Five Topics in 500 Words

After a hiatus last week as I ran with a different blog post, it is time to revert back to the multi-topic Thursday tradition. It is time for five topics in 500 words. Let’s get right to it.

Unfortunate Wal-Mart Run: The week got off to a hectic start on Monday morning. Just as I was about to arrive at the CCU campus for my workout, I realized I was missing something. For the first time ever I had forgotten my work shirt (I wear my gym clothes to campus and pack my work clothes to change into later). With it totally out of the question to make the long commute back to my place to grab my shirt I unfortunately had to make a 5:45 a.m. run to Wal-Mart. I busted in, almost blindly picked out a random tacky polo, and left. For $17 I had outfitted myself for the day.

Me wearing the Wal-Mart polo on Monday, I actually received two compliments on it!

Me wearing the Wal-Mart polo on Monday, I actually received two compliments on it!

Darius Rucker: This Saturday I have the privilege of covering the Darius Rucker concert at the HTC Center on our campus. Many outsiders won’t understand what a huge deal this is to our university. The community has eagerly anticipated this concert for months now. As I spent four years around huge concert productions while working at Montana, I can confidently say that people here have treated the Darius show in the same way that the concerts of major stars were treated when I was in Missoula. I am ecstatic to have the opportunity to work this special show on Saturday night.

Jobs For People Close to Me: Last week came great news on the employment front for my brother and girlfriend. Both people were offered jobs in their chosen fields. Glen accepted an offer to become the Recreation Supervisor at the Northeast Youth Center. On the other side of the country, Sidney signed on for a second grade teaching position at Palmetto Bays School. It was truly great to see people who are close to me have their hard work and education pay off with full time positions.

Sidney and I in her classroom at Palmetto Bays School

Sidney and I in her classroom at Palmetto Bays School

Busy Time: The fall semester started at Coastal Carolina University this past Monday. Talk about a change in night and day! Campus is buzzing with students and activity. I have had an incredible week attending events and functions as students mark the return to Coastal. In probably my most memorable instance from this week, I took the photo of 101 different student groups in the span of 50 minutes at yesterday’s Club Recruitment Day. In under an hour I had the privilege of meeting probably around 300 students. With the heat index over 100 we were all sweating bullets but it was fun and rewarding.

A few of the many student group photos I took on Wednesday for Coastal's Club Recruitment Day.

A few of the many student group photos I took on Wednesday for Coastal’s Club Recruitment Day.

Movies Watched: In the past several days I have watched the following movies: “Locke,” “Transcendance,” “The Midnight Game,” and “Repentance.” Out of the four, my favorites were “Locke” and “The Midnight Game.” The movie “Locke” is shot entirely in a car with only one character! “The Midnight Game” is a horror movie centered on a group of teens who participate in a pagan ritual and things go haywire. Don’t bother with “Transcendance” and “Repentance.”

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There you have it! I am done. Have a great weekend, everyone. I will report on the Darius Rucker concert sometime next week. Thank you for your continued support of myself and this blog. Don’t Blink.

Why I am Not a Fan of the Little League World Series

I am tired of the Little League World Series. Don’t kill me.

Please don’t take this wrong. I am not taking anything away from the participants, the event itself, or the storied history of Little League and of Williamsport. I have great respect for this major tournament that goes on each August. However, my enthusiasm has dissipated in recent years. Let me try to explain myself by pointing out a few reasons why.

Well, actually let me back up. Let me make clear reasons that don’t make me hate the Little League World Series: I don’t care that the kids cry and that ESPN catches every tear drop. I don’t worry about the stage being too big for these kids. I don’t believe that these young ballplayers are exploited. My gripe is with other conditions.

I don’t think anyone can fight me too hard when I say this: ESPN has completely oversaturated the Little League World Series. They broadcast roughly 30 games each August with many of them on the flagship station. Ten years ago when ESPN and ABC would combine to televise the United States championship game and the World Series title game over the weekend it was special. It left you wanting a little bit more. ESPN totally killed that feeling. Now it seems during the whole month of August games are shown both during the day and primetime. The product isn’t good enough to show that much. The innocent, carefree, and “for the love of the game” angles tire after a few days. It bores me.

Like I said above, I don’t mind the crying. It really doesn’t bother me. What has really driven me nuts though is the dancing. I detest the constant shots that lead off each edition of Sportscenter with two teams dancing around a goofy looking mascot. It looks incredibly stupid, it has been played out, and it really isn’t in the spirit of competition. I know some people think it is cute and a good example of sportsmanship but I just find it dumb. Same goes for the individual dances and choreographed celebrations that ESPN just eats up. Give it a rest.

I also don’t like how it takes some of my favorite ESPN personalities away from covering the sport they should be concentrating on…Major League Baseball. Will someone please yank out Karl Ravech from that Little League booth and put him back on the Baseball Tonight set? What business does he have calling a random contest that is at least a couple games away from the U.S. Championship? How about having Mike & Mike call the games or go fetch the lowest announcers on the ESPN totem pole and have them do the tournament.

I don’t like how teams are presented either. I don’t enjoy how teams are referred to by the region they came out of. While the media is doing a better job at overlooking the region names and calling them by their state names how about they take it a step further? Give recognition to the community that the players are from and make a better effort to call them by the city they hail from. If a team is from Chicago, call them Chicago…not Illinois. If the team is from Rapid City, call them Rapid City…not South Dakota. While this aspect is getting better too, it still needs improving. Then there is the uniform issue. I HATE the standard regional uniforms that each team wears. I don’t want to see a boring uniform with “Northwest” written across the chest of the player. Give me the quirky and colorful unis that the teams wore throughout the whole season, long before they got to Williamsport. It would make the tournament much more spirited and it wouldn’t seem like I am watching the same teams year after year.

I admit that I will be watching Mo’ne Davis on the mound tonight. What a story she has been. But besides that pot of gold for the LLWS and ESPN I have absolutely no interest to watch anymore. I know ratings are good so I don’t expect changes…I just wish it wasn’t slammed down my throat. Don’t Blink.

A Social Media Campaign Months in the Making: #CCUfamily

Yesterday, #CCUSocialMedia officially kicked off an ambitious campaign called #CCUfamily. Designed to run every single school day of the semester, the campaign will thoroughly spotlight a Coastal student each day through our various social networks and website. Believe it or not, #CCUfamily has been in the makings for five months.

Yesterday, the #CCUfamily campaign made its debut (graphic created by the talented Daniel Mableton).

Yesterday, the #CCUfamily campaign made its debut (graphic created by the talented Daniel Mableton).

When I came to Coastal Carolina University in March for my on-site interview I was instructed to devise a social media campaign for the school and present it to the hiring committee. It was in my Missoula apartment that I drafted #CCUfamily. I worked hard to plan the campaign and work out how all the pieces would compliment each other. When I pitched my idea to the hiring committee I won points for the feasibility and organization of it. I promised that if hired I would follow through in implementing the campaign exactly how I presented it. I am now making good on that promise.

Inside my vision for #CCUSocialMedia was a section devoted to #CCUfamily.

Inside my vision for #CCUSocialMedia was a section devoted to #CCUfamily.

Camille Hurley, a senior student-athlete from Chicago, was my first featured student on Monday when the 2014-15 academic year started. Scrambling to put the finishing touches on the website, Camille’s face was all over our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube channels by 3 p.m. Each different outlet features a different image and fact about the featured student. However, while the social media outlets present different information they all drive the user to the #CCUfamily website where they can get a complete profile on the student.

Camille Hurley kicked off the #CCUSA campaign on Monday. This was the Facebook post.

Camille Hurley kicked off the #CCUSA campaign on Monday. This was the Facebook post.

I have found out over the past two days that I might have underestimated the work load just a little bit with this campaign. For each day this semester I will have to play web designer, video editor, journalist, and of course social media manager.

And that is just for getting the daily feature up each day.

A lot of prep work has/will go into this as well. I receive names of students worthy of this recognition from fellow Coastal employees. I compile those names and send them through the Dean of Students for approval. Once given the okay I start reaching out to the students and asking them if they want to participate. After sending them a questionnaire I set up a time to meet with them. During those individual meetings I take photos and shoot the Youtube video. As of right now I have completed 10 of these meetings and have about 60 more to go.

To be 100% honest, my favorite part of this campaign has nothing to do with social media. Although the original intent was based solely on introducing something cool for #CCUSocialMedia I am loving #CCUfamily for an entirely different reason: I get to meet our students. Only 10 interviews through and I am already blown away and rejuvenated by the maturity, humility, and drive of the #CCU student body. These students call me Mr. Reser, act graciously, and express honor at the opportunity to participate in the campaign. I have walked away from each interview feeling so happy to be on this campus.

To follow the #CCUfamily campaign, click here. On Instagram and Twitter our handle is @CCUChanticleers. If Facebook is your thing, click here. Don’t forget to watch the short 90 second videos either. Our Youtube channel can be accessed by clicking here. I am excited to share the students of Coastal Carolina University in a very cool and descriptive way throughout the next several months. Don’t Blink.

Ladies Huddle

While working at Montana, one of my favorite events we put on was called Huddles and Heels. It was a football clinic offered by the Griz coaching staff for our women fan base. It was always a great time of on-field drills, tours, food, fundraising for charity, and shenanigans. If you read my blog post from three years ago, you will get the picture on the good time that was had by all.

This is me and my former boss, Christie Anderson, at the 2011 Huddles and Heels.

This is me and my former boss, Christie Anderson, at the 2011 Huddles and Heels.

This evening I had the special opportunity to see how my new school does it as the Coastal Carolina football team held its annual Ladies Huddle. I covered the event for our social media outlets and enjoyed every single minute of it.

Although the Coastal Carolina clinic wasn’t as hands-on or crazy as Montana’s version it was all balanced out by one factor: Joe Moglia. This man is the head coach of the Chant football team and by now his story is well known throughout college football. After an initial coaching stint he became an immensely successful businessman, earning millions of dollars. Then, just like that, he got back into football. His path eventually led to Coastal Carolina. If there is one thing you need to know about this man it is this…he can SPEAK!

Notice how I just didn’t say talk. I said SPEAK. I was blown away by how he could relay and articulate information, stories, and concepts. He was motivating, inspiring, and funny. Every single woman in that room loved him.

Coach Moglia at tonight's Ladies Huddle.

Coach Moglia at tonight’s Ladies Huddle.

That room I speak of was the third floor of the Adkins Fieldhouse. Overlooking the football field and with the school’s hall of fame plaques on the wall it was a cool setting. A large food spread and bar was at the disposal of the participants. Joining Coach Moglia was his whole coaching staff. After saying a few opening remarks and introducing his staff, the program really got underway.

A look at the setup of this evening's Ladies Huddle event.

A look at the setup of this evening’s Ladies Huddle event.

Coach Moglia had his Director of Football Operations George Glenn talk for a few minutes. I found this part very interesting because Glenn talked about the trip to Montana and the methods he used to keep the players warm during that December day in Missoula. He mentioned a couple times that it was -28 when the team hopped off the plane and -5 at kickoff. He noted that many of his players had never worn a winter jacket before. He described the number of torpedo heaters used, the way players on the sideline would give up jackets when active players would run off the field, and the layers the team suited up in. He revealed that the team drank boiling hot chicken broth. I found it all interesting.

A panel was held with the wives of the coaches.

A panel was held with the wives of the coaches.

The star quarterback and stud defensive player made an appearance. The offensive coordinator delivered a session on signals used during the game. The wives of the coaches came up for a Q&A session as they fielded questions from the audience on what it is like to be married to men of such a demanding profession. Then Coach Moglia returned and really opened up. He went through the way he recruits his student-athletes. He explained exactly what the structure is for the recruiting visits and shared what he tells the prospective athletes. He then spoke at length on how he treats his own players. He detailed his famous BAM (Be A Man) philosophy. He opened up the floor for questions and addressed everything from the NFL to moving up to the FBS to recruits that don’t pan out. Coach Moglia did all this with charm and confidence.

Offensive Coordinator Dave Patenaude talked about play signals during the clinic.

Offensive Coordinator Dave Patenaude talked about play signals during the clinic.

So what did this evening do for me? It got me even more excited for football season! As a proud season ticket holder I am eager to see the Chanticleers defend their Big South Conference title and make a deep run into the playoffs. The Ladies Huddle was a great way for me to see the men who will be calling the shots for that title defense this fall. August 30 can’t get here soon enough. Don’t Blink.

My Ice Cream Diet

Last night after a round of putt putt at the Cancun Lagoon course, I finally ordered something I have wanted to try this whole month. For the first time since arriving in Myrtle Beach I hit up a Dairy Queen and got my hands on a Chips Ahoy Blizzard. Although I don’t know if the wait was worth it. I found it to be pretty average and nowhere close to my regular Blizzard choice of Chocolate Xtreme. But there is a bigger issue in this all.

Since moving to the South I have started in on an ice cream tear. If I am not enjoying ice cream at one of the many parlors in town, shoving my face with it at a baseball game, or ordering it at a national chain like Dairy Queen or Cold Stone I am pigging out on it in the comfort of my own apartment. As I mentioned before, I am a huge fan of the Breyer’s brand and I have my freezer stocked accordingly. If I am watching a Red Box (which is almost nightly) then chances are I am eating ice cream.

This past Thursday at the Pelicans game, with some help from Sidney, I ate this delicious ice cream dish. The waffle bowl was made right in front of my own eyes.

This past Thursday at the Pelicans game, with some help from Sidney, I ate this delicious ice cream dish. The waffle bowl was made right in front of my own eyes.

How do I rationalize my new habit of going from a special occasion ice cream eater to a nightly ice cream eater? I say it is hot where I live.

Now I know that might be the worst excuse ever but it is all I got. Somehow I have justified it to myself that since I am living in a hot climate I somehow must deserve ice cream 365 times a year. Terrible, erroneous logic…the type of logic that gets people fat. However, I have avoided the extra pounds…for now.

Any time is a good time for ice cream.

Any time is a good time for ice cream.

As the obsessive person that I am, I weigh myself on the same day at the same time every single week. After moving down here I mandated this weekly weigh-in to keep myself honest. Everyone told me that weight gain was a given in the food-crazed South so I have taken necessary precautions to avoid an increased waistline.

Except of course for my ice cream habit.

But so far my ice cream splurge has not caught up to me yet. I have stayed the same weight since leaving the western part of the United States in mid-April. I am crossing my fingers that my ice cream diet doesn’t catch up to me all at once and on my next weigh-in I see a ten pound gain.

You know you live in an ice cream culture when the university you work for makes up creations like this.

You know you live in an ice cream culture when the university you work for makes up creations like this.

However, just because I have not seen a reflection on the scale doesn’t mean I can continue to scoop myself out a bowl each evening, right? Whatever happened to self control and moderation? Maybe I need to re-evaluate and go back to the guy who rewarded himself periodically with ice cream rather than the guy who makes it part of his nightly routine. Perhaps I should drop the “It’s hot” excuse? Don’t Blink.

Where All the Restaurants Taste the Same

If you go out to eat, there is one option you can always choose that will be safe: Mexican. If everyone in your party likes this type of food, then In terms of quality and menu choices you can’t really go wrong with going to the local Mexican restaurant.

Keep in mind what I am talking about. I am lumping together what the industry calls “Mexican family restaurants.” These are the dime a dozen sit-down Mexican places you find sprinkled in every city. I am not talking about Taco Bell, mission burrito joints, or Qdoba…I am highlighting the Fiesta en Jaliscos, El Sombreros, Aztecas, etc. of the world. If this is a place where you sit down, get chips and salsa, and order off a menu that has a heading of “combinations” followed by a bunch of numbers you know what I am talking about. And yes, I think they are all the same.

Now I know some of you might be cursing at your smart device or computer right now saying that I am crazy. Very well, you might have more sensitive taste buds than me. But personally, I find very little difference in the Mexican restaurant located on the side of the street that I am standing on and the Mexican restaurant located on the side of the street across from me.

I think I am semi-qualified to speak to this just because I have stayed consistent in what I have ordered at a Mexican restaurant for the last twenty years or so. I most always get the same thing…two enchiladas…one ground beef and one chicken. Sometimes I might switch it up a bit and get a burrito but in all honesty burritos taste the exact same as enchiladas. Anyway, my two enchiladas surrounded by refried beans and rice have tasted roughly the exact same at the hundreds of Mexican places I have dined at in my lifetime. I try to find distinguishing factors but many times it is impossible.

Not that this is a bad thing at all. Like I said above, it makes eating at a Mexican restaurant a solid choice. Burgers, fish, Asian food, and steak taste different at every place you go. People have different preferences on how they want these particular items to taste so it is always a risk selecting a restaurant. No such dilemma at a Mexican restaurant. You go anywhere and you know you can bank on getting the standard tacos/burritos/enchiladas with rice and beans, a cold Corona, and chips & salsa.

Now that I mentioned it though, I guess I should point out the separating factor that might put one Mexican restaurant ahead of the other: Chips and salsa. I admit that while any combination platter you get will pretty much taste universally the same, a business can shine a little brighter with its chips and salsa. If the restaurant serves warm and unlimited chips that is a good start. If they go the extra mile and make their chips homemade and provide a couple different types of salsas (one better be spicy), that makes it all the better. If I can slightly taste the grease and butter on the chip than that restaurant will definitely have the edge.

Atmosphere also plays a factor as well. For the same price I have ate the same tasting/looking Mexican platter in spacious, well-lit establishments as well as dirty, sketchy dives. When it comes down to it, I will always take my girlfriend to the place with a functioning sign and clean bathrooms.

Stressing out over where to take your relatives or visiting friends to dinner? Simply choose one of the many local Mexican restaurants in your area located in a decent part of town…and make sure the chips and salsa are delicious and plentiful! Don’t Blink.

A Small Way I Annoy People

I have written just shy of 600 blog posts for Don’t Blink. As many of you know who read my stuff frequently, I write about a very wide range of topics. Because I have covered such a vast array of material many times in random conversations I find myself saying, “Hey, I have written about this before!” But instead of acting like a normal, social person and verbalizing my thoughts I sometimes take an easier way out.

I have family members and friends who despise receiving a link from me. It will come after a conversation about something where I usually said very little. However, once they open the link they will find 800 words written by me on the exact same topic discussed. They hate this little habit of mine for several reasons. It shows laziness. It oozes cowardliness. It implies superior intelligence. It assumes that they have time to read my scribble.

In fairness to me I do it for valid reasons of my own. By nature I am a quiet person. I am not too keen on loud and involved conversations. I am also not the most elegant speaker. I rather have my written words talk for me. I also don’t like to waste the time of others. Rather than force someone to listen to my opinion or thoughts I much rather present it to them in a way where they can choose to listen or not.

My girlfriend has already had enough of my links. At least a couple times a day topics are brought up in which I have written blog posts about two or three years back. I will send her the link and she will say something to the effect of “I’d rather hear you say it out of your own mouth.” I pushed her buttons just a couple days ago when I responded to one of her tweets with a link.

Sidney didn't appreciate the link I tweeted at her the other day.

Sidney didn’t appreciate the link I tweeted at her the other day.

Usually I will just send links to people who are close to me. They know all about my blog and they know all about my preference for giving them as much detail through my writings as possible. It is not like I engage in conversations with strangers and then ask for their phone number or e-mail so I can follow it up with a link to one of my blog posts from July of 2011. But sometimes I will send an acquaintance or co-worker a link if we had an especially interesting conversation in which I think a past blog post might add substance or context to it. Also, if I think one of my blog posts might truly help educate someone (take for example the subject of social media) I will send a link their way.

I will admit it, I used to get irked by links myself. Whenever I used to ask a certain friend a question over e-mail or Facebook Messenger he would always send me a link from the internet. Even if the effort was less to just tell me the answer by typing a few words he would always go the link route. But I feel what I do is different. I provide people links to my own original material that I think builds on the conversation.

So if I ever send you a link, please don’t feel offended. I want to communicate with you and express myself in the best possible manner. In my case, that sometimes requires that I share with you what I have previously written in this crazy land of Cyberspace. Don’t Blink.

My Robin Williams Death Coincidences

Now that the smoke has settled a little on the tragic death of Robin Williams I want to say something: I felt a little spooked when he died. Three particular coincidences occurred right around his death that made me wonder just a bit. In tonight’s blog post I want to briefly discuss these coincidences. I will start with the least dramatic instance and end with the most significant one.

Coastal Carolina Commencement Speech: On Saturday morning, Coastal Carolina University held its summer commencement. The speaker was CCU professor Arne Flaten. His speech was titled “Carpe Diem: Of Dead Poets and Epistemology.” Of course Arne referenced Robin Williams, “Seize the Day,” and “Dead Poet’s Society” throughout his address. If you are sitting there thinking what a cliché subject to speak about, please know that Arne beat you to it by taking several shots at himself for picking such a topic. But that’s not the point…the point is that just a couple days after that address everyone around the world was putting “Carpe Diem” in their Facebook statuses.

A photo I took of Arne Flaten delivering his "Carpe Diem" commencement address on Saturday.

A photo I took of Arne Flaten delivering his “Carpe Diem” commencement address on Saturday.

Omitting Gooooooood MORNING: There is an ESPN personality by the name of Jonathan Coachman. Quite frequently he will fill in on the radio show Mike & Mike. Whenever he does so (I listen to the show each morning) he will open by exclaiming GOOOOOOD MORNING in the exact same way that Robin Williams did in “Good Morning Vietnam.” I am talking identical. This past Monday morning Coachman was once again subbing on Mike & Mike. I always look forward to him opening the show with GOOOOOOD MORNING so of course my ears were happily open. However, for the first time ever he didn’t give his normal greeting. I was so puzzled and disappointed that he didn’t start the show in his normal way that I tweeted him. Eerily the exact time that Coachman omitted his normal tribute to Robin Williams was around the same time that investigators said the actor took his own life.

I sent this tweet out to Jonathan Coachman because I thought it was really strange that he didn't open with his usual greeting.

I sent this tweet out to Jonathan Coachman because I thought it was really strange that he didn’t open with his usual greeting.

The Keystroke of Death: Monday evening I was in the middle of composing a blog post on the past ten Redbox movies I had watched. One of them happened to be “The Angriest Man in Brooklyn,” one of the last films that Robin Williams did. I trashed the movie. Five minutes after I finished writing about it the news broke about his death. I felt really weird. I almost considered going back and changing my review of the movie out of respect. I decided against it and instead just wrote a footnote under the review and devoted a couple of lines to Williams at the end of my post.

My quick review I did of "Angriest Man in Brooklyn"....just a few minutes after writing it I learned that Robin Williams was dead.

My quick review I did of “Angriest Man in Brooklyn”….just a few minutes after writing it I learned that Robin Williams was dead.

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Have you ever read the Lincoln and Kennedy similarities before? I used to have the poster displaying them hanging in my room. Thinking about my Robin Williams coincidences made me think about that. May the souls of all three men rest in peace. Don’t Blink.

Ten Lousy (for the most part ) Movies

As I have written about before, I watch a lot of Redbox movies. Maybe I should start to reconsider.

Just for fun, I went through the past ten Redbox movies I have watched. For the most part, these films that I have watched in the last 28 days didn’t impress me too much. In tonight’s blog post I will very briefly go through each one and give you a sentence or two on whether you should watch it or not.

Movie: “Heatstroke”
Date Watched: August 10, 2014
Summary: Dad takes girlfriend and troubled daughter on hyena trip to Africa. Dad gets killed, girlfriend and daughter must survive.
My Opinion: The movie did manage to keep my attention, although barely. The scenery isn’t very good, the villains are corny, and the daughter will annoy you.
My Letter Grade: C

Movie: “Divergent”
Date Watched: August 7, 2014
Summary: Girl has trouble fitting into one of the personality factions of society. Joins one where she doesn’t really belong and discovers an evil plot to turn society upside down.
My Opinion: I was disappointed with this movie. It went too long and didn’t really compare at all to the “Hunger Games.”
My Letter Grade: C

Movie: “Angriest Man in Brooklyn”
Date Watched: July 31, 2014
Summary: A bitter, mean man is falsely told he only has 90 minutes to live. The man then goes off to do what he can to right his wrongs.
My Opinion: Although Robin Williams and Mila Kunis star in it, the movie is a disaster. A plot line that sounds interesting is tarnished in a B movie type production that doesn’t respect the pedigrees of Williams and Kunis. Stay away.
My Letter Grade: D

*******Five minutes after writing these words I heard the unfortunate news about Robin Williams. May he rest in peace.

Movie: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Date Watched: July 28, 2014
Summary: An established hotel concierge befriends a young employee and the two try to cash in on a will while also battling false accusations.
My Opinion: I hated it. Not my style of movie at all.
My Letter Grade: D-

Movie: “Hunger Games: Catching Fire”
Date Watched: July 27, 2014
Summary: The winners from the previous Hunger Games are placed back in the competition in an all-star type version. A revolution is brewing and the ruler of the society is trying to squash it.
My Opinion: Great acting, great plot, and great scenes. Enjoyed this movie even more than the first. The ending will irritate you though.
My Letter Grade: A

Movie: “Heaven is for Real”
Date Watched: July 22, 2014
Summary: A boy almost dies and visits Heaven. His family must deal with the aftermath once he makes a full recovery.
My Opinion: Not a terrible movie but I thought it focused a little too much on the father and his obligation to the church he was the pastor of. The Heaven scenes and descriptions were cool and I wish the movie centered on that more.
My Letter Grade: B-

Movie: “Under the Skin”
Date Watched: July 21, 2014
Summary: An alien disguised as a woman drives around in a van, seduces men, brings them back to her apartment, and then watches them sink to their death.
My Opinion: Super weird, artsy movie. Scarlett Johansson stars in it and does a decent job but I found little meaning or point to the film.
My Letter Grade: C

Movie: “Cleaners”
Date Watched: July 20, 2014
Summary: An organized type crime ring ran by a cunning cold-hearted woman hires her daughter and another girl to do a job. Things aren’t as they seem.
My Opinion: Laughable, low budget movie. Horrendous acting and juvenile storyline. The actresses in the movie are hot but that didn’t even save me from turning it off early.
My Letter Grade: F

Movie: “Simple Plan”
Date Watched: July 17, 2014
Summary: Three guys find millions of dollars in a crashed plane. They take the cash and stress takes over, bad things happen, and a man comes after them.
My Opinion: I got duped…thought this was a new release since I got it from a Redbox but it was made in 1998. Depressing movie set in a snowy landscape complete with depressing characters.
My Letter Grade: D

Movie: “Blood Ties”
Date Watched: July 13, 2014
Summary: A film that takes place in the 1970′s chronicles the relationship between a New York City cop and his brother who was just released from prison. They try to make the best of things but the brother goes back to a life of crime.
My Opinion: Pretty boring and a little too long. Not as bad as some of the other movies but I did have to turn it off about three quarters through because it was 2 a.m. and it wasn’t doing enough to keep me up.
My Letter Grade: C-

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Condolences to the family of Robin Williams. As I neared the completion of this post the news broke that Williams had passed. Despite my less than stellar review of the “Angriest Man in Brooklyn” I have always been a big fan of his. Don’t Blink.

My Best Birthday Party

Yesterday evening I attended the birthday party for Sidney’s nephew. The Spider-Man themed bash was held at a swimming pool with palm trees surrounding the area. The kids ate Chick-fil-A chicken nuggets and feasted on a beautiful Spider-Man birthday cake. Of course the adults were welcome to indugle as well as I had two slices.

Sidney's nephew, Harrison, celebrated his second birthday yesterday.

Sidney’s nephew, Harrison, celebrated his second birthday yesterday.

As I watched the children run around and have fun I tried reminiscing about my birthday parties as a little kid. To be honest, except for one certain occasion, it took me some memory jogging to remember my childhood birthday celebrations. After some thinking I remembered various parties at Chuck E. Cheese’s, Laser Quest, a local pizza parlor, and the classic party at home. The one instance that I remebered instananeously though? Let me tell you about it.

I thought I was royalty the October 8 day when a limo pulled up in my driveway to take my friends and I on a cruise through the mean streets of Spokane. After attending a wedding reception the previous summer that gave kids free rides in the limousine used by the wedding party, I couldn’t stop talking about it. Getting a taste of riding in the back of a stretched limo with tinted windows and a phone that called up to the driver had me all kinds of excited. My parents told me after my ten minute ride in the limousine that summer I constantly brought up the “luxurious” experience.

My 8th birthday party was supposed to be just a typical bash at home with games, a Halloween theme, and cake. When my friends had arrived and we were all huddled inside the house my dad told me to look outside. Almost twenty years later I still remember the surprise and excitement that overtook my little body when I saw that stretched limo parked along our curb. We all ran outside. The driver, named Leonardo, opened the doors for all of us to pile in. With the sunroof open he had me stand up through it for a photo op. My head barely made it out. He gave me his driver’s hat to put on as a cool prop.

Me wearing the hat of the limo driver.

Me wearing the hat of the limo driver.

With my birthday party celebrants in the back with me and my dad in the passenger’s seat up front with Leo, we took off. The divider separating us from the adults went up and we used the built in phone to communicate with mission control. For that hour (I think it was an hour at least…could have just been thirty minutes) I got to call the shots on where we went. To be honest, I can’t remember the locations we visited except for McDonald’s. I look back on it now and realize how dumb that stop was. Sure enough we arrived at our local McDonald’s but the limo just drove through the parking lot and back on the road. We didn’t even go through the drive-thru. Dumb decision on my part.

The limo driver wearing his actual hat and me wearing my prized Duke hat.

The limo driver wearing his actual hat and me wearing my prized Duke hat.

Although I don’t rememebr the other details on where we stopped I do remember us rolling our windows down and waving to traffic. A bunch of kids hanging out the window acting like idiots for all vehicles to see…talk about great marketing for the limo service.

It seemed like no time before the limo rolled back into the neighborhood and pulled alongside our curb. We got out and I am sure Leonardo probably drove away as fast as he could. We entered the house and did cake and presents and that was that.

Looking back on it now I think to myself what a miserable way to spend a birthday. These days I am not too keen on spending any additional time in a vehicle…even if it happens to be stretched and stocked with champagne. But at the time it was cool and to this day I still have memories of that birthday. So whatever inflated amount of money my parents paid for that joy ride I can say it was actually probably worth it. Don’t Blink.