Pecan Thursday Rundown

We had a couple days of beautiful, humidity-free days here in Myrtle Beach. But the typical South Carolina summer weather has returned. Before I melt, let me get started with the Thursday Rundown…

Meeting a Star – Today I had the opportunity to meet Nikko Austen Smith, a cast member on the OWN television show “Queen Sugar.” How did such a thing happen? Well, Nikko is actually a CCU alumna. In fact, she just graduated in May! She auditioned for the show right before commencement and got the role. She returned to campus today to give an interview about all the exciting developments in her life (as always, Robin Russell did a spectacular job). She was gracious enough to grant me time to take photos and video of her for future social media content. Nikko is an individual with a BIG personality and no ego. It was a pleasure to meet her.

Nikki Austen Smith and I this morning (I did not mean to focus the photo on me…I feel like a jerk!).

Subway Drive Thru – Depending on where you live in the country, you might have Subway restaurants with drive thrus. Here in South Carolina, it is very common. As we can all guess, ordering a hamburger at a drive thru is much different than ordering a sub sandwich. A lot more can go wrong when you are ordering different types of breads, cheeses, veggies, and sauces. Because of this, I usually just go inside at Subway and order at the counter. Last Saturday, with Sloan comfortably in her car seat, we decided to use the drive thru. Although the sandwich artist only made one error on my sandwich (I didn’t want it toasted) it was the wait that made me wish we had went inside. With only a couple cars in front of us, it took about 15 minutes for us two get our two subs.

A photo I took at the Subway drive thru last Saturday.

A Resemblance? – On Sunday, I sent a photo to our very active Reser Pride 5.0 text messaging thread (it includes my immediate family and our significant others) of Sid, Sloan, and me at the bowling alley. It took just a second for my brother to respond with “Brent! Sloan looks just like you in that photo.” You be the judge. Here is a comparison that includes the photo that I sent to our text group and a couple photos of me when I was young.

Do you see a resemblance? The photo in the top corner is just a zoomed in photo of Sloan from the family photo. The two other small photos are of me.

Flying with Baby – A year ago on this date, Sloan flew on an airplane for the first time. We stressed ourselves out over how she would do on a cross country flight but she ended up doing great. If you are flying with a child for the first time, just make sure to relax and don’t care what other people think. For the most part, passengers will be understanding. Next week, Sloan will embark on her third plane trip. Traveling with a 16-month-old is different than traveling with a 4-month-old or a 9-month-old (Sloan’s ages on her other two trips) but we know she, and us, will survive.

Sidney and Sloan on the plane exactly one year ago today.

National Pecan Pie Day – Today we recognize one of the best desserts there is in this world. Treating yourself to a warm slice of pecan pie every now and then, especially on National Pecan Pie Day, is always okay. BUT, let me just reiterate that my Southern friends have it correct when it comes to the pronunciation of pecan – it is PEE-can, not PEE-con. Come on everyone, you pronounce it phonetically. Okay, enough with my lecture, go enjoy some dessert.

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Things are getting very, very busy for our family. Hope everyone else is in a good spot right now. Thanks for taking time to read my blog and I wish you a wonderful summer weekend. Don’t Blink.

A Quirky and Fun Instagram Food Account

I usually don’t write a whole blog post to promote a random Instagram account but tonight is an exception.

When I posted about Blueberry Pancake Crunch, I followed the hashtag (#BlueberryPancakeCapnCrunch) and came across @mnmtwinz, an account shared by two dudes named Marcus and Matthew who happen to be identical twins. Don’t worry, they aren’t posting selfies or dog photos – they are posting food.

This is the post that made me aware of the @mnmtwinz Instagram account.

It is no secret that I enjoy a good food social media account. However, @mnmtwinz might be my favorite. Why? Because what they do is so unique.

The @mnmtwinz account is wacky and fun. They post photos of product offshoots and unlikely combinations.

If you browse @mnmtwinz, you will quickly discover the account’s concept. Marcus and Matthew (it sounds like I know them, but I don’t) review snack foods and fast food. However, there is much more to it than that.

Who else would review Reptar bars and Reptar cereal?

Most of the snacks and fast food items they review are offshoots from popular products. For example, they recently reviewed the new Oreo flavors – kettle corn, cherry cola, and pina colada. They also did new M&M varieties – raspberry, mint, and espresso. Another time they did the numerous varieties of Brisk iced tea.

The @mnmtwinz account will review the obscure offshoot offerings of big time products.

Aside from the varieties of one snack, another direction the account will take is pairing various foods together. Usually the combinations are quirky and fun. For example, one recent image had Fanta, a rare type of Doritos, a chocolate fudge sundae Kit Kat bar, and homemade cheeseburgers. Another one had Arizona Half & Half, a Japanese variety of Cheetos, chicken sandwiches, and the new Reese’s Outrageously Stuffed Reese’s Pieces candy bar. Of course, the portions are always made for two.

The combinations might seem a little odd but there is usually always a theme.

The photography puts the focus on the products that are featured. Snacks are usually pictured both in and out of the package. Sometimes they have to squeeze a lot in a single image but the food is always laid out masterfully. The backdrop is usually mundane (purposefully) to spotlight the food.

The photos are usually taken against a black backdrop on a grayish floor. Gotta love seeing Jolt in a can!

Although Instagram is mostly about photos, the twins don’t slack on the text. You will immediately find out that they are very skilled reviewers. They describe the tastes and compositions of the products in amazing detail. They also format their captions in a clear and readable manner.

These guys are just too passionate and too creative!

If you like junk food and you are active on Instagram, you need to follow @mnmtwinz. They do an absolutely incredible job. Don’t Blink.

Animal Tales

Although I might not be crazy about animals, I always enjoy a good story or two about them. Inspired by today’s newspaper and a squirmish situation yesterday, I have a few quick tales to comment on.

Snakes in Church – I read a fascinating article this morning about where preachers go to get snakes for their church services. Say what? At fundamentalist churches in the Southeast, it is not uncommon for preachers to handle snakes during their services. To them, it shows their faith. Anyway, the article revealed that many of these ministers come here to South Carolina to purchase their rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, and copperheads because our state does not limit the sale of venomous snakes. The story did a great job at telling the history and scope of this practice, but it focused specifically on one minister who actually died in 2014 from a snake bite when a serpent he purchased in South Carolina turned on him.

Talk about guts (and faith). These preachers aren’t just delivering their sermons while clutching deadly snakes. They are dancing and singing with them too. Pointing to a bible verse that says they shall take up serpents, there is a literal reason for why they are doing this. I don’t think I could ever get myself to handle something that could kill me in an instant (let alone be in the same worship space as someone who could), but perhaps that is an indictment on my own faith. 

This photo is of Jamie Coots, the man who died preaching while holding a snake (photo courtesy of The State).

Turtle Farm – I read another really interesting South Carolina-focused animal story this morning. It just so happens that our state has a highly secure turtle farm! Well, it is technically a hidden nature preserve and it houses some of the world’s rarest turtles. The Turtle Survival Center is located east of Charleston but don’t think for a moment you will get an address. The exact location of the place is unavailable to the public for fear of thieves. Turtles at this place, more than 700 of them, are highly coveted around the world, with many of them worth $10,000. If people knew where to find the preserve, it would be a haven for criminals looking to steal and sell the creatures on the black market.

The Turtle Survival Center exists to reverse the trend of declining turtle populations. The turtle trade has done great damage and now the center has to do all it can to save numerous species, many of which now only exist on the premises. I think it is fascinating that the most exotic turtles from all around the globe are basically under one roof just a couple hours away from me. However, I also find it sad that the turtle population is in such danger.

One of the many turtles at the South Carolina preserve.

Heebie-Jeebies – I can do rats, spiders, and – as long as I am not holding them – snakes. But for whatever reason, I can’t do bugs. My skin crawls just thinking about them. Unfortunately for me, South Carolina is not only a breeding ground for cockroaches but it is home to a bug that puts the former to shame– the Palmetto bug. If you think of a cockroach on steroids with wings, then you can picture a Palmetto bug. They are all over the state and they find their way into everything.

Yesterday afternoon, I was finishing up in my office. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something brown inching its way up my wall. I looked to my right and frantically jumped out of my chair as a massive Palmetto bug was crawling on one of my frames. As I escaped, the bug fell from my wall onto my papers. I watched it quickly scatter away. Pathetic how a bug can traumatize a grown man, right? I was on edge for the final 15 minutes I was in the office. As I was about to leave, I saw the thing crawling on the floor. I was thankfully able to end my paranoia as I killed it (wait, was it the same one?). As a co-worker told me, seeing a Palmetto bug indoors has nothing to do with the cleanliness of an area nor does it mean there is an infestation. It is just a fact of living in this part of the country.

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On that note, I am going to stop talking about animals, especially creepy crawlers. Thanks for reading my nature-related blog post and remember to do what you can to save the turtles. Don’t Blink.

Bowling Choices

As a young teenager, I fondly remember going with my friends to the bowling alley. We would go during the middle of the day in summer when games and shoe rentals were just $1 each. We would play four or five games and have an absolute ball, spending the entire afternoon at the alley.

I grew older and my fondness for bowling deteriorated. I no longer jump at the chance to throw a 12 pound ball down a greased up, narrow lane. I rather attend a ballgame, play putt putt, or hit a bar before going bowling. However, every now and then I do get an itch to bowl. Even the times I don’t feel up to it but go anyway, I usually walk out of the alley thinking I am glad I did that.

One thing is for sure: bowling has evolved.
One thing is also for sure: bowling has not evolved.

Your bowling experience will center on where you go to do it. There really is no right or wrong answer on where you go – it just depends on your mood (and what is available). Judging on my bowling escapades over the past few years, you can choose from one of the four options…

Trendy Game Center – Yesterday, we took Sloan bowling for the first time. We went to 810 Billiards and Bowling, a brand new entertainment center that opened in a former grocery store in Market Common. With a rustic but hip interior, the bowling balls are painted like billiards balls, brick covers the area above the pins, and you have to climb steps to enter the bowling area and descend down steps to bowl at your assigned lane. It feels like you are bowling inside a retro warehouse – a warehouse that has a cool bar, ping pong tables, and several billiards tables.

Why Go? If you want a “gourmet” bowling experience in a creative setting with plenty of other entertainment options.

We had a nice time at 810 last night.

In Da Club – When Sid and I spent a weekend in Charlotte, we went to a club. Wait, I mean we went bowling at a place that felt like a club. The space was intimate, the music blared, and the lights dazzled. Called StrikeCity, it actually is purposely designed as a bowling/club hybrid. Because the lanes are stacked so close together, human interaction with the people at the lane next to you is encouraged. Before we finished our first game, Sid and I were already pals with the couple next to us.

Why Go? You want to party! Get your drink on while mixing and mingling…just don’t forget to bowl when it is your turn.

Sidney bowling at StrikeCity in Charlotte.

Cosmic Fun – In the 1990s and 2000s, bigger and brighter bowling alleys were built around the country. These centers offered space and a modern appeal. They tried to attract both the hardcore bowler and the younger demographic. Bowling leagues would take place during the day and early evening but come night the lights would turn off and cheesy laser shows would excite people who wanted to “bowl in the dark.” This type of alley was what I grew up going to during my teenage years that I mentioned above. When Sid and I visit Spokane, we sometimes bowl at a place that meets this characterization with my brother.

Why Go? You want to take your family out for a night of good, clean fun.

This is me at Lilac Lanes in Spokane, one of the alleys built in the 1990s.

Classic Alley – You can identify one of these places even before you walk inside. As you approach the door, you can smell it. The scent of feet, sweat, and cleaner product will overwhelm you. Once you walk in, you will actually see it. A complete blast from the past, bowling alleys that have been around for three or four decades lack amenities but pack nostalgia. Dark and simple, these places have chipped balls, fading pins, and archaic scoring monitors. Believe it or not, the new era in bowling has failed to completely wipe these older places out. In fact, Sid and I have bowled in at least two of these alleys since we have been married.

Why Go? You are an avid bowler and want a no frills place to pursue your hobby.

Sid and I at a classic bowling alley.

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Pumped up to bowl? Not me. Since I went yesterday I am good for a couple months. But if you decide to hit the alley tonight, make sure to throw a strike for me. Don’t Blink.

America Thursday Rundown

Quick! What day is it?! If the Fourth of July holiday has you messed up, don’t feel bad! Because your trusty Don’t Blink blogger is just about to deliver his latest Thursday Rundown, you probably now have a good idea what day it is. Let’s get started…

Oscar Mayer Wienermobile – When I read in the newspaper that the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile was making a supermarket tour through Myrtle Beach, I knew we couldn’t miss it. The vehicle was in town at the end of last week and, lucky for me, CCU employees work only half days during the summer. So, that afternoon, Sid, Sloan, and I went to a Publix grocery store to visit the Wienermobile. It was quite exhilarating to see the iconic “hot dog on wheels” in person. We touched it and took photos with it. But the best part was what you can’t see in the photos. Off to the side of the Wienermobile was a food trailer giving away free Oscar Mayer hot dogs. Score!

On Friday, our family visited the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

Fourth of July Recap – We had a nice holiday! The three of us woke up early (when don’t we wake up early?) and ate breakfast at a diner right next to our house. We then hit up our neighborhood pool before it got too busy. Next we headed over to my sister-in-law’s neighborhood to watch a Fourth of July golf cart parade her family was participating in. We ate an all-American lunch (chicken sandwiches) and watched the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. A little bit later we went swimming for the second time that day. After taking an hour or so to rest at our house, we went out on the boat with my in-laws to watch fireworks from the water. We anchored at Barefoot Landing and had an enjoyable time hanging out before the show started. When we walked through our front door to call it a day, it was a little past 11 p.m. ‘Merica.

We had a nice Fourth of July. We ended the holiday on the Intracoastal Waterway watching the Barefoot Landing fireworks.

Eating Breakfast – Of course I couldn’t mention that we went to a diner to eat breakfast without giving more details. After all, I am the blogger who believes that everyone should go out to breakfast every now and then. We went to the Early Riser Diner, a neighborhood restaurant located in a small strip mall not far from our house. Sidney had a Belgian waffle and Sloan had pancakes. I too had pancakes but did you think I would get them plain? I ordered the sweet potato pecan hotcakes and they were delicious.

We had a delicious breakfast at the Early Riser Diner on the Fourth of July.

Leftover Fireworks – On Fourth of July Eve, Sidney let me put on a fireworks show for our niece and nephew. My display attracted a lot of neighbor kids as well! I had a great time setting them off but because of bed times, I didn’t get to blow up my entire arsenal. I have some heavy artillery still left over. I am talking mortars and other powerful aerial fireworks. With us arriving home late last night, I didn’t have the opportunity to light them off. My question is this: How do you dispose of fireworks? I don’t want them around the house. I would rather give them away but if no one wants them, I need advice on how to properly toss them. Thanks.

Want some free fireworks? I did not finish the contents of this big box that we purchased over the weekend.

Taking Back My Words – Okay, I have to come clean. Last week, I sounded a bit irriatated when I mentioned that a Mr. Softee ice cream truck was cruising our neighborhood at 10 p.m. Let me take those hostile words back and say this: Mr. Softee is welcome in our neighborhood at any time! On Saturday, Sid and I bought a cone from the Mr. Softee truck and it was the best soft serve I have had in a long time. It was so good that I tried to hunt him down for another cone after he had left our street (no luck). If you haven’t had the pleasure, make sure to try Mr. Softee sooner rather than later.

Sidney with the Mr. Softee ice cream cone we shared on Saturday.

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For those who made this an extended Fourth of July weekend, I hope you are enjoying yourself. Thanks for reading my blog and God bless America. Don’t Blink.

Nachos

On Friday night, Sid and I attended a surprise birthday party. When we left the celebration venue we thought dang, Sloan is with her grandparents, we might as well extend our date night just a bit. So, instead of going directly home, we headed to a favorite restaurant for a late dinner.

Not in a rush to eat because we had an unpredictable toddler and with both of us pretty hungry, we decided to order an appetizer. We decided on nachos and it was so worth it. The platter of crunchy, flaky chips topped with fresh cheddar cheese really hit the spot. Let’s just say that when we left the restaurant we weren’t talking about our entrees.

Fast forward 20 hours to us discussing what to eat for Saturday night dinner. After some thinking, Sidney came up with a genius idea that was inspired by last night’s experience: let’s make homemade nachos!

I said “YES” to Sidney’s suggestion and this is what she whipped together.

When she said that, I couldn’t help but remember my childhood. Growing up, our family would eat nachos on several Saturday nights each year. It was special because we would break the dinner time routine that my parents so rigidly set. Instead of sitting around the table eating our meal with no electronic or outside distractions, the rules were pulled back. We would head down to the basement, start a movie, and eat nachos.

I can visualize it right now. My mom would put a pan of chips covered in shredded cheese into the oven. While they baked, my parents would put the finishing touches on a platter that included refried beans, veggies, sour cream, and salsa. Once the nachos were done in the oven, my mom would take the pan out, the cheese bubbling on the chips, and place it on the kitchen table. We could grab however much we wanted and put them on a plate. We then went to the topping platter and added whatever we wanted on top. Once we had what we desired, we marched downstairs. It was a lot of fun!

With the good vibes flowing, I watched Sloan while Sid went to the grocery store to purchase ingredients. She returned and emptied an entire bag of tortilla chips onto a pan. She proceeded to top it with a package of shredded cheese, a tub of queso cheese, a pound of ground beef, and a pound of sausage. Keeping Sloan occupied meant I didn’t see the final product until Sid had placed it on the kitchen table and told me to look back.

We had enough nachos to feed an army.

A close up look at our nachos from Saturday night.

Digging in, I couldn’t believe how good they tasted. In fact, they were better than the nachos we had the night before. However, we still couldn’t even out a dent into them without our stomachs exploding. We still have leftovers in our fridge.

We gave it our best effort, but this is how much was left after our first round with the nachos on Saturday night.

So I know it took me forever to get to the main point of this blog post but here it is: Need a dinner idea? Make nachos! It is fun, easy, inexpensive, customizable, and a whole lot of other things. Add your own twist and add a little variety to your regular dinner lineup this week. Don’t Blink.

A Wedding Clipping to Save

It was almost as if I was reading a recap of the Royal Wedding…

This article was written about my grandparents’ wedding in 1942.

These days when you read the newspaper you might see a paragraph or two about a couple becoming engaged. Unless you are reading a tabloid, you very seldom see any article actually reporting on the intricacies of a wedding ceremony.

This wasn’t the case 76 years ago.

Over the weekend, a distant relative sent me the newspaper clippings of an article written about the wedding of my grandparents. In 1942, my mom’s parents got hitched at St. Francis of Assisi church in Walla Walla, WA. According to the town’s local newspaper, it was “one of the most beautiful weddings of the season.”

I read the article in amazement as the journalist went into thorough detail. Everything was recorded from what the wedding party wore to the gifts my grandma gave her bridesmaids to the amount of people who attended the reception. Information on the people who usually get overlooked at weddings, such as the ringbearer and the musicians, all received their due.

Besides the reporting, the writing itself was just a treat. The bride, a striking brunette, was lovely in her white velveray marquisette gown fashioned with shirred bodice with sweetheart neckline and long sleeves, full at the shoulder, and long train.

I mean come on. When Sid and I tied the knot, I think our local newspaper just carried a sentence on its website declaring that we were now legally married. Not even a quick mention that her gown was white.

Of course, I realize it was a different time back then. Without the internet or a 24-hour news cycle, media coverage was very localized. In a small town like Walla Walla, there was space in the newspaper to write a couple columns about the latest wedding.

Besides the exquisite detail and the glimpse at journalism during a different era, the article made my day because it was a record of the beginning of a very special marriage. My grandparents were married for over 60 years and their relationship bore so much fruit. Although I remember them in my heart as “grandparents,” it was neat to read the article and see them as a young adult couple just starting their lives together.

A newspaper clipping from the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin announcing my grandparents’ 60th anniversary.

What a joy it was to read. It was truly a blessed day when my grandparents stood before the “altar lovely with whit chrysanthemums and ferns and palms” and said I do. Don’t Blink.

Fantastic Thursday Rundown

I can’t believe that in less than a week it will be the Fourth of July. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the holiday – but time is going by so fast. Let’s proceed with the Thursday Rundown…

Sloan’s Playmate – There is absolutely nothing cuter than watching toddlers interact with each other. Last Friday, Sidney’s good friend, Leslie, visited us with her daughter, Stevie Blair. Just a couple months older than Sloan, the two are natural playmates. We took the little girls to our neighborhood pool for a Friday afternoon of fun in the sun. It was so cute to watch the two stand side-by-side in the water and play with pool tools. Although Sloan can work a little bit on her manners, they got along great.

Sloan and Stevie Blair enjoying their playdate.

Cap’n Crunch Blueberry Pancake Cereal – I am always game to try new cereals, especially ones that are a little wacky. Cap’n Crunch recently released a limited edition blueberry pancake delight. I took one look at the box and yanked it off the shelf. So, how was it? Well, when I opened the plastic bag inside the box, the aroma that floated out smelled exactly like a plate of fluffy blueberry pancakes! But the actual taste did not. Even though the taste didn’t match the smell, the cereal was still pretty good. It was mild and light with a fruity flavor. For $1, it was worth it.

My box of Blueberry Pancake Cap’n Crunch.

Late Night Ice Cream Visit – I have written extensively about my love for ice cream trucks. However, this past weekend my affinity was tested. At around 9:45 p.m., Sidney and I were on the couch watching “48 Hours.” Suddenly, we looked at each with puzzled expressions. Is that children’s music? It was. Wait, is that the ice cream man? It was. At this hour? No joke. I walked outside to investigate. Sure enough, a Mr. Softee ice cream truck was doing steady business about a block away from our house. Never mind that it was pitch dark or that most children were fast asleep – the dude driving the truck was obviously after the adult audience. He stayed parked in the same spot until after 10 p.m. before finally moving on. It was bizarre.

I caught this photo of the Mr. Softee ice cream truck going by our street well after 10 p.m. on Saturday night.

Big Brother 20 – As my wife tweeted yesterday, it is the best part of the summer! Last night, the latest season of Big Brother premiered. As a converted fan, the opening episode was something I looked forward to. This season is especially interesting to us – a Coastal Carolina University alumna is on the show! Rachel Swindler, a 2010 CCU grad, is competing for the $500,000 prize. Needless to say, she is who I will be rooting for! My backup favorite is Scottie, a 26-year-old shipping manager who is a complete nerd. I feel like I have a little “Scottie” in me, so how can I not pull for him?

Sid is right, the best part of the summer is here!

Hoopfest – Quick shout out to everyone participating in Hoopfest this weekend. The largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament on the planet, I was involved in the spectacle for many years. After my playing days ended, I volunteered as a court monitor, keeping order on the streets of Spokane for seven years. Since living in South Carolina, I have made the trip back to Spokane for the tournament once, and got on the news for doing it, but I won’t be returning this year. I hope everyone has a great time!

This is me wearing the 2015 Hoopfest t-shirt and shorts while holding the 2015 Hoopfest ball.

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Enjoy this last weekend in June! It has been a good month for us and we look forward to continuing the good times over the next few days. As always, thanks for reading my blog. Don’t Blink.

What I Would Do If I Visited All 50 States In One Summer

This morning, I read a terrific story about a young man who is on a unique United States tour. This summer, Rodney Smith Jr. is going to every state to mow the lawn (or, for my Southern friends, to “cut the grass”) of someone who could really use the help. He is offering lawn mower assistance to people such as veterans or the elderly who can’t keep up with the maintenance of their yards . How cool!

Rodney Smith is a selfless man.

In tonight’s blog post, I am taking the time to dream about what I would accomplish if I went on a nation tour of some sort. If I had the time and finances to visit every state in a single summer, I would choose to focus on one of the below 10 activities.

Work Out at Gold’s Gym – Although I have only exercised at Gold’s Gyms in the states of Washington and South Carolina, I know each one is special. When you visit a Gold’s Gym, you are immediately hit with nostalgia and a desire to work hard. It is all about the culture! I would love to visit 48 other locations to get my pump on.

I do get in a good sweat at Gold’s (and that is all that matters). The Myrtle Beach Gold’s Gym has an actual hardwood gym that I use at the end of my workout.

Eat an Ice Cream Cone – I am sure plenty of literature already exists that would tell me exactly where to go in each state to pull this one off. An avid ice cream lover, it would be completely appropriate for me to circle the nation during the hottest time of the year to sample the best waffle cones and scoops of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream in the country.

I love a good waffle cone and would gladly eat 50 of them during the summer.

Visit a Cemetery – Nothing satisfies my fondness for history and curiosity more than a cemetery. As someone who already makes it a point to visit a cemetery every time I am in a new state, I might as well devote a whole summer to actually visiting one in all 50 of them.

Me at the Hillcrest Cemetery in Conway, South Carolina.

Worship at Mass – What an incredible experience this would be. It would be a spiritual journey like no other to visit 50 different Catholic churches in 50 different states over a summer and worship with each different community. Perhaps to firm up my schedule and help me decide on which parishes I would attend, I might only attend churches that have the same name (i.e. I would visit only churches named “St. Francis”). It would be special to visit so many different places of worship and be exposed to different types of architecture, music, and preaching – all while enjoying the same beautiful, universal order of mass.

It would be a spiritual journey to take a summer to visit 50 different Catholic churches in 50 different states.

Run a Mile at a Different High School Track – I used to run on tracks a lot. Knowing exactly how far I ran is important to me. In my opinion, nothing is more therapeutic than hitting up a quiet track at a local high school in the evening hours in the middle of the summer. To say that I ran a total of 50 miles in 50 different states would be pretty cool.

Attend a Minor League Baseball Game – Here is another one that I would have no trouble Googling. It seems as if all Minor League stadiums have different, yet quirky and engaging, fan experiences. Using all the reviews that already exist on these baseball havens, I would visit the best of the best in each state. If I managed to visit 50 different Minor League parks in 50 states over the course of a long, hot summer it would be a grand slam.

The Myrtle Beach Pelicans built a Wrigley Field Replica on the concourse on the third base side of Pelicans Stadium. Minor League Baseball at its best!

Take a Selfie – The obligatory task that any social media professional would do. Talk about some great content for my personal accounts!

The goal would be to not have cows in my selfies.

Drink a Beer at a Dive Bar – I would visit the most hole-in-the-wall, run down, sketchiest places in each state. While at each place I would chat with the locals, throw peanut shells on the ground, and tip my bartender well. #Glorious

Observe a Parade – You can learn a lot about a town by attending one of its parades. This would probably take a lot of planning, but I don’t think anything sounds better than enjoying a summer of bagpipes, community pride, and homemade floats.

Serve at a Soup Kitchen – All of my ideas for taking a nation tour are rather selfish. In the spirit of Rodney Smith,I can’t end my list without including something that would build character and give back to the places I would visit. I thinking serving a meal at a soup kitchen in 50 different states would really open my eyes. I would realize the endless extent of poverty in the United States and hopefully it would force me to make changes in my life. I would hope that after my soup kitchen odyssey ended, I would do a better job from that moment forward of serving the poor.

Rodney Smith is the real MVP.

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Maybe one day when I am retired I might actually do something like I have just written about. As long as I have Sid right next to me, I would love to hit the open road and see the United States in all its glory. Don’t Blink.

TAG! You’re It!

A couple weeks ago, the co-worker I frequently discuss movies with came into my office. He asked if I had heard about an upcoming film called “Tag.” I replied no.

He told me that the movie is about a group of adults who play a never-ending game of tag. The goofy characters, he said, go to extraordinary lengths to play the game. To prove his point, he proceeded to tell me about a particular scene at a funeral. As one player mourns the loss of his father at the burial site, another player approaches him to seemingly offer comfort. While putting his arm around his grieving friend, this particular player says some nice words about the deceased, only to add at the end (I am paraphrasing), “…and I think the one thing your dad would really like you to know….is…that…you are now IT!” Slap!

“Tag” is a movie out in theaters right now.

I couldn’t help but laugh.

A couple days later, after I had forgotten about the wacky movie, my memory came back to me as Sid and I watched the NBC Nightly News. Lester Holt segwayed into a story about a group of middle aged men who, you guessed it, engage in an extreme game of tag. In fact, this crew on my television screen was the inspiration for the actual movie.

Now knowing that it was a true story (even though I think Geoff had initially told me it was), my interest piqued a bit. But that’s not all. A little bit of gasoline was about to be thrown on the small fire that had started inside of me…

It just so turned out that this group of friends started this epic game of tag in elementary school in no place other than Spokane, Washington. That’s right, my hometown was the origin of this larger than life game of tag that would be portrayed in a major Hollywood film with A-list actors.

These are the actual fellas who started an extreme, long, global game of tag (photo courtesy of the Spokesman-Review).

I intently watched the NBC Nightly News story. The whole original group of friends was interviewed and Lester himself was even tagged. But as I watched the game in action, it looked a tad fake to me. I Googled (haha) these people involved in the tag game and realized that their story has been extensively covered. I read several articles.

Next, I pulled up my family’s text messaging thread and alerted them that several Spokane natives were on national news for playing a children’s game on a global scale. Their response?

Old news.

“They have been on the local news for two weeks straight,” my mom complained. Obviously, I wasn’t breaking any news to the Reser Pride 5.0 group message.

I thought about the stories I had just read. I watched the trailer of the movie that Geoff had sent me. I viewed other videos covering the phenomenon. I even asked my parents to send me the latest front page from the Spokesman-Review that predictably covered the original players and the movie.

My parents sent me the recent Spokesman-Review newspaper. It is all about TAG.

After consuming a wide range of media centering on these childhood friends, the lengths they have gone to play the game, and the movie itself, I walked away feeling a certain way…

I just wasn’t very impressed.

First off, I have no interest in seeing the movie. Much to the chagrin of my wife, who does want to see it, an exaggerated Hollywood version of a giant game of tag wouldn’t hold my interest for 90 minutes.

As for the real life game played by these Spokane adults every February? I think at this point, it just seems a little overdone. The media blitz on this group started way back in 2013. Over the past five years, I think news outlets have stripped this story of its authenticity. It doesn’t seem organic anymore.

Geoff and Sidney both think I am way too cynical. They praise the grown men for taking a kid’s game to the absolute extreme. They think it is hilarious. But my point is that the game is no longer at the level it once was.

Not that I am placing all the blame on the individuals themselves, all who have very successful careers. Before every major news station and Hollywood wanted a piece of their fun, I think they were still playing it at a hardcore level and with a children’s spirit. But that time has passed.

I still think it is a unique story. Kudos to these people for creating a bond that is based on something no one else on the planet has. I just think the story has ran its course. Don’t Blink.