My Top 10 Blog Posts of All-Time

After 10 years and 2,000 blog posts, I guess you could say this one means something. Today I am not counting down my top 5 favorite hard candies or my top 5 favorite fast food desserts. No, this one is a little more significant.

This month I took time to reflect on my personal favorite Don’t Blink blog posts from the past decade. I combed through the content and engaged in spirited internal debates about which ones meant the most to me. After much deliberation, I picked an extreme short list that comprises just .2% of the posts I have written since beginning this blog in 2011.

I am proud to present my Top 10 Don’t Blink Blog Posts. This countdown is all about my personal preferences and isn’t tied to analytics or the opinions of anyone else. These are my favorite pieces. What a journey it has been…

10. My Insanely Long Hair (February 13, 2014) – We open with a shocker. If I ever want someone to spit out their coffee, I send them the link to this blog post. Back in high school I had LONG hair that was thick, curly, and UGLY. It is definitely a sight to be seen and after reading the post you might either laugh or vomit.

i had some long hair back in the day and it made for an entertaining blog post.

9. Making the Cut: My Cameo in Darius Rucker’s Music Video (September 29, 2014) – Alright, now we go from not getting my hair cut to making the cut! It was a thrilling afternoon in the office at Coastal Carolina University when Darius Rucker released his video for “Homegrown Honey” which took place exclusively on the CCU campus and in downtown Conway. Seeing my goofy mug right next to the Hootie star himself made that day that even better. Besides my starring role in a short film that was showed on a jumbotron, this post is my very brief claim to fame.

I made the cut in Darius Rucker’s “Homegrown Honey” video.

8. Hey Southern Belle, What Have You Learned After a Year? (May 12, 2021) – Some of the blog posts on this countdown go back 10 years…this one goes back three weeks. Around the anniversary of Sidney moving to Washington, I wrote this blog post chronicling some of the major themes my wife learned from her move from the South to the West. It is lighthearted and fun, but it definitely implies that Sid is a rock star and made a major transition look easy.

It didn’t take long for Sid to adjust to Washington but she still learned things around the way.

7. $25,000 Dollar Man (October 19, 2011) – If there is a post that my loyal readers bring up more than all the others, it is the one I wrote about my brother winning BIG at the casino. On a single hand of Paigow he snagged $25,000. Not only do I describe the hand itself but I go into detail about the INSANITY that followed. Needless to say, it was quite fun to tell the outrageous story of a 21-year-old kid who blew the roof off a sleepy bowling alley casino during the wee hours of a snowy winter night.

Glen got real lucky at the table once.

6. A Man of Faith: Monsignor James LeBlanc (February 26, 2017) – I love writing profile pieces and have written numerous of them for this blog, but this one about the former St. Andrew (Myrtle Beach) pastor is particularly meaningful to me. Just the fact that Msgr. James LeBlanc married us is good enough to land him a special spot in our hearts but he did so much more than just that. He gave Sid her first true introduction to the Catholic faith and strengthened my own. About six months after he officiated our wedding, the Bishop of Charleston appointed him the pastor of a couple parishes in Columbia. After hearing the news, I wrote this colorful profile on one very excellent priest.

Sidney and I with Msgr. LeBlanc at his farewell party.

5. Farewells (April 2014 and February 2020) – For this portion of the countdown I must cheat a bit and offer my readers a 4-in-1. This is the spot where I want to include the final posts I wrote before leaving jobs. My top 10 moment entries for the University of Montana and Coastal Carolina University serve as perfect highlight reels for my time at both stops. I also hold my “final goodbye” posts at UM and CCU in high regard because I had the opportunity to recognize the people who made my experiences as a Grizzly and a Chant so amazing.

I have worked for some great employers and I tried my best to say “thank you” when I left.

4. Our Fierce Fighter (April 25, 2018) – At the end of April 2017, Sidney published something significant to Facebook. For the first time, a year after the fact, she made it publicly known that Sloan was critically ill with a rare condition called Pyloric Stenosis. It took us time to come to grips with the traumatic experience but on this particular night Sid wanted to speak out. Her purpose was simply to offer support to other families who might have a baby with PS.

Using Sid’s act of bravery as motivation, I followed up the next night with a blog post. I wrote about the emotions we felt as parents as we watched our baby daughter throw up all food that entered her system. I testified to the undeniable fight we watched Sloan exhibit throughout the entire frightening experience. I also made sure to offer education on what Pyloric Stenosis is and how it can be treated, heaping praise on Dr. Robert Cina (the head surgeon who performed Sloan’s procedure) and his entire crew at MUSC. This post put us in touch with parents who were going through the same thing we did with Sloan. Because I believe this blog post actually helped people (opposed to the 2,000 other posts that most people just find annoying), how couldn’t it be on this countdown?

This is Sloan being wheeled out of MUSC on a wagon after receiving a clean bill of health.

3. My Top Ten Photos From Our Wedding Day (July 17, 2016) – It is really tough to put into words the joy you feel on your wedding day. Although I tried to do so with several different blog posts, I don’t know if it ever did our special day justice. Thank goodness for pictures. In July, I wrote this post highlighting my absolute favorite images from June 11, 2016. Each picture says so much and helps to tell the story of that day in beautiful fashion. I still feel so much happiness looking back at this post. As a blogger, some might think that placing an entry so high on a countdown that didn’t rely much on actual writing would be a disappointment. Nope. Drafting up a blog post that uses the heart more than words is always more rewarding.

Less is more. Images over words. Counting down my favorite pictures from our wedding is one of my all-time favorite blog posts.

2. Long, Painful Process; Beautiful, Perfect Result (March 21, 2017) – Well, what can I say? These next two blog posts are going to be about the births of my children. Let me start with my firstborn. Delivering Sloan was not easy. We went through a week-long saga to meet her once Sid was admitted into the hospital. However, the drawn-out process was 100% worth it. In this post, I take you through the curvy road that started with Sid hooked up to a machine and me almost passing out to us walking out of the hospital on a sunny morning with our beautiful baby girl. This post focuses on the strength of Sidney, the gift of Sloan, and the point in time that our lives changed for the better, making it easily one of my top blog posts of all-time.

One of the best two days of my life.

1. Beau Meets World (February 17, 2020) – This wasn’t just my top post of 2020—it is my top post in the history of this blog. I tried to be raw and thorough as I chronicled the emotional 11-day journey from the moment Sidney’s doctor decided to operate to the Sunday afternoon that Beau was released from the NICU at McLeod Regional Medical Center in Florence, South Carolina.

The post is special to me because it displays Sid’s courage and Beau’s grit. It also conveys the important role that faith played throughout the saga. Tough setbacks are confronted and glorious triumphs are celebrated. It isn’t saying much because I consider myself a mere novice with the pen, but from a writing aspect I think this is my finest piece. But even if most serious writers consider Beau Meets World to be garbage, it sure means a lot to Sid and I. This trumps them all.

Beau was born at 1:37 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020.

——————-

And there you have it. After 10 years, those are the posts that stick out. Let me again extend my heartfelt gratitude to all my readers who have read my work over the years. It has been a pleasure. Don’t Blink.

Making the Cut: My Cameo in Darius Rucker’s Music Video

This morning I had the opportunity to stand in front of the cameras and record a couple segments for our news program at Coastal Carolina University. Afterwards, I tweeted out a couple images of the shoot. These photos, along with my recent cameo on College Gameday, resulted in a local reporter tweeting at me saying that I was becoming famous. I tweeted back something silly and then started to eat lunch.

This Twitter exchange would become pretty ironic just a few minutes after it took place.

This Twitter exchange would become pretty ironic just a few minutes after it took place.

Right in the middle of eating my peanut butter sandwich I received a tweet from a Darius Rucker fan account (@DRucker_Fandom) notifying me that the music video for “Homegrown Honey” had been released and that I was famous (after the concert in August, I provided the account with some photos I took and since then they have always liked me). If you remember, I participated in the filming of the video with no promises that I would actually ever appear. Eating lunch with me was my co-worker Kim. I told her to pull right up beside me and I clicked the link to watch the video.

I was alerted that the video had been released by the Twitter account @DRucker_Fandom

I was alerted that the video had been released by the Twitter account @DRucker_Fandom

We watched eagerly as the music video started to play. We pointed out different things and places that we recognized as the video unfolded. Halfway through the song, the big question on whether I would make the cut for Darius Rucker’s newest music video was answered. At the 1:42 mark right when the Homegrown Honey character takes a selfie with Darius you can clearly see me on the right side of the screen with a goofy looking grin spread across my face. It was kind of exciting.

I had my two seconds of "fame" at the 1:42 mark of the Homegrown Honey video.

I had my two seconds of “fame” at the 1:42 mark of the Homegrown Honey video.

It is not like if you didn’t know me that you would ever notice my presence in the shot. I am on screen for all but two seconds. If you are a girl you are looking right at Darius and if you are a guy you are looking straight at the Homegrown Honey. No time to notice the awkward looking dude in the far right portion of the screen. But I made the video and that is what counts…definitely a moment that made my day.

Of course the real story in this all is the superb way in which Coastal Carolina University is showcased. Aside from the bar scene, the entirety of the video is shot in our HTC Center. In the hallway shots you can clearly see the Chanticleer logo. You get a great view of the arena when it is just Darius and his band members playing right into the camera. You get a taste of the atmosphere that was generated by our community during the concert shots. And throughout the whole video, whether it was in the hallway or in the crowd shots, our students were featured front and center. Not many college campuses can say a musician of Darius Rucker’s stature filmed a music video on their campus.

The video "Homegrown Honey" produced some priceless shots showcasing Coastal Carolina University.

The video “Homegrown Honey” produced some priceless shots showcasing Coastal Carolina University.

After all the excitement in our office settled down and the video was no longer playing on every computer in our department, I tweeted out the still shot of me in the video. It didn’t take long for my reporter friend to tweet back at me. Hmmmmm…maybe she is on to something. Don’t Blink.

Needless to say, I knew this tweet was coming.

Needless to say, I knew this tweet was coming.

Darius Rucker Concert Review

Yesterday I wrote at length about my experience taking part in the Darius Rucker music video for “Homegrown Honey.” While those couple hours of filming definitely made my Saturday there was still one more thrill to experience …the actual concert! In case you want them, here are my thoughts on the show:

Because I was working the concert I had a credential to get me around the intimate HTC Center. However, from a social media perspective I didn’t want to be in a box, on top of the bleachers, or with the traditional media. Rather, I wanted to be right in the middle of the action. I converged onto the floor section early on in the opening act’s set and took up shop very close to the stage.

By the time Darius came on I had situated myself probably 10 feet from the stage. His entrance paralleled the rest of his show: Nothing too flashy, nothing too gimmicky. Some doors at the back of his stage opened up and he came through. There was a medium sized video screen in the middle back of the stage with two smaller screens on either side of the main one. The lighting was adequate but nothing special. The guy on the piano and the drummer were situated on elevated pedestals at the back of the stage while Darius and everyone else performed on ground level at the front. Darius’ stage was on par with a stage you would see for an opening act on a major tour with a big headliner.

I got some great shots of Darius Rucker during the show.

I got some great shots of Darius Rucker during the show.

He came out and opened with “Radio” and everything from there flowed smoothly. Other early notable songs in his set were “Alright” and “This.” It didn’t take me long to realize that Darius Rucker wasn’t the type of artist that was going to try to blow the roof off of the place or try desperately hard to win fans over. He was there to simply be himself and sing his songs. He didn’t kneel down on the ground and bow to the over 3,300 people in attendance. He didn’t come up with any corny stories on what he did during his day in the area. He didn’t suck up to the crowd and say how much he loved them or how much he loved Myrtle Beach. Instead he was totally genuine about the things he loved and didn’t hide away from sharing them…his kids, football, and the University of South Carolina.

This is my favorite shot that I took of Darius Rucker during the concert.

This is my favorite shot that I took of Darius Rucker during the concert.

As the middle of his set started he performed some of his new songs and some of his popular songs. Prefacing his performance of “Homegrown Honey” by saying the footage would be used in the actual music video of the song, the crowd seemed to really respond. They responded again when about 30 minutes later Darius told the crowd that he would have to perform “Homegrown Honey” again to secure additional footage for the video. In between he sang my favorite melody, “Come Back Song,” while also singing the Hootie smash hit “Only Wanna Be With You.”

Toward the end of the show Darius put on his hat.

Toward the end of the show Darius put on his hat.

You wouldn’t find Darius sprinting from one end of the stage to the other or rocking out hardcore on Saturday night. That just isn’t his style. While he did do a nice job of working the whole stage he was never in a hurry. He swung his hips, danced in his own space, and used his hands a lot while singing. It was enough to get a healthy sweat going but keep in mind it was a country star in his forties performing…not Macklemore.

Darius Rucker had a good sweat going the whole show.

Darius Rucker had a good sweat going the whole show.

As the show started to wind down he brought his opening act, Ricky Young, up on stage for a duet. He also performed “True Believers.” Then for his two song encore he sang “Wagon Wheel” followed by “Purple Rain.” The stage looked the coolest during that final song, even though I wish he would have ended with a more upbeat selection.

Darius Rucker and Ricky Young performing together.

Darius Rucker and Ricky Young performing together.

I watched that whole show by myself, without any beer…and I really enjoyed it. I didn’t need the pyrotechnics, the confetti, the social media interactions, the catwalk stage, the dazzling light show, or the numerous other spectacles you see on big time tours. I just needed Darius and his guitar. I found the simple and straight-forward show extremely refreshing and thought it was a great reflection of Rucker’s talent. While he isn’t the best performer in the world he is definitely worth a Saturday night in a cozy setting. I will remember my first southern concert very fondly. Don’t Blink.

Taking Part in a Darius Rucker Music Video

Last night I had the opportunity to watch Darius Rucker rock a concert from a stone’s throw away. It was an awesome show but it wasn’t even the coolest thing I did that day. You see, while I was a stone’s throw away from Darius during his show I was practically chest-to-chest with him that afternoon when I had the opportunity to be in his newest music video. It really is a great story.

Seeing Darius Rucker up close and personal in concert wasn't even the best part of yesterday.

Seeing Darius Rucker up close and personal in concert wasn’t even the best part of yesterday.

For the better half of this past week we knew that Darius Rucker was going to do some filming for his next music video during his stop in the Conway/Myrtle Beach area. Come Friday we got word that his team wanted Coastal Carolina University students to come out several hours before the show and help with the filming of a scene. It was all set up, students would meet by the track at 3:30 p.m. where the shooting would take place.

Our students came out to take part. However, 3:30 p.m. rolled around and Darius’ people were having second thoughts. On a sweltering hot southern day, the director of the music video decided to ax the outdoor concept and invite all of the students inside the HTC Center (our campus arena where Darius would be performing that night) and do the shoot there. We migrated the students inside to the main concourse of the HTC Center. It was there that the video team started to play on repeat “Homegrown Honey,” the new Darius single that they were producing the video for. At the same time, students were signing waivers as consent to participate in the shoot. With everything under control and the concert not set to start for a few more hours I said “What the heck” and signed the waiver to participate myself.

#CCU Students ready to sign the waiver and take part in the music video.

#CCU Students ready to sign the waiver and take part in the music video.

After the waiver signing we walked to a hallway outside of the locker rooms in the HTC Center. They lined the 40-50 of us up on both walls of the hallway. First thing you need to know: The people who made up this video crew were different animals. Although a little stressed with shooting a video they joked around and had fun with us the whole time. The director came over to me and tried to give me a high five but I awkwardly left him hanging! He joked with me and then gave me a Darius Rucker t-shirt to put on. I then took photos of his crew with one of their iphones and redeemed myself.

The main camera man was an interesting and funny guy!

The main camera man was an interesting and funny guy!

After the photo session they started going over the concept of the scene we were shooting. Darius would simply walk down the hallway singing “Homegrown Honey” with us lining his pathway. During his walk down the hallway five actors would come in at different times and dance around him. The star of the music video (besides Darius) was a tall, skinny blonde whose part in the hallway scene was to cut in when Darius walked by and take a selfie with him. She stood exactly across from me. After they went through the directions and did several rehearsals with someone playing the role of Darius, we had to play the waiting game for Darius to actually arrive. One crew member kept saying “We gave him the 15 minute warning” then 15 minutes later “We gave him the 10 minute warning” then 15 minutes later “We gave him the five minute warning.” It was after this that another crew member quickly chimed in by saying “That means he will be here in 15 minutes.” Everyone laughed.

Lyric cards were set up so we could memorize the words to "Homegrown Honey."

Lyric cards were set up so we could memorize the words to “Homegrown Honey.”

You could tell people were starting to get anxious. Many of these students had tickets to the show and wanted to get back home real fast to get their concert attire on. As the minds of several of us extras started to wander, Darius Rucker walked from one end of the hallway down to the starting point of the hallway where the shooting would start. While many people didn’t even realize he was walking right by us I threw my hand out and he shook it while replying “What’s up man?”

Rehearsal in the hallway before Darius arrived.

Rehearsal in the hallway before Darius arrived.

The whole shoot Darius Rucker was businesslike. Wearing his traditional black garb he made a couple jokes about not caring too much for video shoots. When a crew member told Darius that the director thought the first take was “okay,” Rucker responded by saying “That means he hates it.” We probably did five takes of the scene. They had us dancing at first. Then they changed it to no dancing. Then they changed it to us moving into Darius’s path right when he got close to us. Then they changed it to us filling in after Darius passed us by. They finally seemed to get what they wanted and then they kicked us all out of the hallway and instructed us to wait outside in the lobby area. They said to not leave because they were going to pick a handful of us for additional shooting.

The star of the music video danced with Darius on stage during the concert that night. The footage will also be used in the music video.

The star of the music video danced with Darius on stage during the concert that night. The footage will also be used in the music video.

After we all went out into the lobby the second-in-command to the director came out. In the mass of 50 people he looked at me, grabbed me by the shoulders, and said “go back in.” I was the first person asked to do additional shooting! I went back in the hallway where the paid actors were standing around. Then six other extras, all completely elated at getting chosen for additional shooting, joined me. Darius came back in the hallway and welcomed us! This time when Darius walked down the hallway for the shooting, the director instructed us to not pay any attention to him at all except to subtly acknowledge his presence. We did the shot three different times. We were then released.

I have no idea why I was asked to go back for the second shoot. There were many younger and better looking people than me. But I embraced it and did my best to not look like the biggest idiot alive. They gave me a blue solo cup to use the whole time as a prop. Now I am totally prepared to watch the video and see that my ugly mug is deleted from the entire video but I admit it would be kind of cool if I make the cut. I enjoyed the opportunity to witness the creation of a music video and meet Darius Rucker. I will forever be a big fan of the song “Homegrown Honey.” Don’t Blink.

Sporting the Darius Rucker shirt I was given by the video team. I am now a big fan of not only "Homegrown Honey" but of Darius Rucker himself.

Sporting the Darius Rucker shirt I was given by the video team. I am now a big fan of not only “Homegrown Honey” but of Darius Rucker himself.

Bonus Notes:
* As I said, Darius was dressed in black clothing for the shoot. He wore no hat.
* Pictures and video were strictly forbidden during the shoot.
* Those of us lucky enough to hold a blue solo cup had it filled with water by one of the crew members.
* The actors also had solo cups…but they were filled with booze.
* The actress who stood directly across from me was gorgeous and she knew it. She spent majority of the time in the hallway looking at her image through her iphone and fixing her hair.
* The crew was awesome. They kept the mood light and positive.
* Darius Rucker’s smile could light up the darkest, biggest cave on the planet. While the smile wasn’t there in between takes it turned on the second the camera did.
* They filmed the concert scenes of the music video during the show last night. In fact, Darius had to perform “Homegrown Honey” twice to get the footage they needed.
* The star of the video, the one who stood across from me, danced with him on stage during the “Homegrown Honey” performances.