Sidney’s Awesome DIY Project

NOTE: As Brent is out of town on business, Sidney was nice enough to fill in and takeover Don’t Blink. Enjoy tonight’s post where she describes her DIY Pinterest project.

Today was officially the first day back to school for my little 2nd graders. Although we had a wonderful and exciting day getting to know one another, I have to admit, I am still in a summer state of mind. I’m sure I’ll snap out of it in a week or two. Last week, Brent wrote about how he was feeling a little morose about my return to the classroom as I had been accomplishing so many tasks and projects during my vacation. So for tonight’s post, I thought I would share with you all my favorite project I completed this summer! I successfully designed and hung a gallery wall in our living room!!

All of you Pinterest lovers out there I am sure have seen many pins of gallery walls, but for those of you who aren’t as familiar… a gallery wall is basically a collage of photographs hung on the wall. But in today’s age, we must give it a more sophisticated name. Henceforth: A GALLERY WALL.

So let’s get right to it. These are the steps I took to install a gallery wall in our living room!

1. Go Shopping
The first thing needed for the gallery was to shop for new frames and a couple new pieces of art. I wanted our gallery to have a variety of frames. I wanted different colors, sizes, and even some with depth to help bring some dimension to the wall. But at the same time, I didn’t want the gallery to be made solely of photographs. So I decided to get 2 statement pieces of art as well. I went shopping at Hobby Lobby. I bought a framed print of pencil drawn feathers and a black and white graphic piece of art that reads “LUCKY ME”. I figured these two pieces could be my focal points of the wall. I also bought several plain white and black frames in varying shapes and sizes. Wanna know the best of this shopping excursion at Hobby Lobby? They were running a 50% off picture frame sale, and I made out like a bandit. SCORE!!

2. Decide on a Layout
Once I’d found all of my art and frames, I needed to decide on a layout. So I took all of my loot and spread it across our living room floor. I must also tell you that I took a few photos/frames from other parts of our house to help fill in some blank spots in the gallery. It took about 45 minutes of rearranging but I finally settled on this layout.

It is key to get the layout right.

It is key to get the layout right.

3. Trace and Tape
This next step was taken out of the Pinterest playbook. Some of the pins I had seen showed where DIYers had used butcher paper to help perfectly plan and place their gallery walls. So I figured I would do the same. I didn’t have any butcher paper on hand, so I had to be resourceful. Hobby Lobby used packing paper to wrap all of the frames I had bought. So I took the packing paper, laid it flat on our living room floor, and traced all of the frames. Here is the key: Only trace one at a time, and label each traced frame. For instance, I had a white 5X7 frame, so I traced it, and then wrote in the middle “white 5X7”. This helped me to stay organized and remember exactly what I had in my arsenal. Once everything was traced, I carefully cut them down to size and arranged them just the way I had arranged the actual frames in step 2. Here’s what my traced/labeled paper looked like:

Using traced frames is a great little tip.

Using traced frames is a great little tip.

4. Wall Placement
At this point, I took all of the tracings and placed them on the wall. I used regular scotch tape. This step was crucial. It helped me to tweak the placement on the wall. If I felt that two photographs were too close together, I could easily make an adjustment. This isn’t as easy if you start with hanging everything right away. If you hung everything right off the bat, then you run the risk of poor placement, and consequently unsightly nail holes all over your wall. With this step it also helped me to ensure that the ENTIRE gallery was centered on the wall over our couch; something that would have required a bunch of measuring and math otherwise!

Traced frames and scotch tape work wonders.

Traced frames and scotch tape work wonders.

5. Hanging the Art and Photos
This is where everything turned into smooth sailing. I had to have a level handy but overall all the hard work was done. One-by-one, I took each tracing off the wall and replaced it with the actual frame/art work that was intended to take its space. I have to admit that for most of my photos I cheated. I used COMMAND Picture Hanging Strips. If you’ve never heard of them, let me be the first to tell you…these things are the bomb. It’s basically Velcro for hanging pictures. It lets you adjust the picture over and over. It makes ensuring that your photos and/or artwork are level super easy. And it also helps cut back on the holes you have to put in your walls. I’d say this is ideal for those who rent and aren’t allowed to use nails or screws. The process of actually hanging the gallery took the longest. It took about 45 minutes for me to perfectly place all of item. This was the final product.

Not bad if I do say so myself!

Not bad if I do say so myself!

In the end this project took me a total of three hours. Not too bad for creating an entire wall full of art. And I have to admit, I’m really proud of the result. Everyone who has visited our home has given me compliments on my handy work. I hope you all weren’t bored to tears, and maybe I inspired some of you to create your own. This was my first Pinterest inspired project but I am sure it won’t be my last. So until the next one…Don’t Blink.

Working In Tennessee

This evening I find myself in the lovely state of Tennessee. Specifically, I am in the town of Johnson City. This is ironic because four years ago I found myself here when I was working for the University of Montana. I was part of the travel advance unit for our football team and we spent the night in Johnson City as we waited for the players and coaches to arrive the next day. We then made the trip to Boone, North Carolina, for a game against Appalachian State.

To be honest, I never thought I would see Johnson City again.

But I thought wrong. I am once again in Johnson City and I couldn’t be more excited as I am here to represent Coastal Carolina University. Earlier today I drove over from South Carolina with our Vice President for University Communication and one of our production managers. We made the trip to cover and support the driver of the NASCAR Truck Series that our university sponsors. But he isn’t just any driver, he is an actual student at Coastal Carolina. Tomorrow we will get in the car again and drive to Bristol, Tennessee, where we will watch and cover Brandon Brown as he competes in the UNOH 200 Camping World Truck Series Race. If the weather cooperates, and it should, it will be my first ever NASCAR race (I went to the Charlotte Motor Speedway in late May but the race was rained out). I am ready for this experience!

As we will be at the track all day tomorrow leading up to the evening’s race, I won’t be publishing a Wednesday blog post. Don’t get sad though because Sidney will. Yes, my wife has gracefully accepted to fill in during my absence and provide a special middle of the week guest blog post. Look for that tomorrow night.

So from Johnson City, Tennessee, I wish all of you a great night. Thanks for your support of this blog. Don’t Blink.

The Best Part of NBC’s Summer Olympics Coverage

As critics continue to chip away at NBC’s coverage of the Summer Olympics, I continue to defend the network for the most part. Last Thursday I took a soft stand for NBC but tonight I will put it a little more bluntly: The network doesn’t care about equal airtime for all sports nor whether or not all programming is live. Rather, the network cares about recouping the large amount of money spent on the broadcasting rights with the hopes of perhaps turning a profit.

But even with its main motive of making money, I still don’t think NBC’S presentation of the 2016 Summer Olympics is all that bad. Is it perfect? Definitely not. But I believe it is more than adequate. If you want to watch the entire trampoline competition or if you want to see gymnastics live you can watch it on the NBC Rio app or you can most likely catch it on the large number of NBC sister stations. Keep in mind that the primetime block is when NBC is able to build its return on investment so forgive them if hallmark events are shown on a delay and an archery competition isn’t shown in its entirety.

So while we get annoyed at delayed coverage and a seemingly small selection of sports covered during that 8 p.m. – 11 p.m. time slot, I think we can all concede one thing to NBC:

The on-air talent at the 2016 Summer Olympics is awesome.

Four years ago I wrote about how Bob Costas embodies the spirit of the games. However, tonight I want to give his co-workers credit as well. Don’t get me wrong, Bob is still outstanding. He is as sharp as ever and I live for each night when he opens primetime with his voiceover previewing that evening’s coverage. But I need to congratulate NBC on putting together a team that compliments the excellence that Bob Costas displays each night.

Let’s just start with Bob’s equals. Legends such as Mike Tirico, Al Michaels, and Dan Patrick are anchoring the coverage for NBC during the daytime slots. These sportscasters are at the top of their profession and have brought credibility and familiarity to the screen. It has been nice watching them discuss events that don’t have to do with baseball, basketball, or football.

The sideline reporters at these events are completely top notch as well. Michele Tafoya’s interviews during the swimming events kept me engaged and inspired on a nightly basis. She did her job to perfection and just like the talent I mentioned above, it was nice to see her thriving even if she was out of her element a little. Another sideline reporter who we all know from basketball is Lewis Johnson. However, in Rio he is covering track and field. Once again it is more about his talent rather than his usual sport as he has done a superb job interviewing athletes the second they finish their races, many overflowing with adrenaline and emotion.

But you can still do a good job at the Olympics if you are announcing the sport you are known for. Look at the basketball and golf coverage. It might not be the NBA but Marv Albert, Doug Collins, and Craig Sager are doing a great job calling the men’s basketball tournament. They understand the international game and are very respectable toward it. Watching the men’s golf tournament this weekend was just like watching a PGA event. You had basically the whole NBC golf crew making the trip to cover Rio. Again, they put themselves in the context of the Summer Olympics so even though they called the tourney with the same professionalism they would for a major event in the United States, they made no mistake about the very different circumstances.

However, there is one portion of NBC’s coverage I like the most. This piece centers on the talent we don’t see throughout the year. Rather, it deals with the play-by-play announcers and analysts covering the obscure sports we don’t always experience. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching Saturday morning coverage of events such as water polo, weightlifting, synchronized swimming, fencing, etc. and listening to the broadcast. The men and women covering these events are true professionals and they have called and described the action in a way that enables people like me to actually understand the sport. NBC didn’t just pull people off the street for these roles, they are fresh voices with true talent.

So feel free to go ahead and fault NBC for trying to maximize profit with its primetime production. However, let’s give the network credit for hiring and assigning on-air talent that is able to deliver an Olympic worthy performance in the booth and on the sidelines…no matter if it is live or not. Don’t Blink.

Those Smartphone Fact Checkers

Are you one of those fact checkers? No, I am not talking about holding a legitimate role where you scrutinize a politician’s speech or verify claims made during a Presidential debate. I am talking about the gifted individual who can whip his smartphone out during a conversation with a few of his best friends and inform his buddy that he was wrong about the year Babe Ruth played in his first Major League game. I am talking about the person who gracefully pulls her phone out of her purse to correct someone on a recipe they were discussing, confidently stating an ingredient that was missed.

So, are you a fact checker? I have to admit, I am.

Every now and then I write a blog post based on a question that is submitted to Dear Abby. Today’s lead off question was too funny not to comment on. Please take one minute to read the below:

I got a good chuckle out of reading this today.

I got a good chuckle out of reading this today.

When I read this I couldn’t help but laugh. Immediately in my head popped a vision of someone listening to every word a group is saying, hastily grabbing his phone out at every moment someone says something that is remotely questionable. At the mere utterance of a possible falsehood, the watch dog is making his thumbs go 100 MPH as he looks up the subject in question on Google. Then, after finding something that seems to contradict what the person said, the fact checker blurts out whatever it was he found online.

We all know these people, right? We still love them but sometimes they are a little too energized to prove someone wrong.

But wait one second. Didn’t I throw myself under the bus and say I was a fact checker as well? I sure did. I am not disputing my flaw at all. However, I like to think I am not at the level yet where I fact check just to make someone look bad.

Rather, I am the type of fact checker who will look into something online if the person or group I am talking with is genuinely stumped. If we are all talking about what street a building is on but we can’t seem to identify what street it actually is, I will look it up. If we are trying to figure out what football game we wanted to go to in a given season, I will look up the team schedule just so we have it in front of us.

Probably the characteristic I have that makes me closest to being a full fledged fact checker jerk is the need to be first. Let’s say a group of us find ourselves stumped on something and a person suggests “How about we look it up?” As this is an open invitation to everyone to start looking, I will take it as a challenge and will do my hardest to find the answer first.

But my insanity ends there (or so I think). I don’t hang on someone’s every word in hopes of proving him wrong. I don’t have my phone out at all times. I don’t think my ability to use Google illustrates my intelligence.

But to a degree I am a fact checker and I have to own it. However, if I ever reach the level of the “brother’s girlfriend” described in this Dear Abby column, please approach me and break my thumbs and fingers so I will stop. Thank you. Don’t Blink.

For Those Who Don’t Know About the Thursday Rundown…

In case you are a new reader to Don’t Blink, I have a weekly tradition. It is called the Thursday Rundown. It entails me briefly discussing five random topics, often very poorly. Here we go…

The Best Souvenier – Sidney’s family returned from Disney World this past weekend and they brought me the best souvenir…a giant Mickey rice krispies treat! I wish all of you could hold it in your hands just so you could have an idea on how heavy it is. Let me tell you, just because this thing packs quantity doesn’t mean it lacks quality. Each bite I have taken so far has made me want to an immediate next one. But I have showed some restraint; I have currently “just” eaten through the ears.

Sid's family brought me back a rice krispies treat from Disney World.

Sid’s family brought me back a rice krispies treat from Disney World.

Jason Bourne – Last Thursday night, I went to “Jason Bourne” with Sidney and my father-in-law. As I mentioned in the previous Thursday Rundown, I was going in blind since I had never seen a “Bourne” movie before. I was worried it would hinder by understanding and enjoyment of the movie. To be honest, it did to a degree. However it wasn’t as if I was totally lost following the plot. The movie had some cool scenes in it but I was not blown away by any means.

My movie ticket for "Jason Bourne."

My movie ticket for “Jason Bourne.”

My Reaction to Olympics Coverage – A lot of folks are criticizing NBC for its coverage of the 2016 Summer Olympics. The trendy complaint is that the broadcasts are too packaged and too romanticized. I agree to an extent. NBC does often break away from the actual venue to tell the stories of courage and adversity surrounding the participating athletes. It is a little predictable. However, often the reports are well done so I can at least stomach them. The biggest/oldest complaint is that the primetime coverage is not live. Four years ago I wrote about how much I hated this but in my advanced age I have become a little more tolerable toward it. I think because I better understand the historic significance of the games and because I thoroughly enjoy the NBC on-air talent and the production technology offered, I can live with the delay.

#PhelpsFace – Okay, I couldn’t resist. I am jumping on the bandwagon of our country’s current most popular meme and putting my own corny, self-serving spin on it…

This is really awful, I know.

This is really awful, I know.

From the Archives – One year ago I wrote about the importance of salvaging each day, even if something we aren’t looking forward to is lurking down the road on the calendar. Two years ago I put together a blog post giving brief reviews to 10 different Redbox movies I watched in 28 days. It was actually kind of fun going over that list just a couple minutes ago. I actually remembered most of the titles and it brought me back to that first summer I spent here in Myrtle Beach.

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Thanks for your time this evening. Finish your week strong and I will be back on Sunday. Don’t Blink.

Judging the #PassportToFlavor Lay’s Potato Chips

Although the name has changed, the game is the same: Lay’s still enjoys making crazy potato chip flavors. For the past three years, the company held a contest where fans could submit flavor ideas for chips. Titled #DoUsAFlavor, Lay’s selected the recommendations of several potato chip eating fans and transformed their snack fantasies into reality. I bought into this crazy promotion and tried all the #DoUsAFlavor varieties myself, even going as far as to review each year’s lineup in this blog (2013, 2014, and 2015).

Over the years I have enjoyed experimenting with and writing about the Lay's #DoUsAFlavor promotion.

Over the years I have enjoyed experimenting with and writing about the Lay’s #DoUsAFlavor promotion.

This year, Lay’s added a “Wavy” wrinkle to the format. Instead of #DoUsAFlavor, it is now #PassportToFlavor. Gone are the fan submitted comfort food flavors and in are company-created elaborate international flavors. Say goodbye to flavors like Chicken & Waffles or Bacon Macaroni & Cheese and say hello to selections such as Indian Tikka Masala or Greek Tzatziki.

Yes, it is quite the transition. At first I was a little hesitant to follow through on my custom and taste the four new flavors. Usually if I don’t know what something is and can’t pronounce it, I will usually shy away from it. But I am glad I didn’t break my blogging tradition because this was the best class of new potato chips that Lay’s has produced. Here are my reviews of each flavor.

I couldn't pass up trying the new Lay's potato chips. The flavors this time around were a little more exotic.

I couldn’t pass up trying the new Lay’s potato chips. The flavors this time around were a little more exotic.

Greek Tzatziki – I was afraid of trying this flavor the most. The combination that was printed on the bag of “dill, garlic, and unique spices with yogurt” didn’t exactly sound appetizing to me. However, they tasted much, much better than what I expected. The initial taste was a sweet, pleasant one. I was then hit with the dill flavoring. However, it didn’t taste that bad. You could also taste the garlic as well but it was more faint than the dill. Although I generally prefer strong flavor, I didn’t mind the mildness of this chip. The Greek Tzatziki comes in the Wavy (ruffles) style and that scored immediate points with me because that is the texture that I prefer.

The Greek Tzatziki chip was much better than what I had expected.

The Greek Tzatziki chip was much better than what I had expected.

Brazilian Picanha – Ding ding ding! We have a winner! If you don’t know what Brazilian Picanha is, you will know after you eat one of these chips. This flavor takes after its predecessors of Garlic Cheesy Bread and Biscuits & Gravy in that it tastes exactly like what it is named after. I kid you not, these chips taste exactly like a steak coming right off the grill. You can smell it, you can taste it, and then you can savor it because the flavor stays with you. Besides the great flavor packed into each chip, the snack is also very well-seasoned and is salted just right. The description on the bag of what Picanha is (“the finest cut of Brazilian steak”) should alone sell a lot of this flavor but rest assured that it isn’t false advertising…the chip fits the bill.

My favorite chip of the #PassportToFlavor series was Brazilian Picanha.

My favorite chip of the #PassportToFlavor series was Brazilian Picanha.

Indian Tikka Masala – This chip might not have the best flavor, but it definitely packs the most flavor. You don’t just taste seasonings with this chip, you taste actual spice. By far this flavor tasted the most ethnic to me. It had a curry taste to it and it just gave you the feeling that it actually came from the Middle East as opposed to the Lay’s headquarters in Texas. If you want something that will give your taste buds a bold, distinguished experience this chip is for you.

If you want a chip with strong flavor and an international taste, the Indian Masala option is for you.

If you want a chip with strong flavor and an international taste, the Indian Masala option is for you.

Chinese Szechuan Chicken – Out of the four #PassportToFlavor options, this was the one I was looking forward to the most. I was envisioning that each chip would taste like the Chinese takeout I love so much. However, they didn’t really taste like anything. However, whereas the Greek Tzatziki flavor was satisfying with a mild taste, this flavor wasn’t. You can detect a Szechuan flavor lingering around after you eat a few and there is a slight kick at the end, but I was expecting more. The chemical taste that plagued other chips in the #DoUsAFlavor series is evident in this selection as well.

The Chinese Szechuan Chicken was the disappointment out of the #PassportToFlavor series.

The Chinese Szechuan Chicken was the disappointment out of the #PassportToFlavor series.

**

My Rankings (from favorite to least favorite)
Brazilian Picanha
Indian Tikka Masala
Greek Tzatziki
Chinese Szechuan Chicken

**

I can say that three out of the four chip flavors in the #PassportToFlavor series taste pretty good and are acceptable to serve at your next party. If you want to try all four options, your best bet is to go to your local Subway store and buy the mini bags. Please let me know if I nailed this review. Don’t Blink.

Why I Left Gymnastics Off My Summer Olympics List

Last week I wrote a blog post listing my five favorite events to watch at the Summer Olympics. By far, the reaction I received the most from people who read the blog was this:

“Why isn’t gymnastics on the list?”

I left it off for a reason.

No, I don’t have any ill will toward the sport. Both the women and men are spectacular athletes who do incredible things. It isn’t even that I won’t watch the sport because I will. Sidney’s favorite Summer Olympics sport is gymnastics and I have enjoyed watching it with her over the past few days. However, I had more than my fill of gymnastics when I was younger to ever become a big fan at this stage in my life.

My sister was a gymnast. She did club gymnastics throughout her whole childhood and then was an excellent gymnast at the prep level for Mead High School in Spokane. As you can imagine, many hours of her young life were spent at the gym. Maybe not as obvious is that because of this, I also spent a lot of time at the (gymnastics) gym.

My parents were very big about the three of us kids supporting each other. My sister and I went to most of my brother’s sporting events and other extracurricular activities. My brother and sister went to my endeavors. Glen and I went to my sister’s pursuits…many of which were gymnastics meets.

Do you have any idea how long gymnastics meets actually are? Let me say this, you get your money’s worth! I spent entire days inside gyms seated next to nervous parents as young athletes tumbled across the floor, flew over the vault, swung on the bars, and danced on the beam. As the same floor routine music played over and over and as the time seemed to crawl as judges tabulated scores, I did my best to keep sane.

If we were to do it all again, I would have encouraged my parents to build a house right next to a gymnastics gym. I say this because growing up, the club gyms my sister belonged to all seemed to be located 45 minutes from where we lived. With a schedule that seemed to have her practicing no less than eight times a week, the family car was going back and forth to the gym pretty much non-stop. So what happened before my mom finally trusted me to stay at home? Yep. I was driving back and forth as well. Luckily there was a car pool system in place with other parents but the numerous rides I did go on contributed to the gymnastics fatigue I now carry with me into adulthood.

When my sister reached the high school level, things did get a little better. Her meets now took place in large gyms inside various schools. My brother and I would run off and keep ourselves entertained exploring the hallways while the athletes battled it out late into the night. We did have fun but we also had our bouts with boredom. These struggles wouldn’t help my lack of gymnastics fandom 15 years later.

Don’t blame Simone Biles or Sam Mikulak for my gymnastics indifference. Please just know my history. With that said, I hope Team USA continues to dominate. Don’t Blink.

Summer Ending For My Teacher Wife

This morning I wasn’t the only one getting up at 5 a.m. After an incredible summer, Sidney reported to work today. She will have a week and a half of meetings before classes start at Palmetto Bays School on August 17. While she will still have her second grade classroom, she will have a different name. Students, let me introduce you to Mrs. Reser.

For those of us out there who have teachers as spouses, the summer is a pleasant time for us as well. Although our wives or husbands get to actually enjoy the time off, we enjoy the byproducts of the summer break.

I don’t know how many times I texted home this summer asking Sidney to put something in the mailbox for me because I forgot. Or how I asked her to wash or iron something. Or how I would call asking if she would pick something up at the grocery store for me.

But the errands went beyond the grocery store. There was the time this summer where she brought my dress shoes all the way to campus for me because I forgot them that morning. Or recently there was the instance where she picked me up during the lunch hour from the vehicle shop where I was getting my car serviced and took me back to the office (which of course required her to pick me up at the end of the day).

Then there was all the work she did at our residence. She tended to the lawn. She set up our master bedroom. She designed a photo wall in our living room. She looked long and hard to find the perfect pieces of furniture to give us a nice backyard lounging area. She completed what seemed like a project each day. She made our house feel like a home.

Probably the best part of the summer break was our weekly lunch. Usually on a Thursday, she would pick me up at work and we would go somewhere nearby for a bite to eat. As someone who sits at his desk and eats a peanut butter sandwich most days, this once a week occurrence was always something I looked forward to. When you are used to not seeing your spouse until the evening, it is a real treat to get to enjoy 45 minutes with them in the middle of the day.

I am a little bit sad to see Sidney’s summer end. I took comfort knowing that she was at home enjoying her well-deserved vacation from work. But I also look forward to the start of her school year. I am excited for her new students and the new stories. I am also especially excited for the debut of “Mrs. Reser.” Have a great year, Sid! Don’t Blink.

Brent’s Best of the Beach

Four years ago, I ripped off a standard content hog of every newspaper you will find in this country. Do you know what I am talking about? Every publication has a “Best of (insert city here)” where readers are polled and asked to vote on their top choice of restaurant, bar, news personality, realtor, ice cream shop, etc. etc. Well, in 2012 I used this blog and published my “Brent’s Best of the Zoo” post. For those not familiar with Montana slang terms, “Zoo” is a nickname for Missoula.

As I have lived in Myrtle Beach for over two years now, I decided to take a stab at naming some of my favorite places and activities in town. In order to keep this blog post from getting out of control, I decided to limit it to 15 categories. Speaking of categories, I tried to choose ones that are relevant to this area and ones that I can actually speak on (i.e. I have never ate sushi before so “Best Sushi in Myrtle Beach” is not a category). So enough with the explanations, let’s get to the winners!

Best All-Around Restaurant: Drunken Jack’s

Although it is on the Marshwalk in Murrells Inlet, I am counting Drunken Jack’s in Brent’s Best of the Beach. In my option, Drunken Jack’s boasts the best salad bar, the best hush puppies, and the best seafood/steaks in the area. Not only is it the best when it comes to food, it is also tops in atmosphere as well. Built to give the illusion that you are eating on a pirate ship, the place feels cozy. While you wait for your table you can enjoy complimentary popcorn while taking in the beautiful views of the water. If you want the best in scenery, personality, and food, Drunken Jack’s is for you.

This is a collage of my brother, Sidney, and I enjoying an evening at Drunken Jack's.

This is a collage of my brother, Sidney, and I enjoying an evening at Drunken Jack’s.

Best Bar: Remedies

I enjoy Remedies not just because it is a locals bar. I count it as my favorite because it is covered in televisions and because it is non-smoking. Throughout the past couple years I have gone to Remedies on numerous occasions to watch my western teams play as their TV package allows them to bring up pretty much any game. The food is excellent and the drink prices are very good. The bartenders are welcoming and treat you well the whole time you are there.

This is Sidney and I at in 2014 when we went to Remedies to watch the Montana football team play.

This is Sidney and I at in 2014 when we went to Remedies to watch the Montana football team play.

Best Miniature Golf Course: Mt. Atlanticus

Talk about the category with the stiffest competition! Myrtle Beach is covered with “Happy Gilmore” style putt putt courses. I made the tough decision choosing Mt. Atlanticus as my favorite because of how the course makes you ascend up. The holes are creative, especially the 19th ball return one, but it is the gradual climb of the course I like the most. When you conclude your 18th hole, you are high above in a tiki hut type structure looking over the whole course. Other courses might have dinosaurs, exotic animals, and pirates but Mt. Atlanticus has a view.

Sidney and I at Mt. Atlanticus in September of 2015.

Sidney and I at Mt. Atlanticus in September of 2015.

Best Ice Cream Place: Meyer’s Ice Cream Parlor

This is another category with extremely tough competition. Ice cream parlors dot every corner in the Grand Strand area. But my favorite is clear cut. Meyer’s Ice Cream Parlor is an inviting place with the BEST ice cream. The exterior is covered in different colors and ice cream cut outs and the inside takes on a New York Yankees theme but it is the ice cream that stands out. All flavors are fresh and the sundaes are fun and huge. You will feel nostalgia and happiness when you eat inside Meyer’s. I can’t recommend it enough.

This is me at Meyer's Ice Cream Parlor (notice the Yankees memorabilia and pink walls in the background) enjoying one of their classic sundaes.

This is me at Meyer’s Ice Cream Parlor (notice the Yankees memorabilia and pink walls in the background) enjoying one of their classic sundaes.

Best Signature Activity: Nights of a Thousand Candles at Brookgreen Gardens

In Myrtle Beach you have a hundreds things to do with top entertainment options, the ocean, and numerous golf courses. However, if there is an event that stands out from the Myrtle Beach mainstays, it would be Nights of a Thousand Candles. Every December for a few weeks, the big sculpture garden in Myrtle Beach, Brookgreen Gardens, becomes a Christmas cheer destination. The event will make you forget about the fact that Myrtle Beach doesn’t get snow. Event organizers set up thousands of candles and lights throughout the gardens. You walk on paths and admire the beauty as talented people perform Christmas carols. It is a peaceful and warm way to get into the holiday spirit.

Sidney and I at Night of a Thousand Candles in 2014.

Sidney and I at Night of a Thousand Candles in 2014.

Best Movie Theater: Coastal Grand Mall (Cinemark)

A couple months ago I would have given this nod to the Grand 14 at Market Common (Stone Theaters) but the cinema at Coastal Grand Mall is now tops. The theater recently replaced all seats with electronic recliners. Now, each auditorium just has a capacity of 50 people but if you get a seat it is well worth it. The theater is always clean and you can’t beat the location considering it is attached to the best mall in Myrtle Beach.

Best Sit Down Pizza Place: Mellow Mushroom

When I was home for the holidays in Spokane I found myself at the casino. I was at a blackjack table sitting next to a woman. She asked me where I lived and I told her Myrtle Beach. She remarked that she visited there for a short time several years back. I asked her what she remembered most. Her response? Mellow Mushroom.

Yes, the pizza is that good. I highly recommend it.

Best Delivery Pizza Place: Marco’s Pizza

I like nothing more than enjoying a low key Friday night in with Marco’s Pizza. Much better than the national delivery chains (you will have to pay a little extra), you can count on fresh toppings and plenty of grease. Make sure to order their garlic sauce and you will feel like you made the best choice ever.

Best Grocery Store: Publix

The hype is real. When Publix came to Myrtle Beach I didn’t know if it would be a game changer for the grocery habits of Sidney and I. But it is. Although we will usually still go to Lowe’s which is just two minutes away from our house, we will frequent Publix if we want an out of the ordinary shopping experience. Where else can you go to get a loaded ice cream cone as a sample? Where else can you go where the baggers still insist on taking your groceries out for you? Where else can you go where the store brand is legitimately better than the premium brand? There isn’t a better supermarket option in Myrtle Beach than Publix.

Publix has a terrific line of products. Check out this ice cream flavor.

Publix has a terrific line of products. Check out this ice cream flavor.

Best Sandwich Place: Which Wich

When I tried Which Wich for the first time I immediately fell in love with the concept. You walk in and fill out your order on a brown paper sack. Your sandwich comes out exactly how you wanted it. The food is as perfect as the ordering process. The submarine sandwiches are unique in both build and taste. You will want it again and again.

Best Place to Take Visitors: Broadway at the Beach

Although Broadway at the Beach is undergoing an evolution of sorts right now, it is still a great place to take visitors. You can enjoy sports bars, frozen drink bars, Mexican bars, live music bars, and clubs. And that is just the adult portion of it. Broadway at the Beach also has numerous restaurants, specialty shops, carnival rides, putt putt, kiosks, surf shops, a movie theater, and more. Did I mention that the place is built around a man made body of water that is stocked with ferocious-looking hungry fish? Broadway at the Beach earns my designation as the “best place to take visitors” because there is something for everyone.

Sidney and I enjoying a moment at Broadway at the Beach.

Sidney and I enjoying a moment at Broadway at the Beach.

Best Place for a Date: Market Common

As Myrtle Beach is a destination city, it is filled with tourist traps and gimmicky entertainment centers. The Market Common was built as a classy lifestyle center with locals in mind. With several unique restaurants, upscale bars, designer shops, and a nice movie theater all built on a strategically designed and well landscaped property, a relaxing night out at Market Common is easy to enjoy for any couple. I can’t count all the dates Sidney and I have enjoyed out at the area.

Best Beach Area: Springmaid

The Springmaid Pier is away from all the avenue beaches that bring in hoards of tourists. But don’t think Springmaid is full of locals either. Whenever we go, the beach is never full but it is always very well maintained. With plenty of free parking available, it is the most convenient place to go to take full advantage of the beautiful beach. Don’t pass it up.

This is Glen and I at Springmaid Pier

This is Glen and I at Springmaid Pier

Best Breakfast: Johnny D’s Waffles

Go up and down Kings Highway in Myrtle Beach and you will see probably around 30 different pancake houses. Many of them taste the same but Johnny D’s Waffles is in a league of its own. From their red velvet waffle to their cinnastax pancakes to their filling skillets, nothing matches Johnny D’s in terms of unique variety and freshness. The restaurant isn’t huge and there is usually a wait but it is definitely worth it.

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So there you have Brent’s Best of the Beach. Perhaps next year or in a couple years I will do a second version with other categories included. If you aren’t one of my Myrtle Beach readers, I apologize for boring you. If you are a Myrtle Beach reader, please let me know what you think of my list. Have a great week, everyone! Don’t Blink.

A Stranger Thursday Rundown

It is the official eve of the Summer Olympics and I am in a good mood. The fact that I have a Thursday Rundown post to write makes me even more joyful. Let’s get started…

Happy Birthday, Mom – I know it would make my mom’s day if I mentioned her in my blog so please let me wish her a happy birthday. One year away from a milestone, my mom turned 59 on Tuesday. Mom, thank you for being an outstanding parent, a shining example, and the most selfless person I know. I love you and miss you! Also, happy birthday to my nephew, Harrison. Exactly 55 years after my mom was born in Walla Walla, Washinigton, “Captain Harrison” was born in Myrtle Beach.

My mom celebrated her birthday on Tuesday. This is her and I at my wedding in June.

My mom celebrated her birthday on Tuesday. This is her and I at my wedding in June.

“Stranger Things” – The latest Netflix original creation to gain massive amounts of praise and attention is “Stranger Things.” The science-fiction series takes place in a small town in the early 1980s. The show chronicles the events following the disappearance of a middle school boy. To be honest, it took me some time to get into it. However, last night after I watched the third episode I was hooked. In fact, it sucked me in so much that I immediately watched the fourth episode (I usually won’t watch two shows of a series in a night). The acting is really good, the setting of the show is very authentic, and the music will grow on you. Some of the character relationships are masterfully developed as well. I am excited to watch the final four episodes.

"Stranger Things" is a pretty decent science fiction Netflix series.

“Stranger Things” is a pretty decent science fiction Netflix series.

From the Archives – I have a couple blog post gems to share with you that I wrote on past dates of August 4. Just last year I wrote about whether I really would want to live to be 100 years old. It is an incredible achievement but is it worth it? In 2013 I settled the score in the inaugural #DoUsAFlavor Lay’s potato chip competition. Do you remember the flavors of Chicken & Waffles, Sriracha, and Cheesy Garlic Bread? I made sure to sample each one and crown my favorite.

This is me in 2013 when I sampled all the flavors from the inaugural Lay's #DoUsAFlavor potato chip promotion.

This is me in 2013 when I sampled all the flavors from the inaugural Lay’s #DoUsAFlavor potato chip promotion.

“Nerve” – On Sunday, I went to the movies with Sidney and my father-in-law. We went and saw a film called “Nerve.” The movie is about a real time social media themed game played on your iPhone that is based on dares. Think of it as Periscope meets Truth or Dare. It is definitely not a film for everyone. It is dark and twisted but also a little satisfying. “Nerve” also has an underlying message about the harm of anonymity on the web and on social media. I personally enjoyed the movie but I know a lot of other people won’t.

I saw the movie "Nerve" this past Sunday.

I saw the movie “Nerve” this past Sunday.

Fun Thursday Evening Ahead – Most of Sidney’s family is in Orlando visiting Disney World. However, the two of us plus my father-in-law stayed behind. Throughout this week the three of us have stuck together. Tonight our bonding continues as we have an exciting night planned. We will be dining at Longhorn Steakhouse, one of my favorite restaurants. After our meal, we will once again go to the movie theater, this time to see “Jason Bourne.” I am a little nervous because I have never seen the previous Bourne films. My hope is that I won’t be too lost. Expect a review in my next Thursday Rundown!

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I hope everyone has a great weekend. Enjoy the festivities of tomorrow night’s opening ceremonies and I will touch base on Sunday. Don’t Blink.