Friday, June 22, 2018

Confessions of a Southern Charm Newbie: Breast milk shots and caviar dreams


Posted by Dustin Waters on Fri, Jun 22, 2018 at 2:02 PM

It kind of tastes like coconut milk. - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • It kind of tastes like coconut milk.
I am going to be honest with you. I thought this was the season finale of Southern Charm. I had a whole intro prepared. I thought it was a 12-episode order this season, but no. I was wrong. This season may never end. I may eventually sit with greasy unkempt gray hair and long fingernails dragging the ground writing about episode 463 of Southern Charm season 5. If that be the case, I'm glad to have you here with me. I couldn't – or wouldn't get paid – to do it without you.

So this episode starts off in the normal fashion, with a quick montage of each cast member's morning routine, but everything is just slightly off. Naomie is at a kickboxing class where everything is lit with black lights. In a bit of foreshadowing, we see her call Kathryn only to receive no answer. Chelsea, meanwhile, is chatting with Cameran about how her breasts are dealing with her newfound motherhood. Over at Thomas' house, he is shoving his face into a sink full of water. This is either a quick way to wake himself up or the only way he can temporarily shut out the rest of the world he shares with his new girlfriend Ashley.

Following back up on the absent Kathryn, Naomie reaches out to Danni and Shep to see if they know Kathryn's whereabouts. No one has seen her, but Shep offers up two possibilities: Either Kathryn has fallen off the wagon or her chronically shattered phone screen has finally cut her off from all outside communications. I would like to point out that at this point the only sign that there is something wrong with Kathryn is that she missed an early morning kickboxing class, which seems like the right decision.
‘This is the hate light. Under this light we do pain.’ - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • ‘This is the hate light. Under this light we do pain.’
Moving on, we join Shep and Austen for lunch. I am shocked that when the bartender goes to take Austen's order, he doesn't pull out a Ziploc bag of his own beer and say, “Can I borrow a straw?”

Shep and Austen then discuss how well the launch party for his beer went. Who can believe that Austen gathering his closest friends and family to drink free beer went off without any complaints? Shep then asks how much money Austen needs to get his beer business off the ground. We are treated to a short scene in which Austen tells his parents that he'll need around $25,000 to get started. His mother says they want to invest, so that's good, I guess. If you'll recall, rather than beginning working out of a garage to carefully craft his formula, Austen paid an actual brewery $400 to make his beer for him. As far as great success stories go, Austen asking a brewer if he can Venmo him a down payment will surely rank up there with other rags-to-riches tales. At this point, I would like to invite you all to invest in me not getting beaten with a sock full of nickels by my credit card company. The ROI is me not setting up a GoFundMe to “realize my vision” of buying groceries.

In another high point of his lunch with Shep, Austen reveals that his girlfriend threw a drink in his face after she became rightfully upset about his enthusiastic embrace of Chelsea at the beer launch party. Austen responded by blocking his now-ex-girlfriend on his phone and going on some long diatribe about trust. As a counterpoint, Austen is tall, so there's a lot there for you to work with, ladies.

Over at Patricia's house, we get a visit from Ashley. One thing I've noticed about Ashley is that she always greets everyone like they just rescued her from a desert island. There's just a very forced, unnatural look of desperation that stretches across her face that never seems warranted. It'd be like if every time you walked into someone's home, you ripped out a lock of your hair and presented it to them at the front door. Then I remember that she's probably just happy that Thomas isn't around.

I imagine that after being around Thomas for an extended period of time, not being around Thomas must feel like a break from being waterboarded. I say this having had a few phone interviews with Thomas that he wouldn't let end. He just kept lecturing for long periods of time without any hint of real humor. Kind of like an episode of Westworld. Really, it’s a fine show, but damn is it boring. I feel like elementary school children should write condolence letters for anyone who has to interact with Thomas Ravenel. He is the Goofus of our times.

Back at Patricia's, she senses that Ashley's throat is a bit scratchy and orders up a hot toddy because Patricia is Buck Strickland from King of the Hill. Ashley then begins to vent about her deteriorating relationship with Thomas. Patricia offers up some wisdom on Thomas. Her first lesson is that “Men don't change,” which seems like she's going in the right direction as far as Thomas is concerned, but then things quickly fall apart.
‘Please help me. I’ve made an incredible mistake.’ - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • ‘Please help me. I’ve made an incredible mistake.’
Patricia recommends that Ashley just keep her mouth shut and go along with whatever Thomas wants. Patricia shares her mother's favorite expression: “Just lie back and think of England.” Jeez. Does Patricia watch A Handmaid's Tale with a sense of nostalgia? Patricia explains that security is more important than happiness, which I believe is the moral from “The Yellow Wallpaper.” I know suggesting that women in relationships with men should be happy seems like part of my radical feminist agenda, but really it's just a good way not to get your penis cut off and tossed from a speeding car. I know as far as life advice goes, it's no “Be the change you want to see in the world,” but if more guys treated other people like they didn't want to get their dicks chopped off, the world would be a better place.

Moving on, we find Naomie stopping by Chelsea's house with two mason jars full of beet juice for them to choke down. Cool. Cool snack, Naomie. Maybe next we can lick stamps for dessert.

Anyway, Naomie is still concerned about Kathryn, but the conversation quickly turns to how Craig is an anti-vaxxer. How has this not come up before?

Apparently, Cameran wants everyone to get a flu shot before visiting her baby. Craig refuses because he thinks that this “crazy government shot” would cause him to walk backwards for the rest of his life. Why Craig's conspiracy theories haven't been the entire focus of this show baffles me. Picture this: Craig seated at a desk, going on lengthy, Spalding Gray-style monologues about how chemtrails are controlling the weather and Mr. Rogers was a prolific sniper or whatever. Maybe we should consult Craig about whether Kathryn's disappearance is linked to her role as a crisis actor for the Lizard People.

Since life is a never-ending series of lunches, we then catch up with Cameran, Shep, and Whitney. Luckily for us all, Cameran brought some fresh breast milk with her for everyone to try. Knowing her audience, Cameran serves up her personal blend in a shot glass. Whitney immediately spits it out, but Shep approves of Cameran's milk.

I imagine a future where Cameran's milk becomes wildly successful, while Austen's beer slowly spoils in a warehouse somewhere. If you've never sampled your friend's breast milk, you're really missing out. It's not great, but would you really want it to be? Do you really want to spend the rest of your life cruising Craigslist to get your human milk fix?

Moving on, we see Craig meeting up with Warren, his friend from law school. As they catch up, we learn that Warren's child will soon be turning one and his law practice is going well. Meanwhile, Craig badly injured his hand with a butterknife and he is a threat to our herd immunity. Craig scoffs at the idea of working for someone else and explains that he is a “pillow seamstress.”

Warren shoots down Craig's pillow designs for Patricia, which Craig apparently cobbled together out of Clip art. Craig shrugs this off, saying that Warren isn't his target audience. He then declares, “I'm a straight male who loves to sew and make pillows.” Good for you, Craig. It's kind of weird that you felt the need to stress the whole “straight male” thing, but you do whatever makes you happy. Or, like most of us, do whatever briefly distracts you from the misery and dread that surrounds us each and every day. Also, affording food and shelter. Has anyone else noticed that it's really difficult to house yourself, while Craig languishes over pillow designs? Do a surprising number of people on this show not have day jobs? Oh wait, they are on a TV show.
After Kathryn misses a couple days of work, Danni and Naomie try to bust up into her apartment. Naomie tries and fails to pick a lock with a bobby pin before they contact the property manager. Following a quick check, the property manager reports that Kathryn is alive and inside her home, although she still refuses to open the door for her friends.

Briefly stopping by Craig's cry-for-help of a home, we see him summoned to Patricia's house for a bit of – wait for it – pillow talk. Bam. That's it, y'all. That's the type of rapier wit that earns me the big bucks.
This is haunting. - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • This is haunting.
After three hours of manically Photoshopping collages of dogs, Craig finally arrives at Patricia's house. With time running out on their production schedule, Patricia asks to see Craig's proposed pillow designs. She soon learns that Craig's designs were made from pre-existing art he found online. Oh no, Craig.

Patricia calmly explains that these designs have to be wholly original. Craig tries to excuse his lack of follow through by saying he didn't know the designs had to be finalized this soon. Remember that Craig was originally told he had two weeks to complete a design. Since Southern Charm episodes largely exist outside of time, it's shocking to learn that he's been working on these designs for two months. Wow.

Patricia tells Craig that time has run out on her offer, and he walks to his car swearing. The interesting thing about Craig's massive failure is that there likely won't be any real repercussions. As we've seen with Austen's beer launch, expectations in the world of Southern Charm are so low that simply doing anything is hailed as a major accomplishment. You don't have to excel, just follow through on what you said you'd do. This is pretty much like instead of patting your kid on the head for getting straight A's, you praise them for simply remembering to bring home their report card.

Moving on, it is a full-on lady party at Naomie's house. Cameran shows up, and the conversation immediately turns to her selling her breast milk online. Then, as the hired masseuse works on Cameran's hands, they play my favorite game. Let me explain.

Following any trip or major event, I like to ask people two simple questions: What was your favorite part about the [trip, evening, whatever]? What was your least favorite part?

One important part of this is putting the right inflection on the questions. You have to say it in a singsong fashion, with a heavy stress on the “fav” in “favorite.” For example, “What was your “FAAA-vorite part about the trip?”

This game comes from when I was in elementary school. Since my parents worked, I'd stay at school until at least 6 p.m. each day until someone got off work to pick me up. At a certain point, my mom, who worked at the DMV, would always ask me “What good happened to you today?” and “What bad happened?” I think she read it in a magazine.

Anyway, Cameran's “low” or most difficult aspect of being a new parent is completely devoting your care and attention to a single person. The complete loss of any “selfishness.” The “high,” Cameran says as she bites into a chicken finger, is the unconditional love she feels for her baby. See. It's a great game.

Next, it's time to go on a horrible date with Thomas and Ashley. They both continue to interact like they can't remember who is keep who hostage. Every meal with these two is like a Mexican standoff of passive aggression. Watching them interact is like watching two people grapple for position as they both fall from a skyscraper.

Thomas and Ashley proceed to talk about how unhappy they are until Thomas retrieves a jewelry box from his coat pocket. Ashley's face lights up because she is a chicken waiting to be hypnotized. Her smile immediately fades when she realizes that Thomas purchased her a very nice bracelet instead of an engagement ring. They continue to dislike their relationship. I default to my normal relationship advice: Don't go getting your penis cut off.

As the sun rises over Charleston, we get our first glimpse of Kathryn this episode. She visits Danni to explain that she just needed a “mental break” and shut her phone off and locked her apartment. That would make sense if Kathryn's friends had not asked her property manager to enter her home to see if she was still alive. That may be the point when you text back.

We then learn that Kathryn stopped taking her depression meds. I have to say, as much hell as I give this show, there are certain moments when Southern Charm actually shares something important with its audience. This is one of those times. Kathryn voices the shame she feels regarding her medication, which is something that more people should be talking about on television. The fact that an episode of Southern Charm featuring Craig arguing against vaccinations is capped off with a legitimate depiction of prescription anxiety is remarkable.

I guess I'll see you all next week. In the meantime, take care of yourselves, take your meds if they are working for you, and try not to deserve getting castrated.

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Saturday, June 16, 2018

Confessions of a Southern Charm Newbie: Family Smatters

S5, E11

Posted by Dustin Waters on Sat, Jun 16, 2018 at 9:25 AM

While Paul Bearer waits just off screen - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • While Paul Bearer waits just off screen

A very enthusiastic hello to you all. Welcome back for a very special installment of Confessions of a Southern Charm Newbie, this week coming to you from my hometown of Macon, Ga.

What separates this week's viewing of Southern Charm from others is that instead my mother and sister were around to offer the occasional commentary on a show that they've never seen before. There's nothing quite like being able to show your family what it is you do for a living. And I'm sure asking them to DVR a reality TV show isn't too far removed from inviting them to the ribbon-cutting at your new children's hospital.

Catching back up, last week's episode featured Craig trying to convince his life coach that he's The Talented Mr. Ripley, Thomas and Ashley trying to escape a hell of their own making, and the promise that we'd soon see the unveiling of Austen's beer. And by "Austen's beer," I mean the beer that he vaguely described to an Upstate brewer, who then produced a few kegs in exchange for relatively small fee. Somehow Austen calling this "his beer" is like ordering pizza for a party and calling yourself a caterer or, let's face it, the male equivalent of childbirth. Happy Fathers' Day!

Anyway, Austen's beer premiere is the big event that this week's episode is leading up to, so maybe you should do like everyone in Austen's life and lower your expectations. Let's get started.

First, we stop by Austen's apartment as Craig arrives. Craig, who injured his pinky finger while stabbing at his wall with a butterknife, is fresh from surgery. His hand is outfitted with a large, claw-like medical device, so he looks like Mankind and Mr. Socko from the old WWF. Seriously, Craig's claw is like when you tape mittens on a baby's hands to stop it from scratching its face. Next thing we know, Craig is going to try to shove his head through the mail slot and be forced to wear one of those protective cones around his neck.

‘I’m like Jeff Dunham, except I’m not xenophobic and talented.’ - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • ‘I’m like Jeff Dunham, except I’m not xenophobic and talented.’

Ever the pal, Craig is joining Austen on the drive up to Greenville to pick up his designer beer. This presents one of the first of several conversations about how Austen's girlfriend, Victoria, will soon again see his former flame Chelsea. Both Austen and Craig dismiss Victoria's distrust of Austen and Chelsea's close relationship because it is incredibly easy not to give the least damn about someone.

Craig goes so far as to declare that women are crazy. Of course, this depends on the moon's location in the heavens, but mind you, Craig says this while wearing a large Nintendo Power Glove meant to protect him from himself. Next thing you know, we'll have to buy Craig some blinders to keep him from following a laser pointer out into traffic.

We then join Naomie and Chelsea, who have gathered at the beach to walk some dogs. Since everyone on this show is falling apart, Naomie is forced to use a garbage bag to wrap the medical boot protecting her injured foot. I'm starting to think we should cover all the sharp edges of this show in tire pieces.

What are the OSHA regulations on Southern Charm? Before it's all over, the entire cast is going to perish in a tragic Zorbing accident.

Anyway, Naomie explains how she is taking revenge against Thomas' new girlfriend Ashley by posting pictures of Thomas and Kathryn to Instagram. This is, of course, the modern-day equivalent of luring your nemesis into his soon to be living grave with a choice bottle of Amontillado.

Knowing that she hasn't meddled in enough relationships for the day, Naomie begins questioning Chelsea about her feelings for Austen. This is the point where my mother would warn "Don't let those lust demons get you," which is the sound sort of advice that has guided my romantic life.

Meeting back up with Craig and Austen, the pair have arrived in Greenville to meet back up with Tom the Brewer. Tom has on his red shirt today, which means he's really putting on a show for the unveiling of Austen's beer, which he should call "Austen Translation."

Tom the Brewer, who looks like he has a little gun rack in the back of his truck for his bloodhound, is ready to sample the beer he created for Austen. Please allow me to paint you a picture.

Austen, Craig, and Tom line up, in that order left to right, looking like the personification of 2+2=5. Really, Tom comes across as such a capable, non-ridiculous person that he may as well be standing next to two Chuck E. Cheese mascots trying to use a urinal. As he samples the beer, Austen says a bunch of nonsense that he thinks sounds knowledgeable, like "there's a nice, citrus-forward nose" to the beer. Meanwhile, Tom does the decent thing and remains quiet as he drinks. Tom owns only one movie and that is Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man. Tom is the guy that everyone's dad knows who can fix anything for $25. Tom is the guy to ask about getting that CDL license.

Back to the tasting, Austen even begins to take notes as Craig stares up at the ceiling and says, "Would it make sense if I said it was 'Woody?' Like it has wood in it."

Well hell, Austen, there's your slogan right there. "Austen's Fruity Brew: It has has wood in it."

Manly enough to let those nipples show. - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • Manly enough to let those nipples show.

Over at Cameran's house, we are treated to our first view of the place post-baby birth. Cameran's incredibly wonderful mother arrives. The first thing I notice is that she just walks in the front door, which isn't locked. Why would you not lock your door, especially when you are alone with your new baby? I know all you new mothers are riding the high of having beaten the clock on being womb-raided, but don't get too cocky. Lock the door.

At this point, my mother, having sensed a baby somewhere nearby, begins to question me about Cameran's newborn. Although I have been writing about this show for the past three seasons, dedicating much time and consideration to Cameran's decision to have a child and her pregnancy, I am completely unable to recall the baby's name, sex, and any other specific information. My mother responds without a lick of sarcasm, "Well, at least you know the birth weight?" In response to this, I stared at her for a solid five minutes, blinking cluelessly.

Returning to the show, Cameran brags about having taken her first shower in two weeks. It's comments like this that make me want to create a show where I introduce crustpunks to the perils of new motherhood and watch them wilt in their boots.

Cam's mom tries to gift some wonderful hand-me-downs, which definitely contain asbestos and lead paint. Cam refuses her mom's generosity, criticizing what is the kindest gesture ever witnessed on this show. Cameran is suddenly so concerned about safety, yet she leaves the front door unlocked for any wronged hill-woman or mystical forest creature to come in and steal her child. Hasn't she read any German fairytales?

Cameran then shares that she has an oversupply of breastmilk. Trust me when I say that within my home this led to a lengthy conversation about lactation, which I feel like happens a lot in my family. Let's just spread that around and casually talk about lactation and menses a lot around our sons. Maybe they'll grow up and have the slightest idea about women and not expect everyone to smile all the time.

Skipping ahead, we join Thomas, someone who is definitely intimidated by the female cycle, as he browses for jewelry while his new girlfriend Ashley is in California. Whitney soon arrives to help Thomas, and they begin discussing Whitney's family crest ring, which Whitney says was crafted by "The Queen's Engraver." If there was ever a less-impressive impressive thing, I haven't heard it. What's next, Whitney? "My horse was castrated by the Pope's chief gelder."

Anyway, Thomas wants to buy some matching rings for he and Ashley, but doesn't want to send Ashley a "false signal." This means he should just pry a half-eaten Ring Pop off a movie theater floor and hand that to her. Ashley would be better off sticking her finger in a cigar cutter than let Thomas buy her any meaningful jewelry.

Then something great happens. It's a rainsoaked day. The sun is dim. There appears to be no hope left in the world as Craig pulls up to the – wait, can it be? It's the fabric store! And Cathy is back! Cathy, the fabric lady! Cathy! Huzzah!

Following up on Patricia's offer to let Craig design a series of pillows for her company, Craig wants to run his designs by Cathy, his closest confidant. Surely, Cathy will be able to help decide which pillow designs will be best for this comfort-based business venture.

When you realize that you should’ve locked up early for the day. - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • When you realize that you should’ve locked up early for the day.

The first example we see is what appears to be the silhouettes of a dog and cat viewed from behind on some empty, burned out landscape. In the distance, we see what is either the setting sun, or a detonating nuclear bomb. These are the Omega Pets.

Cathy immediately shoots down the design, calling it "too touristy" and ruthlessly saying it'd be perfect for Myrtle Beach. I know I've been critical of various South Carolina cities in the past, but I do so jokingly. I will say that arguing about which South Carolina tourist destination is the most tasteful is like debating the best seat on the Titanic. I don't mean that figuratively either. I mean you would be debating status in an unaffordably priced area that is slowly but surely filling with seawater. At least Myrtle Beach has Skee-Ball.

Catching up with Shep, he is removing his pants in a bowling alley to put on a knee brace. So things are pretty much normal there.

Kathryn soon arrives for some bowling, and we learn that Shep is always about four beers and a shot of liquor away from being a master bowler. Kathryn and Shep continue to flirt somewhat. Kathryn begins to tell a story about a dream she had about Shep. At this point in the show, my mother chimed in to predict that Kathryn and Shep would be together by the end of the night. She also said they were acting like children, while complimenting how young they looked for their ages. I have no idea what to do with this information.

Not too unusual for a bowling alley - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • Not too unusual for a bowling alley

Back to the dream, Kathryn says Shep professed his love for her. She says there are always hidden meanings in dreams, but this one appears startlingly literal. Like, discounting much of Freud's work, I think all of us Introduction to Psychology grads can surmise what Kathryn is getting at here.

Getting back on the beer trail, a woman named Alexandra arrives at Austen's house. She is listed as his friend and has a real Busy Philipps vibe. So much so that she may be trying to Single White Female the real Busy Philipps.

Fittingly, Austen and his friend celebrate his new beer venture with a champagne toast. Alexandra is excited about seeing all the women that Austen is stringing along. Should be fun.

Austen arrives at his beer launch party. He fields a few congratulations although he didn't make the beer and is even crowdsourcing a potential name.

Austen's family arrives at the beer tasting. He hands everyone a beer. They are polite, which is exactly why you may want to field test your beer on your loved ones. This is why juries aren't just the defendant's family and people who he or she owes money.

Whitney arrives in a knee-length black coat with furry lapels as if he is testing everyone to ridicule him. He really is the Derek Zoolander of the show, but if Zoolander sold clean urine and positive birth control tests on Craigslist instead of professional modeling. Every time I see Whitney, I feel like I just saw the guy playing the Phantom of the Opera taking a lunch break with his costume still on.

Back at the beer unveiling, Chelsea pulls Austen's girlfriend Victoria aside. Chelsea attempts to act like she has no designs on Austen, but thankfully my family interjects to say that Chelsea wrapped her legs around Austen when she first arrived at the party and gave him a hug.

We got receipts on that questionable hug. My family don’t shiv. - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • We got receipts on that questionable hug. My family don’t shiv.

Good luck arguing with that, Chelsea. You've got two generations of women coming at you from a place where the armadillos carry leprosy and City Hall is a Keno parlor. My mom is convinced you are too pretty for makeup, but she isn’t buying your shit about not liking Austen. See y'all next week, when I don’t know where I’ll be.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Jamie Lee is back in town. Are Halloween reshoots happening today in North Charleston?

JLC sighting + Film crews spotted outside Haddonfield High

Posted by Sam Spence on Tue, Jun 12, 2018 at 11:50 AM

Back in January, North Charleston Armory Park was dressed up as Haddonfield High. Today, crews are back. - SAM SPENCE FILE PHOTO
  • Sam Spence file photo
  • Back in January, North Charleston Armory Park was dressed up as Haddonfield High. Today, crews are back.
While we haven't gotten any confirmation that cameras are rolling on Halloween in Charleston once again, let's lay out a few pieces of info...

Last month, horror film blog Bloody Disgusting reported that certain scenes from Halloween were going to be tweaked prior to the film's October 19 release.

Last week, the first Halloween trailer didn't appear to show any scenes shot inside or outside of Haddonfield High (a.k.a. North Charleston Armory Park) where crews shot over multiple days in January. Today, P&C's Charleston Scene reported the first sighting of Halloween star Jamie Lee Curtis in a while at Whole Foods.

And we can report that this morning, film crews were set up at North Charleston Armory Park, and Lackawanna Boulevard is set to be closed today, as it was during filming in January.

Just sayin'.

Have you seen JLC around? Are you an extra? Are you Jamie Lee Curtis? Let us know in the comments or shoot me an email. Are you Michael Myers? Don't email me.

Not happy with idle speculation? Sorry, here's the trailer:

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Monday, June 11, 2018

The Terrace screens 'Led Zeppelin: The Song Remains the Same' just in time for Father's Day

"Exhilarating and exhausting"

Posted by Connelly Hardaway on Mon, Jun 11, 2018 at 9:52 AM

  • Screenshot/ YouTube
If every announcement of a cool new film screening is met with your father's hollering of, "What?" then you may be just the family that wants to head to the Terrace this Wed. June 13 at 7:30 p.m. for a special screening of documentary, Led Zeppelin: The Song Remains the Same. The screening is presented in honor of those dads who were "way too close to the speakers," and is appropriately sponsored by Carolina Hearing Services, Inc. Touché, Terrace. Tickets are just $12.50 and can be purchased online.

The Song Remains the Same is a 1976 flick that features documentary footage of a Zeppelin tour as well as interviews with those involved with the band. In 2016 Rolling Stone had this to say about the documentary: "For better or worse, Song captures Zeppelin at a time when their brute force, young-stud stamina and unchecked excesses were peaking; it's as exhilarating and exhausting as the decade it came out of."

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Friday, June 8, 2018

Confessions of a Southern Charm Newbie: Escape from Hilton Head

Season 5, Episode 10

Posted by Dustin Waters on Fri, Jun 8, 2018 at 2:00 PM

I’m just glad somebody has health care - BRAVO TV SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo TV Screenshot
  • I’m just glad somebody has health care

Hey everybody. Welcome back. I wish I had good news for you, but we are still in the grips of the Hilton Head vacation. Entering week three, supplies are running low and moral has faded. This has become the Andersonville of vacations, but a reprieve may be soon in sight.

Picking back up where we left off last week, Austen's girlfriend is on the phone and she is very upset about a picture online of he and Chelsea locking arms. I wonder now if social media has ended more relationships than war, death, and being born of two warring families that have opposed each other for centuries. I'm sure they're all about eve at this point.

After that call finishes, Austen pulls Chelsea aside to discuss the situation. This conversation ends on a cliffhanger, with the audience left to wonder if Austen's fledgling relationship will survive Hilton Head. Will any of us survive Hilton Head? Is this Purgatory? Why have all the clocks stopped working and where did all these unbaptized babies come from?

The next morning we are treated to a quick montage of empty champagne bottles and our cast slowly rousing themselves from drunken slumber. Danni discovers Kathryn in bed surrounded by candy wrappers and a bag of marshmallows. Kathryn, chocolate smeared across her face and bed sheets, explains that she eats in her sleep. The fact that the show doesn't immediately hard cut to night vision footage of a zombie-like Kathryn gorging herself on a trash bag full of circus peanuts is a crime.

Anyway, everyone packs their things and staggers away from the vacation house. Breaking off from everyone else is Shep, who is stopping to visit his family. Good on you, Shep. If nothing else, you're a considerate son.

Hoping to squeeze a meal out of his visit, Shep is shocked to find the fridge not fully stocked. Apparently Shep's parents have been away from their home for five months. If you're like me, that's a stunning amount of time to be away, but then I remember that there are people who have multiple homes. This is great. As for most people, five months away from home means you were in jail. Then when you get home, you find someone has stolen all the copper pipes out of your house.

Shep continues to have the most stream-of-consciousness conversation with his mother. First he says he wants a French bulldog, then immediately segues into his upcoming knee surgery and relationships, I guess. I don't know.

Catching back up with the ladies, we find Chelsea putting on a depressing tour of her hometown. Danni, Kathryn, and Naomie are treated to such highlights as "This is where my parents got divorced" and "This is where my mom and I were taken in by Jerry." Seriously though, I do the same exact thing when I show people around my hometown. It's all just "Here's the ATM where my momma's fingernail lady drove over that carjacker" and "This is the storage shed where we could buy liquor on Sundays. Oh, and there's a trolley."

Super-fun car ride faces - BRAVO TV SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo TV Screenshot
  • Super-fun car ride faces

Chelsea was apparently not kidding about stopping by her childhood home. This is a we-all-get-out-of-the-car-and-walk-up-the-driveway kind of visit. That is until Chelsea bursts into tears and flees. This is the point where everyone else on the trip just continues to stare down at their laps, wondering who's going to be the person to say, "Oh, please tell us what's wrong." Chelsea explains that her stepfather-figure died when she was eight and her family lost everything. I imagine this scene juxtaposed with cutaways to the guys traveling back to Charleston, their heads thrown back, cackling on some Zoolander-esque joyride.

Back in Charleston, we see Craig cutting out pages from magazines and making what appears to be a serial-killer's dream board. The show cuts away from him silently wandering through his house, staring at this madman's collage he's crafted to show Austen sorting his hat collection. What are you doing, show? I don't care about Austen's housekeeping. Show me why Craig is making a hostage note out of old issues of Esquire. This is what happens when you take a man's cat away. You give him no other options.

Since we don't get to see what the hell Craig is doing, we follow Shep and Kathryn to his big knee surgery. Shep acknowledges that his body is breaking down with age, just like everyone else. Forget what Jack LaLanne taught you about being able to pull boats with your teeth when you're 65. Just try to live your life so that you don't need a specially-made coffin when you die.

Anyway, as Shep weighs his own mortality, Kathryn explains that Thomas' new girlfriend Ashley is not invited to the birthday party Kathryn is throwing for her and Thomas' son. This lack of an invite was the reason behind Kathryn and Ashley's heated argument in Hilton Head and major evidence of Ashley's lack of life experience. Children's birthday parties are terrible. Ignoring birthdays is the best idea Jehovah's Witnesses ever had.

‘This is my design.’ - BRAVO TV SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo TV Screenshot
  • ‘This is my design.’

Three hours later, we see Shep being wheeled out of the hospital in a comical hospital gown. He's still pretty drugged up and Kathryn is tasked with driving him home. There is perhaps no greater show of trust than asking someone to drive you home after surgery. It basically means you trust that person not to record all the weird xenophobic and sexually deviant rants that slip from your drug-addled mind.

Instead of actually showing Shep's ride home — or showing WHAT IN THE HELL CRAIG IS UP TO — we join Austen and his girlfriend Victoria for a nice dinner in her home. Cool. How interesting.

An apparent master interrogator, Victoria breaks the silence by simply asking Austen "How was Hilton Head?" followed by silence. This is a KGB-level inquisition. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Victoria was a former Spetsnaz agent or something.

Austen, completely out of his depth, begins to ramble on about how he pulled Chelsea aside and told her that he was in a serious relationship. Victoria continues to remain deathly silent as Austen digs the hole for himself deeper and deeper. With the noose firmly secured around Austen's neck, Victoria then says that the picture of Austen and Chelsea together was disrespectful to her. As Austen tries to respond, Victoria chastises him for trying to defend Chelsea's actions. Austen foolishly says he's not going to throw Chelsea "to the wolves." Terrible wording, Austen. Victoria, several moves ahead like a chessmaster, responds "I'm not a wolf." The conversation ends with Austen completely shaken and Victoria confidently pouring another glass of wine like she's in a Shonda Rhimes series.

Moving on, we find Shep in recovery and he calls up Cameran. So here's something. I shit you not. Cameran's name is spelled incorrectly in Shep's phone, and it is the funniest thing to me. That is gold.

Something about this cracks me up - BRAVO TV SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo TV Screenshot
  • Something about this cracks me up

Anyway, Cameran had her baby. We learn this unceremoniously on a phone call from Shep's couch. Way to gloss over that, TV show.

Cameran explains that she was in labor for 12 hours, but luckily the baby came out cute. In what is the best line of the show so far this season, Cameran tells Shep, "You've got ice on your knee and I 've got ice on my vagina." Not really much I can add to that, so let's move on.

Finally, we learn why Craig was making an American Psycho collage. It's his "self portrait" that his life coach told him to make for their next session. Craig took that to mean "Bring me the physical representation of man's darkest thoughts."

From what we see of Craig's "self portrait," there are crudely cut-out pictures of a luxury sailboat and the phrase "The Power of Influence." There is also a headline reading "Your Plan: Happiness" and multiple photos of men without heads. Like, Craig intentionally cut the heads off of the pictures.

While we should see the life coach slowly backing her way out of the room, she remains seated and tells Craig that he is too scattered in his thinking. Craig explains that he has been offered an incredible pillow-making opportunity by Patricia, but he is having some creative block. Oh, and he's been on vacation. He doesn't mention that part, but we literally watched Craig be on vacation for multiple episodes. The life coach then tells Craig that he is "bullshitting" himself, which I think is a clinical term.

A very calm and collected life coach face - BRAVO TV SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo TV Screenshot
  • A very calm and collected life coach face

Craig then begins to brag about his supernatural ability to lie to people, as if he were the next Frank Abagnale, Jr. and not an aspiring pillow designer. Cutting to a one-on-one with the camera, Craig goes on to state that he knows the human psyche so well that he can bend others to his will like some real life Hannibal Lecter. Although, if we are judging things solely by Silence of the Lambs, Craig's sewing skills make him much more of a Buffalo Bill.

Skipping ahead, the day of the big birthday party is upon us. Kathryn readies the children to depart her home, as Thomas and Ashley start the day at his place. Awesomely, Thomas subscribes to the print edition of the Post and Courier, something which Ashley lauds him for. It's the Sunday edition too, some good coupons in there. Please support your local print publications people. All of them.

Anyway, Ashley says she is staying home today because of all the emotional stress she has suffered. Also, she wasn't invited to the party.

Here's the thing about Ashley: Whenever she speaks, she sounds like a former child star auditioning for a new role as an "AD-ult." Her pronunciation is super stilted and she really seems to be playing to the camera in a way that must be exhausting. Basically, she's the Jenna Maroney of Southern Charm.

Thomas responds to Ashley's complaints about Kathryn by saying, "Too bad" and advising Ashley to toughen up her skin if she wants to continue their relationship. Ashley fires back by saying that she's not dealing with a normal person; she's "dealing with darkness and evil." It's difficult to discern if she's talking about Thomas or Kathryn. Thomas tells Ashley that he thinks it would be good if "they had a little space." She asks for his hand, which Thomas refuses to give at first before he's made some point that only he can understand. Thomas continues to exhibit the sort of fragile masculinity that you'd find in a guy who barks at his mail carrier every day. Thomas is the personification of Truck Nutz.

I will say this about this season of Southern Charm: It's been great to watch two unpleasant people terrorize each other through what could be called a romantic relationship. It's really the Schadenfreude Olympics with Thomas and Ashley, and it's fantastic. It's basically the final scene of There Will Be Blood every day with these two.

The cast then begins to assemble at some sort of children's play zone. I think to myself, "There is no way we are going to have to sit through an entire child's birthday party," but guess what? The producers are like "If we had to sit through all of this, everyone else is gonna suffer along." The only upside is that we get to see Craig with his face painted like a lion. Thanks for small favors.

‘I am Skimbleshanks, the railway tabby.’ - BRAVO TV SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo TV Screenshot
  • ‘I am Skimbleshanks, the railway tabby.’

Skipping ahead, Ashley brings lunch over to Thomas' house. He mixes together some cocktails, so clearly he doesn't plan on operating any heavy machinery this afternoon. Ashley inquires about the birthday party and asks, "Was I thought of?," which is a crazy thing to immediately go to regarding a child's birthday.

Thomas, not to be outdone in terms of who can be the most egotistical, explains that Kathryn doesn't like Ashley because she still has feelings for him. This, of course, irks Ashley and the whole conversation spirals out from there. The best part of this whole scene is that Thomas and Ashley punctuate their heated exchange by biting into comically large Jimmy John's sandwiches. Also, the sandwiches create super obvious continuity errors. You can see how their conversation was edited and rearranged by how much of the sandwich Thomas has eaten. He goes from a full sub, to the last quarter, right back to a full sandwich by the end of the scene. Some script supervisor owes me their paycheck over that one. I’ll let you know next week if I win a prize.

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