Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Going Ham Over The Wienermobile

When I was in college, my friends and I had a weirdly enthusiastic obsession with the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. It was half out of stupid, ironic college guy humor, and half out of being sincerely excited at just the thought of a bus sized wiener on wheels rolling around. It became the standard of wished for transportation. We even used to test the group's potential girlfriends with questions pertaining to the Wienermobile.

To say I was excited when I saw the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile last year at the Cooper River Bridge Run is quite the understatement.

When I recieved a generic press release from the drivers of the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, I lost it. I was in another office talking with coworker Thursday morning when I recieved the email on my phone. I startled everyone in the office with my eloquent exclaimation of "HOLY SHI@, IT'S THE WIENERMOBILE!" There was no time to explain to the frightened, confused faces I left as I ran back to my office to craft my reply. It had to be good. I might only get one shot to take this off my bucket list. I replied with:

I was trying not to sound too overly enthusiastic, like I was some life-long Comicon fanboy that was going to stalk them and kidnap them in the Wienermobile. I just got really excited and wanted to see this thing. In no time I recieved a reply. My heartrate shot through the ceiling.

Deserves a ride!? DESERVES A RIDE!? I was losing it. I can't explain why I was getting so excited at the possibility of riding around in the Wienermobile. I have no family history with it. I'm not related to any of the Kraft family, of Kraft Foods, that owns Oscar Mayer. Maybe it was that I'm still an idiot and haven't yet let go of what I thought was funny when I was in college, and this was my unconscience effort to relive the glory days, or, maybe it was the fact that I was just offered a chance to ride in the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. You wouldn't be excited?

I was going to ride around in the Wienermobile. I started texting everyone I knew. It was a little obnoxious I'm sure but I didn't care. 

Everything was coming together better than I had ever hoped. 

As if there would be anywhere else to drive the Wienermobile in Charleston SC.

I met Sam and Kacee at Colonial Lake and had to stop myself from hugging them like they were long lost family. I hopped on board and after laughing uncontrollably for a few minutes, I began to hear about what they did with this thing.

Each year, 12 fresh college graduates are chosen from an applicant pool of over 1500. 30 are then flown to Green Bay Wisconsin to be interviewed. The 12 picked out of that 30 then train for a few weeks, becoming a close knit team and then taking off in pairs to six different regions all over the country. These guys travel around the country for an entire year in one of the oldest, most successful marketing schemes in the US. Who doesn't like the Wienermobile? You can't see the Wienermobile and get mad. The second you see it, you smile, elbow whoever you're with and simultaneously take out your phone to take a picture. Even if the Wienermobile T-boned your car and totalled it, you would probably laugh and show all your friends the pictures you took of the wreck. I got to witness first hand how excited people got as we drove around downtown. Kacee and Sam laughed at how hard I was laughing everytime we pulled up to a store front that had large windows and I saw the reflection of our ride.

If there's a lesson here, I'm not sure what it is. I do know, that I was as excited as I've been in a long time, and getting to ride shotgun in the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile has definitely made the top ten most amazing events in my life. Maybe that means I need to get out more, or maybe, that means that's just how awesome riding a big ole Wienermobile can be.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Not Another Souther Charm Piece

Southern Charm, Southern Charm, Southern Charm! It’s all that’s been on the internet here in Charleston for the past, forever, it seems. All these articles pointing out the shortcomings of the “cast” and how ridiculous the show is are starting to sound like a broken record. It's like reading the hatred on a dirty bathroom stall at a truckstop. So angry! It's crystal clear there are plenty of strong opinions about this show, but few of you have probably stepped back, and thought about it in any different light than the snarky, negative one that seems to be so prevalent. 

Hear me out.

Let’s take a quick look at two of the characters. Whitney Sudler-Smith is a great example. Yes, he lives with his mother, and called his room the “Stabbin Cabin” but he also went to LA and was a writer and director of a film made in Hollywood. Not some straight to youtube short film, but LA. He has anIMDb page. Just because it wasn't your favorite film doesn't mean that feat isn't pretty incredible. He’s done a lot in an industry that’s pretty cut throat and had enough clout to be named the Executive Producer of Southern Charm. 

Hell, with what rent is downtown, I'd live with my mom in a heartbeat.

Thomas Ravenel. This guy has caught some serious flack over this show, and everything that’s happened in his personal life. Yes, he was busted with coke. Yes, he’s been known to enjoy the company of a few ladies, but are we all practicing absolute morality here? Do a few ill deeds make you a horrible person down to your bones, forever? Do I think Thomas Ravenel always makes the best decisions all of the time? No. Did I at one time wear a hemp necklace, listen to Ludacris, and pop my collar? Yes I did, and thank God I’m not judged for the rest of my life by those horrible decisions. 

Collar popped high, BAL probably higher, idiot college sophomore.

Just because thousands of people are watching your every move doesn’t mean what you do is any better or worse. President Kennedy cheated on his wife with Marilyn Monroe. He’s on our currency and basically considered a deity. Clinton defiled his marriage IN THE Oval Office (year remeber that one) and all anyone can seem to remember about him is his amazing financial policies. These men aren't judged forever by mistakes they made.

I’m not saying T-Rav should make a play for the White House, I’m just saying cut the guy some slack. He did some drugs, paid for it, and now he’s on a reality tv show. Who, the hell, cares? Who cares if he “likes women” or “learned to play bocci ball in prison.” Who cares about Southern Charm? People are so worried it will make Charleston look horrific, but do you think everyone who lives in Atlanta are exact carbon copies of those six idiot women on Real Housewives of Atlanta? American is not as ignorant as you think. Did you even watch the show? It makes Charleston look BEAUTIFUL. It showcases some of our best restaurants, shopping and scenic destinations. 

The show also makes everyone look so scandalous and promiscuous, and just because this is the south and everyone seems to think 25 is old to be single, please don’t act like you, or at least your friends, didn’t hook up with people while you were single. Just because it’s televised doesn’t make it any worse than what YOU did back in your college days, or as a twenty-something "trying to find yourself."

People are so quick to judge what they see on TV but remember, just because it’s labeled “reality” doesn’t mean it’s real. This is a great article that shows just how UNrealistic it really is. T-Rav had a good point the other morning on the radio. He simply put, “If you don’t like it, change the channel.” Seriously, if it bothers you so much, don’t watch it. No one is forcing you to watch the show.

So this is me turning over a new leaf when it comes to this whole Southern Charm cluster. I’m taking a “glass is half full” approach and giving the cast some credit. Not that it really matters, as I highly doubt their every breath hangs on my approval, just as you shouldn’t care what a reality tv channel, known for its absurdity, based in LOS ANGELES (for crying out loud) edits into 50 minutes a week; 50 minutes you can either judge as if you’re so much better, or giggle when you see a restaurant you’ve been to on national television. 

Don’t act like that’s not cool. 

(Images via BravoOllyy's Shutterstock and a disturbingly long scroll through one personal Facebook account.)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Elan Midtown Wines And Dines

When you think of an apartment complex, you probably think of window unit air conditioners and sketchy looking carpet that holds a clearly illustrated history of stains, like when your black lab gets into an entire jar of peanut butter, and then decides your carpet is the best place to "settle his stomach." RIP Lasco. What you probably don't think of is tiled floors, granite countertops and walk in closets the size of a small bedroom, at least I don't. Last night, Elan Midtown Boutique Apartments had an invitation only open house to a number of local PR professionals and writers, to showcase their recently finished apartment complex.

The invitations were mailed out in hand-written envelopes. That may not seem like a big deal to you, but to a single, twenty-something, the only handwritten mail I recieve is either another one of my friends falling victim to that whole "marriage" thing, or a previous victim inviting me to a party for their unborn seed, the sole purpose being that the party guests bring them free stuff. It's ok though, they call it a "shower." Being neither of these, it was exciting. Upon entering the modern entry way, glasses of bubbly and pens and customized notecards were distributed before the walking tour began. The place reminded me of a brand new New York styled apartment building. Granted, I've never been inside a New York styled apartment building, but it's how I imagine them to be, especially after growing up watching shows like Seinfeld. The entire building was operated on an indivuduals electronic key or FOB. 

The rooms were, ridiculous. Ridiculous, in a magnificent way, as in, they may have been the nicest rooms I've ever been in. The closets were rooms to themselves. I even thought, "this could be a mini man cave, even if it WAS filled with clothes." I don't think I own enough clothes to fill one of their closets. The entire place is pet friendly, there's an outdoor pool in the center of the building, and that wasn't even the best part of the night.

As the tour led to the lounge area that held a pool table and flat screen the size of my 4Runner, my heart/stomach skipped a beat. On every flat surface, there were trays of meats and cheeses, and bread, and even more meats and cheeses. There were bottles of wine being cracked open to serve with these meats and cheeses, and even though I'm no wino, and the only reason I go to Bin 152 is for THEIR meats and cheeses, nothing goes better with said treats than a full bodied red. (Is that a wine term?)

The delicious display was put on by none other than the two lovely ladies of Goat Sheep Cow. The selection was amazing. I took a walk around the pool area but my heart was back in the lounge. I had to stop myself from sprinting back inside to post up in a perfect position between the wine and meat tray, but within reach of the bread and cheese. I had the privelage to, between stuffing my face, talk to Trudy, one of the ladies who ran Goat Sheep Cow. I had no idea choosing different cheeses was just as difficult as choosing wines, in that each cheese has a distinct taste depending on how old it is. I asked if severely aged Kraft Singles had any intrinsic value on the cheese market. I said I had some yellow mustard that would pair with them nicely. Per usual, I thought it was much funnier than it actually was.

All in all, the apartments are beautiful, and worth a serious look for anyone in the market for near perfect placement downtown. One of the biggest draws to living downtown is the ability to walk everywhere, and this building is right in the middle of everything. If the rooms were half as nice as the staff, it would be worth it alone. They really have luxury living down to an art over there at Elan Midtown. 

Martin Sexton Brings Out My Inner Teenage Girl

I like music, but I don’t go crazy over it. I grew up in a musical family, and after begging my mother to release me from piano and violin lessons because that’s not what cool middle school kids did, I taught myself guitar because ALL the cool kids played guitar. I began liking the music that was easy to play within my wheelhouse of the G, C, and A chords and burnt CD’s with sharpie’d titles of Jack JohnsonJohn Mayer and the occasional Bob Marley began filling my car. I would go to concerts, but it was usually only because a group of people (hopefully cool people) were going, and I was a social sheep. It wasn’t until college that I stumbled upon the artist that would change all that.

His name is Martin Sexton. Most people quickly shoot back a confused “Who?” whenever I start talking about what musicians I like, mainly because they’ve never heard of him, and probably also because his last name has the word “sex” in it. I remember hearing his music for the first time like it was yesterday. It was on an episode of Scrubs, who’s music is sought out by Zach Braff, the main character, when the song came on during a montage part of the episode. It was such a good song, I took to Youtube, scrolling through hundreds of viewer comments looking for a name. Finally I found it, and spent the rest of the night listening and re-listening to every song Martin Sexton had ever performed. 

In my opinion, there are three types of musical acts. There are those with amazing vocals, and either skate by on mediocre instrumental talents or let their band pick up all the slack. See AdeleDuffy, and Ray LaMontagne. There are those who play the opposite angle, and have ridiculous talents on their specific instrument, but don’t have the strongest vocals. See John MayerBrad PaisleyJimi Hindrix.

Then there are those rare musical unicorns made of gold that only eat four leaf clovers. Those musicians that have powerful, wide-ranged vocals coupled with a mixture of natural talent and learned skills on one or multiple instruments. Even more scarce are if these musicians can independently write their own lyrics and accompanying music. So rare are these people, that those who have this combination of skills and talents usually become well known. See The BeatlesJohn Legend, and Stevie Wonder

Martin Sexton is no exception. His vocal range should be measured in light years, not octaves, and he can make one guitar sound like an entire band. I saw him, just last night, in Savannah. I had almost forgotten the reason I loved him so much until the first note came out of his mouth. He’s so sharply in tuned live that rarely does he produce an album that's mixed in a studio, and in my personal opinion, he sounds better live than on any of his records. 

I realized last night, my fourth time to see him, and third time to travel over 100 miles to do so, that I had become "that fan." I had become the 16 yr old girl that swoons over NSYNC or the face painted KISS fan. Granted, I didn’t have glitter covered posters confessing my undying love or hairspray teased 80’s hair, but I did know every word to every song.

I knew every song even before he started playing it, simply from the story he would tell to set it up. I was the fan that was so in love with the musician, everyone else at the concert instantly became my lifelong friend, simply from the fact that they were there. Nodding my head, clapping, and pretty much white boy dancing to the beat, because each song was better than the last. 

When he finished his set, we all, of course, cheered and cheered for an encore, which we received. After the show, I waited by the side door for him to come out as most people left. I, along with probably 10 other die hard fans, cornered him outside for autographs and pictures. I felt like a little kid meeting santa for the first time. I rehearsed a few lines in my head but after someone in front of me took a picture with him all I could blurt out was “Me next!” I might have squeezed his shoulder a little too hard because in one of the pictures, he looks a little concerned. 

I thought all this relevant, as this week is Music Week on Charleston Grit, and couldn’t contain the excitement from my experience any longer. I feel the need to spread the good word of Martin Sexton to all peoples, so that they too, may enjoy a musical unicorn made of gold. If you’ve never heard of Martin Sexton, let this song be your first taste.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Gym Gets A Little Bro-fessional

Seeing how this past week has pretty much been the 4 Horsemen of the Winter Apocalypse, the beach and warmer weather has been on everyone’s minds. So, since running outside is clearly not an option, I’ve been going to the gym. Even though I consider myself an adult (by age, not by action) the gym still reminds me of being in middle school. Each middle school stereotype has an equivalent group in the gym. The meat heads are the cool kids, the spin classes and yoga classes are the smart kids, and the cheerleaders are the girls on the machines. Probably a weird representation but it makes sense to me and this is my blog post. For the most part, everyone keeps to themselves or their workout partners. I have a few friends that I’ll reluctantly ask to spot me but I feel like they’re laughing inside like “You need a spot? Do you even lift bro?”

Yes I lift, that’s why I’m here “BRO,” but seriously, everyone for the most part is very nice and courteous. However, every now and then you’ll run into one of “those guys.” Everyone reading this, who has ever been to a gym can picture “that guy” right now in their head. "That guy" never re-racks his weights, sings and raps to his music out loud in-between grunts and moans he expels with each rep, and spends more time on his phone than lifting while sitting on a bench or machine.

From the time I got to they gym and stretched, DJ Broseph, (we’ll call him) wearing obnoxiously branded Abercrombie sweatpants, and cut away tshirt that might as well have been made of string, enough product in his hair to stop a bullet, and of course, fingerless gloves to protect his hands from totally un-brolike calluses, had approached three girls for their number. I turned my music down to listen after the first, because I didn’t believe it as he approached the second.

It was the same line with each girl. “Hey, what’s up beautiful, you from around here?" I had to give him props for continuing to charge onward after being shot down. I think the only reason he quit was because all the girls left the free weight area. Even the guys were giving him an unusually wide berth. Usually, I can tell what muscle group people are working out, because they stick to a pretty similar routine, especially when lifting heavy weights. DJ Broseph, however, was in no such routine. He was making his way around the entire gym, maxing out on every machine and every exercise and letting everyone know he was not only listening to some serious rap music, but that each of his reps demanded a very loud groan.

I hadn’t even made eye contact with Broseph and I still felt like I was in 6th grade trying to dodge Dakota Cunningham who would bully everyone at recess and steal their Nerf football, or something like that, it's not important. I looked around for the teacher i.e. a staff member to do something, but then I remembered, this was a public gym and poor Broseph was just getting his pump on. Who was I to judge him or how he worked out. It made me think, why was I even here?

Maybe its because in the last 24 hours, I've single handedly eaten one and one half 14 inch, two topping, deep crust Papa John's pizzas. Maybe it's because I've got three generations of heart disease on deck and I don't like the fact that on my walk to the gym I sweat out pure garlic butter dipping sauce and a whole pepperoni. Maybe I'm at the gym because even after my first "feeding" of eight slices, I stopped only because I wanted to have some for later, and NOT because I was full, or, maybe I was just there because I want to continue with my mature eating habits, and in some demented mathematical formula I've created in my head, I figure that as long as I go the gym, not necessarily do anything, but just go, then I can eat whatever I want without any consequences. "Add ten thousand, carry the two... yea, that sounds about right." 

So even if you are obnoxiously loud at the gym, scare away all the talent and leave a mess at every station, at least you’re there, right? I can’t say anything to DJ Broseph other than “Good job man….GOOD JOB MA..oh yeah, his music is too loud, he can’t hear me."

On More Off The Bucket List

I wrote a few months ago about potentially running the Charleston Marathon. It was a spontaneous idea and one which I did not put much thought into. Running a marathon has always been on my bucket list, but I never knew what it would actually take to complete one. Training for it was not very much fun, nor was the race itself, but I do enjoy running intermediate distances, in fair, warm weather, when I’m well rested, and it’s not too windy.... and when I have good music. I’m not too particular, I just enjoy all the pizza and beer an active livestyle allowes me to eat and drink.

I signed up for the race early on, because with a $100 entry fee, I knew that would be my main motivation. Indeed it was, because every time I felt like quitting, I just reminded myself that I am in fact, not made of money, and I was going to finish that race if it was the death of me.

It just so happened, that on the morning of the race, the temperature decided to take a little dip, and it was a “brisk” 34 degrees at the starting line. Needless to say, I could not feel my hands before the gun even sounded. The race started at Burke Middle School, rounded the peninsula to the battery, and then so far up King St. there were places I had never even been before. After about 9 miles, I began to zone out and just stared at the 4 to 6 feet of monotonous asphault in front of me. I remember thinking to myself, "why are you doing this, this is not fun." It was a test. I wanted to see if I could do it.

There were multiple stretches of the route that lapped back over itself, so at first, when you would turn onto that part of the road, you would only see the most extreme runners LEAVING that part. By extreme runners, I mean the ones with those weird arm sleeves and special sunglasses and super short running shorts and, well, the ability to run 26 miles very very quickly. I always knew I was coming to the turn around point because the runners started looking less special and more like what I’m sure I looked like: haggard, weary, and in sweaty, aggravating pain but defiant to end because they too, were not about to waste $100.

Every few miles, there were tables with water, Gatorade, bananas and sometimes even those little packets of gel that long distance runners apparently use for a surge of energy. I swiped a packet off a table and after opening it with my teeth due to the finger numbing cold, I took a little taste. 

It was disgusting. It was like a thicker, fruity tasting honey from cold hell. Combined with the banana and Gatorade I had just inhaled, the cold, sticky goo almost brought those other snacks back out to party. I threw the packet away and resumed my slow and steady wins, or at least finishes, the race technique.

Towards the end of the race, around mile 24, my knees were starting to bother me, and overall fatigue had set in. I looked up to see a kid of no more than 10 or 12 years old ahead of me. I thought, "no way was a child going to beat me at this race." I dug in deep and geared up to run him down for at least one victory for the day, but that kid had eaten his Wheaties. He had a lead on me and left me in his dust. Nothing like a dose of humble pie to remind me that there are elementary school aged children that can not only run faster than I can, but do it consistantly for over 26 miles. 

My final time was 4:32. I ran, or what I liked to call running, for over 4 hours and now, even as I write this, almost 4 days later, I’m still walking down stairs like I just had my hip replaced. I went straight from the finish line to the beer table and redeemed my two tickets. Even though it was still very chilly, those cold, probably Keystone or Natty Lite, plastic cups of beer never tasted so good. My victory dance. I'm glad I participated. It was learning experience, especially about myself and I can now scratch off “ran a marathon” from the bucket list. Up next on the list is leaning how to count cards and beating Kobayashi in a hot dog eating contest.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Memory Lane Cringe

I was in my mother’s kitchen a few days ago deep in the heart of Mississippi on a trip home. As is tradition, I help her prepare dinner and clean up afterwards until she can’t take how awful my pan washing techniques are and takes over while I provide commentary. We were catching up on everything that had been going on when she suddenly remembered something she had found buried in a box of books.

“I found your journal you had to keep for your Sr English class.”

“I need it, where is it?”

Now, to preface, everyone changes quite a bit from the person they were in high school to the person they are as an adult, at least I’m glad I did. I can admit I thought I was the coolest thing that southern Mississippi public school had ever seen, with my long stupid frat hair, hemp/sea shell necklace and Clark Wallabees. Although currently I’m no pillar of modern fashion, I roll my eyes and cringe at how ridiculous I must have looked. 

As I flipped through the pages of the tattered composition notebook, I felt like I was reading a stranger’s words. The only thing that confirmed this notebook belonged to me was the atrocious penmanship. I felt like Indiana Jones whenever he’s slowly, then more commandingly reading hieroglyphics to decipher an ancient message, although instead of some great civilization encoding the whereabouts of a secret treasure, it was “how sick homecoming is going to be, and “that girl is so hot.” I cringed as I read.

“What is it?”

“I can’t believe I made it this far, alive."

The journal was from my Senior English class, and each morning there would be a prompt that we were to write a response to. They were usually very generic questions and being the first class in the morning, most of my writing was practically incoherent. One of the responses I read made me laugh out loud. For your reading pleasure, I humbly present the deep thoughts of Nate Anderson at 18 years old.

The prompt: 

Do you think today’s television programs and movies contain too much violence? Why? Why not?

The response:(Read in the voice of a teenager of the description above, in a tone much louder than necessary, with an idiot southern accent.) This is exactly how it is written on the page.

“Yes, like, how about that Texas Chainsaw Massacre? How about a mean dude with no face cutting people up with a friggin chainsaw? Then, if they’re not dead, he’ll take them to his little basement and chop them up more? Friggin scary, and there wasn’t even a plot, it was just a bunch of people running around screaming and cursing and crying and for the love of God, why did I pay $7.50 to go watch that? It’s Christmas! Why didn’t we go see Elf? Will Ferrel in yellow tights as an elf. That is a movie I would like to go see, because it’s funny, and I don’t think he would chase me with a chainsaw.”

Although I have come a long way since high school, I can say at least two things haven’t changed. I don’t like scary movies and I love the movie Elf. 

Whether you’re with family for the holidays or just to see them, take a trip down memory lane and see where you’ve come from. Even if the your awesome and stylish Wallabees and hemp necklace didn’t give you much traction on the journey.