Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Your Shore Weekend

Hey, it's back! Your Shore Weekend!

Well, temporarily. So many people have emailed me about what's going on at the shore this weekend that I wanted to put together a few things that are happening post Turkey Day.

First: if you're kicking off holiday shopping and would like a signed copy of my book for the holidays, here's how to get one. It makes a great gift :-)

OK, now onto shore business: Black Friday will be happening at the shore, too. On Friday, Ocean City's downtown area will have a free children's train ride at City Hall Annex (901 Asbury Avenue), free horse and carriage rides, free photos with Santa in an Ocean City Lifeboat on the lawn of City Hall (I want one!), and fact painting. Carolers in Victorian costumes and other entertainment will also be strolling along Asbury Avenue. Hate wrapping presents? Get it done for free along the avenue. Follow all that up with a tree lighting at 5pm. If you can't get to the shore until the weekend, head to the Music Pier on the boardwalk at 3pm for photos with Santa. Beach tags for summer 2009 are on sale, too!

If you don't want to wait until Friday, the Pier Shops at Caesars are going to be open Thanksgiving day from 1pm to 6pm. You might think that Atlantic City is dead on the holidays, but that's not the case. It's jammed (think about everyone who wants to get AWAY from their families). If you're a Total Rewards Member, you get in an hour early on Friday(8am instead of 9pm) and Saturday (9am instead of 10 am) and a coupon booklet for additional mark downs.

The Atlantic City Outlets will be running sales, too. Check here for a run down of who will be offering what.

If you're headed to Avalon, here's what's going on this weekend -- here, too.

And, finally, Split Decision -- a usual La Costa band -- will be playing the Gypsy Bar at the Borgata on Friday. I know I would disappoint this lady if I didn't mention that.

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving! I'm headed to my 10 year high school reunion tonight (mixed feelings about that), then who knows where after -- probably something that my liver won't appreciate. Then it's napping and dinner with my mom. Now, it was supposed to be just the two of us and Emily. Now we're up to I think 10 people. Hey, it's how it goes -- more people to play with Emily! I used to do the whole Black Friday shopping thing but stopped the last year that Strawbridges was open. So this year I plan on spending Black Friday either painting my dining room, at Wheaton Arts, which is having a studio sale, or both.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

News from Around the South Jersey Shore

What would we do without Atlantic City's government? They do such stupid things that it's almost amusing.

Bus crash on the parkway. Those tour buses are SCARY. Have you ever driven near one?

Now, this weekend is going to be a busy one at the shore -- well, busy for a non-summer weekend. Here's just a taste of what's going on. I'll have more tomorrow.

Snow on the beach!

Here's a list of favorite beaches and nice pictures of Cape May and Ocean City.

Panico's Bistro in Cape May gets a short write up.

Here's a run down of all the construction projects delayed in Atlantic City.

And finally, Henny's is having their LAST last call on Saturday. So sad (and not just because I photographed it for my book). I spent some time there this summer and liked the throwback feel. I still want to know what they're doing with the wooden mermaid behind the bar...

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Lucky Number 7

I know I'm doing this post a little bit early, but I hope to not be working on November 30 so....Happy Birthday Emily! She'll turn seven years old, which is considered a senior for a dog. We are still awaiting her AARP card.

I would usually put up some cute new picture of Emily, but this one I think it symbolic for the story I want to tell this year. It's her photo.

I adopted Emily in early December 2005. She was four years old at the time (if her papers are right), and I am forever grateful to the staff at the Animal Welfare Association in Voorhees for helping me find Emily -- or I should say for letting me come back again and again to look at their dogs before finding Emily. You can read my "how I found Emily" story here.

I think they do an amazing job with the animals they have, so last week, I dropped off sheets and toys to the shelter, and looked at the dogs they have avaialble.

Now, Emily is quite a dog. She loves people and, after meeting you, will jump up to kiss you. But one of the reasons she was in a shelter was because she does not get along with other dogs. At all. As much as I would like a second dog, I would be dealing with hellfire from the current dog in my house.

So why I went back to the dog rooms, I don't know -- probably because I just like dogs.

What I saw was heartbreaking: dogs of all breeds and sizes just sitting and waiting for someone to give them a forever home. Tyson, a fox terrier, reminded me a lot of Emily, not just in his face, but in his manner. He was quick to come over and say hello, but after that, curled himself up in a ball and just shook as the other dogs around him barked and howled. I left the shelter crying. Oh, how I wanted to take him home.

But on the drive back, I thought of how Emily was when I found her. She was in the puppy room at first because she was so small -- an alarming eight pounds (she's now 14 pounds). The stress of being in the shelter stopped her from eating. Then, when she moved into the adult dog area, she would just stay curled up in her blankets and shake. I cried then, too, and took her home.

My three years with Emily haven't always been easy. Yesterday she would not stop barking at a cat outside the window, and I was tempted to give her the heave ho, but I know I never would. She's a great dog for someone like me who works from home -- she's far from lazy and needs exercise, and she forces me to get out of my chair and go. She can be left alone for a while if I have to travel, but it's more fun to take her with me. We had a great time in Cape May in September -- and even though I didn't take pictures, I can still see her in my mind when she took her first swim, her little tail acting like a rotor as she paddled.

She's starting to slow down. It's not so obvious to other people, but I can tell. She doesn't want to get up in the morning, and she takes a mid-morning nap. She's still as quick to dark after squirrels, but she seems to enjoy sitting on my lap while I work more now than she ever did before.

I hope that my gal will live to her maximum life expectancy, but there's a cloud over her background, and I don't know what stress and conditions she was exposed to in the four years before I had her. She's missing part of her nose and tail, so I'm guessing it wasn't good.

When I came home from the shetler, Emily was waiting, tail waging. It's amazing how far she's come in three years, from that scared, little, underweight dog who cautiously followed me around the apartment and, when I wasn't paying attention, made beds in my sweatshirts, to the fine lady she is today. Looking at that picture makes me sad -- it shows her at her leanest -- but it's a good reminder for me that even though I can't save every dog, I did save one, and that she's the perfect fit for me.

So, with that, I'll leave with you a video my mom took of Emily this weekend. That toy is her absolute favorite, and I have finally trained her not to squeak it when I don't want her to. I also hope that this post serves as a reminder of the importance of looking in shelters before you buy a dog. They make unbelievable pets and, if such things matter, you can find pure breeds.

And if you have any pictures of your pup at the shore and would like to see them on the blog, send 'em in! I'm at jenmiller27 [at] gmail [dot] com.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Random question of the day

So...anyone got a yacht? One that's either Philadelphia or Jersey Shore local? Email me at jenmiller27 [at] gmail [dot] com.

This is for a story...not just me wanting to leech off someone who has a yacht. Promise!

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Express Yourself

So Madonna's in Atlantic City this weekend. BIG DEAL! No, really -- that's a big deal. Should be a good time.

If you can't make it to the show but want to dress you up in her love, head over to Planet Rose at the Tropicana, which is hosting an everything Madonna party on Saturday started at 7 p.m.

As part of the party, Planet Rose will offer a Madonna themed cocktail menu and, of course, Madonna karaoke. The staff will even dress up in Madonna costumes.

I have decided not to spend the weekend in Cape May, sadly. I have a lot to do here, plus more work than I know what to do with (a good thing!) Though don't be shocked if I show up at the Cape May tree lighting...I might just drive down, though chances aren't looking good for it.

One thing I wish I could go to, though -- Harry Connick Jr. is going to be at the Borgata on December 5. Um, yummy? I've seen him in concert before, and he's an amazing performer. But I'll be working that night. Ah, well. Duty calls.

Quick non-shore reminder: Saturday is the last day of the Collingswood Farmer's Market for this season. Sad! So get yourself some fresh Jersey cranberries and make these muffins. Yummy.

John & Lisa of that same blog also beat me to the punch in writing about Cape May for the holidays. I've talked to a lot of people who are planning to go to the shore the weekend after Thanksgiving. So read up!

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

For Whom the Bell Tolls: It Tolls for the Atlantic City Hilton

Times are tough in Atlantic City -- that's a given. But apparently it's so bad for the Atlantic City Hilton that they're shutting down parts of the casino. Would I be shocked if they shut the whole thing down? No, I would not.

According to the Press of Atlantic City, the Hilton, which is the southernmost casino on the Boardwalk, has already shuttered their poker room and stopped Sunday brunches, and rumors are that it'll be shutting down Peregrines', the Dizzy Dolphin bar their VIP players lounge.

Is it sad? Of course it is anytime a business goes under, but the Hilton has always been retro, and not in a good way. The only saving grace has been the Dizzy Dolphin, which is a ridiculous bar shaped like a ship but indoors. It was one of those weird things about AC that I would tell people to check out if they asked me.

So go get a drink and recreate that scene from the Titanic while you can.

Thank you for the tip, John!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

News from Around the South Jersey Shore

The big news: the dentist who dropped medical waste into the ocean, which shut down beaches and stamped an unfair "unclean" image on the Jersey shore, was indicted.

Want to take a Sea Isle house tour? Sure you do! The town might be known for its bars, but it has a lot of historic homes as well.

On a budget? Here's one frugal guy's trip to Atlantic City.

The new/old mayor of Atlantic City is invoking the wrath of God on his enemies. I can't make this stuff up, folks.

Etan and Daphne got married
. Yah! Here's some pictures.

If you really like local government meetings, this one's for you.

For those who care: some chick from The Hills was at the Pool at Harrah's wearing an extremely unfortunate outfit.

Could the Tropicana be coming out of bankruptcy?

Oooo! Here's one to mark on your calendar: local wine tastings in Cape May on Thanksgiving weekend. I've had a lot of people ask me shore-related questions about that specific weekend. And why not go? Should be a nice time if you don't mind the cold (and in another update -- I am NOT going to the shore this weekend. I need to deal with some things here, like painting).

I've ranted enough about the Atlantic City casino smoking ban -- or lack thereof -- so read this instead.

Paging Exit Zero...This one's about you.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bring two extra bucks...

Tolls on the Atlantic City Expressway are going up as of midnight Tuesday. The big jump will be on the Egg Harbor plaza tolls -- what I call the "$2 tolls." I guess I'll have to start calling them the "$3 tolls." The thing that really burns about said tolls is that you're charged going east and west. At least when the NJ-PA bridge tolls jumped, you only pay one way.

Tolls that were 25 cents (ramp tolls) will increase to 40 cents, and all 50 cent tolls will be 75 cents.

Might be time to brush up on your backroads.

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I'm Number 5!

Google alerts sent me a nice notice this morning: this blog is ranked fifth on Alexa's sites about metro areas and regions of New Jersey.

I'm told by folks in the know that this is a very good thing, especially when looking at the other sites, for the one person show that is this blog. Hey, I'll take what I cn get!

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Six Degrees of the Jersey Shore

As I mentioned before on my other blog, I've just kicked off round two of my goal to read a book a week for a year. Sound impossible? I finished Round 1 in seven months -- this is what happens when you don't have cable.

Right now, I'm on book 2 of 52, which will be Lost in the Museum: Buried Treasures and the Stories They Tellby Nancy Moses unless something attached to an assignment comes along. It's about odd things in museum storage that rarely sees the light of day. Chapter 5 looks at pressaries at Philadelphia's Mutter Museum. Since this is a family blog, I won't explain what pressaries are. You can read that for yourself if you're curious.

In discussing the Mutter and Philadelphia as a historic medical history spot, Moses writes, "An array of medical giants conducted their seminal work here; their possessions can still be found, scattered throughout the city. The elegant home of Philip Syng Physick of pressary fame is a historic house museum in the Society Hill neighborhood, open to the public."

Wait a second...I know that name.

Philip Syng Physick is the grandfather to Emlen Physick, whose Cape May estate is now a tourist attraction (one I highly recommend) and kicked off the effort to preserve Cape May's historic homes.

I had all this written down somewhere in my book research notes, and they tell you about it on the tour, but I forgot about it until today.

Philip Syng Physick was quite an important guy -- he's even called the "father of American surgery." He's responsible for stomach pumps, cataract surgery, designed needle forceps, and started using autopsies for education and research.

Emlen Physick? Not so much. He got his MD then high tailed it to Cape May, built a beautiful home where he spent his final days, and because of this, his name is forever stamped on Cape May's identity.

Just goes to show: I think my entire life can be connected to the Jersey Shore. It's like six degrees of separation except with a location. A friend said "bye Jersey Shore Jen" to me today. Why? Because I put on an Avalon sweatshirt after my four mile run. I do these things unconsciously. Really.

Anyway, I hope to visit the Philadelphia Physick House soon. Goodness knows I've visited the Cape May one many times over. I even brought Emily there for last year's tree lighting and opened the Cape May Chapter of "Down the Shore with Jen" on the front lawn:

Small, crazy, Jersey Shore world.

In other news, Terry O'Brien tells me that Terry-Oke is debuting at Ballyhoo's on Saturday night in Cape May. In looking up the post about Emily in Cape May, I checked about the tree lighting, too -- it's on Saturday night. Throw in the screening of New Jersey: The Movie AND off season prices, I might just wind up there this weekend.

And why do I care so much about karaoke right now? Because of this thing.

Really -- small, crazy, Jersey Shore world.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Show Your Jersey Pride

Like New Jersey? Get into arguments with familiy and friends about where the middle of the state is? Then this one's for you:

These are the t-shirts to go with New Jersey: The Movie -- yes, the one I've talked about many times because I'm not only in the movie but also a consultant. Get yours here.

I'm trying -- REALLY trying -- to get down to Cape May next weekend and be at the screening. Hopefully yee scheduling gods will allow it.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

News from Around the South Jersey Shore

Atlantic City now officially has their new/old mayor.

So you know all the problems the Tropicana had under its old owner -- so bad that the state suspended the gambling liscense (though they still operate just as normal)? The old owner regrets buying the place. Well, duh.

New casino? Meh. We'll see. News has not been good in AC lately, not at all.

Though these are some nice pictures of AC.

This is a cool article out of Cleveland about birding in Cape May.

How cool is this? Student makes an AC postcard for his final project. And since I have 19 students in my writing class working on their final projects right now (or you should be if you're reading), I like seeing this kind of stuff.

Hey, I want to get this Cape May County Tourism email. Where do I sign up?

Here's some wedding pictures from a couple who met in Sea Isle.

No, I have not tried Cape May Seashore train lines yet. But after reading about it, perhaps I should! I'm trying to get to the screening of New Jersey: The Movie in Cape May next weekend. Hmmmm...

Sea Isle's Fish Alley gets a sign. Jeez, I'm 0 for 2 today. I didn't know what Fish Alley was.

Shhhhhhhh. Seriously, shhhhhhh. I'm 1 for 3 now. I knew about this one.

Big college fair in Atlantic City.

This is a sweet letter that involves a Cape May house. Awwwww.

In non-shore news, I just posted about the first book in my "52 books in 52 weeks" blog project. Though is it shore related because it mentions a shore karaoke bar? Close enough.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wedding Wishes

Cape May has a reputation for romance, and for weddings (hell, if I ever figure this thing out, I hope to get married there some day). It's so popular that it's the third biggest destination wedding spot in the U.S.

So a lot of people get married in the southern most part of the state. But I want to give a special shout out to Etan Horowitz and Daphne Sashin, who will be married in Cape May this Saturday.

Etan and Daphne both work for the Orlando Sentinel and decided to get married in a spot closer to their homes. Etan found me through Twitter, and asked me where Daphne could get her hair done. I was stumped, asked around and didn't come up with an answer, though I have helped with some other questions that came up.

I had hoped to get down to Cape May on Friday to hang out with the wedding group the night before the wedding (I hear that some members of their group will be getting my book...shhh....), but I'm making a long over-due trip to visit my brother and his fiance (and enter THEIR wedding war room) instead.

You can read all about the couple and their wedding on their wedding site. I recommend checking ou the blog portion. It's hysterical.

So, Etan and Daphne: good luck. May the weather hold, the seagulls stay out of your way, and Cape May give you the best it has to offer. It's a lovely way to start a life together.

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Shore Shopping

I'm going to put together a shore holiday shopping guide. Now, I know my usual haunts (Flying Fish Studio, Wave One and, for variety, Pier Shops at Caesars, but I want to hear from you. Where do you consider must-stop shore shops? Or shore-themed gifts (e.g. do you buy someone a gift certificate for a B&B in Cape May? Those sorts of things).

Don't throw things at me, but I'm actually done my shopping. I start at August sidewalk sales (hit both Stone Harbor and Haddonfield this year) and when I see something, I buy it. Trips to Italy and Tampa helped that along, too, since they presented "get it now or you'll never get it" opportunities. I even bought myself something (cheesy, I know). How cool are these?

Of course, a book always makes a great gift. Especially if you can get it signed by the author ;-)

So where do you recommend people go?

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Monday, November 10, 2008

10 Facts about the Gillians Wonderland Pier Carousel

Today I wrapped up the article about the the carousel at Gillians Wonderland Pier, the article that will go with these pictures.

What a neat thing to have in South Jersey, and not just because it's pretty and fun. Here's 10 interesting things I learned:

1. The carousel was built in 1926 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, the oldest still operating wooden roller coaster company in the world (now called Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters).
2. PTC made 87 wooden carousels, all between 1904 and 1934. Because so few were created, the carousels are often referred to by their numbers.
3. The Wonderland Pier carousel is number 75.
4. Only 32 are still in operation.
5. The Wonderland Pier carousel is one of the few left where you can grab for rings during the ride -- they swing over a wooden arm toward the ride, and you can lean over and grab for rings. Get the brass one and you win tickets.
6. While built in 1926, it didn't come to Ocean City until 1972.
7. It has 50 horses.
8. Horses that don't mover are called "standers." Those that go up and down as the ride turns are called "jumpers."
9. All of the horses are original except one -- David Gillian donated one horse to the Ocean City Historical Museum in 1990 in honor of his 100th birthday. It was replaced with a fiberglass recreation.
10. PTC stopped making new horses in 1925. So what are those 'original' horses on the carousel in Ocean City? Older models that redecorated and put on the carousel.

If you're worried you just read the entire article in 10 facts, never fear. The piece is much different -- more my experiences at the carousel over the last 27 years (egads, 27) than report. I hope you'll like it. The article should come out this spring in the Ocean City version of this book.

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Sunday, November 9, 2008

By Request

A "Down the Shore with Jen" reader had to put down his mother's dog this week and requested a few pictures of Emily on the blog as a way to heal what ails him. I'm happy, of course, to oblige:

I'm thinking of taking Emily down to Cape May on Friday, just for a day trip and to talk a chilly walk on the beach. I have a very grueling schedule this week, followed by an even denser one the following week. But on Friday, if I have time, I might just put Emily into her fancy new collar and bring her down the shore. We'll see.

For more cute puppy pictures, check out

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Saturday, November 8, 2008

It's Back...

..."Book a Week with Jen" that is. So if you liked my book blog series the first time around -- or even if you didn't know what it was -- check it out.

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Friday, November 7, 2008

The importance of raising your hand

I promised last week that I'd write about how those World Series-related articles came about. The answer is simple: I raised my hand.

I've written for the New York Times twice before: first, about a t-shirt for the New Jersey Section, and second a piece about West Wildwood for the Escapes section.

I'd never written for the sports section -- in their paper or, really, anywhere else. While I follow sports, I don't write about it, just like I no logner write about music because I'd rather be on the fan end of things.

But the latest issue of the ASJA newsletter had a feature about who to pitch in what sections of the paper, and had a lot of great information about sports. So, on the Monday morning of the first part of game 5, I pitched a short article about the "Why Can't Us?" t-shirts. I didn't expect much to come of it. I pitched the article on what could have been the day the World Series ended, and I'd never pitched that section before.

But the editor called me soon after and asked if I could turn the article around by the end of the day. Sure, I said! I dropped everything else, called the key players who created the t-shirt, and had the piece done in two hours. I went over edits over the phone while I was headed into Philly to watch the game.

Success! It ran in the paper the next day. So I told the editor I could help out with post-win coverage if they were to win when Game 5 resumed. And I did. Then, when the Phillies won, I offered to cover the series parade. And I did.

None of this would have happened if I didn't tell them that I was available. Granted, I have a relationship with some editors at the paper, and I've been freelancing long enough to show examples that I could write these articles. But, still, it took reading that newsletter and sending an email and giving it a chance even when it seemed like a long shot for those three articles to come about.

My book came about the same way. I saw in a newsletter that the publisher was looking, and I raised my hand. I'll be reporting about another new outlet for my writing in mid-December that came about the same way: I raised my hand.

I tell new freelancers all the time to aim high because the worst thing an editor can do is say no (and then I tell them to keep pitching since they caught that editor's attention). It's this attitude that has kept me relatively insulated from the economic downturn -- that and it's impossible to be laid off when you work for yourself.

I'm not sure if this interest anyone other than freelancers, though I have to imagine that it applies to other areas of work, whether you're going for a new client or new position or new job. Raise your hand. Otherwise, you're just part of the crowd.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

News from Around the South Jersey Shore

...and we're back. Took a bit of a break from the blog to recover from the World Series, and election and get moving on a chunk of assignments due next week. Thank y'all for your patience (and, Bill, for the nudge to get back at it!)

So the news:

Remember when MGM made a big, splashy announcement about a big, splashy casino they were bring to AC? Forget it -- it's no more.

Strathmere's new rock wall is underway. I wonder, though, how long we can stop the ocean from doing what it's supposed to do. The shore towns are, for the most part, on barrier islands that protect the TRUE coast, which is that marshland you drive over into town. And since jetties prevent the natural movement of sand...well, Wildwood's beach is evidence of where all the sand is going.

This isn't exactly news to me, but it's funny: they've got skunks in Avalon and Stone Harbor. I saw/heard/smelled them a lot in Avalon Campground and, in one unfortunate incident, found the head of a shunk in the middle of the road. They're cute, but, yes, stinky.

Bruce Seldon of Atlantic City says he's still fit to fight.

Celebrities in Cape May. Er, that would be birding celebrities.

Cape May County plans to crack down on gang activity. Yes, there is gang activity down the shore.

More bad news: Harrah's cuts jobs. **UPDATE** Borgata laid off 400.

Atlantic City elected a new mayor...sort of.

Cape May voted to finance the construction of a new Convention hall, and West Cape May voted to add two new liquor licenses.

Keep it down, will ya? November 14 is Ocean City's annual Quiet Day.

Ocean City has also added solar power to the mix, guaranteeing that summer rays will do more than give me sunburn.

The Press of Atlantic City will cost you an additional quarter a day.

See? I told you Cape May's fun in the off season. I did!

So get yourself down there ASAP -- and make sure you check out Lady Day at Emmerson's Bar & Grill while you're there.

If you were at Friday's Phantom Ball, you can now get your pictures .

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Everyone's saying it...

...but I'll say it, too: go vote already, will ya?

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Monday, November 3, 2008


On Friday night, I headed down to Cape May for the Phantom Ball. That's me as Betty Draper from the TV show Mad Men (or Jackie O or 50s housewife or "Pretty Woman," as I was called throughout the evening). Marc Steiner of Agency New Jersey did a wonderful photo series of the attendees. They're a scream (some literally!)

I made quite a 'mad' dash to get there on time after the World Series. I was on the phone while doing my makeup, my headset resting among the curlers that got my hair that way. Funny stuff, great time.

Want to see the winners? Here you go:

Best Couple
Best Group
Sexiest Male (on the left)
Sexiest Female
Best Costume

The tattoos in that last costume were perfet -- PERFECT!

Marc also did a series from a party on Saturday night. Even though it wasn't at the South Jersey shore, they're still funny and worth clicking through.

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