The Latest and Greatest Thursday Rundown

Once again I am face-to-face with Thursday. As is the Don’t Blink custom, it is time for a random rundown.

Grammys Disappointment – So much for my anticipation. I was bored to tears by the Grammy’s on Sunday night. I was so disappointed with the performances, hosting, and flow of the show. Making matters worse, the artists who I wanted to win didn’t come out victorious. With that said, I didn’t throw a big fit like Kanye West did. Can he please just go away for good? His actions and ego sicken me. But back to the topic. One good thing about the lackluster Grammy’s was that it made my decision very easy to flip over to the season premiere of “Bar Rescue.”

What #CCUSocialMedia is Doing Differently – I swear this isn’t a copy and paste job from last Thursday’s blog post. As you might remember, I talked about how WMBF did a great story on the social media group I hold each month. Believe it or not, the same station followed that story with another one a few days later. All-star reporter Mandy Noell looked into how #CCUSocialMedia doesn’t write off controversial social media apps like other universities do. Instead, we evaluate each different service to find a creative way in which we can effectively use it. Once again, my ugly mug is prominently featured. To see the story, click here.

Once again, here is your chance to see this sad face.

Once again, here is your chance to see this sad face.

Busy Friday – Tomorrow I will have a busy day at work. Currently our University is putting on a major conference. Thanks to our Women in Philanthropy and Leadership (WIPL) group, the 2015 Women’s Leadership Conference is going on as we speak. The event is two days of keynote speeches and breakout sessions. Tomorrow is the headlining day where women such as Leeza Gibbons and Gloria Gaynor will be speaking. I was out at the Sheraton Hotel covering it this afternoon and I will be back there tomorrow morning doing the same. After the WIPL conference in the early hours I will bust back to campus for the second half of the day so I can cover the opening of our brand new baseball stadium. Our Chanticleer ball club will be breaking in Springs Brooks Stadium against Old Dominion. Not only will I be working it for social media but I will also be on assignment for a magazine feature as well.

Springs Brooks Stadium will open up tomorrow.

Springs Brooks Stadium will open up tomorrow.

Valentine’s Day Plans – On Saturday night I am taking Sidney out to Valentine’s dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Perhaps the nicest steakhouse chain in the country, I am looking forward to a delicious meal. It is my first time frequenting Ruth’s Chris and it should be memorable…unless of course I fall asleep. You see, our reservation is for 10:30 p.m. Dinner reservations on Valentine’s Day fill up quickly, especially for prime dining establishments. The only way we could get seated was if we took this late time. Bon appetit!

Long Overdue Mikayla Update – Because I haven’t done so in a long time, I thought I would update you on the development of my niece. Mikayla is now five months old and growing! As you can see, she is still as cute as can be.

Mikayla is now five months old.

Mikayla is now five months old.


Happy Valentine’s Weekend, everyone. I know some people love it and some people hate it. To the people who love it, don’t rub it in the faces of those who hate it. Those who hate it, there is no need to constantly remind the world of your feelings (Want me to elaborate? Read this blog post I wrote three years ago). Don’t Blink.

Not Enjoying the Downfall of Brian Williams

I thought for tonight’s blog post I would just briefly weigh in on the Brian Williams situation. This story has taken on a life of its own, probably rightfully so.

Personally, I find the situation sad. During my childhood I grew up with Brokaw, Jennings, and Rather, three journalists who were evening news giants. Because I was a nerd as a child just like I am a nerd as an adult, I constantly watched their broadcasts, switching between the three. They were the three men in the nation who had absolute authority when they reported on the day’s news, delivered election coverage, and reported breaking stories. I respected them and they held my trust.

After the big three went away, two of the networks have had revolving doors in their main anchor seat. NBC, however, has had stability. Brian Williams came in for my all-time favorite news personality, Tom Brokaw, and served for over ten years in the anchor chair for the top newscast in the world. I liked Williams, I thought he did a good job. I saw him as a worthy successor to Brokaw. He had my trust and he definitely had my viewership over ABC and CBS. Then disaster struck.

His inaccurate account of an incident on a Chinook helicopter during the Iraq invasion has cost him dearly. When his false story surfaced last week his career, his spotless reputation, and, most importantly, his trustworthiness came under direct fire. Up until yesterday I was pulling hard for him. I was hoping that his self-imposed hiatus from the Nightly News broadcast in addition to his solid service over the years would save him. Sadly for Williams, it didn’t. NBC suspended him for six months yesterday. Although six months is not forever and although some people say the punishment is too lenient, in my mind it is a death sentence. How do you come back from a half year suspension in his position? When you are banished from American homes for 183 days because you lied that creates a black cloud that will follow you forever.

I hate to see this. In my mind, it is like the smartest and most well-behaved kid in class getting expelled. Williams always seemed like a straight arrow. It just doesn’t seem right. Only, in the back of my mind, I know it is. Brian Williams lied, perhaps on more than one occasion. For a veteran journalist sitting in the throne of all news jobs, it is not acceptable. I suppose NBC didn’t have much of a choice when it came to leveling a severe punishment.

Some people love seeing careers go down in flames. I don’t. I wish Brian Williams was able to make a triumphant return to the chair this week. With his downfall, the storied legacy and integrity of the NBC Nightly News franchise becomes tarnished. It is a sad time for not just American news but American culture. I wish Brian Williams the best. Don’t Blink.

Loving My Gym

I have mentioned my gym a couple times, most notably right when I arrived at Coastal. At the time I was so impressed with the practically brand new facility that I couldn’t wait to get started with my regimen. After ten months of putting in my 6 a.m. Monday-Friday workouts, my sentiment has not changed. I love working out at the HTC Center and consider myself lucky to exercise in a first class gym. After nearly a year, it is time for some updates and evaluations.

When I left the University of Montana, I looked back fondly on the relationships I had made with people solely because we saw each other at the gym every day. I mentioned how I hoped the same would happen at Coastal Carolina. It has. Over the months I have worked out in the HTC Center I have met professors, staff members, and students. Several of these people I am on a first-name basis with. The center’s director is around a lot, even when it is during the 6 a.m. hour. We have become very well acquainted. I have locker buddies that I talk to. I have had people come up to me in the middle of my workout and introduce themselves. I have connected with many of the student workers, but that is worth its own paragraph.

This is the very front of the HTC gym.

This is the very front of the HTC Center…my gym.

The rec center student staff is absolutely amazing. Jody Davis, the director I mentioned above, has done a fabulous job of hiring and training his student employees. The word “professional” is what comes to mind when I think of the young men and women who serve at the welcome desk and monitor the weight room floor. I have literally pulled a couple outstanding students aside and told them I was going to feature them for #CCUfamily, completely bypassing the nomination process. Funny things happen too. Last week one of the new floor attendants came up to me and asked if I was a foreign language professor. I responded that no, I wasn’t, I was a staff member. I asked her why she thought that. She told me it was because I looked foreign. It made me laugh.

A look at Coastal's gym. I took this photo at around 11 a.m. on a Monday.

A look at Coastal’s gym. I took this photo at around 11 a.m. on a Monday.

I really appreciate the fact that I don’t have to pay for a membership. I equally appreciate that I don’t have to pay for towel service either. Each morning I pick up a big fluffy black towel to shower with. The facility’s showers are nice with water pressure about 20x greater than what I have in my apartment. Speaking of towels, the HTC Center probably owns about a million workout towels that you get to use to wipe off with during your exercise. Adding to the resources to combat sweat, there are numerous damp disposable towel dispensers around the weight room floor to wipe down equipment after use (or before use). I always despised spraying disinfectant into an old towel and scrubbing.

A side view of the HTC Center. The large windows create great views.

A side view of the HTC Center. The large windows create great views.

As far as the equipment offered, I have more than what I need. Machines and free weights are top notch. There are more than just a few benches to use. Thankfully they have an indoor track. A floor attendant once told me nine laps equaled a mile but just to make sure I always run ten laps or 20 laps based on whether I am running one or two miles. The direction you are supposed to run on the track never changes so you never have to worry about whether it is an even or odd day. One thing I do notice…far less people use the indoor track at Coastal than at Montana. Many times I am the only one running on the track and I think people look at me like I am crazy for completing my cardio in such a boring fashion.

I took this photo directly from one of the large windows in the HTC Center. Each morning I watch the sun rise while doing my sit up routine.

I took this photo directly from one of the large windows in the HTC Center. Each morning I watch the sun rise while doing my sit up routine.

The HTC Center comes with a climbing wall, several rooms for fitness classes, ping pong tables, and drinking fountains where you can actually slurp up an adequate amount of water. You type in your Coastal ID number and scan your hand to enter through the facility’s gate. Televisions are located throughout the whole floor as opposed to just on the cardio equipment/cardio area. Each morning I watch “Sportscenter” while getting my pump in.

Another look at the gym with a good view of the track and climbing wall.

Another look at the gym with a good view of the track and climbing wall.

Now to the music. I have said before that when I work out, my thoughts are my music. I don’t use a personal iPod and I am not dependent on whatever the gym I am at is playing. I enter my own zone and block the external sounds out. With that said, I do at least notice what is being played through the facility’s speakers. At the HTC Center they have a very clear, volume-sufficient system. It can be a role of the dice though when it comes to what is being played. Depending on the day, I routinely hear mainstream pop, country, old school hip-hop, and classic rock. What usually seems to win out though is a station that plays a mix from the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Once in a rare while though, a station that specializes in techno type mainstream remixes will be blasting and on these days (and these days only) I allow myself to enter into a trance.

Finally, time to address the crowds. As mentioned, I work out in the early mornings. There is a core group of us, probably around 15 people, who show up every single day when the gym opens up. Depending on whether it is a Monday or a Friday, you will see an additional influx of about 10-30 people. Because of the size of the gym and the equipment offered, it never gets crazy early in the day. Us morning people have it very good. I have worked out a couple times during the lunch hour when I returned from trips and let me tell you, the people volume is turned up a couple notches. I have heard the traffic reaches an insane level during the evening…I have yet to experience that and have no desire to do so.

Working out in a place where you are comfortable and feel welcome is important. Luckily for me, both of these needs are met at Coastal Carolina University. I love the HTC Center and can’t wait for my workout tomorrow! Don’t Blink.

My Tips to College Students for Improving Job Prospects

We all know the basics that most everyone will need to land a decent job out of college: Good grades, a solid internship, networking, relevant major, and impeccable resume/cover letter writing skills. These are givens. However, there are some intangible skills that I personally believe will catapult one graduating college senior over another when it comes to the job market. In tonight’s blog post I would like to share with you my three quick tips for college students who want to stand out to prospective employers.

1. Develop Your Personal Brand – I have this in the leadoff spot because it is the best advice I can give. Once you reach college, start building on your identity so that it extends through and then beyond whatever university campus you are on. Start a blog, set up your own YouTube channel, and/or network virally with people near and far. By all means maintain Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest accounts, just start being mindful of what you post. Before tweeting or posting, ask yourself if whatever you are sending out will either help or hurt you in the future. Have a consistent message run through your various social media mediums. Strive to develop your personal brand in a way that if someone Googles your name all search results on the front page will be about you and employers will know what you look like, what you stand for, and what you have done.

Employers want to see that you are relevant. Gone are the days where college students felt shame if they had social media accounts. It is important to show that you are in touch and, most importantly, that you exist. People handing out jobs will hire someone who has an established identity before someone who is an online ghost.

2. Know Design, Know Technology – In this digital age, every business has needs or expectations for employees with design skills. If you are in any type of creative profession, especially if you are young, the need to create something visually appealing every now and then will be expected. If your design skills end at inserting clip art, take a class or educate yourself on the Adobe Creative Suite. Learn basic photoshop skills and know your way around basic video editing software. This will come in handy.

We live in a tech world and the weight falls on the shoulders of new college grad hires to lead us through it. Keep up on all of the latest trends and know how to work smart devices. Employers won’t hire applicants who are dumb-dumbs when it comes to technology. Embrace it and be excited about it. Know that you will most likely be the resident IT person in any office that you are hired in.

3. Know the World You Live In – As I mentioned in my first point, it is important to know you. However, you also must know the world around you too. Keep up on current events, know societal trends, and always keep up to date on the landscape of your industry. Be a knowledgeable, respectful citizen. When employers interview you, they will want to see that you are well-rounded. Make sure to follow news-based, informative accounts on Twitter but also read the physical newspaper each day. Be engaged with what is going on around you. Decisions you make in the work place will sometimes need to be made in consideration with what is going on in the real world. If you are ignorant to it, you could make a costly mistake.


Remember, in the battle between two equally qualified candidates it will always come down to the intangibles. The person who shows more relevancy, more digitial skills, and more respect for the world around them will win. Just my two cents. Don’t Blink.

The Grammys or Bar Rescue?

I am not asking for anyone’s help because I know this will be something that I have to deal with on my own. In the grand scheme of things, I know my conundrum is relatively small compared to the major problems of the world. Most of you will probably just laugh at my dilemma. I mean really Brent, you are fretting over what to watch on television this Sunday night? Yep, guilty. But here is the kicker…it doesn’t even involve sports.

This evening I will be doing my best to watch both the Grammys and “Bar Rescue” simultaneously. Here is what it comes down to: The Grammys is my favorite awards show while “Bar Rescue” is my favorite television show. Oh, did I mention that tonight’s “Bar Rescue” is the season premiere? In fact, it just isn’t the season premiere, it is the first time ever where Jon Taffer will RE-RESCUE a bar. You heard that correctly, Taffer will be going back inside a bar he had already torn to pieces and then resurrected…only to do it all again.

I am going to have a tough decision choosing what show I watch primarily  tonight.

I am going to have a tough decision choosing what show I watch primarily tonight.

Going for me keeping my television set on the Grammys is the fact that the show will only be shown once. The “Bar Rescue” season premiere show will most likely be shown throughout the week repeatedly. Also, the Grammy’s will draw a much bigger audience, thus making the social media conversation much more centered on the awards show as opposed to the semi-scripted bar makeover program. If you know me, I like to be right in the center of what is trending nationally.

But I would be lying  if I said I hadn’t been looking forward to the series premiere of “Bar Rescue” for about a month now. I kind of just realized this weekend that the Grammys is on tonight. And even though the Grammys will have a much larger social media following/discussion, “Bar Rescue” will have a much more passionate social media following/discussion. Look, Jon Taffer is going to be on his Twitter “A’ game at 9 p.m. tonight and I would be overjoyed once again if he tweeted at me like he did during the holidays. I am still on a high from that glorious tweet he sent my way.

I was so honored that Jon Taffer himself would tweet at me.

I was so honored that Jon Taffer himself would tweet at me.

So I know I started this post off by saying I am not asking for your help but I lied…I am asking for your help. Should I spend more time watching the Grammys or watching “Bar Rescue”? Please keep in mind that I don’t have DVR capabilities at my place. Thanks in advance for your help and have a great evening in front of the television set. Don’t Blink.

Small Screen = 4, Big Screen = 1

It is Thursday. Do I need anymore of an introduction? Let’s get right to the rundown.

Coastal Students on Instagram – For my latest Social Circle segment, I decided to highlight Instagram images taken by our students. Using the beginning of the semester as a starting point, I featured some photos that our campus community took over the past few weeks. I had a great time jamming in as many photos as possible into my two minutes. The last photo I spotlight is pretty cool. To check out my latest Social Circle segment on our campus television show, “Coastal Now,” just click here.

In my latest Social Circle segment I highlighted Instagram photos taken by CCU students.

In my latest Social Circle segment I highlighted Instagram photos taken by CCU students.

Social Media Group on the News – As I have mentioned before, I have the opportunity to head a group made up of our social media leaders on campus. Once a month I sit down with some of the most colorful personalities at this university and we discuss trends and happenings within the social media realm here at Coastal. One of our local news stations found this newsworthy. This Monday, Mandy Noell from WMBF came and shot our meeting. She then did a great story later that night focusing on the work we do and the challenges we face. To view the story, click here.

Thanks to Mandy Noell from WMBF for doing such a great story.

Thanks to Mandy Noell from WMBF for doing such a great story.

“The Loft” – This past Sunday, Sidney and I went to the theater to watch the movie “The Loft.” The film focuses on a group of friends, all in high profile/high paying positions, who go in together to purchase a suite high up in a building where they can take their mistresses back to, thus never leaving a paper trail of where they cheat at. One morning the group discovers a dead woman handcuffed to the bed. Throughout the duration of the film the plot takes crazy turns, making you suspect each person in the group as the culprit at one time or the other. A couple scenes are especially entertaining and intense. It is an exciting thriller/mystery movie with plenty of drugs and sex. If that is your thing, you will want to see “The Loft.”

February in Missoula, February in Myrtle Beach – The photo with the snow was taken exactly one year ago today as I left my apartment complex in Missoula, Montana. The second photo was taken today here in South Carolina. Thanks to filters, the first photo looks kind of beautiful. No filters needed, the second photo is beautiful. I will take warmth and sun over snow and ice any day. Thankful to be here.

Montana on the left, South Carolina on the right.

Montana on the left, South Carolina on the right.

Mindy – There is only one television series I am currently watching and it is called “The Mindy Project.” The comedy follows the exploits of a young doctor named Mindy as she balances her professional and personal life. Mindy Kaling is an Indian actress, you might have noticed her during a Super Bowl ad where she thought she was invisible. Anyway, as most of you know I don’t watch sitcoms so you might be wondering how I stumbled upon this particular program. Well, my girlfriend watches it so I got roped into watching it as well. It has officially become something we sit down and laugh at each week.

Hanging out with Mindy at a Red Sox game.

Hanging out with Mindy at a Red Sox game.


Another week almost in the books. I am looking at another free weekend ahead. Most depressing thought is that there will be no football to watch. What will I do with myself? Perhaps I can watch some old “The Mindy Project” re-runs. Have a great one! Don’t Blink.

An Ice Cream Buffet

I don’t have enough fingers to count the number of times I have written about ice cream over the years on this blog. I also lack enough fingers to jot down the number of times I have introduced one of my wacky business ideas. Well, tonight I combine both common topics into one. I have an ice cream related business plan that you might like.

By this time, it seems as if the froyo craze is starting to die down a little bit. It had a great run. A couple years ago it seemed as if there was one on every corner. I was so into it for awhile that I visited three shops in a weekend. But the novelty has started to wear off. With the decline of froyo, now is the time to introduce my ice cream idea.

Froyo is experiencing a decline.

Froyo is experiencing a decline.

People are over going into a froyo shop and picking up a cup and filling it with overpriced ice cream while guessing how much they will have to pay once they weigh it. I also think people still get bored with walking into a traditional ice cream shop and having an employee hand them a one or two-scoop cone. My idea entails keeping the self-serve aspect of froyo while cutting down the product per dollar expense. It also entails keeping the hard ice cream of traditional parlors (along with the great smell) but eliminating the scooper on the other side of the glass. Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to introduce your first ICE CREAM BUFFETS!

Say goodbye to overpriced waffle cones.

Say goodbye to overpriced waffle cones.

My all-you-can-eat ice cream shop idea is pretty simple. For the price of around $5-$6, a person can come into the parlor and eat all the ice cream desired until his/her brain freezes solid. There would be a single buffet line with tubs of 16 different ice cream flavors and then a diverse toppings bar. The ice cream scoop technology would be top of the line so customers would not have a hard time scooping out the product. At the start of the line would be large ice cream bowls like the ones we all use at home and customers would also have the option to select traditional cones or waffle bowls. Bottled water and soda would be sold for a slightly inflated price.

To turn a decent profit, the product would not be premium ice cream such as Ben & Jerry’s or Dreyer’s quality. Rather, it would be similar to generic/store brand ice cream. People wouldn’t really know or care though. The concept of walking into a shop smelling of fresh baked waffle cones while looking at 16 flavors of ice cream and knowing that there is no limit will squash the apprehensions of anyone questioning the quality of the ice cream. When you go to Golden Corral you aren’t going to eat high quality food; you are going to eat large amounts of okay food. The same philosophy holds true with my ice cream buffet idea.

According to my plan, we would not be offering Ben & Jerry's-like quality ice cream.

According to my plan, we would not be offering Ben & Jerry’s-like quality ice cream.

My idea will make money. Customers will come with great intentions to eat a lot of ice cream only to finish two bowls. Think about it…it’s ice cream! It is cold, it is filling, and it is, um, cold. When people hear about an all-you-can-eat ice cream shop they will arrive as if the gates to Heaven on earth have opened but they will hit the wall fast. Limited consumption of product by the customer in addition to cheap ice cream in the first place will yield a profit.

An ice cream buffet will start off as a huge novelty. People will want to go experience the madness. But after the hype has died down I think the concept will be sustainable. People get tired of froyo because it is overpriced and not real ice cream. At an ice cream buffet there are no limits and you get the real deal for a low price. So get in line, grab yourself a bowl, and invest in my brilliant idea! Don’t Blink.

Welcome Back to Relevancy, McDonalds

In my opinion, the business that I felt really shined during the Super Bowl ads was McDonald’s. During the game on Sunday, the restaurant chain utilized two different spots to promote its new “payment” option. During the first spot, McDonald’s simply said a new form of payment would be accepted at its restaurants. They purposely left out what that type of payment would be. About an hour later the second commercial ran with McDonald’s officially announcing its “Pay With Lovin” campaign.

Running through Valentine’s Day, random customers will be given the option to “Pay With Lovin” as opposed to more traditional money-related methods. Acceptable “Pay With Lovin” tasks shown during the commercials included customers calling their moms, customers dancing, and customers telling their children that they love them. When I looked up the promotion online, I found out that other tasks given out could include giving hugs or taking a selfie with a McDonald’s employee. The way the second commercial was produced did produce that “awwwwww” factor and I believe people were generally touched by it. Effective way to get the most out of $9 million.

McDonalds hit it out of the park with its latest "Pay With Lovin'" promotion.

McDonalds hit it out of the park with its latest “Pay With Lovin'” promotion.

Aside from the commercials themselves, I think the promotion is golden. I think some might think that the campaign is cheesy to a degree but most of us will get over it. Honestly, who won’t bust a move at the register or hug a stranger for a free meal? I think majority of folks won’t be apprehensive to it at all. An employee gives them a task and says “free” and they will be all over it. I feel most people will have fun doing whatever it is they are asked to do.

I think this is a dynamite campaign for two reasons. First, customers are going to leave McDonald’s with a great impression. Most likely their day is going to be made and quite possibly they might be making the day of someone else too. Leaving the restaurant with a smile and a bag of free food doesn’t get much better. This type of a visit will no doubt lead to return visits.

Second, this campaign will generate viral, social media gold, hopefully from a couple different vantage points. I imagine McDonald’s already has hundreds of professional videographers across the country at different restaurants ready to document these “Pay With Lovin” tasks. Video to immediately put up on the corporate social media channels, additional promo materials, and footage to use down the road will all result from what the videographers capture. Of course, perhaps even more powerful than what the professionals capture is what the customers themselves will capture. Videos, images, and posts generated by customers utilizing the #PayWithLovin hashtag will inundate the social media world with intriguing content. Friends and strangers alike will see these posts and a positive impression of McDonald’s will most likely form. People who had no plans to visit the restaurant will now walk through the doors…or, um, through the golden arches.

McDonald’s needed this. It seems like a couple times each week I read an article in the paper about the restaurant’s decline. Surprisingly enough, this was a totally original idea that didn’t even come from the tips I gave the chain back in September. I think this move by MIckey D’s is genius marketing that will result in loads of positive PR (it already has). Well played, McDonald’s. Don’t Blink.

My Super Bowl XLIX Commentary

The enthusiasm started to build. A perfect game, a perfect Super Bowl, a perfect night seemed to hang in the balance. On an evening where the halftime show dazzled and the commercials brought impact, the main event between two heavyweight football teams seemed so close to going my way. With a terrific backdrop in Arizona with all the intangibles falling into place, my favorite team was about to punch it in against the team I despise the most. One yard away from the greatest NFL evening of my life, a premature euphoric feeling started to run through my blood. Then it all went away.

Working in athletics I learned to never take wins and losses too seriously. I mean come on, especially with a team such as the Seattle Seahawks who I have no affiliation with whatsoever besides being the team I grew up rooting for. But last night hurt a little bit. I went to bed feeling empty and woke up feeling the same. I just felt bad for the players, the coaches, the 12th Man, and maybe even a little for myself. But that is sports. Like I said, last night came one yard short from going down as the most glorious and complete Super Bowl ever for this fan. Even though I will always have a bitter taste in my mouth whenever Super Bowl XLIX is brought up, I will remember some aspects of the evening that almost softened the blow. I would briefly like to offer some quick commentary on the game, the halftime show, and the commercials.

The Game: Okay, let’s get this over with. That game last night was incredible. Two giants from opposite coasts with opposite coaches and opposite personalities battled it out in a nail biter. Russell Wilson was back to being his usual self after the NFC Championship game. Marshawn Lynch was a beast as usual. New England wouldn’t even think about throwing in Richard Sherman’s direction. Patriots had things clicking too. They moved the ball on the stellar Seahawks defense. Tom Brady, despite a couple interceptions, made crucial plays.

That period during the latter part of the second quarter and the initial part of the third quarter was beautiful to watch. The Seahawks built a ten point lead and had the Patriots cornered with a second down and 18 play coming up. New England answered and took the momentum for most of the remaining game, going up 28-24. But not so fast. Russell Wilson ran the two minute drill to perfection and after a miraculous catch, the Seahawks ran the ball to the one-yard line.

My stomach drops when I think of the interception. I hate that Cris Collinsworth got to blast the play call in front of millions of people, molding the perception of the whole country. Pete Carroll’s explanation made total sense. The Patriots were lined up in goal line, the box was stacked. They threw on second down thinking the pass would either be a touchdown or an incomplete pass. If it was a completion, game over. If it was an incompletion, the clock would stop and you would have Beast Mode for two plays. On that particular play, the chances of Marshawn Lynch scoring was less than on third down or fourth down. I get why the Seahawks coaching staff did what they did. Just such a horribly sad way to lose the game.

Halftime Show: I usually say that the majority of the country will bash the Super Bowl halftime show even if it was Jesus coming to midfield to perform miracles. I have never watched a Super Bowl halftime where criticism wasn’t rampant. Last night it was different…and for good reason. I tip my hat to Katy Perry and everyone who made that show possible. High energy, cool effects, good song choice, and even a little inspiring, that was one entertaining production. It was so good in fact that she was able to overcome the out of place Missy Elliott appearance to still make it a show to remember.

The huge tiger was cool and even the Lenny Kravitz duet wasn’t bad (I detest Lenny Kravitz). The now much parodied ocean backdrop with the sharks was a little corny but still fun. But that finale though! Her zooming in the air as she belted out “Firework” with the stadium exploding in pyrotechnics was a really cool moment. I think Super XLIX raised the bar for halftime performances.

Commercials: When I watch the Super Bowl commercials, my expectation isn’t for them to be funny. Rather, my expectation is for the commercials to be well done. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the different spots last night. For sure the whole tone for the ads took a different direction than usual but I was okay with it. I appreciate getting your company’s message across in an impactful way as opposed to a way in which people will laugh but the message will mean squat. Some of the ads last night resonated emotionally with me and in my opinion, that is the best way to spend your $4.5 million.

My favorite commercials? The second McDonald’s spot explaining what exactly the new payment was, the Doritos airplane ad, and the Dodge “century club” commercial.


I enjoyed watching the Super Bowl in a controlled environment last night. I got to take everything in and truly experience the spectacle of Super Bowl Sunday all the way from 6 p.m. up until the horrific ending. I would like to thank the Seahawks for a great season, the team provided me with a lot of joy. One thing is for sure, I would want no other coach leading my favorite NFL team than Pete Carroll. Don’t Blink.

A Weekend of Hole-In-the-Wall Restaurants

Besides beaches and terrific weather, a selling point that is routinely made about Myrtle Beach centers on the restaurants. The area boasts over 20,000 dining establishments, solidifying itself as one of the highest restaurants per capita cities in the country. In Myrtle Beach you will find many of the classy, big name, reputable, and trendy restaurants this planet has to offer. Cool enough.

However, once you get out of the tourist hotbeds you will find areas lined with eclectic, family owned restaurants. These personality-rich eateries are so numerous that if today I started a crusade to eat at a different one daily until I dined at them all I would be on my mission for at least ten years.

For me, my interest in small restaurant gems goes beyond just finding a solid place to find some good food. I am attracted to the real hidden, hole-in-the-wall locations. On my 20 minute commute to work each day I probably pass 100 different restaurants. Tucked away in dusty strip malls, old shopping centers, and intersection-placed stand alone buildings, I keep mental notes on what places I really want to try. With nothing major this weekend going on for me (except for the Super Bowl tonight!) I wanted to take the opportunity to try a couple of new places. For dinner on both Friday and Saturday night I treated my taste buds to some of Myrtle Beach’s most unknown eateries.

Friday Night – China Garden (3570 Northgate Dr.): Right next to my apartment sits an old, decaying shopping plaza. It is anchored by a Dollar General and has other businesses such as a Bingo hall, a shady barbershop, and a dive bar. It is not a place you want to be at night. But after work Friday evening I decided to stop in and order takeout at the Chinese restaurant located toward the end of the plaza right next door to the barbershop.

China Garden sits toward the end of the run-down shopping plaza right by my apartment.

China Garden sits toward the end of the run-down shopping plaza right by my apartment.

I walked in and couldn’t make out the greeting the nice young Asian girl at the counter gave me. I pointed to what I wanted on the menu after she gave me a confused look when I told her what I wanted (General Tso’s chicken). She told me the wait would be ten minutes. As I sat down and waited I saw a lot of people coming in and out picking up orders they had called in. Even though it was small and dingy inside, I knew this business was legit. I watched the cooks in clear view right behind the counter sweat as they labored to complete the numerous orders that were coming in. A couple of blue collar guys sat at a table to my right indulging in their food. True to her word, after about ten minutes the girl at the counter held up a plastic sack in my direction. I got up and took my dinner and went home.

A look inside China Garden along with a glimpse at the  two blue collar men.

A look inside China Garden along with a glimpse at the two blue collar men.

My food was great. The chicken was perfect, the broccoli flavorful, and the white rice tasted like white rice. It tasted high quality to me. I paid $9 and the amount of food I got was more than enough to provide me with a very nice lunch the next day.

This was the bowl I fixed myself for dinner on Friday night. I will go to China Garden again.

This was the bowl I fixed myself for dinner on Friday night. I will go to China Garden again.

Saturday Night – Taqueria La Unica (4979 Socastee Blvd.): Last night Sidney and I agreed that we wanted Mexican for dinner. But instead of going to the Americanized and popular Nacho Hippo at Market Common, I wanted to try a place a little more ethnic. Daily, I drive down a street called Socastee Blvd. This road has numerous tiny Mexican restaurants lining both sides. I wanted to give one of these a shot. We literally drove into a few different mini strip malls and looked in the windows of some of these restaurants as we drove past. Each one looked a little sketch. We reached the point where we were at the final one on the stretch. Because we had already eliminated all of our previous options, we went inside Taqueria La Unica, quite possible the seediest one of them all.

The entrance to Taqueria La Unican in Myrtle Beach.

The entrance to Taqueria La Unican in Myrtle Beach.

This place seemed to have the same square footage and set up as China Garden only it was Mexican-themed instead of Chinese-themed. Mexican tunes blared from the juke box when we walked in. We sat at a table and a young girl, probably 17, came up to us. She provided us with menus and then stared at us. This was the start of an amazing feat she would pull off. Throughout the whole dining experience she never once uttered one word to us. I figured the blank stare meant she wanted our drink order. I told Sidney to go ahead with what she wanted and I followed.

This is the inside of the restaurant. You can see Sidney's Mexican imported Coca-Cola.

This is the inside of the restaurant. You can see Sidney’s Mexican imported Coca-Cola.

Before she brought our drinks to us she brought out a basket of chips. Strangely, the basket only had about 14 cold chips in it. We never were offered more even when they were devoured about seven minutes later when our drinks finally came. Sidney received a Coke in a glass bottle that was actually imported from Mexico! We thought that was pretty cool.

This was our chip basket when she brought it out. She never asked to re-fill it.

This was our chip basket when she brought it out. She never asked to re-fill it.

Our food came out and I was presented with my shredded beef chimichangas. Sidney had flautas. Our plates were very well organized and came out on platters. The rice was completely white in nature which was a little different from what I am used to at a Mexican restaurant. For the most part the food was pretty good. It did taste a little more authentic than what I typically have. As we ate, the restaurant started to fill up. We were the only non-Hispanic people in the place, a good indicator that we did in fact enjoy true Mexican food. I went up and paid at the register and for the first time saw some emotion from our server. As I handed her the tip a huge smile spread across her face. I believe that was her way of saying thank you.

My food is on the left while Sid's is on the right.

My food is on the left while Sid’s is on the right.

Although I wasn’t blown away with the chips, our service, or the food, Sidney and I both agreed that we had a fun experience eating and socializing in the atmosphere of Taqueria La Unica.


Next weekend my schedule is pretty open once again. Perhaps I will knock off a couple more small time restaurants I have been wanting to try. To all my Myrtle Beach friends, if you know of any “dive restaurants” that I might like, please let me know. Have a great Super Bowl Sunday. Don’t Blink.