin! (GOB and George Michael Bluth!!)

Much to my dismay after seeing it today, many of the funniest moments were in the previews.

But that does not mean the film doesn’t have its moments. If you are a fan of any of the previous Batman films, this movie does a great job at referencing and poking fun at the entire series. The whole idea of Bruce Wayne being a cocky, loner, know-it-all plays a big part in the plot, and is well executed.

While Will Arnett has the ideal voice for Batman, Michael Cera steals the show in many moments as the naive, goofy orphan Robin. “Rip!”

This picture won’t leave a lasting impact, but it’s worth the watch for fans of the Dark Knight who don’t take themselves too seriously.

The Book of Mormon!

Finally! After years of trying and failing to get tickets to this show I have done it!

I was meeting up with my lady for a Friday night date and really wanted to surprise her with something different, so I checked StubHub and managed to grab a pair of orchestra seats at a surprisingly reasonable price.

The main reason I wanted to see this show is I have always been a big fan of Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s work on South Park. When the show got going, I was pretty surprised how little I actually knew about the plot. The fact that the story focuses on an attempt to gain converts in Uganda was completely unknown to me going in, but that just made it even funnier.

I truly cannot think of anything not to like about this musical. The dialogue and lyrics are hysterical. The music tends to be a little bland at parts, but to me it came off as being broadway satire.

It’s hard to pick a favorite song from this work of comical genius, but if I had to pick it would be “Hasa Diga Eebowai.” This tune truly does not pull any punches and just sums up Parker and Stone’s humor and complete fearlessness when it comes to making light of serious and touchy subjects.

So, if you are looking for a show to see, do not hesitate to loosen the purse strings a tad and spring for tickets to this fantastic musical. You will laugh non-stop and won’t regret it.

Eggplant Parm and a Pep

I went out Saturday with my shorty for a fun day filled with ice skating, pool, and a movie. In the middle of all of this, we stopped for two meals, the first at a mediocre French place for brunch, and the other at a glorious Italian spot call Casa Nonna.

Located on 38 street between 8th and 9th avenue, this cozy spot is deceivingly massive and is split up into multiple sections. When we approached the hostess, we were told the dining room was booked for the next two hours and our only option was to sit at a high top in the lounge area, which was a pretty sweet spot.

After looking through the menu, my eye was immediately caught by eggplant parm, because it’s the second best of all the parms and I gave up chicken parm for lent.

When the food arrived, it looked fantastic and tasted even better. The highlight, I have to say, was the spaghetti pomodoro. This homemade pasta, topped with a delicious tomato sauce that is the perfect balance of sweet and savory, was absolutely perfect. The first bite is like that scene in Ratatouille when Anton Ego eats Remy’s dish and is so smitten that his mind travels to another time and place.

The eggplant itself made me feel like I was sitting in a real Italian Grandma’s house eating her family’s secret recipe.

After leaving, we truly understood why the reservation book was so full. If you’re in midtown and craving Italian, you have to try Casa Nonna.

Haven’t I Seen This Before?

Groundhog Day? Source Code? Edge of Tomorrow?

Before I Fall takes the very familiar concept of a character stuck reliving the same day over and over again, while everyone in their world has their memory wiped. Except this time, it’s in high school!

Going through this movie, I completely missed the point and had to go to Wikipedia’s always immaculate plot description to find what I wasn’t getting. The entire duration of this story I thought protagonist Samantha Kingston (Zooey Deutch, daughter of Lorraine McFly!) was simply trying to find her way to her tomorrow.

But the number one source for college papers told me that Samantha had died in the car crash she and her nasty group of friends were in after an end-of-year kegger. “I can’t believe high school is almost over!”

When our journey begins, Samantha is a horrible person who disrespects her family and terrorizes one of her schoolmates, with the aid of her fellow plastics. Her boyfriend is a stripey, button up shirt, backwards baseball cap looking dude who seems like the type of guy that would punch you for bumping into him in a pub, but he’s hardly important.

Essentially, the entire point of this story is that Samantha must make her final day on earth count, and have the most positive possible impact on every person in her world. Of course, it takes plenty of trial and error to figure out what exactly she must do to get there.

Overall, this isn’t a tale that speaks to me much on a personal level, but it is a film that could greatly benefit modern teenage girls (Snapchat alert!) We see a lesson and empathy just as strong for the popular bullies as we do for their victims. If this movie makes just one adolescent oppressor look at her world differently, or convinces a tortured youth that everything will eventually be okay, then it has done it’s job.

Spring Time for Baseball Fans in Florida

Oh, baseball how I missed thee. I know it’s only an exhibition game in February, but it was quite refreshing to spend my Sunday afternoon watching Mets baseball.

When it comes to sports, baseball and football are by far my two favorites. But the thing is, when it’s baseball season I don’t miss football, and when it’s football season I long for baseball.

There’s something about he game that just captures my heart in a way no other game possibly could. The sounds, the smells, the feeling of summer glory. Just stepping on a baseball field or watching a game instantly rushes me back to my childhood and reminds me of when I first learned to love the greatest sport ever played.

There was a time in my life that I watched baseball with too much emotion. Seeing the Mets lose a game could ruin my day. But as you mature as a fan, you learn that you don’t need to see your team win it all to enjoy the game (though I imagine it would be amazing, still waiting for a Mets’ World Series win in my lifetime.)

You learn to respect the beauty of baseball, win or lose. You learn to savor those hot nights in the stands, or on your couch taking in the sound of fastballs blasting off of bats. You learn to relish just listening to the commentary and finding out something new every night about the thing you thought you already knew every possible thing about, or seeing something that has never been done before.

Yes, it’s only a game. But it’s the best game, and I can’t wait for the season to start. Let’s go Mets, and thank God for baseball.

Get Out Gets in Your Head

Wow. This film definitely is not anything like Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. I remember first seeing this trailer a couple of months ago and expecting it to be some poorly executed, cliche horror flick that has a three-week run, and then disappears forever.

But then I saw the ever-so-rare perfect score of 100-percent on Rotten Tomatoes and I was intrigued.

This movie (written and directed by the awesome Jordan Peele) was scary, absolutely hilarious, and insightful all at the same time.

Besides the main horror story in which we see a black man (Daniel Kaluuya) trapped among some sketchy folks who seem to be modern slave owners while visiting his girlfriend’s (Allison Williams) parents, this is tale that opened my middle-class white boy eyes.

It’s pretty easy for me to think being the only black man in a room full of white people isn’t such a big deal, but of course it almost never is a stress-free experience. People will look at you differently, ask you things they wouldn’t anybody else, and adjust their choice of words based on your race, even if they don’t realize it.

I like to think in my naive head that walking through white suburbia is a stress-free experience for people of all races, but that of course is not the case. People will keep an extra eye on you, and you will feel the unfair scrutiny. That is what this story said to me in terms of race in our modern society.

But beyond the thought provoking aspects, what an awesome little film. In a span of 30 seconds, you could be cracking up, freaking out, and then laughing again. And in the end we find a story that almost feels like a cross between something by Quentin Tarantino and M. Night Shyamalan in all the best ways.

I gotta say, somebody at Universal really dropped the ball by dropping this thing in February. GO SEE IT!

Top 10 Films of 2016

It’s almost Oscar time, the night where we award the film that covers the most popular social issue on the internet from the previous year. (Truly, when was the last time the best movie of the year won best movie?)

So, since the nominations for best film are never quite right, I’ve made it my annual tradition to compile my own list of the year’s best. Here are my 10 favorite movies of 2016.

10. Paterson: I actually just saw this film very recently when I had an afternoon to kill. I figured ‘At the very least, Adam Driver is always entertaining’ and went in with pretty modest expectations. Halfway through, I never would have expected it to come close to my top 10. Overall, the story doesn’t have much plot and mainly just follows the life of a New Jersey bus driver who writes poetry over the course of one week. But for some reason, this film just got to me on a personal level. I spent the entire day after questioning whether I had more to offer, but am just wasting my life in a mediocre career because I’m too afraid of failing. Because this simple moving picture was able to get to me so much, I couldn’t possibly leave it off of this list.

9. Hacksaw Ridge: Oh nooo, how dare I put something with Mel Gibson’s name on it on here! So many biographical dramas are hard to sit through, but this here is a story worth telling. As always, Gibson doesn’t hold back on any of the gore in this story of how a pacifist won the Medal of Honor in WWII.  Truly just brilliantly told and a must-see.

8. Silence: I read this book a couple of years back when I heard Martin Scorsese was finally in production with this faithful adaptation of a powerful novel by Shūsaku Endō. As somebody raised in a strict, Catholic environment this one really hit home, but I truly think this a story that can leave people of all creeds and backgrounds walking away with something.

7. Hell or Highwater: Often when I see a film like this come out my initial thoughts are “Great, here’s another Texas crime drama where a really good looking dude does a deep, generic southern accent and then gets shot by an old sheriff in the end.” And while parts of that statement might be true, this one was well worth the price of admission. Truly there were times I was on the edge of my seat, and confused whether to root for the cops or criminals. Plus Jeff Bridges is just awesome.

6. The Edge of Seventeen: I hate to copy every critic on Rotten Tomatoes and say “reminiscent of a John Hughes’ film” but it’s just so true. The always reliable Hailee Steinfeld really knocks it out of the park in this awkward, coming of age dark comedy that presses on all the weird emotions that come with being a pain in the ass teen trying to find your place in the world.

5. Lion: This one really reminded me a lot of Slumdog Millionaire, and weirdly made me want to adopt and Indian kid. Just an overall awesome true story that, for once, makes modern technology feel like a blessing. Plus, I gotta say, Dev Patel does a killer Aussie accent.

4. La La Land: I have to admit, I am a little disappointed that this movie is getting so much more love than Damien Chazelle’s last film Whiplash, but still found this to be such an enjoyable watch. Truly a celebration of a by-gone era of music, dance, and cinema. Most likely it’ll clean up at the Academy Awards, but I have no qualms with that. It’s hard to root against a team of Chazelle, Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, and John Legend.

3. Land of Mine: This is a story I had never heard before I saw this picture. German soldiers sent to Denmark after WWII to remove land mines buried on practically every beach in the country. Going in, I was half expecting a Tarantino style revenge film, but it was anything but that. It doesn’t take long until you find yourself emotionally attached to these kids and rooting for them to somehow make it back home alive.

2. Nocturnal Animals: I can’t remember the last time I watched something that made my heart beat so fast for such an extended period of time. A three-arc story that comes together for an experience that is both visually and emotionally fantastic. Tom Ford proves he can direct, and Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Michael Shannon dominate on screen as usual.

1. Sing Street: “Who the hell are you to tell me what to do? You wear a dress and tell me not to wear brown shoes.” For months after I first saw this film I couldn’t go a day without recommending it to somebody. John Carney really captures the mindset of a teen who has yet to be been ruined by life, and still believes through music, and love he can concur anything. The tunes are awesome, the dialogue is hilarious, and the conclusion will touch your heart. Truly a shame that this brilliant piece of Irish film has been shutout by the Oscars.