Brent’s Top 5 Best Songs of 2012

Believe me, I try to limit posts with a negative overtone. However, sometimes I have to write them. When I do though, I try to “right the ship” so to speak by later following up with a positive post. Last week I listed my Top 5 WORST Songs of 2012. Now that I got that out of my system I would like to recognize the artists who actually made good music this year and present my Top 5 Best Songs of 2012.

5. “Titanium” – David Guetta and Sia

I really enjoy about 75% of Guetta’s beats and “Titanium” definitely fits into that percentile. I dig how the song starts really slow and then picks up speed but never goes off the track and gets real fast. Even though it doesn’t get too crazy beat wise, you can still dance to it.

But I don’t even think Guetta’s role in the song is the best part. How about the vocals of Sia? She has such a strong and sexy voice. Although I really don’t know much about Titanium besides it on the periodic table, after listening to the song I definitely want to be it too! The song carries a message about being resilient and tough and I can relate.

4. “Let Me Love You” – Ne-Yo

I am lucky enough to receive “Promo Only Mainstream” CDs each month. These CDs contain the tracks of singles that will be released in the next month. When I heard “Let Me Love You” for the first time I knew it would be a hit.

As with “Titanium” the song starts a little slow and then picks up speed and really gets going. The lyrics, although overused by millions of girls on social media, are meaningful and heartfelt. This is probably the one song on the list that I am now sick of hearing but during its prime I really enjoyed it. GIRL LET ME LOVE YOU!!!!

3. “Drunk On You” – Luke Bryan

This was definitely my anthem of the summer and listening to this song will always take me back to it. Luke Bryan had an incredible year and this is an incredible song. If you absolutely despise country you might not go for it but if you are open at all you will like it.

The lyrics of “Girl you make my speakers go boom boom” work so well and provide a special kind of imagery. The melody is a masterpiece and Bryan’s voice is gold. Nothing says summer more than “Drunk On You” and almost everyone can relate.

2. “Wide Awake” – Katy Perry

Okay, I will admit that I feel like less of a man by admitting that I like a Katy Perry song, let alone saying it was my second favorite of the year, but I can’t lie. “Wide Awake” is by far the best thing that Perry has ever made. A song that will also remind me of Summer 2012, I still have no problem listening to this song on the radio.

Katy Perry’s voice in this song is just so clear and crisp. You get a great feel for her vocals and she in general just does a superb job of performing the song. The part where she shouts out “Til I woke up on the concrete” still registers as a favorite line of mine and you just gotta love all of her “I’M WIDE AWAKE” declarations at the end of the song. Of course, part of the reason why I love it centers on the song title itself…anything that follows the same type of message as “Don’t Blink” will get on my good side! I can definitely say that I relate to being WIDE AWAKE most of the time.

1. “God Gave Me You” – Blake Shelton

Not even close.

“God Gave Me You” is by far and away my top song of 2012. I can’t express how amazing of a song this is or put into words how much it means to me. Blake Shelton puts so much emotion, effort, and feeling into four minutes of absolute musical bliss that it hits me every single time.

For “Drunk On You” I said if you despise country you might not like the song BUT when it comes to “God Gave Me You” I don’t care how much you hate the genre, you will appreciate Blake’s masterpiece. When this song came out, I didn’t even have someone who I could count as a person who ‘God gave me” but it didn’t matter…the song was just so powerful that I fell in love with it and wanted to make sure I met that person who Blake sings about.

It is a song about self-critique, appreciation, togetherness, and love. It is the ultimate ode to someone you can’t live without. I have several favorite lines but let me just share a few: 1. “I’ve been a walking heartache, I’ve made a mess of me….the person I’ve been lately, ain’t who I want to be.” 2. “There’s more here than what we’re seeing…a divine conspiracy.” 3.. ‘We are stitched together, and what love has tethered I pray we never undo.”

I had the opportunity to watch Blake Shelton perform this song from the front row in Spokane this past March and I will never forget it. “God Gave Me You” will always be with me.

Seeing Blake Shelton in concert from the front row sing "God Gave Me You" was amazing.

Seeing Blake Shelton in concert from the front row sing “God Gave Me You” was amazing.

Cafe Rio Review

After not authoring a restaurant review post for quite some time, the opportunity to get back into the much too easy food critiquing business presented itself to me this afternoon when Paige and I decided to eat lunch at the trendy new Mexican chain place to come to Missoula. So after skipping breakfast and working up an appetite, the two of us ventured out to North Reserve Street to eat at Café Rio.

As with most big name restaurant chains that come to Missoula, business is crazy busy for the initial honeymoon stage. This has been no exception at all for Café Rio. Since opening on November 7, the place has enjoyed loooong lines and a never ending sea of customers. To this late date in December, Café Rio continues to be swamped. When Paige and I walked in today, we got behind about fifteen people waiting to order. The seating area was about 75% full and by the time we got out food and sat down, it was nearing capacity.

A look inside the Cafe Rio dining area.

A look inside the Cafe Rio dining area.

Okay, let’s talk about the ordering format at Café Rio. As I alluded to above, you stand in line and order up front. You go through a cafeteria type line where you talk to about four different employees to get your desired order. Although you only talk to four employees, they have a small army of workers occupying the “cafeteria” type line on the other side of the glass. They are spinning tortillas, warming up meals, and providing support to the workers dealing directly with the customers. While in line you tell the first person who greets you what you want and he/she will make your main entrée item and get it baked. Next, you will talk to another employee who will put sauce (s) on your entrée. Next, another employee will dish out your rice/beans, veggies, or other special items that come with your meal. Finally, you get to the cashier and he/she will get you your drinks, chips, desserts, and ring you up.

Once you get through the hectic, busy ordering process, it is finally time to enjoy your food! I ordered the single sweet pork enchilada meal ($5.60). The double enchilada meal is just a little over a $1 more but I am so happy that I did not get that option because my single was more than enough food. With the enchilada plates they give you a generous portion of cilantro rice and then your choice of pinto or black beans. I went with the pinto beans. Paige got (are you ready for this)….MEXICAN PASTA! I had never heard of such a thing. It was fideo pasta with your choice of either steak or chicken topped with veggies and sprinkled with lime juice. It was the special of the day and came with a drink and was only $6.85. And, because we couldn’t resist and because I knew I would write this review, we also got the chips with salsa and queso. For a little under $5 they give you a large portion of chips, two different salsas, and a big bowl of queso dip.

A shot of the food we ordered! Tons of chips.

A shot of the food we ordered! Tons of chips.

When it comes to the quality of the food, it was pretty good. The chips tasted great. Of course they were tortilla chips but they had kind of a buttery taste to them. I thought both salsas were average, maybe lacking in flavor. The queso dip was great and they gave us so much that we could put it on our entrees as well! My beans and rice were both good. I enjoyed taking a chip and dipping it in the queso and then re-dipping it in my rice and beans. My sweet pork enchilada was decent, but it did not match the goodness of the sweet pork enchilada I had at Costa Vida (Costa Vida is a place very similar to Café Rio….exact same concept and similar menu). The enchilada sauce was about average as well. I took a bite of Paige’s Mexican pasta and found it very tasty with a unique flavor and texture! She personally gave it a rave review. Café Rio gets extra points for such a creative menu item.

Paige with her Mexican pasta!

Paige with her Mexican pasta!

So obviously Café Rio impressed me with some of their food items while just meeting expectations with others. But, there is something that makes Café Rio stand out and allows it to get by with some subpar tasting food, namely, it has that “it” factor. What exactly am I talking about? It is just a fun place to eat at with lots of options!

Me with my Cafe Rio food.

Me with my Cafe Rio food.

Let’s just start with the dining area. The restaurant is filled with brightly colored round and square tables. Hot blue, hot yellow, and hot green table tops with a contrasting color splashed on it cover the floor. Chairs painted in the same hot colors splashed with the same contrasting colors are paired with the tables. Interesting light fixtures illuminate the place and there are plenty of chili pepper decorations to let you know that you are eating food from south of the border. It is a fun atmosphere and enjoyable to eat a meal in, even if it is filled with people.

Remember how I said some of the food lacked a little bit of flavor? Well, don’t worry, you can make up for it by adding one or many of their special sauces they have available. At your disposal, you can try a myriad of different hot sauces. They also carry a whole line of sauces from a brand called Iguana. I tried the Iguana bold gold habanero sauce and the Iguana rockin’ red pepper sauce. I thoroughly enjoyed dumping out these sauces onto my plate and dipping the chips into them. Many of these you have probably never seen before, let alone tasted, so it makes for a very unique experience.

One of the Iguana sauces.

One of the Iguana sauces.

Finally, Café Rio offers an awesome drink selection. Shame on me for just ordering water but luckily a drink came with Paige’s meal and she got to test out the selection. First off, they have the crushed ice pellets, a great way to make any drink taste better. After you get your ice, it is time to make the tough decision on what you actually want to drink. If you want to go basic, you can choose from the expanded Coca-Cola products they offer. If you want to add a little bit of a kick, you can add any amount of flavor shots that you want! Yes, exactly as if you were going to make an Italian soda, Café Rio has all the syrups available for you to add to your pop. But if soda and flavor shots are not your thing, you can go for something a little more exotic and try one of their limeades. Paige tried the mint limeade. While Paige loved it, I can’t say I was much of a fan. But hey, they also offer regular limeade, strawberry lemonade, and a really weird milk type drink called Horchata! The amount of combination possibilities you can whip up is pretty impressive.

While I am skeptical of some restaurants that open up in Missoula, I think Café Rio will enjoy great success here. Like I echoed throughout this whole post, the place is just fun. Maybe more importantly, it is reasonably priced. Add in the facts that the food portions are big and that the city currently does not have a place like it, and I see Café Rio operating in Missoula for a long time. I recommend that everyone gives it a try. Don’t Blink.

Brent’s Top 5 Worst Songs of 2012

Well 2012 is coming to a close and that means an influx of countdown lists will soon become readily available. Because I always like to get a head start on things, I felt like tonight would be a great time to roll out my first such subject.

This evening the topic is music….not good music though. Below I present to you my “Top 5 WORST Songs of 2012.” These songs made me cringe every time I heard one of them on the radio, at a party, or at a sporting event and always possessed the power to spiral me into a bad mood. Some music just has no business assaulting our ears and our intelligence. Let’s get right to the list!

5. “Want U Back” – Cher Lloyd

Out of the five songs on this list, I have the most vivid “first time I heard this song” memory with “Want You Back.” I was driving from Missoula to Spokane in late June for Hoopfest and right when I prepared to exit the freeway this song came on and I immediately thought it was a joke. And I just don’t mean figuratively either…I literally thought that the radio station had put some trashy song together to give its audience a quick laugh. Not even close.

The whiny tone that “Want U Back” takes on is completely appalling. The lead up to the chorus is absolutely brutal (“Remember all the things that you and I did first? And now your doing them with her? Remember all the things that you and I did first? And now you’re doing them with her?). I think just the complete lack of maturity in the song also turns me off so much. Oh yeah, the repeating of certain words also makes the song terrible (away-way-way…clowns-clowns-clowns….jeaNS-jeanS-jeans). Don’t even get me started on that grunt. General rule of thumb: Always be skeptical of songs that use shorthand in the title (“you” vs. “u”)

4. “Work Hard Play Hard” – Wiz Khalifa

I do like some of Wiz’s songs but he made this one impossible. I got on Cher Lloyd for repetition but this song takes it to a whole new level. Want to be annoyed? Just listen to this track and hear the robotic female voice say “Word Hard Play Hard, Work Hard Play Hard, Work Hard Play Hard” over and over and over again. Just listening to the first verse will already have you peeved.

Besides the “work hard, play hard” repetition, the lyrics are just revolting to me. As you can imagine, the song is about working hard for your money and then living the high life with it but Wiz expresses the message in a less than tactful way. His own chorus is completely annoying as well with a beat that will drive you nuts. Also, when an artist says a certain couple of words an unnecessary amount of times in a song, you will never get me back.

3. “Rumour Has It” – Adele

I am not an Adele fan. Yes, I did like “Fire to the Wind” but my appreciation ends there. “Rumour Has It” has to be her worst song ever produced. I can’t stand the melody, can’t stand the vocals, can’t stand the message. Adele is not meant to make upbeat songs and this is the disaster that ensues when she does. What bothers me the most about this song? EVERYTHING! Well besides everything? That part towards the end where the music gets way slower and she does her “OOOOOOHHHOOHHHHOHHHHHH” little change up. Makes me ill.

If there is one song on this list that I have trouble explaining why I hate it is so much, this would be the one. I think just the fact that it is an Adele song and it is about her being irresistible just really rubs me the wrong way. Right now I am even angrier because the song has managed to get into my head! BUSH LEAGUE.

2. “Call Me Maybe” – Carly Rae Jepsen

This song never caught on with me; not the first time I heard it nor the 50,000th time I heard it. In my humble opinion, “Call Me Maybe” is just straight up garbage. I never laughed once, let alone even cracked a smile, when I saw sports teams and other groups make a complete fool out of themselves when they tried to make a video or a parody of this song. I banned “Call Me Maybe” from play at any Griz venue, the song just doesn’t have a purpose at a sporting event.

I detested all of the memes, jokes, and puns that people would unoriginally make up. The fact that the title and many of the lyrics of the song make no sense whatsoever has been well-documented. I don’t think I have hated a song as much as this one in a long time. But it is more than just hating the song….I hated how it made people act. I sincerely hope I never have to hear this song again.

1. “Gangnam Style” – Psy

When it comes to this atrocity, I was actually late to the party (thankfully). So, when I heard this song knowing that it had already become a world-wide hit I was dumbfounded. Two words came to my mind when I heard it: William Hung.

I really want to know, what do people love about “Gangnam Style” so much? Is it simply the dance that accompanies it? Because I honestly don’t know how any sane person could sit down and listen to it. I find the song to be the epitome of annoying. I find it cheesy too, especially the “Heyyyyyyyyy…….sexy lady” part. What always really gets me is when the lyrics and beat goes dead and you think for one second that the song is over and then you hear those awful four words “Oppa is Gangnam Style”. It just makes me want to bang my head against a wall. I don’t go to clubs, but if I did, I would walk off the floor whenever this song was played. “Gangnam Style” is definitely the most terrible song of 2012.
I love music, but I also hate it too. Thanks for letting me vent my frustrations about the songs that made me less than happy this year. Have a great weekend everyone! Don’t Blink.

Overreaction to Instagram Privacy Policy

From what I observed out of people throughout the day, I could have sworn that December 18 marked the end of the world as opposed to December 21. In my time following and working with social media, I had never such an unjustified joint freaking out as I saw on Tuesday. Facebook feeds and Twitter streams filled up with needless paranoia and anger as people reacted to Instagram’s revised privacy policy.

At the heart of the privacy change, the part that is getting so many people outraged, is Instragram’s position that the company has the right to use images uploaded to the service for its own purposes such as selling them to other companies so that they can do with them as they see fit. In fact, the exact language on the policy goes like this: “To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos, and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.”

First off, kudos to Instagram for pretty much getting right to the point and telling its user community the liberties they are taking. That sentence is pretty much cut and dry, yes, Instagram is reserving the right to sell any image they want to third parties. The company didn’t hide behind legal jargon and ambiguity, something that I appreciate.

Apparently though, most everyone else didn’t appreciate the frankness. Instead, they took the statement as saying that “ALL THE PHOTOS YOU POST TO INSTAGRAM WILL NOW BE SOLD TO SHADY, RACIST, CAREER ENDING COMPANIES AND POSTED ON LARGE BILLBOARDS THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY.”

What an overreaction.

Over 5 million pictures are uploaded to Instagram each day. That means roughly 35 million pictures are posted per week. Even though Instagram probably wouldn’t sell photos this way, for hypothetical purposes, let’s say that Instagram has a draft each week where companies can purchase images to use in their marketing campaigns. Let’s say on the draft day that a lot of companies participate and a staggering 35,000 images are sold. Although it is ridiculous to think that on a weekly basis 35,000 unprofessional iPhone snap shots would be bought for use in a well planned out, high profile advertising campaign, let’s just go along with it. This would mean that out of all the photos taken on Instagram that week, .1% of them would get purchased.

If you are like me and don’t classify as a celebrity, don’t have over a million followers, or don’t have super model looks, you don’t ever have to worry about the revisions to the Instagram policy impacting you. No company is going to purchase the photo of your macaroni and cheese dinner, nor your shot you took of yourself after you got ready for the day, nor your InstaFrame of your vacation, nor your Throwback Thursday of you and your date your sophomore year at Homecoming. You know how you always hear of those “You have a better chance of so and so happening than you do of winning the lottery” scenarios? You can substitute in having one of your Instagram pictures bought by an advertiser. It is just not going to happen.

But maybe you are one of those people who just feel the principle of abiding to such a policy is degrading and an inherent invasion of privacy. Okay, I can see where you are coming from but let’s get real here, we share information on a daily basis over the internet and other social media services that is much more intrusive and invading than what Instagram is proposing to do. What we do on Facebook, Twitter, Snap Chat, e-mail, and text messaging is much more vulnerable for exploitation, manipulation, and profiting than an Instagram image is. If you are so concerned and terrified by what Instagram can potentially do with the new privacy policy in place, I assume you don’t touch any other social services.

Talking hypothetically again, let’s say you do beat all odds and get struck by lightning four different times in your life and manage to have one of your Instagram images sold to an advertiser. What is possibly the worst that can happen? Instead of negative ramifications, you will probably enjoy notoriety and maybe even a little profit yourself. Please listen to me, Instagram will not deal with shady companies looking to buy their images. Rather, they will be dealing with top of the line, prestigious organizations willing to pay top dollar for these photos. My guess would be that your image would be paired with a company that is well-known and well-respected. Almost instantaneously, you could garner fame and recognition (if the photo had your personal image in it) or just the ego-booster that a national company deemed your shot (if it is of a landscape, object, etc) as advertising worthy.

Again, I caution you not to overact. BUT, if you do overact, please don’t totally jump off the deep end and make the bone headed mistake of deleting your Instagram account. As I have written about before, I find nothing more silly or damaging than when someone decides to get rid of their social media accounts. And to get rid of your Instagram account over the latest policy change is perhaps one of the dumbest reasons I have ever heard of for doing so.

Look, Instagram is really feeling the heat for this policy revision, even though I don’t think they should be. Most likely they will be revising it again and taking out some of the strong language that has turned off so many users. But whether they do or not, realize that the chance that this new policy impacts any of us is slim to none. Let’s not get carried away on a silly issue like this when there are so many more worthy causes in this world right now that we can devote our time to. Don’t Blink.

An Unconventional Way to Make Money in Vegas

This past Wednesday, my brother and I munched on a delicious lunch inside the Planet Hollywood Miracle Shops on the Las Vegas strip. We were eating at La Salsa Cantina, a Mexican restaurant toward the back of the mall. Serving a mean queso dip and large burritos, we filled up while eyeing from our indoor deck seats the scene taking place right across us.

Here is my food at La Salsa Cantina

Here is my food at La Salsa Cantina

We watched as two guys standing outside of the store space across from the restaurant emerged out into the mall walkway and started asking people passing by if they would like to view a television show in exchange for $15. Because the only thing separating our table from the general walkway was a two foot fence, we could easily hear these men pitching the offer to the Planet Hollywood patrons along with the responses. It seemed like half the people said “yes” and half the people said “no”. My brother and I looked at each other and conferenced for about thirty seconds and decided that this was something we wanted to do.

Glen sitting at our table on the restaurant indoor deck right before we accepted the challenge.

Glen sitting at our table on the restaurant indoor deck right before we accepted the challenge.

To make it look like we were not purposely trying to get selected, we paid our tab and ducked out of the restaurant with our heads hung low walking the opposite direction of the two men. When we reached a point where we no longer were in eye sight we turned back and walked toward the petitioners, trying to give off the best “PLEASE pick me” look that we could. Sure enough, the guys asked us if we wanted to participate and we said yes.

One of the guys took us into the actual store and for the first time I realized what it was called…Test America. It indeed was a research center! They led us to the upstairs of the center and asked us a few questions. We answered and then they told us to hold tight. We stood on the upstairs balcony that overlooked the Planet Hollywood shops, a very nice view. Within two minutes the guy came back and he offered us a new proposition: “Hey, how would you guys like to make $85 instead of $15? All you have to do is participate in a focus group after the show. It will take no more than 2 hours of your time.”

Part of the view we got from the balcony.

Part of the view we got from the balcony.

Under most circumstances we would have said yes in a heartbeat but as we were supposed to hang out with our two Vegas friends (Brandon and Madison) in an hour, Glen had to make a quick phone call. Brandon gave us his blessing and we told the Test America guy that we were in! Before we entered the viewing room, we were grilled with a more stringent round of questions from one more employee. He prefaced the questions by telling us that he had to make sure we were qualified. I knew exactly how to answer to make sure we were “qualified” and with Glen taking my lead, we quickly answered questions about how many hours of TV we watch a week, the type of shows we watch, our yearly income, etc. We passed!

We entered the viewing room, a roughly 25 foot by 25 foot space with one table, chairs, and a flat screen television. If I remember the number correctly, 27 people including my brother and myself filled the room. I am fairly certain that we were all tourists, hungry to get a little extra Vegas spending money. Again, another employee came in and gave a short introduction to the show telling us that we were about to watch an unnamed hospital drama pilot. He asked us to watch the show closely and then get ready to give thoughtful feedback afterwards.

The show started and it was definitely a hospital drama! The actors/actresses were all attractive, the show was fast paced, and the lines pretty cheesy. Although I was mildly entertained, by the time the show ended forty minutes later, I was ready for it to be done and ready to get back to Vegas.

The employee came back in and gave us all a survey to fill out about the show. As most surveys go, it contained several scaled questions (on a scale of 1-10) and a couple of open ended response ones at the end. After we finished he collected the surveys and another employee entered and made the following announcement:

“Could I please have these three people get up, leave the room, and follow me? Thanks: Can’t Remember His Name #1, Can’t Remember Her Name #2, and Brent Reser.”

Glen did a good job giving his feedback.

Glen did a good job giving his feedback.

A bit surprised at hearing my name, and yes, it was the last one called, I looked at Glen and walked outside the viewing room into a waiting area. The three of us sat in three available chairs and joked about why we were called out and what was going to happen. Five minutes passed and the same guy came back and handed us a piece of cardstock paper, said “thank you,” and showed us the way out. As we walked out I looked at the document…my $85 check.

I did actually get paid!

I did actually get paid!

It turned out that they had chosen more people than they needed for the focus group so we got randomly selected to bypass that portion of the research and still receive full funds. I waited an hour for my brother to come out and he gave me the low down of the focus group: Many specific/tedious questions, long winded answers, many follow up prompts from the person conducting the focus group, and too many people who thought they were professional critics. As our bank did not have an ATM anywhere near the premises we went to the restaurant right next door to the center and cashed our checks….at a cut of 20%.

After the deduction, we walked away with $68 each. Although not our biggest win in Vegas, that $68 multiplied for my brother that night and it lasted me a long time. Although this is by no means one of my more interesting posts, actually, it is by far one of my most boring ones, it provided my brother and I the affirmation that participating in a quick hour or two of research can be relaxing, interesting, and profitable. Just another good memory of our Vegas trip. Don’t Blink.

Watching the American Country Awards in Person

My brother, his friend Brandon, and myself were sitting at an outdoor venue in Vegas called the Corner Bar. It is right between Bill’s Gambling Hall and the Flamingo and it offers an elevated deck to sit at and enjoy a cold drink while watching the Vegas throngs walk every direction on the strip. Drenched in the December sunshine and getting a kick out of the people that walked by, we were having an awesome time. The hour approached 4 p.m. and even though I could have been content to sit there the rest of the night, I knew I would kick myself for a long time if I didn’t get up and start heading north on the strip.

“Glen, we have to go down to Mandalay Bay,” I told my brother as we sat in our stools. “I will regret it if I don’t see this show. “

I was referring to the American Country Awards, a mega celebration honoring the superstars of the business annually held at the Mandalay Bay. My brother graciously agreed to walk down with me even though it meant that he might have to hang by himself for a couple hours. You see, we had actually ventured to the Mandalay Bay earlier in the day and tried to get tickets. However, most of the only seats available were in the ultra expensive section and the remaining few left in the more affordable sections were obstructed views and were not together. However, the people at the box office told us to come back right before the show and check again as sometimes seats would open up.

I was prepared to just buy a single seat with an obstructed view and watch the show by myself. However, because we had waited so long I thought that option might had even passed me by. The show started at 5 p.m. and we got to the Mandalay Bay box office at around 4:35 p.m. Expecting the worst, I actually received the best case scenario. Seats actually had opened up, and good ones too! I quickly called Glen over and asked if he wanted to see the show and before he could even answer I told the ticket lady that we would take two tickets…Glen was not going to miss this with me. At $75 per ticket to see the people we listen to on the radio every day, I was not going to let either of us pass this by.


Our tickets to the American Country Awards.

We got our tickets and ventured right to the Mandalay Bay events center. First thing I noticed upon entering besides the thousands of cowboys and cowgirls surrounding us? The pristine condition of the arena’s concourse. The place was spotless. We got to our great seats (second level, to the right of the stage) and settled in for the show. Before the show started there were several announcements over the public address system notifying us when it would start, what a great time we were in for, and that the production would be live. The voice also encouraged us to take our seats and to be loud. A few minutes before the show started, a GAC personality came out and gave us a pep talk pretty much echoing what the public address voice had said. He told us to sing along to every song, cheer loudly, and have a great time. He said if we performed all three of these things, we would have a chance to get on television. Finally, the show started…

The voice counted down to the start of the show and Luke Bryan came out and rocked the house, singing “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye.” It got me so pumped up and excited to have a seat at the show. Out of all the performers, he was one of my favorites. Besides Bryan, I got to see all of these other stars perform: Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Jake Owen, Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban, Lynard Skynard + Trace Adkins, Kip Moore, Little Big Town, and Lady Antebellum. My other two top performances were by the Lynard Kkynard + Trace Adkins combo and Kip Moore.

Kip Moore performing during the ACA's.

Kip Moore performing during the ACA’s.

Trace Adkins and Kristin Chenoweth hosted the show. Although I didn’t know much about Chenoweth going in, I know a lot now, especially that she is small and that she has an unmistakable voice. The duo did a great job hosting and made me laugh a lot. I will always remember Kristin coming out on stage dressed as Honey Boo Boo.

This was my first ever awards show and let me tell you, they got it down to a science. The show started promptly at 5 p.m. and ended right at 7 p.m. I guess I expected to see more chaos and running around with set changes and stage managers trying to direct people all over the place but none of that occurred. The production ran flawlessly and set changes were quiet and quick. When a performance ended, a simple wall would close sectioning off the old set while the new set was constructed in. You ever wonder what happens during commercial breaks for audience entertainment? At the ACA’s they replayed performances on the big screens from last year’s show. At the conclusion of the old video, the voice over the public address system would countdown to the show beginning again and ask for applause.

Lady A receiving Group of the Year honors.

Lady A receiving Group of the Year honors.

One of my favorite parts of the experience was just to look down on all the talent that sat stage side. I enjoyed watching them interact with each other and mingle from seat to seat during the commercial breaks. Of course you had all of the major country superstars but you also had general celebrities there as well. Carmen Electra, Ron White, Penn and Teller, Natasha Bedingfield, and a couple San Francisco Giants players all presented awards. Even though I don’t get star struck, I do get a little caught up in so much talent being under one roof.

I do admit that probably after the first hour, the show started to run together for me a little bit. When you see so many stars perform and so many celebrities present in such a short time span, you get a little overwhelmed. So naturally, when I mentioned all of the performers above, I know I probably left out one or two…same goes with the presenters. I wouldn’t even dare recapping the show in fear of leaving out significant pieces of the night.

What a great time my brother and I had!

What a great time my brother and I had!

The American Country Awards will go down as a very fond memory for me. Of course the reason that predictably stands out for making this event so memorable was that I got to see my favorite musicians perform under one roof. However, it goes deeper than that. This experience was so awesome because I got to see it in my favorite city, view it in a cool venue, and share it with the one person who I would most want to. I feel very fortunate to have made this part of my Vegas experience. Don’t Blink.

A Successful Vegas Trip With My Bro (December 2012)

On Thursday night I returned to Missoula after spending the first half of the week down in Las Vegas. I had a wonderful time and I must say, it turned out to be one of the most (if not the most) successful trips I have had down there. How do I count success? Just by the fact that it was probably the least amount of money I have ever spent on a Vegas trip. When it came to gambling, I am pretty sure with everything added in, I actually came up ahead. Of course with all the entertainment and food we indulged in, it made me return home in the red a little but as I was saying it was not nearly as bad as usual. I would just like to briefly summarize my trip.

Glen and I had a great trip in Vegas with our friends, Brandon and Madison.

Glen and I had a great trip in Vegas with our friends, Brandon and Madison.

If you read my previous post, you knew that Glen (my brother) and I stayed in Bill’s Gambling Hall. I said from the onset that it would probably be one of the least glamorous hotels we would stay in and upon checking in my assumption was correct. I got off my shuttle and went to the registration desk. There was absolutely no line at the pint sized check in area. I got my room assignment….floor 1! In Vegas I had always stayed on some ridiculously high floor. Not this go around. I got on the elevator that was ten feet from the check in area and took the shaky one floor ride. The elevator doors opened and our hotel room was right there! Least strenuous trek to a Vegas hotel room ever! I was quite pleased at this because as I looked down the hallway it looked quite dark and scary. The room itself was outdated and weirdly shaped and the bathroom had strange stained glass in it. But we also got a flat screen television and the beds were very comfortable! The room definitely grew on us and it served as a great spot to hang out, listen to music, and gather ourselves before we hit the town. We will never see Bill’s again because it is closing in February but we would definitely stay there again.


Not a high roller room, but it did its purpose.

Not a high roller room, but it did its purpose.

My brother and I enjoyed the fantastic weather in Vegas. Especially on Monday and Tuesday the weather was sunny and warm and we pretty much basked in it! T-shirts and shorts were the norm. There was a café/bar right in the middle of the strip that overlooked everything that we enjoyed sitting at and people watching as all the Vegas foot traffic would pass us by. During the night the weather did get a little cool but it was a far cry from the harshness of Montana and Washington.

The weather was sunny most of the time we were in Vegas.

The weather was sunny most of the time we were in Vegas.

Glen and I spent a lot of time on the strip and in downtown Vegas but we also spent some of each day at a place called the Stage Door. The Stage Door is a lounge area specializing in cheap drinks, fifty cent hot dogs, and other cheap food. Located off the strip about two minutes from our hotel, Glen and I would walk down and enjoy ourselves with some of the Vegas locals. We made great friends with one of the workers, Brittany, and she treated us very well. With great music, interesting people, and a completely different take on Vegas, we enjoyed our time at Stage Door and have many fond memories.

Glen and I with Brittany

A really cool part of this trip was that we got to hang with a couple of Glen’s friends who live in Vegas, Brandon and Madison. Glen played baseball with Brandon at Walla Walla Community College and met Madison in the town as well. Brandon and Madison started dating and when Brandon moved back to Vegas after baseball was over, Madison went with him. Two different nights Brandon and Madison drove to the strip and hung out with us. We watched sports together at the Mandalay Bay, laughed out loud as we witnessed people trying to sing karaoke, hung out at the Stage Door, met an old rocker, and had an epic night in downtown Vegas. The couple treated us so well and gave us rides everywhere. Thank you so much Brandon and Madison, we had a great time with you guys!


The four of us! (From l-r: Brandon, Madison, me, and Glen).

The four of us! (From l-r: Brandon, Madison, me, and Glen).

There are a few highlights from this trip that I will always remember: 1. While we were down in Vegas, the NFR was going on. I have never seen so many cowboys in my life! They had definitely taken over the city. 2. Thanks to my brother’s amazing eye, we saw Jason Aldean up close and personal as he was playing Black Jack at one of the tables in Mandalay Bay. We watched him keep reaching for money and puffing on cigarettes. As other people started to notice it was him, he got up and left. 3. Glen and I had the opportunity to attend the American Country Awards (ACAs). It was a very special experience as we saw our favorite country superstars perform live. It was also my first ever awards show. I will blog about this exclusively in tomorrow’s post. 4. I cashed at a poker tournament!! In my life, I have never finished in the money at a real casino poker tournament. Glen and I played in one at Bill’s. In a field of about 30 players, I lasted until only four of us were left. After about 20 minutes of the four of us taking each other’s chips back and forth, we made a group decision to chop the pot (split up the prize pool four ways). I felt so accomplished! 5. We participated in a focus group! After eating lunch in Planet Hollywood, we were asked to participate in a focus group. We got paid $85 to watch a 40 minute show and then give our opinion about it. This was definitely something I have never done in Vegas and I will also write a post about it soon.

Can you spot Jason Aldean?!?!

Can you spot Jason Aldean?!?!


Luke Bryan performing at the ACA's to open the show!

Luke Bryan performing at the ACA’s to open the show!


I want to thank my brother, Brandon, and Madison for a great Vegas trip. Of course we have many other fond memories that won’t make it into this post but I think from what I did offer, you can tell that we had a good time. I already miss Vegas and want to go back. Who wants to go with Glen and I next time? Don’t Blink.

Reser Boys Annual December Vegas Vacation

If you start reading this post and ask yourself “Hey, haven’t I read this once before?” you might want to call up your doctor and ask for a psychological exam. I say this because chances are you have read a post similar to this one NOT JUST ONCE but several times. Yes, you guessed it, I am off to Las Vegas again.

I know I need to explore a little more but for me there is only one vacation spot and that spot is located in the desert of Nevada. Each year I take vacation for a few days in June and then for a few days in December and for both of those months I prefer to go to Las Vegas. Because I held true to my schedule in the summer, it was only proper to return to Vegas this December.

Funny story, this trip almost got off to a catastrophic start. I checked my flight itinerary several times and was convinced that my flight departed at 6:10 p.m. I planned my whole day around that departure time and at 3:30 p.m. while I was nowhere near my apartment I got a call from my friend Mike (and chauffeur to the airport) informing me that my flight was to take off at 5:15 p.m. After telling him a couple times that he was crazy I checked my itinerary on my phone and saw that he in fact was correct. I mistakenly kept referencing my arrival time in Vegas as my departure time from Missoula (I gain an hour because of a time zone change). I busted out of my office, hurried back home, packed like a mad man, and hopped in Mike’s car. We got to the airport in enough time for the original 5:15 p.m. departure but I quickly learned that my mad dash was a little in vain as the Allegiant worker announced that my flight was an hour delayed.

So that brings me to where I am at now. Sitting in the Missoula Airport waiting out my delay, I can’t wait to get to Vegas. I am ready to leave the snow covered landscape and icy roads of Missoula for the sunny skies and 60 degree weather of Las Vegas. Making this trip even better is that I get to spend it with my brother. This will be our third straight Vegas December trip together. The two of us always have a great time when we are together and it is amplified even more when we are in Las Vegas. In fact, we have so much fun that it doesn’t even matter that we are staying in one of the, how shall I put it, less upscale properties on the strip. This go-around, we will be staying in Bill’s Gambling Hall. How sad is Bill’s? Well, just two weeks ago, Harrah’s Properties announced the closure of the hotel in February. With closure imminent, who knows what shape it will be in when we get there. But we couldn’t care less, my brother and I love poker and Bill’s offers fun and affordable tournaments.

Besides poker what else do we expect to do? Relax. The atmosphere of Las Vegas is like no other and that is what draws my brother and I there twice a year. We have no set agenda, we just want to hang out and enjoy ourselves.

So while I am in the desert over the next few days I will not be posting to Don’t Blink. However, I will be back posting once I return. Have a great week everyone and get some Christmas shopping done! Don’t Blink.

Bad Eating

One of my major philosophies in life centers on my belief that we can do pretty much anything we want to do through positive self talk. More to the point, we can do whatever we want as long as our mind is telling us that we can. My whole life I have used my mind to continually reinforce to my body that I can accomplish any goal, workout regimen, test, or simple day-to-day task that I want to. Constantly I am running positive thoughts throughout my body from my brain, telling myself to stay on task and stick with my goals. However, sometimes in certain areas my mind lets my body slack off a little bit.

For the past three months, I have struggled with my eating habits. No, I have not struggled in a way that I am eating too little (I wish) but rather the opposite. My discipline has lowered quite a bit and my diet has taken a turn for the worst. Last year I have documented the onslaught of food that comes the way of myself and my co-workers once the fall sports season kicks off in late August. But this year there seems to be even more obstacles than just the typical availability of tasty and high caloric food around the office and in the press box. I think a combination of traveling with the football team on the road this season, going out to eat way too much, having a lot more food in my apartment available, and simply letting my self-discipline slip has contributed to a significant decline in my diet. But there is something more depressing than what I have let my body digest in the recent past. Brent, what could possibly be more depressing? Thanks for asking! What leaves me feeling less than optimistic are the opportunities to eat even worse over this next month.

Holiday dinners are one reason for why my eating habits are so bad during this time of the year.

I am a realistic person and I know I will not be kind to my body this month. With the holiday season upon us, I don’t have the necessary self-control to put a halt to the past few months of garbage eating. Throughout my life leading up through graduating from college I would practice good eating habits during the first 11 months of the year and then use December as my month to let loose and enjoy good food, drinks, and sweets. So obviously if I ate terrible in December back in the day when I would actually eat good majority of the time, I am for sure going to eat like a pig during this month when I have already been doing so for the past 100 days. Ay caramba!

I seriously need to stop eating hot dogs this big.

I leave for Las Vegas on Sunday. That whole week I will most likely fill up on greasy food, buffets, and early morning snacks. Making matters even worse, I won’t be working out during that time either. When I return from Vegas, it will be December 13 and the holiday season will be in full swing. Our department will have Christmas treats available for the taking, well-wishers will drop off tasty and heart-hating plates of candy and food, and yummy holiday spreads will doom me at Christmas parties. Once the actual Christmas week comes around, I will gorge myself on even more yuletide confections and of course I will go way over the top consuming my mom’s cooking. Then of course comes the last week of 2012 and along with it all the appetizers and junk food that accompanies New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

I want to say that I will turn the ship once 2013 starts. Although I have a trip to Orlando right in the middle of the month which will no doubt make any type of revamped diet of mine difficult to follow, I do have confidence that I can make some positive changes. I do feel awful pretty much conceding December as a lost cause. I feel bad that I am negating much of my hard work in the gym with the poor eating habits I have let take over my life. I feel worthless that I have not let the most powerful tool I have, my brain, clamp down on my needless eating. But you want to know the silver lining in all of this? I can blame myself for everything. No one is forcing food down my throat, no one is holding a gun to my head telling me to go eat out at a restaurant for the third time in a week. It all starts and ends with me. I have the power to make changes and get back to where I need and want to be. The ball is in my court and I like my chances….just after December is over of course. Don’t Blink.