Tuesday, February 25, 2014

In Memoriam of Twinkies and Groundhogs

Writing comedy is not an easy task by any means. While I find that I easily amuse myself through a variety of stupid actions and statements, making someone else laugh can be a much more arduous task. I enjoy evoking a laugh out of others; then again, I'm not sure many people do not enjoy such a feat. There have been many times I've fallen flat in attempts to produce a guffaw out of friends, but like that one good shot I can muster in a round of golf, I keep coming back for more if I can elicit a single chuckle.

That's why I admire a great comedian we lost yesterday in Harold Ramis. If Caddyshack, Animal House, Groundhog Day, National Lampoon's Vacation, and Stripes are a part of your classic film repertoire, then Harold Ramis had a comedic influence on you as either a director, writer, or actor. A venerable Renaissance Man of comedy, Ramis shaped much of the humor in the late 70s and 1980s in film. When you consider a specimen like Caddyshack, you recognize the silliness and over-the-top humor that the film boasts. But if you come across it on cable TV on some weekday night, you find yourself fixed on your couch, laughing as you quote the memorable lines. As someone who took up golf two years ago (and excels greatly at sucking at the game), the humor resonates even more for me now than it did as a kid.

But when we talk about Harold Ramis, people will inevitably rest on his most memorable project: Ghostbusters. Ramis both co-wrote and starred in the movie as Dr. Egon Spengler, who embodied the role as the nerdiest of the paranormal quartet and demonstrated to us psycho-kinetic energy with a Twinkie. Ghostbusters remains my favorite of the Ramis fare and one of my fondest film memories of childhood. So I suppose the passing of Ramis was an especially hard pill to swallow when we children of the 80s consider an element of our childhood moving on.

To quote fellow author and Spartanburg native Bryan Dull, "I feel so dumb and juvenile as I can’t shake the fact that for the first time ever… A Ghostbuster passed away today." Perhaps the most difficult part about growing older is watching your sacred cows, no matter how silly they may have been, drift away.

Ramis, in the form of Spengler, brought us Ghostbusters' most memorable line: "Don't cross the streams." It became an iconic statement in film lore and can be applied to almost any predicament in everyday life. I'm fond of it when debating people who like to wax hypocritical in political discussions. Needless to say, the line is iconic, and I therefore argue so goes Harold Ramis. An icon of comedy.

It would please me greatly to reach the level of comedic influence and prowess of Harold Ramis. But who am I kidding? You can't top Ghostbusters.

Don't cross the streams, friends.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Judge it by the Cover

I commissioned Adam Burgess at StudioAEB to design the cover for Tallyho in the Squat, and as I expected, he didn't disappoint. Adam is an extremely talented artist both on canvas and on the computer screen. I strongly recommend his services to you. 

I love what he did with the cover because he's captured the essence of Jimbo if the good ole boy happened to be a cottontail rabbit. And it ties nicely into the rabbit smuggling motif. Let me know what you think.

Stay tuned for more information on the book's release. It's coming soon.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Let Them Eat Milk Sandwiches

Snowpocalypse 2 has landed on the Southeast, and Charleston has succumbed to a horrendous case of chilly rain while the rest of South Carolina grinds to halt from a few inches of snow. We can only hope the milk sandwiches last long enough before Atlanta turns into a real version of the Walking Dead.

Anytime winter weather strikes the South, we become the butt of our own self-deprecating humor and the snarky criticism of our neighbors to the North. Cases like Charleston, where schools have shut down and bridges have closed over the cold rain, don't exactly improve the image. Northerners enjoy mocking our panicky runs on milk and bread when the threat of white stuff looms, and they question why we weren't ready for moments like this.

But a crippling snow/ice storm proves to be such a rare occurrence in the South that it doesn't make much sense to house a fleet of snowplows or other weapons to combat the cold. But then again, we're a little more resilient when it comes to other bouts of inclement weather. I and the rest of Charleston slept through one Category One hurricane and partied through another. The North and Cat 1 hurricanes? Not as much of a picnic.

Snow days are a rarity for children in the South, and they are met with an outpouring of appreciation and glee while parents scramble for milk and bread. I still recall the Blizzard of 88 that covered Spartanburg when I was 10. I think my sister and I were out of school for a week, and we took to speeding down a massive hill in the Clifton Glendale area daily on our sleds, which only received one real winter of use. Contrary to popular belief, we did not build our snowmen with mullets and smoking Camel Unfiltereds instead of a pipe. But those rare snow memories as a child growing up in the South maintain a special place in your heart due to their scarcity.

As an adult, the concept of snow in the South quickly turns from a novelty to nuisance, much like I would imagine it does for Northern children, especially those who still have to go to school in half a foot of white stuff. I was confined to the house during the storm of 2011 in the Upstate, and there's only so much Netflix you can take before you want to go get your SUV stuck in a snow bank.

But here in the Holy City, we only need some chilly rain to bring life to a crawl. Might as well head over to The Shelter and take refuge. Y'all be safe out there.

Monday, February 3, 2014

But My Pea Coat Just Cain't Cover Up My Redneck

I spend way too much time at The Shelter in Mount Pleasant, but for good reason. The bartenders are both affable and mischievous, the beer is cheap, and the locale harnesses in that typical Shem Creek atmosphere so many locals love. After the ice storm last week that is so uncharacteristic of the Charleston area, other Charlestonians and I were able to break our quarantine and finally venture out to practice our greatest talent: drinking.

While ponied up to our usual position at the bar, my friends and I beheld one of Mount Pleasant's trademark species: the broneck. To understand a broneck, if you are unfamiliar with the term, you must first understand Mount Pleasant, or, as some call it, Mount Plastic. Mt. P is the Charleston area's most affluent community with the exception of the Rhett Butleresque downtown that is south of Broad Street. Needless to say, there is nothing redneck or country about Mount Pleasant. The community is rife with salty dogs, hoity-toities, corporate heroes kicking back, and Peter Pan fellows clinging desperately to their Greek life memories and Natty Light. But a true redneck environment? Jimbo Fick would not approve of Mt. P.

So a broneck is a young male who has come from a privileged upbringing like so many native Mount Pleasantians have yet puts on a facade that they emerged from a more David Allan Coe-style environment. You often find them with unkempt, shaggier hair that holds up a new camouflage hat. As the specimens last night had to combat the cold weather, bronecks will have a camo jacket on as well. Work boots or cowboy boots are a must.

The broneck phenomena has exploded nationwide, and part of it can be attributed to the popularity in contemporary country, such as Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, and Florida-Georgia Line. The formula for a country hit nowadays is simple: mix in a jacked up pickup truck, a dirt road, a cold beer, a girl with painted-on jeans, and the CD of a country legend who sounds nothing like the song in question. It's too irresistible for the frat boy raised in the gated community who yearns to go country.

As someone who actually grew up around some farm land, huntin' dogs, a creek, and a shady Li'l Cricket that my mama said I wasn't allowed to go to, I definitely do the image of a backwoods Southerner a disservice. There have been many a time I toned down my accent, overdressed for bar drinkin', and only wore camo for paintball. I supposed I've been like Bill Gulledge in that regard; I often put on an appearance that I didn't come from the outer edges of Spartanburg.

So I guess, in a sense, I'm like the bronecks. They came from the ivory towers of Mt. P but want you to think they're straight out of the shotgun shack. I can see the allure. I pretend my family didn't trade two Beagles for a goat once. Why do we seek out images that don't paint an actual picture of our upbringing? I don't have the answer. But I suppose Jimbo would have some wisdom about how we should be what we want to be.

So enjoy that Natty Light, bo.