The Hockey League That Has Been a Part of My Life for So Long is Coming to an End

In late 2010, planning was underway for a street hockey league which would be played at Mother Teresa Regional School in Atlantic Highlands. I was asked to be one of the founding coaches by Ann Margret and Vinny Duminski, whom I had met at Holy Family School in Union Beach back in 2007. There was a league there too, sponsored by the New Jersey Devils and their “Street Devils” program, and following the closing of that school in 2009, people split up and went their own ways. The Duminski’s waited a couple of years and then decided it was something that should continue. They were going to run the leagues themselves, which as you will see, was easier said than done.

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Halloween 2K16: A Full Schedule of Events at the Strauss Mansion

Just like last year, Reel to Real will feature a special series for the fall season. Titled “Halloween 2K16”, this will be where I blog about horror movies, share fall recipes, and also let you know what’s going on in my paranormal investigating adventures. October is going to be a busy month. My team, Ghosts on the Coast, is honored to be partnering up with our usual haunt (no pun intended) the Strauss Mansion Museum and Atlantic Highlands Historical Society. We have a full schedule of events on tap, including three movie screenings, a party, a paranormal investigation, and then two weekends of new-look ghost tours.


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How “Pokemon Go” Can Help Museums and Historic Sites

13631379_10154948818344325_8468567330763538867_nYesterday afternoon I found myself thinking, “I wonder if there are any Pokemon lurking at the museum?” What I was referring to is the Strauss Mansion, headquarters of the Atlantic Highlands Historical Society which was built in 1893. A few hours later, the president of our board texted me asking what I knew, and if there was any way to set our place up as a “Pokestop”. I told her it was all random, where they pop up and what locations get assigned as various roles, but I would check it out. I swung by today and sure enough, our museum is a Pokestop…and I also caught two Pokemon while I was there. If you don’t know what Pokemon Go is, then you have probably been living under a rock for the last week. As this game sweeps the nation and the world, businesses have come up with ideas to turn game-players into customers. Some have offered meal deals for people who play at their restaurant, as well as encourage their location to be used as a safe spot. This notion needs to get museums and historic sites thinking along those same lines.

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What is Going on in the Jersey Shore’s Waters?

I am not a marine biologist, but working for Brookdale Community College’s Ocean Institute means I am in the water with school groups from all over the state almost every weekday in May and June. It did not take this somewhat shocking story from Monmouth Musings a few days ago to tell me that something is definitely going on in the Jersey Shore’s waters. I am referring to the Shrewsbury and Navesink Rivers, as well as the Sandy Hook bay area. I have had this job for two years, and when we conduct seining programs with children, we have always pulled up clear jellyfish. They don’t sting and the kids enjoy holding them and seeing how they slide around in their hands. We then put them in a small pool with our other specimens before releasing everything at the end of the session. However, two weeks ago, I started noticing a prominence of Lion’s Mane Jellyfish (which I will just refer to as “red jelly”) floating around us and washing up on the sand. These were usually few and far between in recent years. No one has gotten stung yet, and they are easy to maneuver around and avoid. But it did strike me as odd at how many there were that just seemed to appear out of nowhere. Now on Wednesday, when a man was stung by a Clinging Jellyfish in the Shrewsbury River (noted in the above link), something which is native to the Pacific Ocean, that is when my alarm was raised.

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A Debate Over the $15 Minimum Wage

USA-Global Fast Food Worker Protest

Every so often, I share with my blog readers a debate I have had. A few months ago, I was in an email debate over Christopher Columbus and whether or not his holiday should be celebrated. Though I rarely post political commentary on here, I want to share this debate I had this morning with my good friend and fellow history graduate at NJCU, John DeSarno. I have known John for three years. We’re both Rangers fans. He’s a nice guy, intelligent, and logical, yet we happen to respectfully disagree on the issue at hand, the topic being whether or not the minimum wage should be raised to $15 per hour. John is an avid Bernie Sanders supporter and is for the idea. I, on the other hand, oppose it. I actually consider myself quite liberal and would support Uncle Bernie over Hillary Clinton just for a shake-up to the establishment, but I do not agree with some of his views.

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In Hartford During During Their St. Patrick’s Day Parade


Hartford is a weird city because it can be so loud yet quiet at the same time. I almost never knew there was a parade on Saturday. Would have missed it entirely if not for sheer coincidence. While eating a quiet breakfast at Sunberry Cafe and flying solo for the morning, I saw droves of people walking down the street holding cans of beer. How strange, I thought. Surely I must be mistaken. Minutes later, Will called me to say there was a parade and the lady working behind the counter confirmed. I stopped into the liquor store and asked what exactly was legal. As a New Jerseyan, I told them, where nothing is legal, I was fascinated by this.

Read the rest at Greg’s new food blog by clicking here.

“Halloween Twenty-Fifteen”: A Recap of the Haunted Lantern Tours

Me as Roderick Usher along with Joanne, a tour guide.
Me as Roderick Usher along with Joanne, one of our tour guides who doubled as Montressor.

This past weekend, more than 200 people came out to take the Strauss Mansion Haunted Lantern Tours, an event run by and benefiting the Atlantic Highlands Historical Society. An army of over 40 volunteers helped produce an evening of Edgar Allan Poe, where a short story or poem of his was acted out in different rooms on the first floor of the historic mansion, as well as the basement and backyard. A great time was had by all who worked, and much positive feedback was heard from guests who appeared to be delighted the event was more than jump-and-scare. This year we made it our mission to return to lantern tour prototypes from the early days of the event in the 2000’s, where visitors were treated to an actual story with some scares along the way.

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“Halloween Twenty-Fifteen”: The 2015 Strauss Mansion Haunted Lantern Tours


The dark and morbid works of Edgar Allan Poe are immortal, and will be the focus of this year’s annual Haunted Lantern Tours at historic Strauss Mansion in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey. This event has become one of the biggest fundraisers for the Atlantic Highlands Historical Society which hosts it. The tours will take place in and around the haunted 1893-Victorian manor. Visitors will start on the first floor and then work their way through the house, outside, and into the basement, before emerging in the backyard for the grand finale. At each stop along the way, guests will see a short vignette acted out. The characters and settings from Annabelle Lee, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Pit and the Pendulum, Cask of Amontillado, The Premature Burial, and a few others will be used. The tour itself will become an interactive storybook of Poe’s most terrifying tales.

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A Breakdown of the Second Republican Debate


I’m pretty sure that a team of doctors stood behind the airplane backdrop of last night’s Republican Debate waiting with straightjackets and muzzles to take the candidates back to the asylum they came from. Out of all 11 people on stage, only two did not deserve to be committed immediately following the debacle: John Kasich and Rand Paul. Neither stand a chance of receiving the party nomination, but although I do not agree with everything either of them stand for, hearing them talk was a breath of fresh air and clarity in an evening filled with insanity. As for the rest, my goodness, where do I begin? Though I do not foray into politics much on this blog I felt I needed to comment. I am fiercely independent when it comes to politics, but the 2016 election is so up in the air that I could lean either way. The majority on stage did nothing to distance themselves away from the stereotype that Republicans are ignorant and war-hungry. It was embarrassing to watch them blisteringly attack one another and foam at the mouth for war with Iran, North Korea, Syria, Russia, or all four. Below is my breakdown of the debate last night.

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Why We Are Where We Are


I blame Andrew Johnson. Had Reconstruction in the post-Civil War era in American history not been such an abysmal failure, perhaps we would not be in the shape we are currently in when it comes to race relations in this country. Putting modern ignorance and our ability to be so easily distracted aside, Reconstruction was presented with a gaping wound that required surgery. Instead, they slapped a band-aid on it and called it a day. Over the last 150 years, that band-aid started to peel off, and the response has been to keeping pushing it back and rubbing it down, and maybe putting a piece of tape over the ends. Now, with various race-related incidents nationwide over the last year, we are confronted with the same situation. Are we finally going to go in for surgery, or do we just put another band-aid on it? I am not getting into the Confederate Flag debate on this blog. As a Civil War scholar, I will not allow myself to stoop down to discuss what a popularized notion of the flag is, and the history that attaches itself to that. However, if you are of the mindset that simply demanding what the masses believe to be a racist symbol to come down is the answer to ending racism in this country, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you are seriously mistaken.

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