Favorite Places: Coney Island Brewery

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Since we’ve reached peak craft brewing in this country there aren’t many breweries left where you can feel like a regular or enjoy truly exciting beers. But in a world of IPAs akin to kiddie rides, Coney Island Brewery has earned their hashtags #TakeTheRide and #ThrillYourTastebuds.

On a typical Saturday in summer, you can find me wandering between the brewery and the Freak Bar, sipping beers, emphatically cheering on the sideshow and talking to freaky new friends. Even on winter weekends it’s nice to escape to a place that feels so much like my childhood home in Wildwood, NJ.

Coney Island Brewery Black Lager

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I’m a big fan of their quirky and creative events. In the summer, they host big happenings and can releases at least once a month. My favorite last year was the Cotton Candy Festival. The Cotton Candy Kolsch is one of my favorites so I had to pick up some cans to bring home.. Not too sweet, but perfect for a summer afternoon.

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The Brewery’s Birthday Bash in August was also a total blast. Sideshow performers hung out and did their acts among the crowd Adam Realman, my sideshow professa from Sideshow School 2012, ripped a deck of playing cards in HALF and made my boyfriend bleed trying to replicate that feat of strength.

We spent Super Bowl VII with CIB at Kitchen 21, enjoying our favorite craft beers as the Eagles historically won their first Lombardi. Most recently, we celebrated Valentine’s Day with an excellent beer and chocolate pairing.

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Freak Show Saturdays are a great opportunity to get freaky with flavors. As CIB describes their Randall infusions:

Every Saturday a new, mad, reckless experiment in beer science will be conducted in our taproom as we infuse one of our styles with a new ingredient.

Think NY Honey Stout infused with Cafe Grumpy espresso beans, our Merman NY IPA blasted through two chambers of whole cone Mosaic hops, or perhaps Mermaid Pilsner infused with lemon starburst?

As someone who is routinely drawn to events to try their newest releases and limited editions, this is a kryptonite that guarantees I have plans every Saturday!

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It’s no surprise I’ve been a member of the Beer Freak Club since last year. I’m only one punch away from the mug club and definitely on track to score one of those BEAUTIFUL Beast Stainless Steel Growlers only the freakiest fans earn.

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NYC Beer Week is coming up fast and I’ll be checking out a couple of spots. I’ll definitely be at the kick off party at the brewery next Sunday. Then March 1, I’ll be hanging out for a while at the Brazen Fox. I love when CIB comes to my neighborhood! Who else is coming out?
beer week

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Book Report: Fire and Fury

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I’ll be honest. There were only two factors that drove me to purchase this book.
1) The hype surrounding what was seemingly a damning, spare-no-soul expose on the Trump administration.
2) Trump tried to stop the book’s release, so buying it felt like a small, personal protest.

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It was sold out all over the city. No one had it. As much as I hate to buy books from ANYWHERE over The Strand, I had to turn to Amazon. Even that took weeks, but at least I could read the first chapter online.

This was probably the most intriguing part. Bannon is painted as a comical, hog-like bureaucratic villain, a puppetmaster pulling all the strings behind Trump’s back who doesn’t realize he’s on strings as well. He’s instantly love/hateable and becomes the key figure throughout the book. Yes. It’s more about Bannon than it is about Trump.

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Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House is like Mean Girls with politicians. It’s by far the cattiest snarkfest I’ve ever forged through in my life. I want to believe the accounts detailed in the book are true, but the tone and overwhelming hearsay undermine the credibility of the story and make me seriously incredulous. This is not to say I have an inkling of fondness or support for Trump. His presence actually nauseates me.

Wolff counters Trump’s simple-mindedness and lack of intellect with dense prose and winding sentence structures almost as difficult to untangle as the incompetence of this administration. I have an MFA in poetry writing, a medium in which you can pretty much make up whatever grammar rules you please, and I was shocked by Wolff’s comma fetish. He sometimes employed them to draw out sentences for than a third of the page long. Needless to say, it’s a taxing read that requires long stretches of silence and concentration.

There doesn’t seem to be a clear litany. Chapters are more episodic; each one attacks a different person or situation. The most often chided scapegoats are Kushner and Bannon. Wolff skirts around Ivanka. She is given nearly no autonomy or agency, almost always referred to as “daughter” or “wife,” despite Wolff’s suggestions that she is the strongest not-so-secret influence on her father. It seems like there’s a much more interesting story behind Ivanka than any of the other crew, but we never find out what’s lurking behind her polished facade.

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It’s not so much that damning expose I was promised as much as it is a comedy of errors chronicling one circus’ sheer incompetency. You could probably get the same tired gossip from Stephen Colbert’s Our Cartoon President. Overall, there was short-lived satisfaction in purchasing the book in protest, but actually reading it is just more cruel subjection to the same exhausting punishments we’re living every day. You’re not going to learn anything new and you’re just going to end up frustrated, bored and depressed.

Sunday Stats

Sunday Stats

*Since my family first got an NES, I’ve had a controller in my hands. Exploring new worlds, meeting new characters and experiencing stories… in some ways, I’ve just connected better with the world through games. However, it’s also very important to me to be present in my life, to improve myself, to go out and MEET the people I’ve connected with online and to expand my knowledge. I spend hours in games; how do I level myself up?

In this weekly series, I’ll chronicle how I’ve improved my “stats” with completely arbitrary scoring.*

-1 Intelligence – How did I make myself a little smarter? What did I learn?
Tequila is a bad idea. This was a lesson I learned the hard way. Oof.

+3 Charisma – How was I less awkward or more beautiful?
In this month’s Goddess Provisions box, I got this new highlighter. It’s like wearing liquid crystals on your eyelids. The photo barely does it justice. It’s so subtly bright and amplifying. I’m not a huge makeup wearer so I love simple things I can apply quickly to give myself a confident glow.

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+1 Strength – New workouts, breakthroughs, challenges.
I beat my max wattage in Spin on Tuesday! This week was a good step towards getting into a regular schedule. Changing the sound of my alarm DEFINITELY helped a lot!

+1 Defense – Where did I consciously avoid or deflect negative energy?
There’s a special card in Oliver Hibert’s Secret Arcana that has no defined meaning. The idea is that if you meditate with this card, sleep with it under your pillow, whisper sweet nothings to it and take it to a grand ball, it will reveal its meaning to you and only you. And it’s not to be shared. I started investing a lot of spiritual energy into this card this week. It hasn’t revealed itself yet, but I can’t wait until it does!

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+5 Luck – Something good that happened this week
I reached peak father-daughter relationship! My pride is swelling out of my chest. My dad is re-branding his company and working on a new logo. There were 3 choices. He and all of his C-Suite just could not decide. The engineer uttered the words every designer dreads: “Just combine the two designs!”  Then, my dad asked for MY opinion! He didn’t tell me which one he was leaning toward. I sat with the three designs for a night, making notes and listening to the stories in each design- much like reading tarot cards. One design carried so much symbolism and reflected the values and products of the company incredibly brightly. I shot my dad and email with how I interpreted that logo as well as what the other ones said to me and why they were inferior choices. Not only did Dad agree, he shared my email with his whole team! The email I got from him afterwards (below) will forever be saved in my inbox! I’m so honored that he included me in such an important process and piece of his business. I feel like he finally respects me as a marketer and values my input on important matters. I could not be more thrilled!

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+5 Wealth – How did I save towards my goals?
This was the first full week of #NoSpendFeb and I did REALLY well! I’ve actually already learned a TON about my spending habits and view of money. I’ll share a full report after this experiment ends next month. In the meantime, I highly encourage you to join me! This week I only spent $37.42 on non-essentials. Unbelievable!

Subscription Addiction

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Ages ago, I had a Lootcrate subscription. It was fun for a while, but it was also overloading my shelves with junk. Most of the themes were too broad for my interests and I wasn’t getting enough gaming items. Too much of the stuff ended up in the trash because I couldn’t deal with the clutter. I canceled, but they’ve evolved a lot in the last couple of years and have a bunch of more specifically tailored options now. Their sock crate is probably worth it! To be honest, if they did an underwear box for women, I’d totally get that.

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Typical LootCrate

When Lootcrate first came onto the scene, along with a handful of other subscription boxes, I remember thinking that this fad would never catch fire. In our digital era where minimalism is a lifestyle, magazines and mail subscriptions are virtually deceased, I just couldn’t fathom why people would want to amass STUFF on a monthly basis.

Then, in a Twitch stream on Dyscourse in 2015, I discovered Indiebox. Indiebox delivered collector’s edition PC games with amazing collectibles. I still enjoy the Axiom Verge soundtrack! It was an awesome way to discover new games and play new genres. I particularly appreciated the game download codes so my shelves didn’t fill up with jewel cases like the 90’s. Unfortunately, in September they shuttered the subscription service portion of their business model. RIP.

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My Favorite Indiebox

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My first Indiebox

Through the magic of instagram, I met Goddess Provisions where I’ve been a member for almost 2 years. Each month I get candles and aromatherapy oils, a bit of chocolate maybe or other tools to raise my vibration and connect more deeply with the universe.

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January’s awesome Goddess Provisions box

Now almost everyone I know maintains some kind of subscription. But how did this happen? How did something kind of silly and seemingly so off trend explode into a cultural phenomenon?

My theory is twofold:

We’ve forgotten the joy of surprise.
When information and answers are a tap away, the amusement and satisfaction of discovery has dissipated. New memes are old news as soon as they start trending. Through social media, everyone learns about major events at practically the same moment. If you don’t see the hottest new movie on opening night, there’s a massive chance someone is going to spoil it for you.

True, genuine surprise is rare anymore. Sometimes instagram spoils boxes for me!    We know everything before we know it and discovery has gotten boring. So, the arrival of a package packed with mystery goodies tailored to your interests brings back the thrill of surprise. It’s like finding a loot crate in real life! #GamesIRL

Getting physical mail is AWESOME.
Most of the good stuff comes to our email inboxes now, while our mailboxes are filled with disappointment- direct mail marketing pieces (still? REALLY?), local menus and credit card offers. A mission to the mailbox typically ends with a jaunt to garbage can.

Remember getting care packages in college? Or any kind of gift in the mail? It turns a trip to the mailbox into your own private holiday. It’s a parade in your honor. Subscription boxes are like a gift each month, and if you pay for several months in advance, it doesn’t even feel like spending money for the duration!

Glux introduced me to Cratejoy (and she talked about her subscription experiences here) where we both went a little wild on the options in January. I’ll review some of the new boxes I’ve subbed with in the coming weeks. Do you have any favorites?

Let’s Talk about the Latest Jurassic World Trailer

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There were two big thrills for me during the Super Bowl:
1) Seeing my boyfriend cry when his Eagles won the Lombardi for the first time in their history.
2) The latest trailer for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

I can really see the horror influence here. Director J.A. Bayona is bringing a much darker feel to the films. And. I. Love. It. As a kid, seeing the first movie in the theater about 15 times, I got scared at the dilophosaurus/Jeep scene every time. I used to sleep on the top bunk and my headboard was against the wall, so there was this deep dark space behind my bed. It freaked me out so much, I had to fill it with stuffed animals because I was pretty sure a dilophosaurus was going to pop out of that space and rip me apart. While the other films certainly had moments of incredible tension, I’m hoping to find that fear again in Fallen Kingdom.

Look at that indoraptor arm curling through the window! Straight horror move right there. But I have so many questions now:
How does the indoraptor get into the girl’s bedroom?
Why is the rescue team moving the dinosaurs into a civilized area?
Why are they saving the most savage ones?
Why are they saving ANY other than Blue??
In the tunnel scene, that’s a baryonyx – are there going to be TWO major new dino villains?

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Horror teeth. 100%

Speaking of, I’m stoked for new dinosaurs. That carnotaurus (RIP) is my soul dino and I’m hoping she survives that Rex attack. Baryonyx, Styrosaur maybe?? From the context of the plot, I think we’ll see more dino on dino fighting in the fray.

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And old friends appear too. Can we talk about that T-Rex in the trailer scene! I already can’t breathe. In the new footage, Owen rolls out of a trailer holding a no-longer-sedated Rex, narrowly escaping the jaws of death. Look at the detail in the Rex’s face. There’s EMOTION in that (not even real) eye! In one still, you can see this momentary connection between human and dinosaur, you can practically hear the chain links of the food chain clink here as the Rex registers his nourishing surroundings.  I can’t wait to see this full scene in context.

Sunday Stats

Sunday Stats

*Since my family first got an NES, I’ve had a controller in my hands. Exploring new worlds, meeting new characters and experiencing stories… in some ways, I’ve just connected better with the world through games. However, it’s also very important to me to be present in my life, to improve myself, to go out and MEET the people I’ve connected with online and to expand my knowledge. I spend hours in games; how do I level myself up?

In this weekly series, I’ll chronicle how I’ve improved my “stats” with completely arbitrary scoring.*

+1 Intelligence – How did I make myself a little smarter? What did I learn?
I attended a lecture by Jon Iwata where he spoke about practicing set theory. Set theory at its essence is simply grouping things together and looking for similarities. What I love about this is that it forces you to stretch your mind and look at things from different angles. As Mr. Iwata said “You might surprise yourself with what you see.”

+3 Charisma – How was I less awkward or more beautiful?
I’m speaking with confidence again. I’m sharing my thoughts and ideas at work and spinning my unique perspective into challenges and thought-provoking pieces. I can see people thinking, lighting up, building on my ideas and I’m so excited that the silence curse has ended!

-3 Strength – New workouts, breakthroughs, challenges.
I still didn’t make it to the gym this week. Part of it was my back not being fully ready, but most of it was laziness. I’m having a hard time getting up in the mornings. This kills me because I’ve always been the kind of person whose feet hit the floor the second her alarm goes off in the morning, ready to take on the day.

After crossing out GYM in my planner for the 6th time, I circled it and wrote “let’s DO something about this.” And I thought about the factors leading me to snooze. Tired. Trouble falling asleep. Ryan snores. Alarm sound gives me anxiety. Ryan flails in his sleep. Drinking a beer before bed. Ryan snores WHILE flailing in his sleep. From there, I came up a strategy to change the factors I can control.

Operation Motivation:

  • Change alarm sound to one you haven’t heard every morning for 2 years.
  • Sleep meds by 10pm
  • Don’t drink on weeknights!
  • Envision yourself strong and confident
  • Think of how GOOD and ENERGIZED you feel afterwards

+2 Defense – Where did I consciously avoid or deflect negative energy?
For the last couple of weeks, I’ve had a lot of trouble falling asleep. I’ll feel exhausted, but the second I get horizontal, my mind starts racing with negative or anxious thoughts. Thoughts are a choice though and when this happens, I can choose to change my thoughts. Finding one to focus deeply on has proven more challenging. Thinking of my financial goals this year, I came up with a super powerful and positive scene to envision. In it, I’m luxuriating in a big claw-foot bathtub filled to the brim with hundred dollar bills. I’m throwing them in the air like bubbles. I’m massaging them into my curls like conditioner. I’m sinking into the musty metallic scent like oils. It’s a fabulous fantasy to fall asleep to as well as a way to help manifest my money goals🙌🏻

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+2 Luck – Something good that happened this week
The WeWork space I work at stocks the fridge with free Marve juices. I quickly got addicted to the Intense Yellow juice which is a mix of lemon, cayenne and maple. Yum! Thursday afternoon when I went down to the kitchen, they were all gone. An awesome WeWork Community Manager saw my sad face and he delivered one right to my desk! Booyah! WeWork rocks.

+5 Wealth – How did I save towards my goals?
This was week 1 of #nospendfeb. Before the start of the month, I laid out my strategy in 3 core steps:

  • Set up monthly Game-changer and associated tasks to help stay on track.💸
  • Created a Goal in my Simple account to save $1,000 this month (which is roughly what I spent frivolously last month 😱). Auto-save: $33.33/day.
  • Informed my friends of my #nospendfeb challenge for support and understanding when I turn down invites.😇
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Here’s my #NoSpendFeb all mapped out in my Passion Planner

I’m taking this very seriously. See where my map says “Hide credit card” in the top left? Well last Sunday evening, Ryan and I went out on the town and in a drunken state I *think* I hid my credit card from myself… because I cannot find it ANYWHERE.😂 Come March 1st, I’m going to have to call Chase and request a new card! (Top score of 5 for committing so hard I actually can’t find my card.)

2018 Games Wishlist

 

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The Legend of Bum-bo – From the creators of The Binding of Isaac, the game I’ve put more hours into than probably any other game (and on 4 different platforms), comes this charming as fuck cardboard puzzle RPG. It has all the morbidity and grime as Isaac with a completely new play style and story. So far it will be out on PC and iOS… sometime this year.

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Fe – All I care about is getting to play an adorable creature, howling in the forest among stunningly gorgeous artwork. It reminds me a lot of Ori and the Blind Forest, which I absolutely adored. I’m so looking forward to exploring this whimsical world (in March… because it releases February 16th and #NoSpendFeb😪).

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Project Octopath Traveler – Download the demo if you haven’t. This game is going to be awesome. I really enjoyed Primrose’s storyline. Come on, a badass stripper who carves her own path, leaves destruction in her wake, and essentially tells her “master” to go fuck himself? YES, PLEASE! Olberic’s story was a lot more “traditional” RPG. Last of his kind. Soldier. Protecting a village. Wrestling with some past trauma. Still, I enjoyed his little piece of the demo as well. The HD-2D art style makes the landscapes visually rich and compelling while feeding my nostalgia for the 16-bit sprites of my early Final Fantasy days. I can’t wait to see who the other 6 characters are and how their paths cross.

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Owlboy – This released a while back, but I want it for my Switch. It looks like an interesting concept with cool art. I’m reminded of the Shantae games, which is one of my favorite series of all time. I’m curious about the flying mechanics, because I’m terrible at any game where I have to fly. Should be interesting!

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Kingdom Hearts III – Wow. It has been a while since I played a Kingdom Hearts game. I believe I dropped off somewhere in the early stages of Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, so I’m not far behind. I distinctly remember driving up to NYC (I was living in South Jersey in 2012) for the launch event at Nintendo NY where I purchased the Collector’s Edition. At some point, I traded in the game for lack of play. (*adds KH3D:DDD to wishlist*) I just hope this one isn’t too convoluted with characters. Sometimes the Disney Prozac effect can be really, REALLY exhausting.

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Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (kickstarter) – Still waiting for an official release date on this one. I backed it on Kickstarter back when I was trying to impress some guy. Luckily I’m also a fan of metroid-vania games. With another badass woman playing the protagonist, it’s going to be a must-play for me.

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Knights and Bikes – This is another Kickstarter I backed in 2016. The creators describe it like The Goonies, but with little girls kicking up hell on a small British island. It looks to be a fascinating adventure and reminds me of biking around my own small island town with my friends as a kid, getting into all sorts of trouble. All the characters and scenery are hand-painted in a lovely aesthetic – sharp color contrasts really bring them to life. The game mechanics and battle system are incredibly creative. Still waiting for a release date, but I’m hoping it comes this year. Not once has a game I backed released remotely near the original window. It’s almost always like 2 years later.