Week three of the offseason brought with it the end of the NBA season. The minor sports channels are showing rednecks racing trucks through what appear to be homemade mud tracks. The Phineas and Ferb lists of new and exciting things to do this summer have been exhausted. So . . . what now?
We at College and Mag are here to help!
Smokey and the Bandit, 1977
The 1960s and 1970s were a golden age for fast car flicks. The set-up was simple. A hero has a fast car. The fast car is needed to run an errand across the country that we're told is impossible. The hero hops in the car and tries anyway, dodging cops all along the way. From a critical perspective, the best of these films is Vanishing Point, where a Vietnam War Vet drives a 1970 Dodge Challenger from Denver to San Francisco while being guided by a blind DJ in Goldfield, Nevada who is monitoring the police frequencies. Shockingly good movie.
But today, we're here to talk about a Southern cinema classic, Smokey and the Bandit. The theme song says it all: the boys are thirsty in Atlanta and there's beer in Texarkana. So, Burt Reynolds and Jerry Reed join up to go get a truckload of Coors which was then illegal east of the Mississippi. It's an utterly ridiculous, joyful B-movie that succeeds because the cast looks like they're having a blast making the film. The Bandit uses a 1977 Pontiac Trans Am to distract law enforcement away from his partner, the Snowman, whose truck is hauling the beer. Close behind them is Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason) who is in "hot pursuit" from Texas to Georgia. Gleason's character is racist, profane, perpetually angry, and is one of the best comedic performances ever captured on film.
An Exile, Madison Jones
Madison Jones was Auburn's writer in residence for many years. He was one of the great Southern authors of the mid-20th century, just a tier below Robert Penn Warren, William Faulkner, or Truman Capote. An Exile is my favorite of his works. It's the story of a small-town Tennessee sheriff. The sheriff is a model family man and there's no hint of corruption about him. Then he meets Alma McCain, the beautiful daughter of the local moonshiner and his virtue is tested. If you've ever wanted to know what the Andy Griffith Show would look like as a noir crime drama, it's this book. Short, but a great read.
It was made into a film called I Walk the Line in 1970 starring Gregory Peck and Tuesday Weld. I put the trailer below:
Fashion Nugget, Cake
There are a lot of great alternative albums from the 90s, but Fashion Nugget is one of the best. The two biggest hits off this album were The Distance and I Will Survive but almost every track on the album will be a winner at your now-retro 90s parties. In addition to their own work, Cake covers the Cuban big band classic Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps and Willie Nelson's Sad Songs and Waltzes from the Shotgun Willie album. This album is one of the best examples of the alternative music era simply because it sounds like nothing else from that era.
Add a twist to your burgers by mixing chopped onion, an egg, ranch dressing mix, and saltine crackers to your meat before grilling. At our house, we top this burger off with Demetri's BBQ sauce. Amazing.
Coors. Bandit didn't drive to Texarkana for Coors Light or a local microbrew. Taste the High Country!
Bocce ball. This was the original cornhole. One team puts a small marker ball (called a jack). Then teams take turns trying to throw and bowl their balls closer to the jack than the other team. The team closest to the jack at the end of the round gets points. You get one point for each of your balls that's closer to the jack than any of your opponent's balls. It's easy to play, easy to rig up with house rules, and is a low-key way to kill time while you're waiting for the food to cook.