Thursday, January 23, 2020

Squarrel Cafe review, yes that's how they spelled it!

      Coffee shops are a staple of society and now, you can't go half a block without running into one or four. So, in an age where you need to stand out amongst the crowd, how does one do this when you just sell coffee?

      Let's backtrack a little. The production company  I work with, Sketchfed Studios, LLC,  wanted to host a mini company outing on an on going basis. Someplace open, inviting, not necessarily alcohol related as not everyone drinks liquor but different from the norm.

    As we all love playing video games, I started to seek out establishments that had gaming as well. I found quite a few that offered board gaming as an incentive. The prices ranged from $10 and up for a max of 3 to 5 hours of gaming or ordering two item minimum while playing.

   By NYC city standards, these weren't too pricey and doable for the budget. As I was searching around the areas we wanted to meet, I stumbled upon this small coffee shop called the Squarrel Cafe. It's located at 572 Atlantic Ave, 1 block west from the Barclays Center, by the Dunkin Donuts on the corner. I literally have passed by this place a million times and sadly never really noticed it (as I'm not that big of a coffee drinker) but the way the name is spelled definitely caught my attn.

     So I went inside to check it out. It has a very simple and modern feel to it that's open and inviting.  They serve coffee, bubble tea, etc and now offer desserts and hot pressed sandwiches. They also have board games, lots and lots of board games! They only charge $5 for all day unlimited play and have a vast assortment of titles I havent even heard of. The titles range from younglings all the way up to adults too. Can't beat that price either!

     They have a special challenge posted on the large school-like blackboard located towards the front of the store and winner of the challenge gets a free item. Currently it's a giant Sudoku puzzle (I never really tried sudoku before, maybe I should start? Haha).

    The biggest draw is that every one has their own personal space to eat, play games and even hold business meetings. All of these were going on simultaneously while I was scoping the place. This place is kid and teenager/ sfter school friendly and all the kids inside were very respectful. The bathroom is super clean, spacious and has this really cool hand dryer attached to the handles of the sink. Feel free to play around with that while you're in there, ha ha.

     I never found out why the name is 'Squarrel' and not 'Squirrel', I have a hunch but I'll hold my tongue for now. They definitely did mean squirrel as the logo for the cafe is a picture of a squirrel. Oh well.  They've only been open for about 6 months now and are newbies to the neighborhood, but  definitely go check them out and show them some love!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Kipo and the age of wonderbeasts (2020)

 All I can say about the latest 'anime - style' show is another huge win for the Netflix, Dreamworks and Studio Mir partnership.  Based on Radford Sechrist's web comic named 'Kipo', 'Kipo...' is about a post apocalyptic world, 200 years in the future in a city called Lost Angeles where, presumably, some type of nuclear device went off worldwide, causing all animals to mutate in various ways. Some animals, the dogs and bunnies, kept their animalistic characteristics but became giants with excess body parts i.e - extra ears and tails. Some animals become more cognitive and exhibited very human like behavior.

    The humans of this world are separated into two groups - above ground and burrowers. Kipo Oak is a super intelligent 13 years old girl who's a part of the burrowing humans. Something traumatic happened, her burrow city was destroyed and she was separated from her  tribe. She tries to search for her people and along the way meets a young, tough girl named 'wolf who lives alone above ground, a 'mutie' pig named Mando who has four legs and eyes, and a young DJ named Benson who's best friends with a beetle named Dave,  Dave's 'mutie' ability, besides his human like personality, is that he literally goes through metamorphosis within a two weeks span in almost every episode. Within these two weeks, you get to see Dave as a larvae, a two years old, a hormonal teen, a jacked up young beetle and a super old bug with limbs that consistently fall off his body.

     The show also revolves around this newly formed group  and their misadventures above ground trying to help Kipo find her people. Their story arcs when Kipo's group relaizes they are being hunted by a super smart and powerful Mandrill named Scarlemagne. He wants to rule the surface world by taking control  of whatever human are left, mind controlling them into being his slaves and joining his massive army. This 10 episode first season ends with Kipo briefly being reunited with her people right before Scarlemange absconds her father. Kipo throughout the series also goes through some dramatic changes that will forever change her life and the world.

    Besides all the brilliant storytelling, interesting characters, and amazing artistry, one thing that really makes the show standout is the music. Kipo plays guitar and sings on various episodes while Dave and Benson are the DJs of that world. The cast also features some pretty powerful musicians as voice actors like Joan Jett as a rocker snake named "Camille".

    It's also very LGBT friendly and has a cute moment between Kipo and Benson where he tells her he's gay. Nothing over the top or in your face. Just a simple and quick not really coming out moment but more giving us  a heads up. His sexuality isn't heavily played out on the show either. It's like Benson's a young, gay, p.o.c who's an awesome DJ and reliable friend.

    Overall, this series has a little bit of everything for everyone. There's no 'over the head' adult jokes so it's equally entertaining for young kids and older alike. Season 2 has already been confirmed but no release date in site yet. though producers for the show promise season two will be bigger and much more action packed! Can't wait to see what happens to Kipo and the gang!