Thursday, September 28, 2006

Survivor: Cook Island Episode 3 Thoughts

So the grand "social experiment" is over.

When it was announced that the tribes were to be segregated by race, there was a huge outcry. But now that it's done, what was actually accomplished?

Very little, to be honest. There were no grand social revelations that came from any of the tribes. There was no racial tension between the tribes. By Survivor standards, nothing out of the ordinary happened. Alliances were formed in each tribe. Some members of each tribe annoyed the other members of said tribe. When the tribes were "integrated" (to borrow Jeff Probst's word), alliances were formed based on former tribal lines. If Mark Burnett wants to declare some sort of victory on this, it's that this edition of Survivor proved that people are not so different when put into a reality TV game environment. I don't know if that's what he was going for, but that's what he got.

As for the game, what might have been the most surprising event of the day was Flicka's choice first overall as the 4 tribes became 2. I didn't think she was the strongest member fo the available women from her tribe, let alone overall. But hey, it wasn't my choice. It's funny, because the tribes seem pretty equal overall, but one tribe got Yul, Jonathan, Becky and Ozzy, who are the main schemers on the show. And we got to see that scheming in full effect once the Red tribe (sorry, I can't remember the tribe names yet; so they will be referred to by their buff colours), got defeated in the immunity challenge.

Let's backtrack for a second and talk about the immunity challenge a bit more. This was lifted straight from Survivor: Palau, with the only twist being that you needed to knock somebody on the opposing team down instead of tagging them. This gave the losing team a chance to come back, which is what the Red tribe almost did. Yul's idea to stop and fight was a good one and almost won them the challenge. But he didn't keep Cao Boi away from the action, and that ended up costing them. And the Blue tribe's choice of Candice was genius, even if they didn't necessarily realize it. The Jonathan/Candice/Becky/Yul alliance was ready to take control, but exiling Candice threw them for a loop. Keeping alliances from getting a solid ground is an excellent strategy, and what looked like a dominant alliance took a shot at the knees before it could even begin to dominate.

But give credit to Jonathan and Yul. They were thrown a challenge, but figured out how to get their goal - work on the weak links of Flicka and Cao Boi to flip to their side. And work them they did. And even after Flicka was still not sure, Yul did such a good job with Cao Boi that Cao Boi was able to swing Flicka's vote. Not that it was needed; I'm ashamed to admit that I totally forgot about Yul telling Becky that he had discovered the hidden immunity idol and he was willing to pass it along to Becky to save her. I'd imagine that Becky was carryin the idol in case Cao Boi and/or Flicka had a change of heart. (I am a little upset that we didn't get to see the first use of the hidden idol on Exile Island.) It's too bad for Cecilia, but it was probably the right choice.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Parvati's flirting with Nate. I have some advice for her - please refer to last season and what happened to Misty when she decided to flirt with the boys. She was not long for this game. (And since we're mentioning Misty, Parvati reminds me of her). Hopefully for her, she does not meet the same fate, but being so blatant about her flirting can only be a bad thing. And giggling and mumbling incoherently while trying to make some sort of analogy about a spider setting a trap or something just makes the analogy weak.

(And for me, I hope she stays around as well. Unlike Mr. Dalton Ross, I'm willing to be decisive and state that Parvati is my crush of the show.)

And while on the topic of crushes, the Billy/Candice "love affair" was completely crushed once and for all. I still have to watch the second episode of Survivor Live (tomorrow, I promise!), but I hope that Billy realized the mistake he made (or if he didn't, then he at least was not watching this episode). I mean, how can you made that big of an error in understanding?

(I think this is the "strange love affair" that Jeff Probst was referring to in his pre-show interviews. I hope not but it defintely fits.)

Who goes next week? I don't know. I think it's too early for Parvati to go, but at the same time I think it's somebody from the Blue tribe. And I also figure it's going to be a guy based on the preview for this week. So let's go with Nate, who is probably in the worst shape of all of the Blue tribe men. I think the women are going to send a message, but they aren't going toe be stupid about it.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Survivor: Cook Islands Episode 2 Thoughts

(I swear, I thought I'd get this done sooner.)

Back in my Survivor: Guatemala Finale Recap, I made a list of the Top 5 Stupidest Moves in Survivor History. Number 5 on the list was when Shook Jai threw a competition to eliminate a player they felt was not contributing to their tribe. At that point, Shook Jai was dominating. After that, the momentum swung to Chauy Gahn, and ironically enough, the last 5 players that season were all from Chauy Gahn.

Well, we now have a tie for #5 on the list.

This could actually be worse than the Thailand fiasco. Things that Aitu did not factor in:

- They made it very obvious what they were doing, to the point that Jeff Probst was openly mocking them.
- They could be combined into two tribes at any point; the lack of loyalty will have to be in the back of everybody else's mind
- If the tribes are not merged, then they have put themselves at a disadvantage against 2 other tribes. That is a huge risk to take - they are banking on not losing another challenge until the tribes are shifted in some way, and who knows when that will happen.

I can't emphasize the last point enough: NEVER PUT YOURSELF AT A DISADVANTAGE INTENTIONALLY! I don't care how much of a dead weight Billy is, you get rid of him when you legitimately lose a challenge, not when you decide you need to. The game is too unpredictable to think that you can just get rid of a player on your side and not feel any repurcussions.

Unfortunately, this is another example of inexperienced players making what they feel to be smart moves only to not know what the consequences were to previous players who did this as well.

Funny enough, another side effect of actively recruiting people who had not watched Survivor is that you don't get a good idea as to who is a really good player immediately. I mean, Yul looks like the supreme threat to win it all right now, but beyond that I only know that Ozzy doesn't know what he's doing.

This is also caused by the sheer number of players this season. 20 people is a huge number of people, and it makes it difficult to immediately tell your strong players. I mean, the producers can't concentrate only on the players that are going to be there at the end; they have to also concentrate the players who are set up to leave soon (so that you actually care about them leaving). Hopefully next season they will stay with the standard 16 competitors - it makes life so much easier.

One final note before the predictions: Watch Survivor Live! Dalton Ross and Jenna Morasca do a great job breaking down each episode while being entertaining. The interview with the player voted out is fantastic, and Probst's thoughts should be required viewing for all future players.

As for this week? Sorry Cao Boi, but your time is up. I don't think that Puka will throw the challenge, but Yul's stay on Exile Island might not be the best thing for their tribe.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

ROAD TRIP~! Chicago: Day 2 - Things to do in Chicago without actually doing any planning

You can find the Day 1 report right here.

Saturday arrived and we had a vague idea of a plan. Matty P wanted to find a music store because "Stuff came out". And we were planning on a steak dinner at a fancy type place called the Chicago Chop House. Other than that, who knows what trouble we would get into?

The day began with us waking up and getting dressed and stuff for the day. We soon discovered that we could not call for reservations at the Chop House until after 1:00, which meant we needed to kill some time. The first thought was to get some "breakfast". Of course, is it really breakfast if you are eating it around noon? (*)

So, of we went to the mean steets of Chicago. (And by mean I mean, nice, relatively clean and safe.) After a lot of prodding and discussion, we finally decided on Potbelly which I initially assumed to be a small chain in Chicago. That assumption has been proven to be wrong.

Seeinghow this was lunch, and we were planning on dinner to be around 7:45, we allowed ourselves to eat a little bit more. Boyd and Matt got a "Wreck" sandwich, which invloves a lot of deli meat. I opted for the Italian, which also featured a healthy portion of deli meat, but not as much. As we ordered, Boyd and Matt opted to also get a cup of Chicken Noodle soup. As our sandwiches were prepared, we were asked if we wanted anything on them. Boyd and Matt proceeded to ask what they could get on the sandwiches. I, being occasionally observant, saw the big sign with the list of condiments available for the sandwiches. As I quickly rattled off what I wanted on my sandwich, Boyd remarked at how impressive it was that I could come up with that on the spot. It was then that he noticed the big list of condiments and went "Oh. Guess I could have just read off of there, huh?"

One "interesting" thing about Potbelly is that they make their prices difficult to locate. So, when our orders were rang through the till, it was like a little game. Shockingly, I did not offer this as a prop bet to Boyd (probably because it was going to be one that I won). My sandwich and Arizona Iced Tea came to $6.50, while Matt and Boyd's meals came to $10. It's no Quizno's, but hey, it's not like there are any Potbelly's in Milton. (**)

Next, we were off to State Street and the search for some sort of record store. As we wandered up State Street, we found out something quickly: there were no record stores on State Street. So, we found ourselves partaking in a common pastime - wandering aimlessly. Finally, we came across a huge Marshall FieldsMacy's (***)

The store was what you would expect from a higher-end department store: pricey and pretension. They had an iPod vending machine, and a Motorola vending machine. They also had an "arcade", but from seeing the said arcade, they are obviously using a more literal definition of arcade, as opposed to the more generally accepted definition (A place where you could play various games, most being of the video variety.)

But the department store did have a Wrigleyville area. Since we were going to see the Cubs, I figured I should pick up something to wear to the game. And thus I ended up purchasing a Stretch Fitted BP Cap, while Matt got the standard fitted cap.

Off we left, and we went into the shops that attach on to the Chicago Renaissance. What we found was all the shows save a Starbucks and a souvenir/convienience store.

(Aside: Chicago retailers did the worst job of trying to take my money. Most closed by 5 on Saturday, and some weren't even open on Sunday. Maybe it's just the south, but most stores down there seemed to be open until 9 or 10 local time.)

We went into the souvenir place and Boyd declared his new found love for collecting key chains and shot glasses. Matt and I avoided making a purchase in the tourist trap. From there, we walked around the Renaissance, and ended up on State Street again. We walked down a bit further, and found a Borders which we figured would be the closest thing to a record store that we could find.

While in Borders, Boyd asked if I had called for reservations. I had not, so I made the call. The earliest time they had available was 9:45 pm, and after some consultation, we had our reservation. And we left with Matty P picking up the Zombie Survival Guide. (I suggested a guide to Sudoku, but that seemed to be ignored.)

At that point, we figured we'd go back to the hotel and relax for a little bit before we got ready for our meal (the Chop House is a fancy place, after all). But before that, we were a little thirsty, so we had to stop off to pick up some refreshments. And though everybody else was initially going to purchase a bottle of pop, I knew better and went straight for the Big Gulp section. Not only do you get more for your money, but you can add your own flavour syrup (vanilla, cherry or lemon, or any combination of those). This is quite possibly the greatest invention ever created. I got the 44 oz Super Gulp (Vanilla Cherry Coke, which was fantastic), while Matty P and Boyd went for the 64 oz. Super Duper Big Gulp. We went back to the room and found that it had not been made up yet. But hey, we didn't really care, we were relaxing. We watched the Cubs and Cards finish their game, and then caught a bit of Lucha Libre, whcih included Zorro, who has scary red eyes that light up randomly, and "Alien", who had a mask that looked like the Alien from the "Alien" franchise.

I mentioned that I wouldn't mind going back out to take a few pictures and stuff, and lo and behold, housekeeping showed up around the same time to make up our room. So we left to take a few pictures of the Millenium Park area we were in.

First up, a fountain. There was a wedding taking pictures just to the right of this picture, but using my mad photog skillz, I managed to avoid getting them in said picture:

Next up, a statue of General John Logan:

How did I know it was John Logan? I read this sign:

In the distance of this shot is Soldier Field:

A couple of shots of Chicago's skyline:

These photos of a picket line at the Congress Plaza are only included because of the length of the strike - three years and counting. Cosmo Kramer has nothing on these fine folks.

This was the first of a few "pictures of Boyd". It's actually a photo of a Chicago traffic cop, and more specifically, her Segway. I'm always amused by Segways and their use, even if it's perfectly legitimate.

I should really know where this was taken - I believe it's by the Chicago Museum of Modern Art, but I can't remember (and didn't think of making any notes or anything - for all I know, I could be making up the Museum of Modern Art):

We had a near catastrophe as I was taking a picture of the water feature thingy, as Boyd looked like he was going to end it all and jump in:

Fortunately, fate (and the 6 inch depth of the water) intervened and Boyd was saved.

Surveying the kingdom:

One of the cooler things in Millenium Park is the water park:

The faces on the towers do change, and disturbingly, water will come out of the mouth of the picture if the mouth opens. (No picture unfortunately - we saw this later on when the camera had been retired.)

A picture of Jay Priztker Pavillion:

And then we get to a piece of odd "architecture" - the metallic kidney:

While it might look smooth and virtually impossible to stand on, the birds did not have a problem:

A picture of me taking a picture of the metallic kidney thing:

And finally, a picture of people walking under "The Cloud Gate", as it is called on the official website. Personally, I think it's a big coverup to allow the alien craft that landed in Chicago to be displayed in full view of an unsuspecting public:

One final picture: TSN on our TV screen in Chicago?!?

After walking around, we went back to the hotel room to chill for a little bit before getting ready to go to dinner. We watched a bit of the White Sox/Twins game, then got all dressed up for our dinner.

We took a cab to the Chop House, as it was a good 10 minutes away minimum. As we went, we got to see some interesting restaurants as well as locating the Hard Rock Cafe (basically across the street from the Chop House). We went in and asked for a table for 3, forgetting to mention that we actualy had a reso. After that mix up was cleared up, we were put on the third floor, which is non-smoking (****).

As we came in, we were given the menu, the specials menu and the wine menu. Water was poured and we ordered our apps: Baked Cherrystone Clams Casino for Boyd, Sauteed Lake Perch for Matt, Sauteed Cajun Shrimp for me, and Fried Calamari for the table.

The Clams were the worst of the apps, as they were only good. The Calamari was prepared extremely well; tender, but not rubbery. The Cajun Shrimp was fantastic; the perect amount of spice as it did not overpowwer the shrimp taste. As well, they were large shrimp. But the star was the Perch. Quite honestly, I don't believe that you will find a better Perch dish anywhere. The perch was juicy, light and tasty. Quite honestly, I can not properly describe how amazing this Perch was.

The main course was up next. Boyd ordered the 24 oz Prime Rib, along with a lobster tail (one of the specials of the night). Matt got the 24 oz New York Strip, while I got the Chop House Platter (Lamb Chop, Veal Chop and Filet Mignon). Boyd and I got a side of Asparagus, while Matt got some Sauteed Mushrooms. Along with this, we got a bottle of nice Red wine (*****)

Before our meal came though, we received a salad. Nothing of note for this salad - it was just your regular greens and a bit of tomato. But the meal itself was just, wow. The meat was sufficiently large (except for my platter, which was three smaller pieces). The lamb chop was the highlight of my meal. Done to medium-rare perfection, it was extremely tasty. Unfortunately, the filet mignon did not live up to standards. Partially because it was the last piece of meat that I ate, and partially because I think it was waiting for Boyd's and Matt's meals to stop mooing to be sent out. (******)

Once the meals were done, Boyd and I ordered a coffee each, while Boyd got enticed by the homemade chocolate cake. This cake was to die for. A fitting end to one of the best meals I have ever had.

All in all, for 4 apps, 3 entrees, 3 sides, a bottle of wine and a dessert, dinner cost $300, which was more than reasonable. We settled up and then went back to the hotel, where we rested up for the whole reason why we came to Chicago in the first place.

Next up: Wrigley Field and a lesson learned at Giordano's.

(*): (Please save all smart ass remarks about it being brunch. I'm trying to make a joke here, and I don't need to be getting caught up in little nuances like "facts".)

(**): I feel like Frank Tanana with the fat fastball I just grooved in there.

(***): In case you are curious about the whole striking out thing, read this.

(****): It also might be where they put the riff-raff that they don't want to show the public, but that's unproven right now and we'll give them the benefit of the doubt.

(*****): One of the more fun moments was the saga of Matty P and the red wine. Apparently Matt is not a fan of wine (which is interesting because the rest of his family enjoys a glass of red). But he got a "sampling" in his glass, even though he had ordered a beer along with his meal. And even though Matt left the wine alone, the server was sure to ensure that Matt had a full glass whenever he came by, no matter how many times we gently protested. It reached a point where Boyd had to drink Matt's glass to finish the bottle. (Hey, it was a $60 bottle. Why waste it?)

(******): I swear, both of their cuts of meat were at least 3 inches thick.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A perfect match

Tie Domi recently retired, getting more attention in Toronto than Steve Yzerman's retirement. Why? Because as Damien Cox points out, Domi used his years as the Toronto Maple Leafs' enforcer to promote himself and basically become a revered player. (Not that there is anything wrong with this - hockey teams were basically paying Domi to beat up people and to take a beating, so why shouldn't he use the opportunity to further his own career?)

Well, he's getting a bit more attention now, as his wife filed divorce papers recently. Her claim? That Mr. Domi was having an affair with Belinda Stronach, Liberal MP and heiress to the Magna fortune.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Survivor: Cook Islands Episode 1

Some quick thoughts about the first episode (being done as the second episode finishes...):

- The whole grand "social experiment" stuff? Nothing of note. You basically had tribes saying "we have to represent our race". The Hiki (African-American) tribe actually made a point about them being city slickers and how that might be perceived as a slight against their race. I honestly don't think that anybody will go that route at all. And Cowboy bringing old-school homeland medicine to the Puka tribe was actually interesting.

- In danger: Jessica (how do you lose two chickens?), Cowboy (stop talking so much), Billy (do some work) and Nathan (being on the outside of an alliance is not good).

- Nathan and Sekou messed up so much with the Exile Island selection. First, choosing Jonathan seemed odd. Why not somebody from the challenge winning Puka tribe? Maybe weaken them? Then, just to make things even better, they made the decision themselves, without asking any of their tribemates! This is why it came as no surprise that Sekou was one of the people who had never watched the show before. If he had, he might have played things a bit differently (and maybe he would have done a bit more work around camp).

No predictions for who goes in Episode 2 because, well, I just watched it. But one of Jeff's comments seems to come to fruition in it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I have the cardboard box all ready

Blogging is going to be lighter than usual for the next week or so (aka non-existant, which I guess is the normal schedule around here recently). I'm off to Vegas! And yes, I do plan on a trip report.

Survivor Week 1 recap will probably occur Thursday the 21st.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Apparently, they were more of a Dan Band crowd

Air France is getting sued for Bonnie Tyler singing "Total Eclipse of the Heart" at the request of the co-pilot on a France to Mauritius flight. The passengers are claiming they were "traumatized" and "afraid for their safety".

(h/t: Today in the Sky)

It brings a tear to my eye

"I think you value hooking up with a good looking girl a lot more than you value your friendship with a guy you just met two days ago."

- Frank, Real World: Las Vegas


Maybe this should have been on Matty P's Top 25 Wrestling Finishers - Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day dropkicking a fan at one of their shows.

Monday, September 04, 2006


Everybody who ever saw the Crocodile Hunter had to expect that he would eventually tempt fate once too often. Sadly, that day has arrived much too soon.

Most surprising is that it came at the hands of a sting ray

Condolences to his wife Terri and his two children, Bindi and Bob.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Finally, a chance to win!

It's been said by some that the best slot machine ever invented is the ATM, because it always pays you some amount of money. Well, a Japanese bank is making it even better, by including a roulette game with all ATM withdrawls. A winning spin give the person 1,000 yen ($8 USD).

(h/t: Die is Cast)