Top 10 Posts Of 2017

What a crazy year! More than double the amount of posts from last year, and even more cons (how did that happen?). And on top of all that, I got engaged in Disney World! All in all, a pretty amazing year and I can’t wait to see what 2018 will bring. But join me, why don’t you, as we look at some of my most visited posts of 2017:

1. Instagram’s New “Swipe Left” Feature (The Good & The Bad)
2. All New AMC “Ultra Lux” Dine-In Theatre (Shops at Riverside, Hackensack, NJ)
3. The Spider-Man: Homecoming Experience (Sony Square NYC)
4. Star Wars: The Last Jedi Experience By Verizon (NYCC 2017)
5. Toys R Us Times Square Grand Opening 2017
6. Six Flags – Justice League: Battle for Metropolis 4D Ride
7. LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester
8. Force Friday II (The Last Jedi)
9. HASCON 2017 – The Premier Hasbro FANmily Event
10. Kellogg’s NYC Cereal Cafe

And just because I really liked the next 10, here are some more top posts!

11. Louis Vuitton Exhibition: Volez Voguez Voyagez #NYCVVV
12. ComiCONN 2017 (Foxwoods Resort Casino)
13. I Took A Photo For Jim Lee & Frank Miller (Big Apple Comic Con 2017)
14. Whole Foods Mochi Ice Cream Bar
15. Spotlight: CreeesArt (Creees HyunSung Lee)
16. The Art of Spider-Man Exhibit NYC
17. My Ocha – Matcha Shop (Shops at Riverside, Hackensack, NJ)
18. Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review
19. Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017
20. Play Fair 2017 – The Ultimate Experience In Toys & Family Entertainment

Thanks again, everyone, and Happy New Year!

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#IFoundLegoLuke And Won Lego R2-D2!

#IFoundLegoLuke and won Lego R2-D2! Sounds like a pretty good deal, doesn’t it?

The brick-y Jedi Master in exile debuted at San Diego Comic Con 2017 (July 20-23, 2017) and then embarked on a tour of 5 Wal-Mart’s across the country! At 6 feet tall, this Lego statue is taller than Mark Hamill himselfAren’t you a little tall to be a Stormtrooper?

From July 26-31, he was at the Wal-Mart in Burbank, CA… then August 2-7 in Dallas, TX… August 9-15 in Vienna, VA… August 17-22 in Teterboro, NJ… and then finally August 24-28 in Saugus, MA.

The signage encouraged you to “Pose with Luke!” so that’s exactly what I did. Some normal poses and a couple silly ones – like me handing him a banana in the style of Rey handing him the lightsaber in Episodes VII & VIII… Hey, a Jedi’s gotta have a balanced diet too!

That’s when I saw the signage for this contest. It was a very unassuming sign with little to no information. All I knew was that (a) it’s custom made, (b) it’s actually from the LEGO Group, and (c) it’s Star Wars! So I entered.

Fast forward 2 months and, to my surprise, I received the notification that I was chosen as the winner! Fast forward another month and he finally arrives… the mysterious R2-D2 that I still know nothing about.

I’ll be honest, I was a little skeptical at first. Not because I won the contest but because no one could tell me what a “custom brick built Lego R2-D2” would be. How big is it? Is it pre-built? Will it do anything or just stand there?

I opened the box and inside was a hand-drawn R2-D2 card and this personalized letter to me. I’ve whited out some parts for security reasons but it says:

What a wonderful way to find out how strong the force is with you! I heard that you were the lucky LEGO fan who was able to find Luke Skywalker in a local Wal-Mart Store! I know he has traveled far and wide across our country with fans eager to encounter him in stores; just like Rey in the upcoming movie!

In light of your obvious Jedi strengths, and for your participation in search of the legendary Jedi, please enjoy your custom LEGO Model of R2-D2 built by our professional LEGO Builders. Because it already sounds like you are a huge LEGO and Star Wars fan, I know this prize will be something iconic you can cherish and add to your collection.

Congratulations! You found Luke! We sincerely hope you enjoy your prize and have the chance to share this experience with all the LEGO and Star Wars fans you know.

You got that right! So here he is inside the box:

If you’re familiar enough with Legos, you can see that little assembly was required. His middle leg is already attached, so all I had to do was attach his 2 main legs!

He’s just over a foot tall, once he’s leaned back like this. The contest rules state that the value of this one-of-a-kind Lego R2-D2 is around $2,000 but I’ll go ahead and say that this whole experience was priceless!

In hindsight, I was pretty lucky to even find out about this contest because I found Lego Luke on the last day he was at my Wal-Mart! Huge thank you to Lego & Wal-Mart for everything!

Last week I got to meet Lego Luke again at Play Fair 2017 and thanked him too. If you haven’t seen him yet, check out my Play Fair post and also the official Lego time lapse video of building him with 36,743 bricks:

My Ocha – Matcha Shop (Shops at Riverside, Hackensack, NJ)

“Whole Lot A Matcha… We Got Ya!”

My Ocha is a new café inside the Shops at Riverside (Hackensack, NJ) with a focus primarily on matcha, or powdered green tea. With a very modern interior and fantastic fresh menu, My Ocha is a wonderful addition as the Bergen County mall undergoes renovations this fall.

Their menu currently consists of various drinks & snacks including French macarons from the popular Macaron Café in NYC, soft serve ice cream, and a selection of refreshing spritzers (20 oz) for only $4.95: enjoy flavors like matcha limeade, cherry yuzu, blueberry matcha latte, and much more! They also serve both hot & iced matcha drinks (you can even choose from regular, almond, coconut, and soy milks), hot & iced teas, and coffee.

The owners, John & James, take great pride in what they do and as I spoke with James, I instantly loved the direction they are taking My Ocha! Get this: they only use ceremonial grade matcha and 90% of their inventory in house is organic… even their water is triple filtered!

The shop will actually continue to expand its offerings in the near future. James indicated that as their food menu grows past macarons (think crêpes and poké bowls), one of their goals is to provide tall tables for dine-in guests.

Personally, I think the inside is perfect from the colors, down to the decor. It’s very inviting and James is very hospitable, leaving for a great experience from beginning to end.

They’re also one of the few shops in this area that use the Coffee Ripples service, which is an app-powered machine that “prints” high quality images on your coffee foam using coffee bean “ink”. This is an awesome bonus I discovered during my visit! I printed a Darth Vader onto my foam, and the possibilities are endless because you can customize your own image with your smartphone app & it gets sent directly to My Ocha’s machine. Check out the video below for how it all works:

My personal favorite here is the strawberry matcha latte. What is it? Imagine hand-ground ceremonial grade matcha powder via mortar & pestle, meticulously brewed & then swirled with a milk of your choice (regular, almond, coconut, or soy), and a layer of utterly delicious housemade strawberry compote at the bottom. What you get is this:

Not only does it look good, it tastes even better!

You can find My Ocha right by Au Bon Pain and Mr. Cupcakes on the first floor of the Shops at Riverside (390 Hackensack Ave, Hackensack, NJ 07601) and online at Yelp & Instagram.

All New AMC “Ultra Lux” Dine-In Theatre (Shops at Riverside, Hackensack, NJ)

The first Ultra Lux AMC Theatre opened today at the Shops at Riverside in Hackensack, NJ. AMC’s latest movie theater offers the feature Delivery to Seat with guest-favorite movie-going amenities in an upscale environment.

With renovations currently going on at the mall, this new AMC is a great addition as a luxury entertainment experience. Walking into this theater is already different from other AMC’s with beautifully tiled floors, upscale decor, elegant lighting, and a lobby rivaled only by posh hotels.

Arrived early? No worries! The lobby is very spacious and if you’re not ordering from the concession stand, sit back and enjoy one of the carpeted seating areas accompanied by a flat screen television.

Standing on lines to order tickets is a thing of the past, and that couldn’t be truer here at AMC DINE-IN Shops at Riverside 9. Not only can you buy & reserve seats on your phone, you can do the same at their ticketing kiosks inside or outside the theater.

Tickets are very reasonable considering the experience you’ll get inside: plush AMC Signature recliners and a comfortable “eat-at-seat” service!

And when you’re ready to order, stop by the food & beverage area to choose from a menu full of amazing handcrafted entrees, appetizers and desserts. And once your order is ready, it’ll be delivered straight to your seat!

Have some time? Grab a drink at the concession stand or the AMC MacGuffins bar (21+) which offers beer, wine, and cocktails that can be enjoyed before, during, or after the movie.

On your way in, don’t worry about those stubs! This Ultra Lux Theatre features ticketless entry. Head on over to one of the 9 state-of-the-art theaters for your show and make your way to your assigned seat.

I’ve been to other AMC DINE-IN Theatres and this one differs most obviously by the aesthetics but also the theater size. Other locations I’ve tried will seat less viewers to accommodate bulkier chairs or more leg room. While AMC DINE-IN Shops at Riverside 9 also has plenty of personal space, it also fits a large crowd inside. Just take a look at this stunning interior:

It’s by no means small and the rows & seats are clearly marked. Every seat is optimized for a clear view of the screen and makes sure your viewing is as comfortable as possible. Here is an example of the recliners, one fully reclined and one fully upright:

Snack on some AMC signature items like the Ultimate Nachos (starting at $10.99) or Poutine Fries ($10.29). Or if you’ve got a larger appetite, aim big with the Asian Steak & Shrimp Bowl ($16.49), Royal Burger ($12.99) or Chipotle Chicken Melt ($12.79)!

Then satisfy your sweet tooth with a Ghiradelli Chocolate Milkshake or OREO Milkshake, but don’t forget to check out the wall of iconic movie quotes before you leave (if you didn’t already on the way in).

“I’ll have what she’s having”

“You had me at hello”

“To infinity and beyond”

But I’ll leave you with my favorite from the photo above: “MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU”

My Top 5 Super Bowl LI Commercials

Every year, the most watched show is NFL’s Super Bowl. You get to watch the AFC & NFC champions in an epic showdown. You get to watch “music’s biggest night”, the Super Bowl Halftime Show. But you also get to watch the most inspirational, ridiculous, and confusing commercials of the year.

Lady Gaga put on an amazing performance. The New England Patriots won the game. But the real winners? These commercials:

1. Stranger Things 2…

2. Wonderful Pistachios…

3. Skittles Romance…

4. Bai Bai Bai…

5. Buick…

There were commercials missing from some regular heavy hitters (like Doritos) and the overall quality of the commercials, I feel, weren’t so great. But with an average rate of $160,000 per second for a Super Bowl ad, it seems totally understandable… Which ones were your favorites?

Top 10 Posts Of 2016

I started this blog on a whim only 3 months ago and I’ve appreciated everybody’s support! What started as a place to just post some photos & simple thoughts has now become a collection of our shared interests & passions. Whether you’re joining me for the first time today or you’re here for this 22nd post, these are my most visited entries of 2016:

1. Kimchi Smoke Barbecue (Westwood, NJ)
2. Closter Plaza’s Target Opening Ribbon Cutting – Expect More, Pay Less (At Another Target)
3. New York Comic Con 2016
4. Rhode Island Comic Con 2016
5. ICHIRAN NYC (Solo Booth Ramen Restaurant)
6. Six Flags Holiday In The Park 2016
7. Force Friday 2016 (#GoRogue)
8. Cirque du Soleil: TORUK – The First Flight
9. Oktoberfest 2016
10. Pixel Forest At New Museum NYC

Thanks again, everyone, and Happy New Year!

My Favorite Christmas Movies

Although Christmas movies are playing non-stop on TV, no need to force yourself to watch ABC Family’s 25 Days Of Christmas or original Hallmark specials on repeat. There are tons of Christmas/holiday movies these days for your binge watching pleasure. And while some may enjoy older choices like Miracle On 34th Street or even Love Actually, others enjoy newer ones like Arthur Christmas or Rise Of The Guardians. But here are my personal classic favorites and why (who knows, maybe there’ll be a new one for you to try out this year!):

5. A Christmas Story

Yes, I know, it’s that time of year where it’s playing on TBS 24-hours at a time. But last year I finally bought my own copy on Blu-ray because it’s such a timeless classic. Even though it looks dated (taking place in the 1940s), it’s actually a 1983 film. Who could resist little Ralphie, his Ovaltine, and “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!”… It’s a story where kids might get lost and disinterested because it doesn’t seem noticeably funny at first, but one that adults will totally relate to and love.

4. Fred Claus

If you’re a fan of Vince Vaughn’s signature fast-talking then you’re in luck! It’s him vs. his brother Paul Giamatti (Santa) and Kevin Spacey (the perfect Grinch). Plus, I love the soundtrack. It’s on my annual Christmas playlist on repeat!

3. Elf

What?! You’ve never heard of Elf?! Billy On The Street cracks me up… sometimes. But Elf has become such a classic already, after only (only??) 13 years. It was such an original idea at the time (spaghetti & maple syrup, anyone?) and look at what’s become of all of these actors now! And once you’ve seen it, you’ll be quoting it all throughout the season… maybe even longer: “You sit on a throne of lies!”

2. Santa Clause Trilogy

Ok, I’m cheating a little by bunching all 3 Santa Clause movies together but if you watch one, you just have to watch all of them. Tim Allen’s charm is undeniable. His comedy is all about timing, and it couldn’t be more perfect than when he’s Santa. Sure, there might be some cringe-worthy scenes but that all comes with the Christmas movie territory! If you were a fan of his show Home Improvement or his current series Last Man Standing, you won’t be disappointed. Add a little holiday magic, and this trilogy will “sleigh” you!

1. Jingle All The Way

“It’s Turbo Time!” Just forget for a second that they somehow released a “sequel” and enjoy Arnold Schwarzenegger running around on Christmas Eve to get a Turbo Man action figure for young Anakin Skywalker. I don’t know what it is about this movie, but I watch it every year without fail. Arnold is a domestic hero and saves the day by pulling off an amazing Christmas miracle for his family. And in case you were looking for a nostalgic memento of your childhood by getting your own Turbo Man… forget about it. Sold. Out.

I mean, Arnold, Sinbad, Phil Hartman, Jim Belushi as Santa, and even a young Chris Parnell in the clip above (SNL). You can’t go wrong!

Merry Christmas! Grab a friend or a loved one and watch some movies! Santa’s coming!!

Words To Live By

Growing up, I think many of us had some sort of journal or diary. I remember looking back and reading my old entries, thinking about how much I’ve changed and evolved. Today, in the digital age, there are endless ways to express yourself and instantly document it. But I’ve always encouraged others to start a blog because it’s one of these great outlets for your thoughts, ideas, interests, and creative juices to flow. So I decided that it’s finally time to practice what I preach!

Not only is this concept of “following your own advice” applicable to my starting a new blog but also in everyday life. The way we give input or offer guidance in others’ lives is something we shouldn’t take lightly. The things we say should be words to live by.

If we say it, we should mean it.

So here goes! Feel free to tag along in my occasional journeys in life, travel, food, and plenty of other fun stuff. You’ll find updates all across the board: right here and all my social media platforms.