About this Site

Leslie Beslie is a personal blog of me, Leslie. I share articles and thoughts on where I live and things I like. This includes NYC, books, finances, running, music, cats, and drawing.

Other Projects: French Toast Brigade | Life & Spending 2016 Weekly Planner | College Football Daybreak Podcast

Shipwrecked NYC is an Amazing Mini Golf Interactive Pirate Adventure

Shipwrecked NYC is an indoor miniature golf course located in Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY. Featuring a storyline, prop design, and a hill course, this mini golf experience is perfect for kids and adults.

Shipwrecked Miniature Golf (Interactive Pirate Adventure) in Red Hook Brooklyn NY

Shipwrecked Miniature Golf (Interactive Pirate Adventure) in Red Hook Brooklyn NY

Theater majors should always make miniature golf courses if this will be the end result.

I was at first skeptical of an indoor mini golf course. Mini golf is about waterfalls and being outside in the sweltering heat with zero shade and being able to laugh at all the other golfers and kids crying and mosquitoes that you can swat at with the club. Wouldn’t indoor mini golf lose all that? Well, yes. And in exchange we get an interactive adventure with a story and a plot and scenes! What a way to golf!

Think of this as a very small-scale children’s version of something like Sleep No More. As you golf, you are immersed into a story of a fellow pirate who sunk his ship while looking for treasure. On your golf-pirate-adventure journey, you travel underwater, then trek through a jungle, get lost in some caves, and finally find treasure. It is designed for both kids and adults because there are a lot of puns and dad jokes. We went as two adults and had a blast.

This is a traditional hills miniature golf course. The owners of Shipwrecked NYC bought a mini golf course in Maryland that was being torn down. They purchased everything then relocated all the holes to Brooklyn. The course is easy but still fun. You are definitely not losing anything with the added indoor experience.

I can’t find it now, but while reading up about the course and it’s owners, I found a fascinating interview with them. In it, they said that they just want to make people “smile, laugh, and have fun”. Shipwrecked NYC definitely accomplishes all of that!

Indoor Mini Golf Brooklyn Style

The four areas I describe above are designed as scenes. Each scene (underwater, jungle, caves, treasure) is in a separate room with four miniature golf holes set up.

First Scene: Jungle

First Scene: Jungle

Second Scene: Jungle

Second Scene: Jungle

Fourth Scene: Treasure

Fourth Scene: Treasure (Third scene was Caves but it was hard to take a photo)

The golfing part is traditional and fun. Everything is about a par 2-3. The rooms themselves are extremely immersive since they are all separate. Because the experience includes a story, the golf course is closed off from the main lobby. Where in traditional outdoors mini golf, you can see everyone on the course, here you can’t. We always had every room to ourselves. Not because it wasn’t busy, but because that boosted the experience. At 1pm on a Saturday we waited about 15-minutes to start. Not being able to see the course before starting also really adds to the excitement.

The story portion of Shipwrecked NYC is entirely optional and is at an extra charge. To hear the story features along the course, it is an extra $5 per game. This comes in the form of tokens ($1/token). You enter a token into certain set pieces along the course and get to hear more of the story. You have to do this! (figuratively, not literally). I cannot imagine going through this the first time without the story!

Getting to Red Hook

One of my favorite neighborhoods in Brooklyn is Red Hook and I have explored it several times already. Although Shipwrecked NYC is located closer to Gowanus than the main parts of Red Hook.

Shipwrecked NYC Hours & Location

You can take the F/G train and walk, or the B61 and walk, or take a car service (a cheap ride from most surrounding neighborhoods), or bike (a short ride from most areas in BK). It is located on Court St next to a lot of warehouses, apartment buildings, and an auto shop. Don’t worry, you’re in the right place. There is a sign out front though it might be hard to miss if you’re in a car or on a bike.

You will walk into what looks like a normal apartment building (and it is) where you have to take the elevator up to the second floor. There are signs all along the way pointing you in the direction of Pirate Adventure! There is an entrance area with lockers and I saw some scooters & strollers parked there. You might be able to leave your bike there, I’m not sure (there are not bike racks out front of the building).

While you’re in Red Hook, don’t forget to get a key lime pie and check out the pier!

Just a note, they sell some snacks and sodas but currently not alcohol.


Shipwrecked NYC Details
Address: 621 Court St. , 2nd Fl. Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY
Hours: Mon-Thurs Noon-9pm; Fri noon-11pm; Sat 11am-11pm; Sun 11am-9pm
Price: Adults $14; Kids $10

Brooklyn Half Marathon 2015

brooklyn half marathon bells oberon

This was my third Brooklyn Half and sixth half marathon in total. Last year, I began training too early and had lost a lot of my momentum by the month of the race. That was the first year I attempted actually training. I had a goal time and everything. I didn’t meet it. And I didn’t have a good race. I ran almost-PR’s for all my splits then completely gave up at Mile 10. I had nothing left. And walked most of the last three miles. I was miserable. It wasn’t even my worst time. But it was my worst experience.

For this year, I decided to go back to my training plan of Fuck It. This entails no consistent running schedule whatsoever. Some haphazard “long runs.” Zero pressure. It’s worked in the past so I actually had high hopes. Well, I was three-minutes slower this year than last year. But my overall experience was far better.

Last year, I did not run to the best of my ability. I gave in to my mental weaknesses. This year, I know I could not have ran that race any better. Unless I actually trained, of course. Going in with what I had, I never stopped when I didn’t need to. I never let myself get discouraged. And I really dug deep while struggling and continued when I didn’t want to. That felt good.

So my preparation for the 2015 BK Half included 17 total runs between January & May, the longest being 5-miles. I am not encouraging this. Especially if you are new new to running.

Training for the Mental Race

This year wasn’t about physical training. I already know how to deal with cramps, blisters, pacing, hydration, and dry-wicking material. Last year I let negative thoughts get the best of me and I did not want that to happen this year.

This year, I trained my brain to not sabotage me during the run. I actually wish I had done this in previous races because it helped more than anything else I’ve ever tried. It took a strategy. I came up with a plan of attack for when my doubts and worries come up in the late part of the race. I chose three ideas that could occupy my time and took some thinking.

The first idea I prepared was a current artsy project I’ve started working on for fun. It consists of multiple pages. So I broke down each page in my head. I thought about font, colors, layout, spacing, etc. The minute details were time-consuming to think about and a great distraction. The second idea was working through one of my NaNoWriMo stories. I thought about character development, plot points, sense, and the fictional world. This was another successful distraction because I really could get lost in the story world.

When I began to think Why am I doing this? I don’t even like running, I quickly told my brain “Stop!” Then paused for a second to bring back up what I was last thinking about in the project or story. “Okay, but what about the main character’s sister? Where does she fall in place.” By asking myself questions, it kept up a good distraction from negative thoughts. Or just thoughts about the physical pain I was in.

BK Half Recap

It was a cloudy Saturday. There were fears it was going to rain. It did, later on. Before the race even started, I had to stand in a 25-minute security line. Not a baggage check security line. Just a metal detector security line. … Even at this part I practiced my distraction exercises. I get so upset at ostentatious security. I often exert a lot of energy getting mad at people before a race starts. I didn’t want to make myself so upset this time. So while standing in this mandatory line for the most absurd reasons, I thought about my story to keep myself calm.

The rain held off until the race started (Wave 2). Within the first mile we could start to feel rain drops. Then it really started down pouring. We weren’t even in the park yet and it was raining hard. I’ve ran in the rain before but never during a half. I was prepared with a hat and dry-wicking everything. But it was pretty miserable. My hair was sticking to me. My clothes felt gross. My socks were now wet. There was mud and road gunk everywhere. Just kind of gross.

On the plus-side, the clouds remained the whole time. The run down Ocean Parkway is so boring. It’s flat. There aren’t too many spectators. There’s not much scenery. Since you’re on a highway, there is no shade, so this part is the worst when the sun is out. I was very grateful that it remained cloudy for the entire race.

I stretched a few times, for the first time during a half. I planned it out at certain mile markers and I really think it helped. Although my pace is slow, I only stopped to drink water and stretch. I was running the rest of the time. After the race, I felt fairly good and just had a normal Saturday.

To be honest here, the Great Saunter felt like more of a challenge and struggle than any Half Marthon I’ve ran. Two and a half hours is a joke compared to a 12-hour activity that actually takes up your entire day.

Jury Duty: What You Need To Know

Brooklyn Supreme Court

Brooklyn Supreme Court

Recently, I was selected to be a juror on a civil trial. I had always wanted to be a juror and was looking forward to the experience. The common description of Jury Duty is “boring”, “inefficient”, and “a lot of waiting around.” I really thought those would be exaggerations but they weren’t.

Kings County Jury Summons for Civil Court

Kings County Jury Summons for Civil Court

Jury Summons

The process starts when you receive a jury summons in the mail. It can be for the State or Federal court. It can be for a Civil or Criminal trial. You don’t get to choose. The address for the specific courthouse will be on the summons. Along with a phone number for you to call the night before to see if they need you to come in.

In other states, I never had to actually go in when I received my summons. For this one, I did. I received a pink jury summons card for the Brooklyn Civil Courts. From what I can tell, everyone’s experience is different as it depends on the state, the way the courthouse is run, and even the particular judge of the case. So I’ll detail my personal experience but just keep in mind that your situation may vary.

The jury summons card instructed us to arrive at the courthouse at 8:30a. As a juror, every time you enter the Brooklyn Supreme Court, you have to go through a security check. Every time. In the morning. After lunch. Each day you attend court. It’s a pretty easy process, you can keep your coat on. Just remove your watch and belt. However, this of course can be a time consuming process so leave some time for this.

Once inside, you’ll proceed to the room number on your summons. In my case, it was one of the first rooms we saw, labeled Main Jury (room 260). In New York State, you are paid $40/day for jury duty if you are currently employed but your employer will not pay you while on jury duty. If you are a student, you will not get paid as you wouldn’t normally. Basically, if you’re missing work and losing money, you’ll get $40 for each day. Most full-time employment will pay at least 3 days for their employees. I am grateful that my employer covered my full time at jury duty.

What To Bring

You’ll spend the first hour and a half answering questions, filling out a survey, writing on your summons, then submitting your summons cards to the pool of juror names. Bring a pen. They kind of provide pencils but, really, it’s easier if you bring your own.

The court house hours are 9a-5p. If you do not get selected as a juror, it’s likely you will have to stay the entire time. Bring a plastic water bottle. You can bring in a full water bottle or any other drink (coffee) as long as it’s not a glass container.

You need to stay in the Main Jury room or the Juror’s Lounge in order to hear your name. Bring snacks/lunch or change for vending machines. You are given a lunch break from 1p-2:15p but you can’t leave the area otherwise. There are some vending machines so bring change or dollar bills. Also, if you go out for lunch, you will need to go through the security line again. You can’t reheat food or anything but you can easily bring snacks & a sandwich.

Starting at 10:30a, they begin calling names to go into the jury selection process for the different cases. Your name may be called right away, not until the afternoon, or not at all. This part is boring. You will have to simply wait around. Bring entertainment including books/smart device/laptop/etc. There is free wifi in the Main Jury room and throughout the court house.

waiting around in the jury selection room

The Selection Process

Throughout the day, you may hear your name called. You can hear names being called over the PA in the Main Jury, Juror’s Lounge, and bathroom inside the lounge. So you are confined to those three areas. Except during lunch. When you hear your name called, proceed to the room as directed in the announcement.

For each jury selection, they put 20 people in a room, randomly select 10 of them to question as potential jurors, then select 6 to be jurors on the case and 2 as alternates.

If you get selected as a juror, you will be officially assigned to the case, sworn in to the court, then dismissed for the day. The clerk will tell you when your trial starts and what time to return to the court. It could be the next day or it could be two weeks from now.

If you were not selected as a juror, you are dismissed to go back into the Main Jury room. You are not discharged from jury duty. Your name goes back into the pool of available jurors and you may get called again for a different case.

Again, your experience may be different depending on the type of court you are in and the type of case. This pertains to my experience at a civil court.

Being a Juror on a Trial

I was selected as a juror on a civil trial, breach of contract case. We were told the trial would take 3-4 days. It ended up taking 6 days – non-consecutively. The break in my usual routine was more annoying than anything else. Some days we had to be to the court house at 9a, some days 11:30a, and some days not at all. So you really have to pay attention to the judge for your next directions.

The trial itself is far more boring than what you see on TV. The main reason is that most of the lawyer’s bickering cannot take place in front of a jury. The jury can only base their decision based on questions that have been asked and answered and documents in evidence. So if anything else is discussed, it is not for the jury’s ears. So a lot of times, we sat in the court room for merely minutes before being asked to leave again so the lawyers can argue. Also, on TV it shows the lawyers going up to the judge to bicker but for us that happened out in a hallway so we didn’t hear it.

When not in the court room, we have to wait in the deliberation room. This was a very small room without decoration, one table and eight chairs, some windows, and a bathroom. We cannot leave that room except for lunch or other special permission. The officer of the court was like our chaperon the entire time. She would bring us into the deliberation room, follow us out, lead us into the court room, etc.

jury booth in a court room

The Verdict

The deliberations process was far more serious than I had expected. To request any sort of evidence, we needed to write it on official paper as a standardized request. Then we wrote our verdict on a worksheet of sorts that was specially created for the case. Also unlike the movies, the jury foreman did not read off the verdict; the judge did. Apparently this depends on the judge.

For my case specifically, we found the defendant guilty of breach of contract. Not only did we have to decide guilty versus not guilty, but we also had to write down the amount of money the defendant owed the plaintiff. This meant reading pieces of evidence like contracts, deeds, addendums, receipts, etc. Fun times.

With all that said, I am very grateful to live in a country where we have this type of justice system in place. Sure, it’s broken most the time. But in this case, two men were bickering over money and a jury of their peers was brought in to solve the problem. I actually am glad to have performed my civic duty. And also glad that I don’t have to do it for another seven years.

Life Updates: Happy New Year from Coney Island & 2014 Best Of…

2015 Polar Bear Swim on Coney Island

ready to do the polar bear swim at coney island

Ready to take a dip in the ocean to ring in 2015!

Just like previous years, I joined 3,000 other idiots, some of which were my friends, to jump in the 45 degree ocean on New Year’s Day on Coney Island. It was great! It was cold! This year seemed to be the coldest yet but, who knows, maybe I say that every year. I prepared better this year by having a pair of super cozy warm wool socks ready for me when I got out of the water. No matter what you do, your toes take the brunt of the cold and can be painful while trying to warm back up. The rest of you isn’t so bad.

As always, it was a blast! In true Coney Island fashion, there were plenty of characters and out-right weirdos, which makes the whole event great. Also, having a friend there who was not jumping in helped a lot. My friend Lauryn was our photo & wardrobe assistant. We were all too cold and wet to try to use a camera. Besides, your brain is telling you “get warm get warm get warm!” not “let’s relax and hang out and take photos”. It’s survival mode!

If you were on the fence about it this year, you have a whole other year to reconsider joining us for the best way to ring in the new year! Here are a bunch of photos to give you a sense of what the whole crazy event is like.

gladiator costume on coney island polar bear swim

metro card guy

not santa claus on coney island

the crowd on coney island polar bear swim 2015

The crowd on coney island polar bear swim

MSU v. Baylor in the Cotton Bowl (College Football)

GoGreen on coney island

Go Green!

The MSU bowl game started at 12:30p but I was still on the beach by then. So I wore all my MSU apparrel to show my support. And to help them win, of course. After the swim and delicious lunch at Oxcart Tavern, I got home just in time to watch the fourth quarter of the game.

When I turned on the game, the score was 41-21 Baylor and I was very sad. I kept my hoodie on, put on my MSU cap, and watched the game hoping that we would at least make it a closer game. Well, the last quarter of this game was some very exciting football!

First, MSU recovered possession of the ball after an off-sides kick. Yay! Then Connor Cook blew the play by throwing an interception. Boo. Then our defense forced Baylor to try for a field goal. And we blocked it. Yay! Then Cook threw a touchdown-pass with 17 seconds left in the game. Yay! Then we won! Yay! MSU scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to Baylor’s none. We won by a point! It was very exciting!

2014 Yearly Blog Best Of…

I didn’t want to write a full wrap-up post on this but here are the highlights of various things I’ve written about here in the past year. Enjoy!

January: Visited the NYC Transit Museum, Created a Complete Budget Spreadsheet, Created a Book Tracking Spreadsheet

February: Use NYC Libraries, Wrote about Working in a Factory, Easy Way to Eat Vegetables

March: Pinata Cake!

April: How To Make Plans Like an Adult, Cost of Cat Dental Cleaning, My Experience Going to a Psychic

May: World’s Fair Park in Queens, Ran the Brooklyn Half

June: Visited Washington DC, Few Thoughts on the Diva Cup, Using MTA Bus Time

July: Created a Goal Tracking Spreadsheet, Wrote About My First Year With Depression in NYC

August: My final thoughts on What to Do When Parents Ask for Money

September: How did You Spend Your 30th Birthday?, I redecorated my apartment with Cat Friendly Furniture, Rent Stabilization in NYC

October: Visited the Museum of American Finance, Created a Emergency Contact Sheet, What Have You Done You Didn’t Think You’d Do?

November: Went to the Lehigh v Lafayette Game at Yankee Stadium, Finding the Perfect Balance of Creation vs Consumption, Thinking about What It means to be in my 30’s and single

December: Free Tools for Learning Spanish, Use Show Don’t Tell to Focus on Goals, Yearly Financial Progress

Polar Bear Swim on New Year’s Day at Coney Island

coney island polar bear swim in brooklyn ny

My first polar bear swim at Coney Island 2010

January 1, 2015 will mark my fifth polar bear swim on Coney Island. Jumping into the Atlantic ocean is a very refreshing way to start the new year. Literally and figuratively. Good riddance to 2014, I’m ready to make anew and bring in the good. Yes, it will be cold. Yes, I will freeze. But that’s only temporary. I have been through far worse in the past year. Also, why not start the year out with something completely zany?

Thousands of people at coney island polar bear swim

What To Expect at a Polar Bear Swim?

I do recommend spectating at the Coney Island polar bear swim, even if you don’t take the plunge. It is quite a crowd. Lots of characters. There a couple thousand swimmers every year but it never feels too crowded since you’re on a huge beach and in the giant ocean. The crowd is very entertaining. People dress-up in costumes or formal attire or anything. It’s not quite as obnoxious as some other events. It also feels more like a local event than one for tourists. It’s very Brooklyn. (sorry not sorry for saying that).

You will be cold! Before, during, and after, you will experience frosty temperatures. The water temperature is usually between 40-45 degrees, which actually may be warmer than the air temperature. Although the water is painfully cold, getting out and facing the chilly air temperature is almost worse.

Although your whole body will be cold down to the bones, it’s your toes that take the toll. Even in socks and shoes, they will be freezing cold and probably hurt. Be prepared for that. The rest of your body will warm up rather quickly though, I promise. The toes are the worst part.

Stillwell Ave Coney Island Polar Bear Swim

Where is the Polar Bar Swim?

The annual New Year’s Day Coney Island Polar Bear Swim is on the beach at Stillwell Avenue. You can take the D/Q/F trains to their last stop then pretty much just follow the crowd. The beach area is directly in front of the subway stop, just walk straight ahead. You’ll see a bunch of people around a bathhouse on the boardwalk. Just walk through there, out onto the beach, and there you go.

Coney Island Polar Bear Club

Lots of characters and costumes at the Coney Island Polar Bear Swim

What Should I Bring?

Towels, warm clothes to layer, multiple pairs of socks, hat, gloves, two pairs of shoes. I suggest wearing a pair of shoes in the ocean. Also wear the least amount of clothes possible when actually in the water. When the cold air hits you getting out, any wet clothing sticking to you will feel like an ice cube. I know it sounds worse but wearing a bikini or going shirtless really is the better option here.

There are bathrooms in the near-by bathhouse that you can change in afterward. Have all your dry clothing layers in a bag together so you can just grab it and run to change. There is usually a line so you may have to shiver a little bit while waiting.

Bring a friend who is not jumping in the ocean. This shouldn’t be too difficult to find. When you get out of the water, your fingers will be very cold and it may be difficult to grip things (like socks). Have a friend waiting for you on the beach to help give you warm things to layer on. Thank you friend!

Even after you change into warm clothes, you will still feel cold. This feeling won’t last too long but it is a bone cold feeling. Plan your day to get a warm meal or a hot bath afterward.

Also, booze is not allowed on the beach but many people bring it for it’s warming-up abilities.

Even if you don’t want to brave the cold water, simply being at Coney Island during the swim is an experience in itself. This truly is an event and is a wonderful way to start your new year.

Weekly Updates: Half Marathon Training at the Gym

My First Gym Membership

“Gyms Are Bad”
I’ve heard so many negative things about gyms from bloggers, runners, and well, everyone. I never even considered one until very recently. I heard that you’re not a real runner if you run on a treadmill. (And apparently you’re not a real runner if you run below a 10 min mi/pace so there goes my title). I heard that gyms are a waste of money. I heard that gyms are an uncomfortable environment for women. I heard a lot of things. But mainly due to the cost, I have always ran outside. I’ve been running outside since I started running for health back in college (over a decade ago!)

But it’s cold outside!
Recently I realized that I haven’t been running because of the weather. It’s been cold, snowy, and rainy here in nyc. It’s hard to motivate yourself to run in those conditions. I’m sure ‘real runners’ do it all the time. So call me lazy but I have no desire to go run in a blizzard. So, I decided, that something is better than nothing despite what “everyone” else says. At the beginning of February I joined a gym.

Maybe it depends on the gym
Unlike the chain gyms, this is a private facility. It is very nyc-esque in it’s size. A reviewed referred to it as a hotel gym. There aren’t classes and the treadmills don’t have screens. But everyone who’s there, is there to work out, not instagram themselves. Thankfully the pricing isn’t contract based. So after I did a trial run of 3 days/$25, I signed up for a full month for $50. I plan to do this for the wintry month of February. I’ll gauge the weather for March. Then probably go back in the summer because running in July is just as bad as running in a blizzard.

Yep, I’m not a real runner
I guess I’m not a real runner because I don’t mind the treadmill. I like that I can control my pace. I’ve tried using a Garmin watch and it’s just too distracting for me. I don’t like to run with any gadgets. So the Treadmill is nice that it provides me all the information of a gadget without actually getting in the way.

Running is Boring
The “treadmills are boring” argument doesn’t up for me. In my opinion, running is boring. Running is hard. Whether you’re outside or inside or on the moon, running 9 miles is a challenge. Sure, outside the scenery changes. But things change inside too. The one disadvantage I’ve found on the treadmill is that at anytime, I can just stop and walk the three blocks home. When I’m out on a long run, even if I stop running, I still have to either walk to a train or walk the rest of the way home – so I might as well just keep running. For the record, I have yet to stop mid-run on the treadmill and bail.

Half Marathon Training for the Brooklyn Half

After running four half-marathons and not using an actual training plan, I’ve decided to try one this time. I’m currently following Run Keeper’s Sub 2:15 Half Marathon Training Plan. I’m at the end of the third week now. I’m hoping I’ll be able to find a safe snow-cleared path for the 10 miler scheduled on Sunday.

Using a Training Plan
I’m enjoying following a training schedule. It takes a lot of the guess work out of running. Instead of asking myself how far I feel like running today, I already know how far I have to run. Whether I feel like it or not. It also forces me to do speed work. Without ever using a treadmill, I’ve never been able to really do speed work. I’m excited to give that a go and hopefully will see improvements.

In the spirit of taking advantage of my $50/mo gym membership, I’m also trying to use some of the other equipment like the elliptical and weights to build up my strength in other places. I have been running for a decade but that’s it. I haven’t done much other cross-training other than biking around Manhattan in the summer. Doing non-running workouts helps to bring more variety into my life as well.

Fine, I don’t actually hate running
One thing I’ve been trying to incorporate into this training is a positive attitude. Although I have been running for over 10 years, I have never enjoyed it. I can flat out say that I hate running. It is always hard. It is never fun. I hate runners. I hate how expensive running clothes are. I hate the pretentious attitude in the running world. I hate I hate I hate. Clearly, thinking such negativity is not helping my running! So instead of telling myself how stupid running is while I’m running. I’m trying to flip this around a little bit. I’ve been saying, “I don’t feel like doing this right now but I’m already here so let’s make the best of it.” It’s actually been helping!

Training for Speed
Again, I’ve been running for a long time but never cared about speed. My half marathon PR is 2:20, which I’m proud of. Since I have ran four of these races, I’ve decided to try to up the challenge by using this sub 2:15 training plan. It would be nice to PR this one. I’m guessing this will be my last half for a while. I don’t really enjoy the races (as I don’t enjoy running culture). I’d prefer to just run 4-5 miles in the morning to keep up my health. I don’t really need long runs or speed work if I’m not racing.

Here’s the first two weeks of my sub 2:15 training plan workouts:
Week 1
Miles: 19.55
Time: 3:50:15
Pace: 0:11:25
# Workouts: 5

Week 2
Miles: 22.15
Time: 4:17:39
Pace: 0:11:41
# Workouts: 5

Books: Horns by Joe Hill

Joe Hill's Horns

Joe Hill’s Horns

“Horns” by Joe Hill is a great page-turner that is not quite fantasy and not quite horror, but it is about the Devil. I appreciate Joe Hill not trying to bank on his father’s name, Stephen King. Especially because the writing is so different. I enjoyed this more than most of King’s stories.

Hill tells the story from almost every character’s perspective, which keeps things interesting even though it is the same story each time. Using the multiple perspective technique, eventually you are able to piece together the entire story.

At it’s heart, this is a mystery crime solver. The story starts by the main character, Ig, waking up with horns and with some strange super powers. As the story goes on, you never learn why this has happened to him but that isn’t really important. The crime happened a year ago when Ig’s girlfriend was found raped and murdered in the woods on the same night she broke up with him loudly at a bar. Everyone in town and his family assumed he did it but he was never charged nor cleared. The story of that night unravels through the perspectives of various characters until you finally learn who did it.

The Devil’s powers are explained well and I enjoyed seeing the transformation of Ig from “a man with Horns growing out of his head” into a full fledged red devil with a pitchfork. It’s an easy read but well-written. The characters could have been a bit less caricature but it worked fine in this story.

I rate it 3/5 and recommend it as a good weekend read.

Internet Best Of: Links

How I feel After a Run

Six Ways to Increase Productivity and Get Shit Done – Johnny Moneyseed

Best Manhattan Coffee Shops by Subway Stop via Poncho

February statistically proven to have the shittiest movies – AV Club

Affordability in Kensington – NY Times

Letting Go of Judging People – Zen Habits

Weekly Updates: Awkward Wedding Proposal + Brennan & Carr + Bill Bryson’s One Summer

Life: A Live Awkward Wedding Proposal

A few weeks ago, I saw the band Self live at Gramercy Theater. The band hasn’t played a show in 10 years. It was a fantastic concert, where the audience was singing along to every song. Their stage presence was great and the lead singer’s banter was perfect.

During a break between songs, the lead singer goes: “There’s some super fans here tonight! This guy down here has been singing every single word. Why don’t you come up and sing the next one? Is that your girlfriend next to you? Bring her up too!”

Now, this isn’t unheard of at shows. I’ve been to several where the band brought a fan up to sing or play guitar with them.

Once on stage, the guy takes the mic and says: “I hope you don’t mind, I changed some of the words.”

And then this happened:

I have never had so much second-hand embarrassment for any person as I had for that guy at that moment.

The worst part is, this is actually an amazing proposal. The guy had planned everything to a T. Clearly the band was in on it. It wasn’t obvious right away. If the guy and girl were both huge fans of the band, getting engaged on stage at their first show in ten years would be pretty amazing. But it seemed like the girl just wasn’t into it.

Food: Brennan & Carr

Brennan & Carr offers delicious roast beef in Sheepshead Bay Brooklyn

Brennan & Carr offers delicious roast beef in Sheepshead Bay Brooklyn

Brennan & Carr is the best place to go for roast beef in Brooklyn. It’s cheap. Delicious. In the middle of nowhere. We went around 7:30p on a Friday night and there wasn’t a wait at all. It felt like I was back home. There was no air of pretentiousness. Nothing was organic or natural. The beef broth was salty (and phenomenal). The waiters were wearing butcher coats. Beer was cheap. Napkins were on the table. It was comfortable. Exactly what you want in the winter.

This is some of the best roast beef I’ve ever had! I ordered The Gargiulo Burger. This is a cheeseburger topped with roast beef. Yum! You can get it dipped, dry, or juice on the side. I got the broth on the side so I could dip the sandwich myself. SO GOOD.

And, being at the bottom of Brooklyn, everything was totally affordable. About $7 for the burger. I’m excited to go back and just eat the roast beef. I don’t want anything getting in the way. Even though the roast beef is really just a vessel to get to the broth!

Books: One Summer America, 1927 by Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson's One Summer: America, 1927 is like reading Wikipedia

Bill Bryson’s One Summer: America, 1927 is like reading Wikipedia

There were three phases of this book for me. The first third was very exciting. I learned a lot. The story telling was great. Bryson had a rhythm. The second phase was getting dull. A lot was overlapping and being repeated. Some of it wasn’t going anywhere. Then the third phase was like being attacked with a diluge of information. Topics would change so fast I couldn’t even keep track anymore. Finished the book feeling informed but overloaded.

Reading this book is like spending eight hours on Wikipedia. You start on one topic, click a link to a related topic, then a few hours later you’re reading about Ponzi schemes where you started at Babe Ruth.

The equation to Wikipedia goes with the writing too. Bryson’s humor was stretched at times, with most of it being unnecessarily added. It would also feel out of place in most situations. Some of his wrap-up sentences were rather painful. Ending chapters with, essentially, “but that was only the beginning” came off lazy and childish. There was a grade-school essay quality to some topics.

However, the information was fantastic! I know there are criticisms of his sources but I didn’t feel that way while reading. Bryson acknowledged whenever a fact had been disputed. He quoted other references and authors frequently.

There is so much information in this book! It was all very interesting. And is a wonderful history reference for so many other aspects of American history. My only problem here is that, especially toward the end, it became too much. The information became so overwhelming, I didn’t want to read about yet another new thing that happened. I’d say the book as a whole could have used a few more rounds of editing (for content and writing).

I have only previously read A Walk in the Woods but, comparing the two, I prefer Bryson’s writing when it’s autobiographical than merely re-telling history.

Internet Best Of: Links

Current Events Portal – Wikipedia

English Muffins – Kara Cooks

Nescafe Gold Blend Commercials from the 80’s – Jenny Trout

The Groupon Trap – The NY Budget

Complete List of Excel Keyboard Shortcuts – Chandoo

Exploring Brooklyn: Food, Views, and Booze in Red Hook

Red Hook Blocks via wallyg
via flickr

Red Hook Brooklyn is an interesting neighborhood on the west side of the borough. It may often be forgotten since it is outside of subway access. There is one bus, the B61, that runs down Red Hook’s main street. Most people are familiar with Red Hook for housing Ikea and Fairway. But there is more to the neighborhood than Swedish furniture!

Red Hook Lobster Pound

Red Hook Lobster Pound from TheGirlsNY
via Flickr
The B61 bus goes right down Red Hook’s Van Brunt street and can drop you off right in front of the Red Hook Lobster Pound. Now, you can taste their delicious lobster rolls from their food truck but going right to the source is really the best way.

Red Hook Lobster Pound Menu from TheGirlsNY
via Flickr
Not listed on the menu above but something they now offer is a Lobster Roll BLT for $10. Savory lobster with a giant slice of bacon? Yes please!

Red Hook Lobster Pound Lobster Roll by Wallyg
via Flickr
You order in a small area with just a cashier then you can go next door to sit inside (they’ll bring your food to you) or sit outside on a bench if it’s a nice day. This was our pick.

Steve’s Key Lime Pies

Steve's Key Lime Pies via Steve and Sarah on Flickr
via Flickr
Hidden on Van Buren st, a road sided with warehouses and goes to nothing but the water is the delicious Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies.

Key Limes Ahead
Knowing it’s not the easiest place to find, there are numerous signs guiding you to PIE! as you trek down to the water. We were about to turn around at one point until I saw this sign.

I first had a Steve’s Key Lime Pie last year during the Atlantic Antic street fair. I saw people carrying around these huge popsicles, so I thought, until I learned it was a Swingle.

Swingle: A frozen chocolate-covered mini key lime pie on a stick


Of course I had to get one.

Valentino Pier

valentino pier on flickr
via flickr
You can see Valentino Pier while ordering pies so I walked over there to eat my PIE ON A STICK and watch the sunset. This is one of the better views of Lady Liberty and the harbor. It’s unfortunate this doesn’t get taken advantage of more. In the summer there are free outdoor movies on the pier as well.

t.shirbert on flickr
via flickr
If you go, bring a real camera because the views are great! You can see the Statue of Liberty, some tall ships sailing around the harbor, and the Staten Island Ferry shuttling back and forth.


Baked Bakery
via flickr
Continuing the tour portion where I stuff my face with food, I stopped in at a local bakery Baked. Again, they have a food truck and sell in stores but I had never been to their home location. I bought a grasshopper mint brownie and a whoopie pie. They were disgustingly sweet. I would skip this next time.


brooklyn ice house
via flickr
First on the list of bars was Brooklyn Ice House. They had cheap beers (great happy hour) and a huge outdoor area. Great atmosphere – definitely want to come back to this one. There is a food menu, mainly bar food and, notably, serves Frito Pie. The backyard filled up quickly with large groups so come early if you want a good spot. Indoors was nice too though and fairly roomy.

Bait and Tackle Red Hook
via flickr
Second stop, located right next door, was Bait + Tackle. Because there isn’t a back yard, this place was rather empty and had a more varied crowd. The inside is quite roomy with a large back area and jukebox.


If you’re going to explore Red Hook, I highly suggest checking out Red Hook Lobster Pound, Steve’s Key Lime Pies, Valentino Pier, and Brooklyn Ice House. Skip Baked. Catch a ride on the B61 bus or walk a little bit to the F/G at Smith & 9th st.

Week of 8/25: Red Hook + Pie on a Stick

Life: Red Hook Summer (not the movie)

View from Red Hook's Valentino Pier Last Friday I explored the Brooklyn neighborhood of Red Hook for the first time. Here’s a full post on the expedition.

The exploration included lobster rolls from the Red Hook Lobster Pound, beers at Bait & Tackle and Brooklyn Ice House, watching the sunset on Valentino Pier, and a swingle from Steve’s Key Lime Pies.

What’s a swingle? It’s a frozen mini chocolate covered key lime pie on a stick! AKA: The most delicious thing on earth (and I don’t even like key lime pie)

Cats: Are Stalkers

Art Director Cat Keeping Tabs on Me My cats follow me around the apt like puppy dogs and must be able to see me at all times. When I’m sitting at the table working on something (drawing, this post, etc), my cat Scarface loves to lay in his bookshelf office and keep tabs on me.

Comics: Composing Progress

glamorous single living Keeping this updated mainly for my own accountability because the MICE show is now less than a month away. I will be selling my cookbook-zine and debuting a small collection of comics at the Massachusetts Indie Comic Expo the weekend of September 28th (birthday weekend!)

I was able to get three comics roughly composed into panels this week – that’s a lot of progress for me. I’m planning on 10 strips total. This week I put together Glamorous Single Life (above), How To Frost A Cupcake, and Cooking For Cats.

More sneak peeks will be posted here throughout the month but I don’t want to give too much away!

Books: American Vampire by Jennifer Armintrout

Jennifer Armintrout American Vampire Considering the last vampire book I read was by Anne Rice in highschool, I was pleasantly surprised that “American Vampire” held together well and wasn’t a stereotypical vampire novel.

I have a small twitter-crush on Jennifer Armintrout and was looking forward to reading one of her novels. I’m big on series so I picked a stand-alone story. I finished this in less than 24 hours of checking it out of the library.

It’s a fun story about a small town that is cursed and a vampire who gets stuck there. The story is silly and fun with a really pleasant writing style with enough humor & suspense to keep you interested. We’re not talking top literary fiction here folks, but it was definitely enjoyable.

Books: The Cheese Monkeys by Chip Kidd

Cheese Monkeys by Chip Kidd College-based stories can be hit or miss with too much angst or not enough conflict but “The Cheese Monkeys” had a great balance of both. Centered around an Art major at State University (yep), most of the story involves the three main characters battling it out with their graphic design teacher. Things are surprisingly kept interesting.

This took me two days, so another fun/interesting read. The ending gets a little fizzled but the characters themselves are pretty strong without too much of a college stereotype. For those who care, there is not a romantic story line at all which was quite refreshing. I definitely recommend for a weekend read.

Movies: Romantic Time Travel

Kate + Leopold Happy Accidents I fell into this weird time travel + love kick last weekend and watched “Kate and Leopold” then “Happy Accidents”. The latter is actually a good movie, the former is a silly Meg Ryan rom com. But… not the worst.

Interestingly K+L starts off strong but withers out half way through, whereas “Happy Accidents” starts off with some meandering but then kicks it into gear and really holds your attention. Both had an interesting (albeit silly) aspect on time travel, with HA actually trying to cover it’s basis of how some of it could work.

At it’s core, the idea of time travel in itself is very romantic and actually lends pretty well to this nature of movies.

Internet: Things I Liked

Favorite Long Runs: Bedford Avenue Brooklyn

Bedford Avenue 10.2 Mile Run in Brooklyn

Bedford Avenue is the longest road in Brooklyn – 10.2 miles. It runs South to North from Sheepshead Bay at Emmons Ave to Greenpoint at Manhattan Ave.

This run was my first real exploration of Brooklyn. Although you are running on streets/sidewalks, this is still my favorite long run and is a great way to see the diversity & change of neighborhoods.

In only 10 miles you run from a sleepy bay-side retirement community to the land of hipster youths.

Miles 1-3

Starting the run from the South is quiet. You pass by real houses with real yards and real driveways. Suburbia. You run the length of the alphabet from Avenue X up to Avenue C. There won’t be too many people out, especially if you start early. You won’t pass too many bodega’s either so plan ahead for drinks.

Miles 4-6

The neighborhoods change on a dime. Suburbia will quickly change into an urban environment with large apartment buildings, bodegas, and people out on the sidewalks (so watch out for pedestrians). You run through Flatbush & Lefferts-Gardens, and then Crown Heights welcomes you with a giant hill. Geographically, there is no way around this hill. For those of you who have run through Prospect Park, it’s that hill. Whether you run in the park or around it, you still need to get up it. Have fun with that.

Miles 7-9

Again you see neighborhoods quickly change from Bed Stuy to South Williamsburg. Enjoy the diversity and realize that an hour ago you were by the ocean in the suburbs.

Mile 10

As expected, the last mile through the middle of Williamsburg past McCarren Park can be a bit of a drag. Try to do this early or start from this end if you prefer. The sidewalks will be crowded. You can, of course, run down a less popular avenue instead but I wanted to stick with Bedford out of principle.

Conveniently, once you reach the end of Bedford you can just walk over to the park and not have to move for a while.