Kicking Off December With a Thursday Rundown

Happy December to you all! What a fun and magical month this is. It brings me no greater pleasure than to lead off December 2016 with a Thursday Rundown.

Thanksgiving Recap – I apologize for not writing a Thursday Rundown last week…I was a little busy celebrating a certain holiday. I think it is only proper that I post the obligatory Thanksgiving spread photo in this post. If you count, you will see that we had 19 different dishes to enjoy. NINETEEN! The food was incredible and I stuffed myself silly. As usual, great work by the Mathis family.

A look at our large Thanksgiving spread.

A look at our large Thanksgiving spread.

Christmas Movies – We have prepared for December by watching way too many Christmas movies in November. Besides a full slate of Hallmark movies I have watched bits and pieces of with Sidney, we also watched a couple of classics over the past couple of nights. On Tuesday, we watched “Rudolph” and then last night we watched “Christmas Vacation.” Before watching the Chevy Chase holiday staple, I asked Sidney if she felt we were going a little overboard. She said no.

A look at the movies we watched over the past two nights along with the tweet I sent out about Sid's willingness to watch "Christmas Vacation" in November.

A look at the movies we watched over the past two nights along with the tweet I sent out about Sid’s willingness to watch “Christmas Vacation” in November.

First Visit to Sam’s Club – Some might find this hard to believe, but in my three decades of life, I had never visited a Sam’s Club before. This fact isn’t just because I am a Costco fan, rather, the truth is that Sam’s Club locations didn’t exist in the previous places I lived. But this past weekend, I finally went through the doors of the alternative wholesale warehouse giant. My initial impression? It was much more like Costco than I thought. I was hoping for some obvious differences. However, besides the store layout (which was actually in some ways similar to Costco) and the non-crowded aisles, Sam’s didn’t really distinguish itself from “the other guy.”

Price Is Right – On Tuesday night, my mom and sister were audience members at the Price Is Right. But before you ask me if they met Drew Carey, let me tell you something. They attended the non-TV version of the show that travels around the country. As you can imagine, Drew and his models don’t extend themselves past the main Price is Right studio in Hollywood. My mom and sister attended their show at Northern Quest in Spokane. Although they were eligible to be contestants, they were never told to “come on down.” But they had a really good time and looked great in their cliffhangers t-shirts.

My mom and Miranda in their t-shirts before they went off to the Price is Right.

My mom and Miranda in their t-shirts before they went off to the Price is Right.

From the Archives – Oh man, I have a couple of great posts I wrote on this date in previous years. Two years ago, I wrote about an extremely unique and special tradition my dad did for us kids growing up. Then, three years ago on December 1, 2013, I wrote about a very uncomfortable situation I found myself in when I picked up a stranger in the middle of nowhere. If you want some of my more recent stuff, just last year on this date I wrote about the hottest Christmas lights trend (one that I am following this year).

My dad had a neat tradition where he would create drawings for us on special occasions. Here is some of his work from my high school years.

My dad had a neat tradition where he would create drawings for us on special occasions. Here is some of his work from my high school years.

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May you all have a blessed month. I am excited for these next several weeks and I hope you are too. Don’t Blink.

Decorating For Our First Christmas

I have always loved Christmas. Growing up, I jumped at the chance to string lights with my dad, go to the Christmas tree farm with my family, and decorate whatever we cut down later that night. I am a big believer in Christmas Magic and I cherished all those activities.

However, once I left the house I didn’t participate in holiday decorating anymore. What was the point? Stringing lights on whatever apartment I was living in wasn’t necessarily allowed and installing a full sized tree for only myself to enjoy wouldn’t be much fun. Thus, my living quarters for the past several years during the Christmas season looked similar to the Grinch’s cave.

But that has all changed this year! I am a married man and I have a wife who likes Christmas just as much as I do. Long before this past Thanksgiving weekend, we had joyful plans to decorate our house in Yuletide spirit. However, we quickly learned something when the time came to start decorating: We had nothing to decorate with.

Yes. We both really like Christmas.

Yes. We both really like Christmas.

Not that this was a huge shocker. Many married couples spending their first Christmas together don’t have a stockpile of stuff hanging around. Most couples, Sidney and I included, need to start from scratch.

This past Sunday we did just that. With my mother-in-law driving us around, we went shopping for stuff to make our living room inviting for when Santa visits on Christmas Eve. After a quick stop at Sam’s Club, we went to Sidney’s happy place…TARGET. Once there, we filled a shopping cart up with ornaments. It was kind of fun picking out the colorful balls and figures that will make up our original Christmas ornament set. I silently asked myself: 20 years from now, will we still have a lot of these ornaments decorating our tree? I sure hope so, because they will remind me of this very trip to Target when we were young newlyweds.

After we checked out at Target, we headed to Lowe’s. It was here where we would pick out our first ever tree together. We went inside the gardening area and pretty quickly decided on a cute seven foot tree. While I carried it to be wrapped up, Sidney went inside the actual store and picked out Christmas tree lights. Before we knew it, we were cruising back home.

Me holding onto our tree as Sidney shopped for Christmas tree lights.

Me holding onto our tree as Sidney shopped for Christmas tree lights.

We spent the evening decorating our tree while Christmas carols played. It became evident that we actually bought too many ornaments because we ran out of real estate to hang them. But it was actually a good thing because it meant that our tree was completely covered. When we stepped back and admired our first ever tree we were quite pleased.

This will go down as the first ever Reser tree. We are proud of it!

This will go down as the first ever Reser tree. We are proud of it!

With a gorgeous seasonal ribbon display that Sidney created last week and with some other miscellaneous decorations around the living room (including a couple mini Christmas trees) the inside of our house looked great. But we all know the inside is just half of the deal.

Sidney made this very nice and festive craft.

Sidney made this very nice and festive craft.

Sidney and I discussed that we wanted to go with the big trend of last year and utilize laser Christmas lights. After looking around at a couple different brands in different stores, we were ready to buy a couple of our own projectors. But then my next door office mate and assistant director of video production at CCU, David, offered to let us use the laser lights that his family used last year. David’s wife is Robin, a theatre professor at Coastal, who loves making light displays at their home each year. She went with laser lights in 2015 but is doing something different in 2016. She was more than generous to allow David to bring me some of their projectors to the office this morning. Right when I got home this evening, I set them up and our house looks great!

I think our house looks pretty good with the laser lights. Thanks David and Robin!

I think our house looks pretty good with the laser lights. Thanks David and Robin!

So when it comes to the inside and outside of our house, the Resers are ready for Christmas. If you are in the neighborhood, feel free to stop by our warm home. We would love to welcome you with some holiday cheer. Don’t Blink.

Make This For Your 2016 Christmas Party

It was only a week or so after I wrote about the best ever corporate produced snack mix that something else was thrust in front of me. My wife shared one of those recipe viral videos to my Facebook wall of what I can only describe as the holiday homemade snack mix of all holiday homemade snack mixes. The outrageous Yuletide treat had quite the name: Christmas Reindeer Crack.

Sidney posted on my Facebook wall a video for making a treat called Christmas Reindeer Crack.

Sidney posted on my Facebook wall a video for making a treat called Christmas Reindeer Crack.

However, it was almost as if the colorful name still fell short on doing it justice. Then again, it really is hard to decide upon a worthy name for a snack that uses eight sweet and/or salty snacks. Christmas Reindeer Crack calls for the sweet tooth “crackhead” cook to mix pretzels, peanuts, Fritos, Chex Mix, Bugles, and M&M’s together in a gigantic container. After the items are combined, white chocolate is poured over the contents to bring together the several different snacks into one. It is quite the sight.

Did I see myself making it? With a half of a tub of Rudolph’s Mix still left in our pantry and with all the Thanksgiving dishes and leftovers, my initial thought was no. However, my initial thinking would soon be tweaked…

After I commented underneath the post that Sid shared with something along the lines of “OMG THAT IS INCREDIBLE” she responded with a simple question.

Will you make it for me?

It didn’t take more than a few minutes for one of Sidney’s co-workers to jump in the conversation and reply: “Of course he will! You’re carrying his baby!”

This sealed it! I was making the Reindeer Crack.

This sealed it! I was making the Reindeer Crack.

There was no possible way to back out now.

On Black Friday, I went to Walmart and bought the ingredients. The only thing I omitted was the Chex Mix. I couldn’t find a mild flavored traditional mix and I wasn’t too excited about how the texture of the snack would fit with everything else. I bought double the amount of white chocolate and double the amount of M&M’s.

These were the ingredients I bought for Christmas Reindeer Crack. I laid them out for a photo on our kitchen table before getting to work.

These were the ingredients I bought for Christmas Reindeer Crack. I laid them out for a photo on our kitchen table before getting to work.

For those who know me, and for those who regularly follow this blog, I can’t cook myself out of a paper bag. Luckily, the only skill needed of anyone wanting to make this recipe was just the ability to pour items into a container.

To make Reindeer Crack, you just have to be really good at pouring stuff into a container. This was my mix before I started adding the sweet stuff.

To make Reindeer Crack, you just have to be really good at pouring stuff into a container. This was my mix before I started adding the sweet stuff.

You know all those ingredients I had on the table above? I used 95% of them. I think I had a few pretzels and some Bugles left over. Even without the white chocolate added yet, I had a gigantic snack mix concoction that looked very festive.

After I poured in the M&M's, the Christmas Reindeer Crack looked very festive.

After I poured in the M&M’s, the Christmas Reindeer Crack looked very festive.

To properly mix the Reindeer Crack and to create a couple different batches, I took the big container and emptied the contents into two smaller containers. I then poured one white chocolate packet on top of the mix in one of the containers and the other white chocolate packet on top of the mix in the other container. I then stirred and mixed with Sid’s kitchen tools. I never realized how well white chocolate bands items together. In no time, the snack looked fit enough for even St. Nick himself to eat.

A look at right when I put on the white chocolate and then after I mixed it.

A look at right when I put on the white chocolate and then after I mixed it.

I cooled the Reindeer Crack in the refrigerator for about an hour. Upon taking it out and trying it, I realized why it has the name it does. The sweet and salty taste truly wins the day. I brought one of the batches over to our Thanksgiving leftover dinner with the Mathis family. The other batch is still at our house where we have been working on it throughout the weekend.

This is me proudly holding one of the batches of Christmas Reindeer Crack I made.

This is me proudly holding one of the batches of Christmas Reindeer Crack I made.

If you want an easy, tasty, and original treat to bring to a holiday party this year, I would recommend Reindeer Crack. Just remember to follow the rule I outlined above and always add extra white chocolate and M&M’s. Don’t Blink.

We Are Having A Baby Girl!

Recently, Sidney and I found out she would be giving birth to a baby girl in April. We had anticipated the news for a long time as we basically counted down the days until we would know the gender. Our families couldn’t wait to hear the verdict, my co-workers participated in a “gender poll,” and Sidney performed every possible old wives’ tale test determined to predict whether she was carrying a boy or girl.

It was a 10-10 split from the Office of University Communication at Coastal Carolina on whether Sidney and I would have a girl or boy.

It was a 10-10 split from the Office of University Communication at Coastal Carolina on whether Sidney and I would have a girl or boy.

Although some people prefer to wait until birth to find out the sex of their baby, we are so glad we found out when we did. We can now shop for our daughter, daydream about raising a little girl, and begin setting up the nursery. However, the best part of finding out the gender of our baby (for us anyway) is this: We can now establish an identity.

Over the past 10 days or so since learning the news, we have grown even more attached to the little person Sidney is carrying. It just isn’t a baby anymore, it is our daughter. We can now use the pronouns of “her” and “she” without hesitation. We can practice the name we have already picked out by greeting her with it every morning and every night. It is now crystal clear what is developing inside Sidney and it feels like we are much more connected to all the excitement than we were before.

Sidney and I are thrilled to be having a baby girl.

Sidney and I are thrilled to be having a baby girl.

Personally, I am elated at having a baby girl. For the past 20 weeks, I never really had an instinct on the gender. Not only did I not have an instinct, I also didn’t have a preference. Now I don’t have to explain these feelings to people anymore because there is no doubt that we are having a baby girl.

Sidney has told me over and over that there is no love like the love a daughter has for her daddy. I am excited for this incredible gift and I can’t wait to do all that I can to foster it.

Everyone is thrilled about the news from Sidney’s family to my family. Upon hearing what we are having, my sister immediately sent us a baby girl outfit. When we Facetimed my parents about the news, it was an exact replication from when we told them that Sidney was pregnant. Yes, my dad was once again wiping away tears. I told my mom that I hope she didn’t mind another granddaughter (my sister has daughters) and she said, “Not at all! I will take 10 of them!”

But of course the person most excited about this all is Sidney. She has already picked out the nursery theme, raided the baby aisle at Target, and went on a Pottery Barn Kids online shopping spree.

And that was just the first night after finding out.

Sid is truly in love with our soon-to-be baby daughter and it is so special to see.

We will soon be blessed with a baby daughter. We can't wait to start creating our nursery.

We will soon be blessed with a baby daughter. We can’t wait to start creating our nursery.

The greatest mystery of having a baby is now solved and we are happy/relieved. Already more than halfway through the pregnancy, we are excited to embark on the second half with the knowledge that we have a special baby daughter waiting to see us at the start of April. Don’t Blink.

My Old Thanksgiving Eve Tradition

Over a year ago, my Mead High School Class of 2005 held its 10-year high school reunion. Because of geography, I did not attend. Although mildly disappointed, I was by no means heartbroken. You see, I had already attended about four or five high school reunions before the official August 2015 one.

One year ago on this date, I wrote about my Thanksgiving traditions. Because I no longer celebrated one certain tradition at the time I wrote it, I did not include it in the blog post. Tonight I will shed a little light on that omitted tradition. For a span of about 4-5 years, I would celebrate Thanksgiving Eve the way a large portion of people in their twenties do…at a watering hole.

Anyone in the bar industry will tell you that Thanksgiving Eve is one of the busiest nights of the year. This is fueled by a few things:
1. The next day is a holiday for many.
2. People need a break from family.
3. It is a joyful time of the year.

However, the driving force behind big Thanksgiving Eve nights is the fact that people come back home to their old stomping grounds. Students and young professionals return to the place they grew up in because most of the time their families are still rooted there.

Ecstatic at returning home and feeling good about the prospect of hanging with old friends, many people will devote some of their time to going out on Thanksgiving Eve. For a few years, this was me.

I would hit up a place in north Spokane called Fizzie Mulligans. A line would be out the door, patrons would be shoulder to shoulder inside, and a loud band would drown out almost all conversation. However, I still made it a priority to show up on more than one Turkey Day Eves.

My brother and I on Thanksgiving Eve 2010 inside Fizzie Mulligans.

My brother and I on Thanksgiving Eve 2010 inside Fizzie Mulligans.

As someone who hates the above conditions, why would I do this? Well it was to see people of course! It wasn’t like I went there alone. I would go with a group of my close friends from high school or my brother or sister (on one occasion all three of us went together). From there we would join the masses and run into everyone from old classmates to old teammates to even old teachers. With a carefree attitude brought on by the holiday season and a drink or two, it was actually always a great time.

Now I know there is a high percentage of people out there who become repulsed at the thought of seeing people from high school and/or their childhood. Obviously, these folks stay home on Thanksgiving Eve. But I wasn’t like that. I had an interest in how my friends and acquaintances from Mead were doing. The night always brought with it a little bit of excitement.

Since I no longer take part in the Thanksgiving Eve tradition, do I miss it? Not really. First off, I am too old for it. Second, with social media as dominating as it is in society these days, I pretty much already know what everyone is doing. So even if 3,000 miles didn’t separate me from my hometown, I still wouldn’t venture out on Thanksgiving Eve. However, I understand the youngsters who do. To all who go out tonight, have fun and be safe. Don’t Blink.

Happy 40th, Rocky Balboa

Yesterday, ESPN made a big deal out of celebrating the 40th anniversary of “Rocky.” The four decade old original movie chronicling Rocky Balboa would lead to five sequels and a spinoff movie called “Creed.”

Although not at the same level as “Forrest Gump” for me, if I could lump the entire “Rocky” series together as one title, it would easily make my top ten favorite movies list.

I am a big "Rocky" fan.

I am a big “Rocky” fan.

My brother and I became introduced to the movies by watching bits and pieces of Rocky marathons on TV. That led us to renting the VHS cassettes and watching them over and over. The underdog plot that each movie took on combined with our intrigue for boxing and our fandom of Slyvester Stallone made us super fans of the franchise.

Although I am a Rocky fan, Glen is a bigger Rocky fan.

Although I am a Rocky fan, Glen is a bigger Rocky fan.

Try to picture this image if you can: inspired by the boxing scenes and the powerful soundtrack that accompanied the movies, my brother and I would step into the ring ourselves; the “ring” being my parents’ basement of course. Blaring “Eye of the Tiger,” we would bare knuckle box (face shots were not allowed). My mom and dad were not impressed.

Anyway, I think I might have hit my brother a little too hard during those crude “boxing” bouts because as I grew up my passion for “Rocky” decreased while Glen’s obsession increased. He still quotes the movies in everyday conversation, he binge watches the series on random weekends multiple times a year, and he even dressed up as Rocky Balboa for Halloween last year. As you can probably imagine, he still has Rocky posters up in his room.

Glen went a few rounds with Rocky in New York.

Glen went a few rounds with Rocky in New York.

As is the case with many other “Rocky” fans, my favorite film in the series is “Rocky IV.” What makes that film stand out so much? For me, it is the fact that Slyvester Stallone is in the best shape of his life, major worldly themes are taken into account, the training scenes are incredible, the music pumps you up, and Ivan Drago is by far the best Rocky Balboa villain/opponent of the series. The film has turned into somewhat of a cult classic. Although I won’t put the DVD in and watch it from start to finish at 2 a.m. on a Saturday night like my brother, I still will sit and watch through a few different commercial breaks if it is on TV.

Even Sidney doesn't mind getting in the ring with Rocky.

Even Sidney doesn’t mind getting in the ring with Rocky.

With the big milestone yesterday, I felt like I needed to recognize “Rocky.” If you are yet to see any of the films, you probably should at least watch the first one. I think we can all agree that it is an American classic. Don’t Blink.

Making the Effort to Eat at the Cheesecake Factory

Growing up, I never used to eat at landmark/theme chain restaurants while traveling. It never appealed to me to eat at Planet Hollywood so I could get a t-shirt with the city name on it. I didn’t need to see if the Hooters girls in Seattle were cuter than the Hooters girls in Las Vegas. I didn’t care about the memorabilia in the Hard Rock Café of whatever city I was in.

Not that dining out when traveling didn’t interest me. To me, eating at restaurants away from home is a lot of fun (and usually delicious). However, my goal was to always eat at places specifically unique to the area I was in.

Over the past couple years, I have started to change my tune a bit. The main reason? My wife of course!

I will now go out of my way to eat at a certain landmark chain restaurant that is named after its signature dessert and that has a menu the length of a dictionary. Call me a major Cheesecake Factory fan!

Sidney helped me discover my love of the Cheesecake Factory. This photo is of Sid at the Charlotte Cheesecake Factory yesterday. She is with her favorite Cheesecake Factory dish, the Louisiana pasta.

Sidney helped me discover my love of the Cheesecake Factory. This photo is of Sid at the Charlotte Cheesecake Factory yesterday. She is with her favorite Cheesecake Factory dish, the Louisiana pasta.

But before I sing its praises, what is it about the Cheesecake Factory that relates to my wife? Well, I guess I should admit that it isn’t just about Sidney. In fact, it is about her whole family. Whenever the Mathis family takes a trip together or even when one of them travels independently, if the destination happens to have a Cheesecake Factory there is a 100% chance that they will eat there. Since I am now part of the family, I am also part of the tradition. And let me tell you, I have embraced it!

I now love the Cheesecake Factory. My initial experience at the chain was eating with my parents and siblings at the Caesars Palace location in Las Vegas several years ago. I liked it well enough but I don’t think I truly appreciated it until Sidney opened my eyes.

The first time I ate at a Cheesecake Factory was with my family in Las Vegas in December of 2010. The top photo is my mom and sister. The bottom left is my brother. The photo in the bottom right is of the orange chicken I ate as my first ever Cheesecake Factory meal.

The first time I ate at a Cheesecake Factory was with my family in Las Vegas in December of 2010. The top photo is my mom and sister. The bottom left is my brother. The photo in the bottom right is of the orange chicken I ate as my first ever Cheesecake Factory meal.

The pleasant and aesthetically pleasing interior. The different types of complimentary bread. The all-encompassing menu. The great service. The huge portions. THE CHEESECAKE.

A look at the food we ordered yesterday at the Charlotte Cheesecake Factory. So good.

A look at the food we ordered yesterday at the Charlotte Cheesecake Factory. So good.

Speaking of that last little item I mentioned, Sidney’s family has a mini tradition built into the big tradition of eating at the Cheesecake Factory. Each person in the party will always order their own slice of cheesecake. When I was with the entire group a little over a year ago in Atlanta, we had I think eight or nine different pieces of cheesecake on our table. It was a beautiful sight. And believe me, the restaurant’s signature item lives up to its hype! There is no other cheesecake in the world quite like it.

This was the collage I made from the Atlanta Cheesecake Factory visit in August of 2015. Below is the original caption. ------ The Cheesecake Factory was delicious. I had the spicy cashew chicken which was amazing. I got banana cream pie cheesecake and Sid got red velvet cheesecake.

This was the collage I made from the Atlanta Cheesecake Factory visit in August of 2015. Below is the original caption.
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The Cheesecake Factory was delicious. I had the spicy cashew chicken which was amazing. I got banana cream pie cheesecake and Sid got red velvet cheesecake.

When it comes to my preference at the Cheesecake Factory, my favorite dish is the spicy cashew chicken. Simply incredible. Sidney and her sisters always order the Louisiana pasta. Cheesecake wise I elect usually for a sweet option. Not wanting to goof up an already good thing, Sidney will 95% of the time order vanilla bean (except for that one time in Atlanta when she got the red velvet cheesecake).

Sidney usually always orders vanilla bean cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory. This is her with a slice at the Cheesecake Factory in Baltimore.

Sidney usually always orders vanilla bean cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory. This is her with a slice at the Cheesecake Factory in Baltimore in July of 2014.

I used to shake my head at the people who would announce something along the lines of “I have been to 16 different Planet Hollywoods.” However, I have changed my ways and I can proudly confirm that I have ate at five different Cheesecake Factories in the great cities of Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Las Vegas, and Charlotte.

Earlier this month I ate at the Cheesecake Factory in Boston (it was my second time in my lifetime eating at that location). I ordered the spicy chicken sandwich.

Earlier this month I ate at the Cheesecake Factory in Boston (it was my second time in my lifetime eating at that location). I ordered the spicy chicken sandwich.

The latter one on that list was visited just yesterday. Although technically the reason for us visiting Charlotte was to watch the Griz-Cat football game, let’s get real here…the opportunity to go to the Cheesecake Factory was a big factor as well.

This was me yesterday at the Charlotte Cheesecake Factory with spicy cashew chicken.

This was me yesterday at the Charlotte Cheesecake Factory with spicy cashew chicken.

What can I say? I am a big Cheesecake Factory advocate. I can confidently say it is one of the few major chain restaurants that is not overrated and I can thank Sidney and the Mathis family for helping me discover that fact. Don’t Blink.

Camaraderie With Montanans in Charlotte: Attending a Griz-Cat Satellite Party

On Friday night, I pitched an idea to Sidney. It started like this:

“Hey, do you want to go to Charlotte tomorrow?”

She looked at me a bit puzzled. That was the easy part of it all. I now had to tell her why I wanted to make the four hour drive to the Queen City. You see, Sidney is not a fan of football. The reason why I wanted to go to Charlotte was to watch a football game. In a bar. To watch two teams she couldn’t care less about.

Although I have converted Sidney into a Griz fan (check the shirt she is wearing), I didn't know if she would want to go to Charlotte to watch the football team play on TV.

Although I have converted Sidney into a Griz fan (check the shirt she is wearing), I didn’t know if she would want to go to Charlotte to watch the football team play on TV.

Yesterday, the football teams from the University of Montana and Montana State University played in the 116th Brawl of the Wild. Like other big time college football rivalries, efforts are made to bring alumni together who live out of state to watch the game. This is achieved through what is called a satellite party. The alumni associations from Montana and Montana State recruit grads to team up together and host these satellite parties at various locations around the nation.

As an alum and former athletic department employee of UM, I still have a strong allegiance to the Grizzlies. I have wanted to attend a satellite gathering the past two seasons but because of Coastal Carolina home games, I was unable to. This year, with the Chants playing on Thursday night prior to Griz-Cat weekend, it opened up my schedule to attend a watch party. Out of the roughly 88 Brawl of the Wild satellite locations in the United States, Charlotte was the closest one to me.

Despite being skeptical that Sidney would embrace the opportunity to give up a weekend to watch my old college team, it wasn’t a hard sell at all. She actually said she would love to go. What a wife!!

We arrived at the Charlotte Griz-Cat satellite location at around 1:30 p.m. (2 p.m kickoff). The particular venue was called Taco Mac, a beautiful bar/restaurant that has a similar concept to that of Buffalo Wild Wings. When we approached the place, it had a GO GRIZ sign on the front entrance. It gave me a warm feeling and it felt like I was coming home in a way. Taco Mac has an entire upstairs private area that was reserved exclusively for the Griz-Cat watch party. We walked in the room and admired the maroon and silver decorations while also picking up some Griz promo items.

Seeing the Go Griz sign at the entrance to Taco Mac in the SouthPark area of Charlotte made me feel welcome.

Seeing the Go Griz sign at the entrance to Taco Mac in the SouthPark area of Charlotte made me feel welcome.

It was at this time that I met Justin, a 1999 Montana grad who was the Griz organizer of the watch party. I would later meet Travis, the Montana State organizer of the watch party. Both guys worked together to provide a great experience for all who attended.

It goes without saying that whenever you see something Griz-related on the other side of the country, you must take a photo with it.

It goes without saying that whenever you see something Griz-related on the other side of the country, you must take a photo with it.

Sidney and I sat down and watched as Griz and Bobcat fans started to trickle in. For me, this was a great thrill. Living in South Carolina, you rarely come across someone who lived in Montana, let alone someone who went to the same university that you did. It was almost too much for me to handle. I felt compelled to go up to each person who was there and find out their story starting from where they grew up to what year they graduated to why they ended up in the Carolinas.

Sidney and I at Taco Mac for the Griz-Cat satellite party.

Sidney and I at Taco Mac for the Griz-Cat satellite party.

Sidney and I sat next to a couple who graduated about 30 years before me. Despite the age gap, we still had a lot in common. Both actually lived in the same residence hall I did my freshman year, both enjoyed some of the same bars I regularly went to during my years in Missoula, and both shared the same Griz Pride that I still store in my heart.

It was a complete joy to talk with the Montana State folks as well. While 200 miles separate Missoula from Bozeman, about 2,000 miles separate the state of Montana from the Carolinas. Thus, it was very apparent that although when we attended our institutions it seemed like the differences between us were great, when we met on common ground in Charlotte it was entirely different. While we still had our Griz and Cat ties, we were all proudly Montanans. It was just so nice to talk with people who could properly pronounce the word “Butte” and who still appreciate FCS football in an area dominated by the SEC and ACC.

At halftime, the party attendees, both Griz and Cats, took this photo.

At halftime, the party attendees, both Griz and Cats, took this photo.

Throughout the game at Taco Mac, the Griz fans would cheer when our team made a play and the Bobcat fans would cheer when their team made a play. It was a great back-and-forth. Of course I desperately wanted Montana to win. As a student and as a staff member, I grew to hate the Cats. I relished in the fact that our athletics program, especially over the past several years, always seemed to crush Montana State. But as I alluded to above, when you are separated from that atmosphere only to be reunited with people from both sides at a location thousands of miles away, it humanizes you.

A look at the main floor of Taco Mac from upstairs where our party was held. The venue was awesome and had just about any beer on tap you could want.

A look at the main floor of Taco Mac from upstairs where our party was held. The venue was awesome and had just about any beer on tap you could want.

Although it stung that my Montana Grizzlies were upset by Montana State on Saturday afternoon, I felt no animosity toward the Bobcat fans right by me who were basking in the glory of their 24-17 win. In fact, I actually felt happy for them.

I want to thank the alumni associations from both Montana and Montana State for organizing these satellite parties. I especially want to thank Justin and Travis for putting on the Charlotte gathering. I had a great time and hope to be back next year (just with perhaps a different result). Don’t Blink.

Thursday Night Lights Rundown

Good evening to you all! No time for small talk because I have a football game to work, so let’s get right to the latest Thursday Rundown…

Thursday Night Lights – Obviously I just can’t mention something in the introduction and not explain it. This evening, the Coastal football team will host Liberty at 7 p.m. in Brooks Stadium. The fact that it is a Thursday night game is interesting in and of itself, but here are a few more things adding intrigue to it for me. First, the game will be nationally televised on ESPNEWS. Second, it is a rivalry game and most likely the last time the Chants will play Liberty for quite some time because of the move to the FBS. Finally, a Coastal Carolina win could help the Montana Grizzlies (who I still root for) make the FCS Playoffs. Should be an interesting night.

Baby Update – Sidney is now at the halfway point of her pregnancy, and, (drum roll)…..we now know the gender of our new baby!! You better believe that Sid is already on the internet looking at items and themes that will fit with the daughter/son we will have in less than five months. It is a very exciting time and Sidney is feeling great (stay tuned down the road for a gender announcement).

A Unified National Anthem – The Kent State men’s basketball team came up with a powerful way to promote respect during the Star Spangled Banner. Last night before the team’s latest game, the players went into the stands and each invited a fan out on the court to stand with them for the anthem. It was a touching and proud tribute. Because it went so well, the Golden Eagles will do this at every home game this season. Please read the story to see some of the great quotes from the student-athletes but the overrall message was that the display was about community unity. Well done!

The Great Gatsby – Last night, “The Great Gatsby” (Tobey Maguire/Leonardo DiCaprio version) was on television. I had never seen the film before so I decided to watch some of it. OMG, the party scenes are incredible. The colors, the costumes, and the extravagance were all pretty spectacualr. The people behind that movie really did a great job making it. However, I never realized that the famous Leonardo DiCaprio meme backdrop was taken from “The Great Gastsy.” It was kind of weird to see the image I have seen about a million times over the internet actually in context right in front of me on my TV.

This is the infamous Leonardo DiCaprio meme. I had no idea it was from "The Great Gatsby" until last night.

This is the infamous Leonardo DiCaprio meme. I had no idea it was from “The Great Gatsby” until last night.

From the Archives – Although I have written a lot of garbage in my time, I kind of like some of the posts I have penned on November 17 in the past. In 2015, I described the ten mistakes social media professionals make (yes, plenty of homemade memes are involved). In 2014, I paid tribute to former Griz football coach Mick Delaney. Then, on Nov. 17, 2013, I wrote about what makes the #GrizCat Brawl of the Wild football game so passionate and special. For once I actually encourage you to click on these links.

This is one of the memes from Nov. 17, 2015. Follow the link above to see all 10! Remember, social media pros can never be found asleep on the job.

This is one of the memes from Nov. 17, 2015. Follow the link above to see all 10! Remember, social media pros can never be found asleep on the job.

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If you aren’t in Brooks Stadium tonight, make sure to tune in on ESPNEWS. Also, remember to rejoice…we are just a week away from Thanksgiving. Don’t Blink.

The Baby Name Game

Names are a big deal. Most people have a tough enough time deciding on a name for their pet, let alone a child. When Sidney and I first started discussions on what to name our baby, I didn’t know how deliberations would go.

From the time we started dating, Sidney would throw name ideas my way. She kept a list on her phone with both boy and girl options she liked. To be honest, I wasn’t always enthusiastic about all her ideas. When it came to names, Sidney is much more adventurous while I am much more conservative.

It was because of this difference in name style preference that I didn’t know how smooth the process of deciding what we would call our first child would go. But you know what? The decisions came easily. When we found out we were expecting, we immediately started to discuss names. I don’t even know exactly how it all went other than Sidney pitched some names to me. She gave me selections that weren’t totally out in left field while at the same time not your typical run of the mill classics. I told her I really liked a certain girl’s name she presented to me and I told her I really liked a certain boy’s name she presented to me. Sidney responded to me by saying she loved both of those names as well.

After probably a week of thinking about those two names while also tossing around a couple other contenders, we became set on our frontrunners. This was all in early August.

We are now more than halfway through the month of November and we are set on what we have chosen. Surprisingly, it was more difficult deciding on middle names than it was first names. We have waivered a bit on those but we are pretty sure what we are going with.

One of these days, I will make a list of the concerns/conditions I ran each potential name through. For me, because I am weird, they run much deeper than “how does it sound?” or “who does it remind me of?” But thankfully for Sid and I, we very quickly decided on names that met the standards for both of us. We can definitely say that this important decision was not a stressful one. Don’t Blink.