Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Confessions of a Southern Charm Newbie: Growing Old, Not Better

S4E4: Is Whitney an alien?

Posted by Dustin Waters on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 at 2:00 PM

Perfect. The perfect screencap - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • Perfect. The perfect screencap

Hey guys, I know what will be fun. Let’s talk about aging. Right? That’s terrible idea, but let’s do it anyway.

So at what point do you remember first considering your age as a determining factor in who you should be as a person? Not just “I’m 16, so I can drive now,” but that point when you considered “This isn’t where I thought I’d be when I turned 30” or 40 or however many years it took you to be really disappointed in yourself. It’s kind of a terrifying concept, but also one that’s not really based in anything concrete. Really what growing older comes down to is a perceived narrowing of possibility.

As a child, it’s generally understood that you can be anything — and some people hold on to this mentality. As a teen, you might feel pressure to rebel against whatever expectations have been placed upon you — and some people hold onto this. Then at a certain point, you just become satisfied with finding fewer ants in your apartment and consider drinking water as “Taking care of yourself.” This is called early adulthood. This is the point when you start getting invited to a bunch of weddings, which are like birthday parties except someone else gets all the presents and attention and you get to question the trajectory of your life and how drunk is socially acceptable. Meanwhile, the years just continue to creep by. The reason I bring up aging is because this week on Southern Charm we celebrate Shep’s 37th birthday. Now on to the show.

We open on a title card that says “Thomas’ Plantation” and my notes at this moment just read “gurg” and “eetch.”

Anyway, Landon is setting up for the big polo extravaganza that Thomas is hosting. Impressed by Landon’s preparation for the party, Thomas says he wants a woman who is good in the kitchen, well-behaved, and will reflect well on the Ravenel name — like a mom, or a bang maid.

We then have our compulsory morning wake-up montage and find Austen enjoying a bowl of cereal because he’s gotta have them Pops. Chelsea calls, and we see that Austen has saved her in his phone as “Dream Girl.” This is very sweet. The show unfortunately misses the opportunity to have the narration say, “This dream relationship is about to turn into a nightmare” — a misstep that I’m sure led to massive layoffs in the Bravo writers’ room. The only greater sin in reality television than missing a forced voiceover pun is when a cameraman fails to capture the moment a drink is hurled in someone’s face. This is of course a fireable offense.

So Austen picks Chelsea up for what we learn will be her first polo match. She confesses that the only thing she knows about polo is what she saw in Pretty Woman, which means Chelsea expects Jason Alexander to offer her money for sex.

Chelsea then admits to Austen that she and Shep had a brief “makeout sesh.” Austen, who miraculously refrains from driving his car into a ravine, says that Shep makes out with everyone. He’s very European in that way. That’s just how Shep says hello.

Back at the polo match, Cameran hands Whitney a baby against his will. Whitney holds the baby like he just arrived on earth. Seriously, Whitney being an alien would explain so much. He dresses and behaves like someone who learned about our culture from television waves that took decades to reach his home world.

‘Klaatu barada nikto’ - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • ‘Klaatu barada nikto’

“Ah yes, your younglings are considered most treasured in their pupal stage. I will communicate this back to the mother planet,” Whitney says.

It is slowly revealed throughout this episode that no one actually understands the rules of polo. It’s a real emperor’s new clothes situation, with the cast just looking on as people ride horses. To the best of my understanding, polo is like golf mixed with soccer if all the players were afraid of the ground and loved mallets.

It’s finally the point of the polo match where everyone stops pretending to watch the game and gets some food. Chelsea and Austen eat chicken wings seductively at one another in some strange mix of poultry and romance that I will call fowl play. Get it? It’s like foreplay, but with chicken. This is a very good joke.

Then Chelsea, in an amazing non sequitur, asks Austen to look at how long her arms are and says she could slap him from across the table. The show doesn’t show exactly what led up to this statement and I’m fine with not knowing. I want to live in a world where women brag about their wingspan before randomly threatening violence at polo matches.

‘Jordan ain’t got shit on me’ - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • ‘Jordan ain’t got shit on me’

Cameran, having already accepted the dowry on Chelsea in her fantasy marriage to Shep, grabs Whitney so the two can go run interference — because no one can diffuse sexual energy like Whitney. Whitney carries himself like someone who has had a piece of toilet paper stuck to his shoe his entire life.

Whitney, not of this earth, immediately asks Chelsea and Austen if they are enjoying a romantic moment. Chelsea responds that this is their first date, which perturbs Cameran so much that she invokes the bro code. I mean, how can Austen just step out with his best pal’s regular Saturday night thing? That is beyond the pale, fella.

Whitney then asks the happy couple “What’s going to happen afterwards?” as he adjust his human suit and radios back to his home planet that the earthlings suspect nothing. I wouldn’t be surprised if later in the episode Whitney was shown eating an unpeeled banana and harvesting plutonium to power his ship.

The polo match then takes a break or enters halftime or whatever happens and the gang stops by to check in with Thomas to see who’s winning. Landon asks Thomas to briefly explain the rules of polo to Austen and the rest of the viewing audience. Thomas starts talking about a line that shant be crossed. Or it can be crossed if the horse is going slow. It immediately becomes apparent that not even he knows the rules of polo. The whole explanation sounds like a high-schooler giving a presentation on a book they haven’t read.

“He was the greatest of Gatsbys. He was the worst of Gatsbys. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of polo,” says Thomas, hoping that everyone loses interest before he stops talking.

Thomas’ kids then roll by in a stroller shouting “Daddy” and he tells them he’ll “chat with them later” because that’s what you do with children — chat.

Craig leans in and tells Thomas to go give his daughter a kiss because she was calling for him, but Thomas “needs to focus on the game.” He dismisses everyone and asks someone off screen how big a lead they need. His guess is seven, which sounds about right. I mean, you need at least seven more polo points than the next team. That’s polo 101.

Craig really latches onto Thomas not telling his kids bye. He asks Landon and Austen to imagine a world where their fathers didn’t tell them bye on occasion. Landon gets Anime eyes and says her dad didn’t say goodbye sometimes and she turned out fine.

Anime eyes as Whitney surveils our human ways - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • Anime eyes as Whitney surveils our human ways

If I were to rank all the things my parents did that damaged me as a child, not saying goodbye would not even make the list. You know what would? The unapologetic nudity.

Craig’s complaints fall on deaf ears and he goes into the stables to talk with the horses, fed up with the petty squabbles of man like Gulliver after his time with the Houyhnhnms.

“Why the long face?” the horses jokingly ask Craig because equines are notorious for diffusing tension with humor.

“Do you sleep standing up?” Craig asks on behalf of all humanity.

It’s later revealed that Thomas’ team won the polo match 4-12, which I, without any knowledge on which to base this, will declare the largest polo victory in the history of the sport. They thought they needed seven polo point lead, but they got eight! That surely means something.

Now that polo is behind us, we turn our attention to Patricia’s house where Whitney is getting a visit from Shep. As previously mentioned, Shep’s birthday is coming up, and he’s turning 37.

Anyway, Shep and Whitney enjoy some grilled cheese sandwiches, and Whitney informs Shep about the whole deal between Chelsea and Austen. Shep nearly chokes on his grilled cheese at the news, which would probably be a fitting end. Let this be a reminder that it’s never too early to start considering which sandwich should bring your demise. This is called the Mama Cass rule.

Skipping ahead, we then turn to Chelsea and Austen’s date. Chelsea orders them both drinks and says she rode her bike so she can drink whatever she wants. Perhaps the best way to promote alternate transportation is liquor? I remember when I lived in New York plenty of people drank on the bus each morning. I have found a correlation, so causation can’t be far behind.

Chelsea then asks if she and Austen can “get to know each other” before the relationship proceeds as if this is some grand imposition. This is actually how relationships work. You don’t have to act like every person you like is in the witness protection program. Chelsea follows up this reasonable request with an increasingly bizarre series of questions: When is your birthday? Do you want to have children? How many one-night stands have you had? That escalated quickly.

Chelsea then says she needs to go home and sober up before she goes to work the next morning and cuts hair. Austen says, “Let’s go back to mine,” and makes his sexy face. This is bad.

  • Bravo Screenshot
  • Sexy face

Cutting to the next morning, Shep calls Chelsea who is in the throes of a massive hangover from the previous evening out. Shep says he needs a haircut, so we know we’re in for some interesting relationship developments.

Shep visits Chelsea for a haircut, her hands shaking as the final drops of alcohol leave her system. She asks if he is bringing a date to his upcoming birthday party, which is taking place on a boat. What a cool way to add danger to one’s special day. Shep then asks how he got the reputation as the “village bicycle.” To be honest, he’s more of the suburban moped.

Skipping ahead because it’s almost 4 a.m. and I’m still writing about this show, it’s finally time for Shep’s birthday boat party. He shows up in a pair of pants that look like a photo negative of a fancy paper towel. He then quotes Tom Wolfe. This is the type of evening we have ahead of us.

Check out expression on the guy in the hat - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • Check out expression on the guy in the hat

Whiney arrives with his date who’s dressed like a fortune teller and remarks “Tits ahoy” because that is his prime directive. I’m now captivated by the idea of an alien spy who just happens to infiltrate a group of humans least representative of the world population. My pitch is that it’d be like Alf meets Arrested Development and it’s a license to print money.

Later at the party, Shep, who is now dressed like Thurston Howell III toasts to the bourgeoisie, saying, “May we always be in it.” Little does he know that below deck the proles are dancing to Irish music and showing an aristocratic young woman the simple pleasures of the lower class. Billy Zane will not be happy.

Cameran tells Shep that Chelsea and Austen “frenched” and Shep counters that he “made out with her first.” How about we wait and see who Chelsea takes to the Sadie Hawkins dance?

Cameran advises that Shep forget about sex for a second and starts thinking about serious relationships because he is getting older. Pointing to Thomas, she asks, “Do you want to be a 55 year old man and not have shoelaces?”

The profound nature of this question is so jarring and poignant that I spend the rest of my evening breaking all the mirrors in my apartment, ashamed of my own vanity.

Meanwhile, Thomas and Whitney are later found sitting on a couch talking about what they do and do not like about a specific woman’s body who is standing nearby. Thomas says he likes thin ankles, probably because it makes it more difficult for them to escape on foot.

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Danny Glover will visit Charleston for Civil Rights Film Fest

Freedom films

Posted by Kevin Young on Thu, Apr 20, 2017 at 11:40 AM

Delta blues musicians Skip James and Son House are the subject of Two Trains Runnin’ documentary - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Delta blues musicians Skip James and Son House are the subject of Two Trains Runnin’ documentary
Like all art mediums, film is ripe with multiple genres. When it comes to pure escapism, we have a litany of films and genres to choose from. We will always have car chases, star-crossed lovers, and super humans saving the world but there are films, usually dramas and documentaries, out there that are more intent on facing the truths we can’t escape. Unless guised in a smart horror film like Jordan Peele’s Get Out, race and race relations films have always been bitter pills that many audiences prefer to ingest at home than in public. The first time I watched Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing it was in 1990 and that was at home. The press at the time warned of potential riots in the theater, particularly if you were a white audience member. When The New Yorker’s David Denby wrote, “The end of this movie is a shambles, and if some audiences go wild, he’s [Lee] partly responsible.” In his 1989 review, Denby essentially said stay away if you prefer living. His words, and others of its ilk, worked on most white audiences. It’s hard to believe that was nearly 30 years ago. That such paranoia peddling could work on keeping people away from a film that was as much about opening dialogue is mystifying. More mystifying is that it still works to this day. That whole unwillingness-to-open-a-dialogue thing should change.

Jon Hale, a professor of education and history at the College of Charleston, and Benjamin Hedin, accomplished scholar on the civil rights movement would obviously like to be a part of that change. Their mission statement adorns the bottom of the festival’s website: “Celebrating film’s power to shape and inspire social change.” With sponsorships by South Carolina Humanities, The College Of Charleston, Avalon Films and International African American Museum, the Charleston Civil Rights Film Festival, in its first year, will showcase shorts, features, and documentaries that explore the long history of the freedom struggle in America as well as engaging with the community to promote fresh approaches to activism.

The festival will take place over the course of three days, starting this Thursday evening with the American Theater’s screening of the documentary Scarred Justice: The Orangeburg Massacre, 1968 followed by a discussion with director Judy Richardson and College Of Charleston historian Mari N. Crabtree.

While there will be premieres of Stanley Nelson’s documentary Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and a shorts program consisting of Redemption Song, The Barber from Birmingham, and I Am a Man, there will be a master workshop with award-winning producers and directors Benjamin Hedin and Tim Fennell at the College Of Charleston as well as a public workshop devoted to using film and social media at Burke High School.

One film of personal interest is Two Trains Runnin’, Sam Pollard’s documentary. Narrated by Common, and featuring the music of Gary Clark Jr., Pollard’s film, taking place during the height of the American civil rights movement, is about the search for two forgotten Delta blues singers, Skip James and Son House throughout the backroads of Mississippi. The film Slate magazine’s Clayton Dillard, has been called a film that “teeters on reaching a higher plane of meaning simply through the efficiency of its information” achieves it’s goals of detailing the film’s two threads via interviews, archival footage, and animated reenactments.
Danny Glover will speak after the screening of "Freedom Song" - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Danny Glover will speak after the screening of "Freedom Song"

On the advisory board, one name will stand out to mainstream film audiences, Danny Glover. The man known to most of today’s audiences as Albert from Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple adaptation and Roger Murtaugh in the Lethal Weapon film series, will be in attendance after a Saturday Night Burke High School screening of Freedom Song, a 2000 film, starring and produced by Glover. Based on true stories of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi, Freedom Song details a young man, Owen Walker (Vicellous Reon Shannon), as he attempts to break the cycle of segregation much to the consternation of his father (Glover). The film will close out the festival with an introduction by Mayor John Tecklenburg while Glover, International African American Museum CEO Michael Moore, and civil rights activists Dave Dennis and Judy Richardson will lead a discussion afterwards.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Confessions of a Southern Charm Newbie: Talking Points

Season 4, Episode 3

Posted by Dustin Waters on Tue, Apr 18, 2017 at 2:00 PM

My WiFi was really crappy this week, so all the screenshots look a little rough - BRAVO TV SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo TV Screenshot
  • My WiFi was really crappy this week, so all the screenshots look a little rough

Hey everybody. This week we’re going to talk about communication. In writing about a show where 98 percent of what happens is one-on-one conversations and the other 2 percent is b-roll footage of carriage horses, it’s a wonder we haven’t looked at this before.

We start this week’s episode with Cameran and Chelsea paying a visit to their personal trainer. Cameran claims that she basically lives off of gas station food. The show then cuts to her enjoying food at a bunch of places that aren’t gas stations. As someone who actually subsists off of gas station food, let me say that it is much less glamorous than Southern Charm makes it.

For anyone who has ever wondered what it’s like to maintain the diet of a self-destructive trucker, just think of your digestive tract like the violent ecosystem of a fledgling alien planet. If you plan to ignore the microwave instructions on a frozen cheeseburger, make sure you consume enough Red Bull and Yellow Jackets to kill any bacteria that might try to bring you down. Now back to the gym.

Chelsea, who closed out the last episode enjoying a nice evening out with Shep, says that they spent the night together. Apparently, Shep messaged Cameran the morning after, giddy as a schoolgirl. Chelsea clarifies that she and Shep kept their clothes on, which means they participated in the awkward discomfort of sharing a sleep space without the brief distraction of carnal bliss.

Cameran says that Shep and Chelsea spending the night together is just one step forward in her grand plan for them to be soulmates. Wouldn’t that be pre-ordained? Not to be some romantic Calvinist, but do soulmates begin at conception? I mean, we all know that identical twins have to share a soul. Learned that in Sunday school — one divided by two equals eternal damnation. But what’s the divine math for couples who all their friends agree would be perfect together?

Anyway, the next thing we see is Craig golf-carting it on over to lunch with Landon. They quickly share a laugh about the word charcuterie because they are both cartoon mice.

‘Squee, squee, squee’ - BRAVO TV SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo TV Screenshot
  • ‘Squee, squee, squee’

Craig tells Landon that he wants to become independently wealthy so that he can travel the world and help people. The mental gymnastics required to judge this sentence are baffling. Is this a good thing to want? I mean, it’s not bad, but ... what? He wants to be rich, but mainly so he can help people. It’s the philanthropic equivalent of watching a snake eat its own tail.

Craig gets a call from Naomie who asks if he’s taking care of all his chores in preparation for the charity fundraiser they are organizing. No, he is not. He’s having a beer and eating a wooden board full of meats and cheeses.

‘We are doing very little right now and it is glorious’ - BRAVO TV SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo TV Screenshot
  • ‘We are doing very little right now and it is glorious’

“Did you get all of your stuff done?” Naomie asks. Was his to-do list just a note with the words “Not a damn thing” written on it? If so, mission accomplished.

We then turn things over to Shep who is on the phone with his mom. She asks if he received the dopp kit she sent. He has, but he immediately warns her that he will probably lose it on his upcoming trip. America is literally littered with thoughtful gifts that Shep has left behind. He sheds useful items like a bird loses feathers. Shep is the person you let hold the map in a disaster movie.

The next chunk of this week’s episode cuts back and forth between the dual meetings between Landon and Craig and Shep and Naomie. They are each talking about each other, but they refuse to talk to each other about it. Naomie is annoyed with Craig for not being on top of his fundraiser duties. Shep is annoyed with Landon and Craig for not taking his business advice. And Landon and Craig are upset with Shep for criticizing their life choices. So how does that fit into our theme of communication?

What Southern Charm manages to do during this little series of scenes is show that each of these characters has a much easier time expressing how they actually feel about someone else when speaking to someone who is equally as pissed off at that person. This is because a mutual hate is a much stronger and legitimate bond than a shared affection.

For example, the fundraiser is portrayed as less of an opportunity for Craig to do good and more of a showcase of how he keeps ignoring his responsibilities. This allows Shep and Naomie to commiserate over how he should just do exactly what they both say all the time. To put this into more general terms, let’s say you went to your coworkers and announced, “Hey team, I’ve worked really hard for the past 15 years. It cost me my family, but I finally got that raise.”

Everyone would hate you. But if you said, “Jimmy crapped his pants in the break room and tried to lie about it,” well, you’d be the office hero.

Returning to a land where offices don’t exist, we find Patricia gearing up for her vacation. She is, of course, dressed like a butterfly as drawn by Botticelli.

Michael, Patricia’s trusty butler, is on vacation — likely breaking up an international spy ring or rescuing the world’s uranium supply from the wrong hands. I tell myself many lies to get by day after day, and Michael engaging in sword fights on the wing of a biplane over Malta is one of them.

Patricia, meanwhile, discusses how her pug is getting fat, and she jokes about inventing Spanx for dogs. We all can’t be slutty little greyhounds, Patricia.

We then find Kathryn visiting a local modeling agent, because you thought overweight dogs had it tough. Kathryn says she’s been modeling since the age of 14 and she’s ready to get back in the game. Kathryn shows off a few pictures from her previous modeling jobs and the talent scout informs Kathryn that “You’re older than you were then.” This statement, interestingly enough, is true of every photo ever taken.

‘Everything I am saying is perfectly OK and is in no way deplorable. See my face? My globe? My clock?’ - BRAVO TV SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo TV Screenshot
  • ‘Everything I am saying is perfectly OK and is in no way deplorable. See my face? My globe? My clock?’

The scout, hungry for the fresh blood of the innocent, asks if either of Kathryn’s children might be capable of modeling with her. Kathryn has apparently passed a drug test, so she can once again see her children, but all visits must be supervised. Kathryn says she would love to model with our kids, so here we have another example of people unable to communicate what they really mean because of various factors. The modeling agent understands that the parameters of her industry that require her to literally inform Kathryn that she has aged are also the ugliest parts of our society. This doesn’t make her a bad person — just a shrewd businesswoman. So she has to utilize some verbal jiu jitsu to express the truth of the situation.

Over at Thomas’ house, Landon is paying a visit to talk business, as well. Thomas offers her a drink with his monogrammed cocktail napkins that read TRAV because he is the Platonic ideal of a modern nightmare. Thomas reveals that he wants Landon to help promote his upcoming polo match, but the subtext is that he wants to rekindle whatever relationship they previously shared. The amount of overlap between the professional and romantic realms on this show is interesting, but in all the wrong ways.

Back at Craig and Naomie’s house, the dutiful couple are gearing up for the big fundraiser. Craig insures Naomie that his mere presence is enough to disarm any potential crisis because he is immune to the crueler strains of life. After society collapses, Craig will roam the wasteland as some sort of I Am Legend protagonist, believing that we are all the obvious villains to his oblivious boogeyman. Craig then compares Shep to an abusive husband because all violent men invite their battered wives to the batting cages to ask why they didn’t take the Bar exam. But here’s where things get horrifying.

Thomas, ready to meet up with his pals for a night out on the town, runs into his neighbor — a young woman. Shep, Austen, and their friend Walker arrive. Walker by the way has the most beautiful head of hair. He looks like if three-fifths of the band Alabama decided to have a baby together.

If you’re gonna play in Texas - BRAVO TV SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo TV Screenshot
  • If you’re gonna play in Texas

Thomas indicates that he has had sexual relations of some sort with his neighbor friend. Shep says he also slept with her. Thomas says “there’s a lot of cross pollination in this town” because talking like an apiarist is much easier than being literal and gross.

Shep boasts that he once introduced himself to a woman who he had sex with the night before. Again, this isn’t a confession, like “Guys, I really failed humanity. You’ll never guess my most recent faux pas.”

Walker says Shep should keep his conquests logged in his phone, and Shep says that when he started they didn’t even have phones, which makes me think that Shep has been taking advantage of women since the 1870s. Alexander Graham Bell shouted, “Watson, come here! I want to see you!” into a receiver and Shep replied, “Who dis?”

Anyway, this scene offers up an interesting look into how a considerable portion of men speak when they are around other men. As far as communication is concerned, this is it at its most basic. It shows the blunt honesty and one-upmanship that occurs when a group of men decide to speak freely. It stands in stark contrast to the other exchanges we’ve seen this episode. Everyone else has taken steps to ensure that they don’t accurately communicate their most base desires. In this situation, it’s become a contest.

Back at the bar, Whitney arrives and then two of Shep’s lady friends show up — Daisy and Bree. Austen opens with the line, “Bree, like the cheese I love so much?” This is super cool. Yeah, you called her a cheese, but it’s the cheese you love. Game over, Cyrano de Bergerac. Wait in the shadows no longer. She’s all yours.

After everyone makes out with everyone else while the rest of the group looks on — yes, like a high school dance — Shep finally cuts things off so he can catch his flight to the wedding he is sworn to attend.

With the big fundraiser upon us, Cameran visits Whitney at Patricia’s empty home. Whitney yells at some barking dogs and asks them “Is this necessary?” because he is Tom Cruise’s character from Magnolia.

Hopping over to the Craig and Naomie’s, Craig is still wrestling with the printer trying to prepare everything that is necessary for the fundraiser. As Naomie awaits the beginning of the event, she begins to speak French with her parents and discuss how Craig has disappointed her. Naomie’s mother says that’s just how men are as the episode drifts into some Sartre-grade French existentialism because “Hell is other people organizing a fundraiser.”

The cow rug and bowl of turf say feed the printer paper - BRAVO TV SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo TV Screenshot
  • The cow rug and bowl of turf say feed the printer paper

Meanwhile, Landon arrives at the charity gala, and someone asks about her relationship with Drew, the bulky young man she’s been stringing along. Landon says she’s not really sure if he has a real job and backs that up with a picture of a fish he caught. It’s a pretty big fish. Landon has said she doesn’t need tough love, she just needs love. But love, for some men, is sending you a picture of a fish they caught. You couldn’t get a more honest confession of affection if you pressed a steaming coat hanger to a man’s inner thigh. I believe it was Pablo Neruda who wrote that.

‘You’re my best catch’ - BRAVO TV SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo TV Screenshot
  • ‘You’re my best catch’

We soon learn that the auction went well, in spite of Craig not doing what he was supposed to do to ensure that happened. Again, Craig proves that doing whatever you want works out as long as you’re Craig.

We then direct our attention to the corner of the bar where Austen and Chelsea are talking. Chelsea asks Austen what his type is — meaning his type of suitable mate. And he begins to describe her physical attributes. It turns out Chelsea and I are the same height. So maybe Austen and I could finally be together. Chelsea is touched that Austen has offered to pick her up “like a gentleman” for the upcoming polo match or whatever. They trade digits, and the preview of next week’s episode rolls.

We’ll see how honest everyone gets in the coming weeks, but at least we got this breather leading up to the inevitable storm.

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Friday, April 14, 2017

The ACLU of South Carolina and Democracy Moves screen 'Tickling Giants' at CofC next week

Comedic dissent

Posted by Mary Scott Hardaway on Fri, Apr 14, 2017 at 2:02 PM

  • Provided
Often described as the Jon Stewart of Egypt, political satirist Bassem Youssef possesses the wit and acumen of Stewart, but his now cancelled show Al Bernameg was aired in a much higher stakes environment. So high stakes that Youssef had to flee the country after receiving numerous death threats and a court case against him.

Al Bernameg reeled in a whopping 30 million viewers per episode. Compare that to the numbers for Jon Stewart's Daily Show finale: 5.1 million. The surgeon-turned-comedian's controversial show challenged Islamists and the military regime that took over the country, curating an immense fan base and equally immense base of opposition. Tickling Giants is a documentary following Youssef and his team as they attempt to keep their show on the air.

The ACLU of South Carolina and Democracy Moves host a free screening of the documentary Wed. April 19, 7-10 p.m. at the College of Charleston Stern Student Ballroom. A panelist discussion follows the screening with panelists Susan Dunn, director of the SC ACLU; May Hamdy Barr, board member of Grand Strand Action Together; John Creed, associate professor of political science at CofC.

Location Details Stern Center
71 George St.
Charleston, South Carolina
General Location

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Confessions of a Southern Charm Newbie: Influencer by Birth

Season 4, Episode 2

Posted by Dustin Waters on Tue, Apr 11, 2017 at 2:00 PM

There are known knowns and known unknowns - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • There are known knowns and known unknowns
Hey everybody, I’d like to start out this week’s column by addressing some interesting allegations made in the comments on last week’s Southern Charm recap. I first noticed these claims last season, but I’d finally like to discuss on some of the talk that’s being bandied about.

Ya see, when new episodes of Southern Charm start up and we begin writing about the show, someone inevitably claims that we are being paid to promote the program. Well folks, sadly the truth is much darker than anyone could have imagined.

I, like other Southern Charm recappers, was grown in the laboratories of NBC Universal. We were raised in Bravo’s content mines, pumping out listicles and hot-takes for 16 hours a day. Today, this is known as an internship.

But we Southern Charm recappers fared better than most. The cancellation of Caroline in the City in 1999 left many of us despondent, hopelessly awaiting the inevitable Y2K disaster. Some were forced to make the violent transition from The John Larroquette Show directly into The Jeff Foxworthy Show, shattering their minds. And then, none of us saw the cancellation of NBC’s greatest television sitcom, 2010’s 100 Questions. Bold in their aspirations, the creators wanted each episode to focus on one of those 100 questions designed to help a woman find Mr. Right. The show only made it to question six, but it still has one of the best theme songs ever created.

It would be four years after 100 Questions’ cancellation before Southern Charm made its debut. Bred only to produce content, my brethren and I gladly returned to our keyboards. So, no — we are not paid to promote Southern Charm. It is a birthright that few share. Now to this week’s show.

We open the second episode of this season with Southern Charm’s favorite method of beginning the show — the wacky morning wake-up montage. And this one’s got it all: Cameron is performing her morning ablutions. Shep is calling his mom. And Craig is playing with a kitten in bed, because he won the lottery when it comes to being alive.
We then stop off at Thomas’ house as his pal Whitney pays him a visit. Whitney is dressed in a long khaki trench coat with studded epaulets like he’s auditioning as an extra in Escape from New York. Of all the small, little absurdities that litter this show, Whitney’s willingness to dress like a blade runner is perhaps my favorite.
In the director’s cut of this episode, we find out that Whitney is a replicant - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • In the director’s cut of this episode, we find out that Whitney is a replicant
Whitney’s big news is that he has recently broken off a long-distance relationship and is ready to go out tomcattin’. Thomas advises Whitney to really throw himself into the single lifestyle and “close deals on-site.” Whitney, being of sound mind, asks Thomas to explain exactly what he means by this. Let’s pause here and throw out a few ideas about just how disgusting what Thomas is saying actually is.

Giving him the benefit of the doubt, “close deals” could mean getting a nice lady to provide her contact information or agree to wear your class ring. Those are all fine things to suggest. Men can pursue romantic relationships with women without describing them like game animals or business exchanges, right? Of course, as with most things Thomas says, it’s best to assume the worst.

Thomas doubles down on his previous comment, encouraging Whitney — a man he seems to consider a friend — to have sex in public bathrooms. Not just once or twice, but, like, all the time. This is great because what better way to disrespect as many people as possible at once and turn your body into a cauldron of disease? Maybe Thomas is just a big James Joyce fan and likes to conflate weird bathroom stuff and sexual arousal. Or maybe the best way to enjoy an intimate exchange with another person is in the humid, crampness of a bus station restroom, your passionate moans muffled by the sound of frustrated bowel movements, flushing toilets, and the roar of hand dryers. Yes, this is really the best way to celebrate the single life.

We then have the season’s first chat with Kathryn, who has started down the path to reclaiming partial custody of her kids by passing a drug test. She meets up with Danni, a human woman who leaves no distinct impression. Danni asks “How’s life?” which is a question no one has asked and expected to hear good news. If Nietzsche was alive today, he’d have “How’s life” tattooed across his knuckles because it is the most nihilistic question one can pose.
This is the ‘How’s life?’ face - SCREENSHOT
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  • This is the ‘How’s life?’ face
Meanwhile, Cameran visits a woman called Snowden who has just delivered a baby. This is interesting because last season Cameran vacillated not so much on whether she wants a baby, but rather worried that something is wrong with her for not wanting to have a baby. This is perhaps the most interesting narrative thread on Southern Charm. Not the fights and parties, but one successful woman’s struggle to reconcile her actual wishes with what the world is constantly telling her she should want.

The show continues to display how everyone around Cameran chips away at her decision not to be a parent. She tells the camera that she doesn’t want a baby, just a dog. Then we see someone hand Cameran a newborn and ask how long before she has one of her own. No one is being malicious. This is apparently just how societal pressures manifest. While Cameran tries to navigate that minefield, Shep and Craig head to the batting cages.

It’s been a while since the two old pals have had a talk, but it’s finally time the pair discussed Craig’s subterfuge related to the whole law school thing. If I’m following this Talented Mr. Ripley scenario correctly, Craig never finished his final book report to earn his law degree, or something like that. This didn’t stop Craig from sending a fake application to the Bar exam to appease Shep. This is all very complicated, but one thing is certain — Shep is a helmet guy. Maybe Shep should always wear a helmet. It really suits him.
‘Guys, I finally have an excuse to hold my phone like this when we talk — helmet.’
  • ‘Guys, I finally have an excuse to hold my phone like this when we talk — helmet.’
Anyway, Shep spends about 30 minutes going yard in an empty warehouse full of batting cages until Craig finally arrives with a massive swollen eye. It turns out he’s allergic to that cat that he slept next to, but he’ll get no sympathy from Shep, who is ready to have some real talk about Craig’s law school deception. Shep jokes that maybe Craig has a secret family in Utah and that his name may not even be Craig. This is a pretty funny joke, and I’m a little annoyed that I didn’t make it. Maybe Southern Charm is going to borrow a page from the last rap battle in 8 Mile and start making fun of itself so that others can’t.

Back to the farce surrounding Craig’s fake Bar exam application, did he seriously not expect people to ask him about being a lawyer? Like, that’s something people might be curious about. Was he just going to put on a suit and tie every day and go sit in the park until it was time to quit pretending to be a lawyer?

“How was court today?” someone would ask.

“Attorney-client privilege,” Craig shouts in response as his briefcase busts open to reveal stacks of Wendy’s placemats instead of legal documents.

Later in the episode, we join Shep as he introduces his new No. 1 pal, Austen, to Whitney. Whitney is like Bruce Wayne if his childhood had been pretty OK. He has traded in his khaki trench coat for a black duster, so he looks like one of the Lost Boys if they kept aging. The three talk about how good they are at getting women to sleep with them and then laugh like this.
‘We gross!’ - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • ‘We gross!’
Shep says he has a date planned with Cameran’s friend Chelsea, who we’ll talk about later. We then cut away to Austen telling the camera that Shep is not allowed to meet his sister, and he threatens castrate Shep to protect his sister’s virtue. OK, man. Cool talk, I guess. We’re just going to maintain eye contact as we slowly back out of the room. Pay no mind to the screams for help once we clear your eyeline.

Shep and Whitney then talk about the weird love triangle between Thomas, Landon, and Kathryn from last season. Shep ultimately dismisses the whole thing by declaring “This is America — people fuck,” which is a campaign slogan waiting to happen. Meanwhile, Austen just kind of stares off into the distance until the discussion turns back to his thoughts on genital mutilation.

The big event that will anchor this week’s episode is the unveiling of Landon’s travel website. Shep reveals that a few fellow entrepreneurs recently told him about an unsuccessful business lunch they had with Landon, during which she said she doesn’t have lunch with millionaires — she has lunch with billionaires. This is a fascinating brag because it in no way elevates your own standing. It’s like going to a job interview and saying “My mailman drives a Volvo — just like Kurt Cobain.”

Back at Craig and Naomie’s home, the couple sits down to recount their day. Naomie is working hard to earn her master’s degree and admits that she has no idea what Craig does all day. This comment is followed by a wonderful montage of Craig’s day, which included, gardening — with the cat positioned proudly in his wheelbarrow, watching the cat clean itself, and preparing dinner as the cat sat on the kitchen counter spreading as much dander as possible.
‘You are the only thing in this world that understands me, you angry, selfish bastard’ - SCREENSHOT
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  • ‘You are the only thing in this world that understands me, you angry, selfish bastard’
Now, I totally understand this lifestyle. I was very unemployed when I first moved to Charleston, and I spent a lot of time hanging out with a cat. Together, we would bitterly look out of our apartment window at all the tourists passing by — their pristine image of Charleston spoiled by a man and a cat bitterly peering down as I ate mustard sandwiches. In fact, Nathan the Cat just celebrated his birthday. Happy birthday, buddy. You have no concept of mortality.

Now we get to the launch party for Landon’s travel website, ROAM. We see our cast members getting dressed and entering the party.

I’m no businessman, but are your friends really the best group to look to for honest feedback on your digital enterprise? It’s either going to result in feeble praise or hurt feelings. I remember when I provided honest criticism to my former friend John Napster, the founder of Google. The fledgling entrepreneur hit me in the face with a keyboard. That’s why to this day I still use AltaVista.

Back at the party, Cameran asks Landon and her studly beau Drew if they “are a thing.” Landon deftly defuses the situation by joking “Yeah, we’re having 10,000 babies.”

“I don’t have babies with millionaires. I have babies with billionaires” would have also been another cool comeback. “I have billion dollar babies. Whatevs.”

Whitney then shows up with a woman who he introduces as his “escort,” which is not a good way to introduce anyone, ever. Whitney’s friend is wearing long black ballroom gloves like she’s expecting this to be a murder mystery dinner party. She begins charming the room by mocking Cameran’s Southern accent, which is horrible. She then redeems herself by asking Shep about his name, which he explains is “like Shepherd’s pie.”
‘I majored in theater’ - SCREENSHOT
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  • ‘I majored in theater’
While Shep is comparing himself to a meat pie, some dude starts flirting with Cameran’s friend Chelsea. Cameran pulls Shep aside and instructs him to “lay claim” to her pal. Why do we keep describing relationships with women like real estate exchanges?

“Oh, last night turned into a real Seward’s Folly, if you know what I mean.” No. Stop it.
Shep, a true feminist, tells Cameran that they should let Chelsea make her own decision about which suitor best suits her. Rising through the drunken scrum as a voice of reason, Shep then decides to talk business with Landon. Shep advises humility and patience in the tech industry. Landon denies her whole millionaire/billionaire dining preference and refuses to accept any criticism or advice from Shep. Oddly, Shep is holding an arrow throughout this entire conversation.

The episode ends with Chelsea and Shep’s first date, which also happens to involve Cameran. Shep opens things up by saying “Let’s just get drunk.” Interestingly enough, this is exactly what Watson said to Crick about 12 drinks before they discovered the double helix.

We’ll have to wait until next week to see how the date went, but you can leave your guesses in the comments. Here are few possible scenarios:

Austen kicks in the door of the restaurant where Shep and Chelsea are eating. He shouts “Defiler!” at Shep and lunges at his privates.

Thomas shows up and tells the two that the changing tables in the bathroom are great for boning.

Shep and Chelsea are moved to another table as Landon and a squadron of hungry billionaires arrive for dinner.

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