Friday, December 31, 2010

Things that Grind My Gears - the first in a recurring post

So, I was listening to Prime Time Sports and thought I had come up a good point to make about the NFL decision to fine Brett Favre for not cooperating but not to punish him for his alleged actions. After listening to Bruce Arthur make the point that the NFL could also have been sued by Sterger because of the workplace sexual harassment piece of the story, I came to the conclusion that this is why they were not as harsh as they were on Ben Rothleisberger - because any further punishment would be a tactic admitting on their part that they felt that Favre did this, and would weaken their defense of a certain to come lawsuit.

Of course, while looking for links to fill out the post, I found this blog post by Kevin Seifert, which makes the point that the statute of limitations has expired on Sterger, so she can't actually sue. Which ends up destroying my point and brings me back to square one - Why so light on Favre in the face of Rothleisberger's punishment?

In short, I hate it when blog posts get ruined by things like facts.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Survivor: Ranking the Seasons

With Survivor: Nicaragua in the books, it's time to update the Survivor season rankings. So, here we go:

1. Survivor: Borneo (Winner: Richard Hatch)

The original can never be duplicated.

2. Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains (Winner: Sandra Diaz-Twine)

In this case, familiarity helps. Knowing each of the players going in and how they were likely to play set some expectations. The season lived up to it and more. The casting of players and characters was fantastic. The winner was a bit disappointing, but the lead to the final tribal was great.

3. Survivor: Micronesia — Fans Vs. Favorites (Winner: Parvati Shallow)

A lot of blind sides, the single stupidest move in Survivor history and some interesting characters introdued. Awesome season. Though I'm a bit frightened at the similiarities between this and the Ruins III.

4. Survivor: Pearl Islands (Winner: Sandra Diaz-Twine)

Rupert. Johnny Fairplay. The season that Survivor became fun to watch for reasons beyond the actual game.

5. Survivor: Samoa (Winner: Natalie White)

Putting aside the jury vote, this season was a win simply because of Russell. His play reinvigorated the show and the game.

6. Survivor: Amazon (Winner: Jenna Morasca)

The first season where alliances were fluid. The game was played in a much different manner than before, with votes moving continually.

Oh, and chocolate and peanut butter.

7. Survivor: Palau (Winner: Tom Westman)

The first season where we saw a true dominant tribe. Then came Stephanie's survival for 2 weeks, then Tom's bold move to threaten to tie a vote to get people on side with him. Very underrated year.

8. Survivor: China (Winner: Todd Herzog)

It has James' stupid non-play of a hidden immunity idol, Todd wearing his bad deeds, and Amanda's first final tribal council failure. A pretty good year.

9. Survivor: Australian Outback (Winner: Tina Wesson)

The beginning of the Jeff Probst/Colby Donaldson bromance. Also the first eer major strategic blunder, though it was at least done out of some sense of loyalty. What ever happened to Elisabeth anyway?

10. Survivor: Cook Islands (Winner: Yul Kwon)

Two of the most likable players in Yul and Ozzie. It also had the funniest Survivor moment, when Sundra and Becky "battled" to build fire. Taking 90 minutes to do so. After being given matches 30 minutes in.

11. Survivor: Tocantins (Winner: J.T. Thomas)

The year of Coach! Also, a great blindside of Tyson.

12. Survivor: Africa (Winner: Ethan Zohn)

Oh Kelly. If only Brandon hadn't have gone into business for himself, we would have had the first momentum swing post-merge ever, and you might have stuck around longer. Also notable for Lex getting eliminated in the Fallen Comrades competition even though he answered a question correctly. That earned him (and Big Tom) 2nd place money.

13. Survivor: Gabon (Winner: Bob Crowley)

Even with the fake hidden immunity idol, Susie almost won. 'Nuff said.

14. Survivor: Panama (Winner: Aras Baskauskas)

The Terry year, where his loss of the final immunity challenge ended up giving us Aras as a winner. Awesome for Terry's dominance, not so awesome for everything else.

15. Survivor: Fiji (Winner: Earl Cole)

Yau Man and Earl were the stars of the season. The have/have not twist and the inevitability of Earl winning once Dreamz refused to hand over immunity to Yau Man.

16. Survivor: Guatemala (Winner: Danni Boatwright)

Stephanie gets a second chance and turns into a mean person. Still an attractive person, but a mean person nonetheless. And then she loses to Danni.

17. Survivor: Vanuatu (Winner: Chris Daugherty)

Probably the most difficult to place. Chris's victory when outnumbered 5-1 and with not winning immunity was impressive, but the show was horrible before that.

18. Survivor: All-Stars (Winner: Amber Brkich)

It gave us Boston Rob and Amber as a power couple, but it also gave us the biggest farce of a final council before Samoa. And the overriding theme of the previous winners didn't deserve tostay around becaue they had already won was anoying and uncomfortable.

19. Survivor: Marquesas (Winner: Vecepia Towery)

This should rank higher. It gave us Boston Rob, whatshername being carried to the island like Cleopatra, and the first shakeup of the status quo. But it was the most frustrating final two ever, with both not really deerving of being there.

20. Survivor: Nicaragua (Winner: Judson "Fabio" Birza)

It was a tedious season until Fabio went on his immunity streak. By breaking up the boot order, Fabio rode to victory, and gave us a likeable winner, which puts this slightly ahead of...

21. Survivor: Thailand (Winner: Brian Heidik)

Oh, the tediousness. We were just waiting for the end so Brian could win and watching was like watching a death march to the end. Cool final challenge though.

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Survivor: Nicaragua Finale Live Blog - Now with Cover It Live!

Heck, this could end up being me talking to myself, but I've wanted to give it a shot for a while, so here's a Cover it Live live chat! It will start at 8:00 pm.

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Survivor Nicaragua - Top Five Power Rankings

This season's top 5 is pretty well wide open. One player can not win. The other four could very well win with the right combination of events. With that out there, I'm going to count down who I think is most likely to win the game.

5. Dan - Funny enough, he's the most likely to make the final three as well. But his game has pretty well been non-existant. He's useless in challenges, inept strategically and merely okay socially. Safe to bring along as he's not really a threat to receive even protest votes. This is Dan in a nutshell. Best final three for him to win: None - maybe Sash and Chase if Chase really, really, really messes up.

4. Chase - He could have easily been number one if he hadn't played one of the most inept social games I have ever seen. It's not like Russell, where his anti-social game let him make it so far as he could; if Chase does things like bring Sash and Fabio on reward challenges or even blindside Jane (as opposed to telling her to her face that he was betraying her), he would be in a much better position. Favoured final three: Chase, Sash and Dan - Sash is probably still viewed as shifty so Chase has the best chance of arguing against him with some sort of "honourable" theme.

3. Sash - The first serious contender. Sash has played the most aggressive game of all the players remaining, and is probably the best strategic player remaining. He's also rubbed a few people on the jury the wrong way - this could come back to haunt him depending on his opposition. At the same time, he has an easy narrative to tell at tribal council (best strategic game), so he might be able to pull it off. Favoured final three: Sash, Chase and Dan - Sash wins if everybody is angry at Chase, especially since Sash's argument doesn't depend on him being friendly with other players.

2. Holly - Holly is one of the two most likely to win if she makes the final three. However, she ends up being placed second because she is less likely to make the final three. Given she is not that much of a threat to immunity, she will have to scramble to make sure she makes the final three. If Sash gets it in his head that he needs to get rid of Holly, she could be in trouble. Favoured final three: Holly, Dan and Chase - Sash instead of Chase makes sense as well, though Sash could try to take away Holly's narrative of running the game. Chase can not do such a thing.

1. JudFabio - Fabio is the most likable remaining player. He doesn't seem to have any enemies on the jury at all, while all the non-Dan remaining players have at leastone. He's also managed to survive his alliance falling prey to the Holly/Chase/Jane/Sash team. His story to tell the jury is very strong - he's only going to make the final three if he wins immunity two straight times, so he'll be able to show himself as a threat in the challenge, along with him being able to point to Jane's ouster as his strategic game (flipping the vote from Dan to Jane.) He only loses if he doesn't win immunity - a big if, but one he could overcome. Favoured final three - Fabio, Dan and Sash - Dan to prove that he's still loyal to his alliances and Sash to contrast himself with a player who would backstab anybody and everybody to get ahead.

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Friday, December 17, 2010

My Survivor Hall of Fame Vote

Somebody came up with the idea of creating a Survivor Hall of Fame. 50% of the voting was opened up to the public, and I as a fan of Survivor and a member of the public, decided to cast a vote. Here is who I voted for and a brief description why I voted for them.

1) Richard Hatch

The original. Hatch formed the basics of Survivor strategy, which continued for 4 more seasons. (Even Amazon had the Rob/Matthew alliance, though that was ultimately broken.) The strategy basically forced the Survivor producers to throw new wrinkles into the game, giving us the triball switch among other attempts to prevent alliances from dominating the game. While it's been said that somebody would have come up with the strategy of creating a voting bloc alliance, the fact remains that Hatch was the only one on the first season to successfully use this strategy. His throwing of the final immunity challenge, knowing full well that both Rudy and Kelly would have to bring him to the final tribal council, was a genius move. And let's be honest - if you were to ask anybody to name a Survivor player, Richard Hatch is most likely to be named among the non-hardcore fans.

2) Rob Mariano

In Marquases,"Boston" Rob Mariano drove his tribe to complete what was a first - voting out an alpha male who had much to add to help his tribe in challenges and at camp. In All-Stars, Mariano dominated the game and probably should have won the game, if it wasn't for a jury who was bitter at being ousted by him and his grating personality while dealing with these people. In Heroes vs. Villains, Rob had the biggest target on his back. And yet, he still dominated, only to be eliminated when Tyson had a brain fart moment. Rob has cemented himself as one of the most dominant and iconic players in Survivor history.

3) Russell Hantz

Before Season 19, it was pretty easy to categorize player. There were schemers, physical threats, characters and other. Then Russell Hantz came along and mixed everything up. He played the game so agressively, driven by a plan of creating so much chaos that he would force others to make mistakes. He seemingly didn't care that his tribe was being whittled away, unable to win any challenges. That he was going into the merge with his tribe being well behind in numbers did not faze him. Instead, he stuck to his game of making sure that everybody was off balance, nobody was comfortable around camp, and somehow managed to flip the game to his advantage. His downfall? The same as Boston Rob's - he aggrivated everybody that he played the game with so much, he stood no chance to win. This alone wasn't enough for him to make my list though. He came back to Heroes vs. Villains and repeated the same performance, making it to the finals again. If he plays again, he will be the star, rightly or wrongly.

4) Parvati Shallow

Parvati probably should have been the first ever two time winner. Parvati's first appearance was most notable for her being a flirt. Her second appearance saw her win the game, destroying Amanda in final tribal council. And in Heroes vs Villain, she was the person that many people wanted to eliminate, and yet she still made it to the end, losing because of her alliance with Russell. An incredible game which deserved better. She might be the perfect player.

5) Sandra Diaz-Twine

I went back and forth with this pick. I really did not want to put Sandra here, as I felt that she won two seasons by backdooring into the final, and basically being the receipient of protest votes (do not forget that Lill selected Sandra and has (a) alienated the rest of the jury with her antics and (b) was only back in the game because of that incredibly horrible Outcasts twist.) But as I went through the list of other players who could conceivably be selected, they all had just as big of flaws, if not more. Which left me staring at Sandra and her perfect record in playing the game of Survivor. She has never lost. No matter how much I try to justify excluding her, I keep coming back to her two wins and saying I can't deny this. So I chose her as my final pick.

(Note: the inductees have been announed! Parvati Shallow, Rob Mariano, Russell Hantz, Richard Hatch and Sandra Diaz-Twine)

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Survivor: Nicaragua Episode 14 Thoughts

Through his 21 seasons, Jeff Probst has become more and more vocal with his opinions, almost to the point of manipulating the game itself. Tonight, he tried to form a new alliance all by himself; thanks to the actions of one member, he failed.

Jane thought she was sitting pretty - in a final four alliance with Sash, Holly and Chase. She also thought she was in tight with Chase, to the point that he was in a final 2 alliance with her. It all came crashing down though, when her alliance mates realized tha Jane was a threat to win the entire game, if she just made it to the final two or three. So they came up with the idea to get rid of Jane. Their mistake was showing Jane respect by telling her beforehand that she was actually the target.

Jane reacted horribly - dousing the fire with water, telling Sash not to speak to her, and just going off on everybody at tribal council. At that point, Jeff stirred the pot, as he is wont to do. Jane outed her alliance with Sash/Holly/Chase; Jeff then asked those three who was going to be next to go. The three seemed hesistant to talk about it before finally admitting that it would be whomever lost immunity in the next challenge. Jeff then did a great impression of his mom, asking why Fabio, Dan and Jane wouldn't make an alliance. The real reason? Jane was so busy being bitter and yelling at everybody at camp, she stopped playing the game. Why would Dan want to make himself a possible target to be eliminated by forcing a split vote? How would it help Fabio to align with Jane, when he knows that he's still got a huge target on his back? At this point, you need to look out for what is best for yourself. For Dan, his best hope is that he can convince people of his not being a threat to win the final jury vote. Fabio knwos he needs to continue to win immunity, or else his time is up. Aligning with Jane in hopes that you can somehow convinve the jury not to vote for her is foolish, if not playing for second place.

There is another wild card in all of this - Sash. He understands that Holly is still a real threat to win the game. He might also understand that Dan has no chance of winning. So it might be in Sash's best interest to use Fabio and Dan to get rid of Holly soon, and then bring Dan with him to the finals. It would be a gutsy call to put another person on the jury who is upset with you, but it's one tha might work best for Sas. If he owns the evil role and plays it correctly, he should probably win.

One final thought: if Jane didn't backstab anybody, then why is Brenda on the jury?Why didn't Jane have her back? The truth is tha Jane is just as hypocritical as everybody else on Survivor; hoepfully this doesn't get overlooked at the end of year continues on.

Housekeeping note:

My next post will be about my Survivor Hall of Fame ballot; this will probably be posted on Friday or Saturday. I will then also post a ranking of the remaining 5 players and my thoughts on how Sunday evening will transpire. (Expect this on Saturday or Sunday.)

Finally, Sunday is the finale. I don't know if I will be live blogging it or not, but you can expect me to give my initial thoughts on the show and the winner, and then will likely either reflect and post further thoughts on Monday, or just start right in with the winner and Season rankings.

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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Survivor: Nicaragua Episode 13 Thoughts

I wasn't watching Survivor in real time - I'm packing to head to UFC 124. So when I got a text from Matty P saying "Chase is a moron", I was wondering what was up. Once I started watching the show and saw Sash and Chase discuss who was going to be going to on the next reward, I knew what was going to happen. Sure enough, Chase won reward and was able to bring two players along. He chose Holly for obvious reasons, but he then chose Jane because he wanted to be the next Nurse John. I mean, that's the only reason why I could imagine making such a bone headed move, to not only snub swing vote Sash, but also leave swing vote Sash alone with your competing alliance!

And yet, Sash remained loyal to the Chase/Jane/Holly alliance, and managed to draw everybody's attention to voting out either Benry or Fabio. In the meantime, he also got the Benry/Fabio/Dan alliance to disintegrate in spectacular fashion, with neither really knowing it was happening. As well, I think Sash realizes that his best chance to win is to avoid going to the final three/two with Benry or Fabio, as those would be difficult players to defeat. But a Holly/Chase final three? That wouldn't be that bad, and if it's a Holly/Dan final three? Even better.

With this and the emphasis of how Sash lost the most last episode, I'm beginning to wonder if we aren't watching the story of how Sash became Survivor champion. After the last two seasons, the show could use a player who deserves to win based on his (or her) game play, and I think that Jane or Holly won't be acceptable in that sense. Fabio is probably the most likeable winner, but that doesn't give him the "great player" aura. Sash though, he's been shown to be dominating the game, and yet rally from a poor position to give himself another shot at winning. It's a good story that people can get behind.

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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Survivor: Nicaragua Episode 12 Thoughts

I was going to do a power ranking of the remaining players. I'm glad I didn't because this week would have thrown everything for a loop.


This was the most frustrating tribal council this season (and possibly ever), where two people both quit. NaOnka made good on previous threats to quit, and while Purple Kelly's first move of the season was to, well, quit. Throughout the entire tribal council, it was clear that nobody had any sympathy for NaOnka or Purple Kelly, especially those in the jury. Jeff did his damnest to make them change their minds, but in the end they did not.

It's fair to say that Survivor quitters are looked down upon. Even somebody like Jenna Morasca, who left All-Stars to be with her mom who ended up dying shortly after she quit, faced some derision from her fellow Survivors when she announced her decision. As well, all quitters were never given a proper torch snuffing. Instead they were left to lay down their torches.

And yet here, in this tribal council, Jeff asked what NaOnka and Purple Kelly wanted them to do with their torches. Both felt that snuffing them would be appropriate and Jeff obliged. But to punish them, Jeff said the torches would remain standing at tribal council to remind NaOnka and Purple Kelly of what they did.

I'm sorry, but what the fuck? They know they quit. I doubt seeing those torches sitting there are going to make them feel shame (in NaOnka's case, I guarantee it won't.) So why give them special treatment and snuff out their torches? Make them lie them down like every other quitter that has quit at tribal council! If not for the viewing public who feels angry about what happened, then for Marty, Alina and Brenda, who all wanted to be there more than possibly any of the players that are still remaining and yet are on the jury and have to watch two fucktards get all whiny and VOLUNTARILY GIVE UP THEIR OPPORTUNITY TO PLAY THIS GAME.

(Caveat: I write this as somebody who has never played Survivor and will likely never play Survivor, and thus have no experience with what it feels like to play the game and live in those conditions. However, the Survivors that I follow on Twitter seem to be unanimous in their hatred of quitters.)

I will say that I'm not offended by the quitters being on the jury; that ship sailed when Janu was allowed to be on the jury in Palau. As well, them being on the jury leaves open the possibility of a 3-3-3 vote in a Final 3 final tribal council, which I want to see more than anything else in Survivor.


One quick thought on the product placement for Gulliver's Travels on this episode: From the challenge specifically set up to promote the movie, to the reward of getting movie snacks, being able to see the movie and the scenes of them watching and "laughing" at the movies, this was essentially the yearly Big Brother movie tie in.

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