Thursday, March 31, 2011

Survivor Redemption Island Episode 7 Power Rankings

Win and you're back in the game

13. Sarita (last week: 11)
12. Matt (13)

You can argue that Matt should be rated higher, but the truth is that Matt still has to win a competition in order to continue to play the game. That is a worse position than anybody else (save Sarita) is in.

The Crazy House

11. Philip (12)

The evolution of Philip has seen him now become the crazy old man who feels he should be the elder of the tribe that everybody yields to. This has also make him look like a frightening crazy man with a plan. His evolution is something that I'll end up talking about at some point.

You could be in trouble

10. Steve (10)

I can see Omatepe targetting Steve immediately if Mike gets immunity. I mean, a former NFL player is going to be an immunity threat by default. It's up to him to some how use his positive outlook to convince others that he should stay.

Now you have some use

9. Ashely (9)
8. Natalie (8)

Their 2 votes will be huge for Omatepe, so they aren't going anywhere for a while. But once Zapatera has been dealt with, it's a much different story for them.

Good thing you have that idol

7. Ralph (7)

I'm mentioned before that Ralph is the new Rupert. The thing with Rupert was that at some point, his tribe got tired of dealing with his personality and also realized that he was a huge threat to wint he $1 million. Ralph is very much in the same mold (though smarter about the game.) The key to his survival is knowing when to play the idol. If he plays it in the right spot, he could make top 3.

Treading water

6. Ashley (6)

Not doing anything to offend anybody, but is still in a position to make a big move if the opportunity arises. She's also smart enough to know when the opportunity is good enough to make that move.

Now's the time to step up

5. Mike (3)

Mike drops for a simple reason - he looks like an immunity threat. The other tribe is going to target him first in the absense of any other information, but Mike hasn't shown himself to be good enough to win immunity, especially over Grant.

The scorpion

4. David (5)

David needs to tone it down. He has hist tribe distrusting him, and he has the other tribe who wants to vote somebody out from his tribe. Somebody on his tribe is likely to give him up in order to further their own game; if David acts the part of "good player" he's in trouble.

Speaking of flipping...

3. Julie (4)

We all know that she had toyed with the idea of switching sides and playing with Russell. She didn't, but she seems aware enough to switch sides if it will help her. That switch could come as soon as the merge.

Birds of a feather

2. Rob (2)
1. Grant (1)

Grant gets the edge because he is a beast in challenges. A true beast. He basically won Omatepe 2 challenges on his own. Rob continues to play this game at a higher level than anybody else, but a blind side has always been just around the corner. As well, Rob is less likely to get votes from the jury. but if Rob goes on a run...

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Survivor: Redemption Island Episode 7 Thoughts

One of the less talked about implications of Redemption Island is the implication on the challenge creators. There had already been a move to combined reward/immunity challenges between the tribes, but Redemption Island ended up doing those in for the tribal challenges. The other effect? A need for more individual challenges. That's why we've gotten what are essentially repeat challenges from previous years in Redemption Island, and it's also why we get the amazing game of Memory we received this time.

If there's one complaint that I have about Redemption Island, it's that the competitions have not been true direct competition. Most have been races, with Memory(?!?!) being the only one where both were competing in the same area and directly affecting each other's game.

While I think Redemption Island has been a positive on a whole, I hope that having a good 9 months will allow the challenge creators to think up fresh challenges. It will only help Redemption Island catch on as a permanent addition to the game.


Another thing that Redemption Island has brought us is more interaction between tribes. It's had a huge impact on the game, with Zapatera telling Omatepe all of their secrets as they left the show. In a way, this has taken the place of the tribal switch in terms of affecting the internal dynamics of each tribe.

With that said, I'd like to see the tribal switch come back. They even have an easy way to pull it off. Each tribe gets to choose 2 people to witness Redemption Island, so instead of returning to their own tribes, you can instead have those sent return to the opposite tribes. This would add another layer of depth and intrigue to this game.


A quick comment on Stephanie's strategy in the memory game. If you are going to play second, and you turn up a tile you haven't seen before, then just reveal a tile that you have seen before. By revealing a second new tile, you are basically giving up the hammer (to borrow a phrase from curling) and letting your opponent have the advantage that you wanted in the first place.


I have to admit, I'm very disappointed in the Survivor editors. Sarita doesn't bring her stuff with her, and you don't take the opportunity to alert us to this prior to her being voted out? The only schadenfreude we get out of it is David saying "Don't be so confident". I mean, come on!

One other thought about Sarita - the reasoning behind voting out Sarita was she did poorly in the


(SPOILER ALERT - If you are one to avoid the "Next week on Survivor" teaser, stop reading here!)

I've talked many times about how Zapatera has continually made poor decisions which have ended up to be their downfall. With the merge coming up next week, they made one more poor decision - voting out Sarita instead of David. David is a much larger threat in individual immnity challenges than Sarita, and he's not afraid to make bold moves if he feels they will further him in the game (or eliminate a rival - see Sarita). Granted, they did not know that the merge is coming, but they sure were aware of it coming at some point.

The question now is when will that decision end up haunting them?

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Survivor: Redemption Island Episode 6 Power Rankings

Needs a lot of help

14. Stephanie (Last week: 12)

She certainly went out with a blaze of glory, throwing everything at Sarita that she could. Jeff will definitely miss her at tribal council. But going against the king of Redemption Island is not going to be an easy win.

13. Matt (14)

I don't have too much more to say here - Matt is setting himself up to come back from Redemption Island, but he's going to be a target again. And he might end up being a person without a team.

The Crazy House

12. Phillip (13)

They are really setting Phillip up to be the person who ends up causing Rob's ouster.

Making the wrong kind of waves

11. Sarita (11)

It's nice that her tribe chose her over Stephanie, but now she has to put up or get the boot. She certainly hurt her cause when she implied that she doesn't want to put herself in a situation where the challenge could be on the line for fear of failure.

Not-so-good category

10. Steve (10)

There's something going on here, which they really haven't delved into too much. They haven't shown why people would think he was weak, but the thought is out there. Add in his naievete and his valuing of trust over strength, and he's in a bit of a spot.

Would you like to go back to when you couldn't remember our existance?

9. Ashley (9)
8. Natalie (8)

Their immaturity is going to be their undoing. Yes, Phillip was absolutely annoying. But your reaction to it, while I'm sure entertaining for the tribe, only made you a bigger threat to Phillip, and make you less attractive to the other tribe.

A different type of delusion

7. Ralph (6)

Ralph seems to think he's better than he actually is. He once again failed when when he essentially asked the coach for the ball. And yet he thought that the problem was with the shooter, not the catcher. People notice these things, and they don't forget. Throw in the likely "I'm just a dumb hick, how can I win Survivor?" story, and people are going to want to get rid of him.

Picking up their game

6. Andrea (7)

She held her tongue when Phillip attacked, and she seems to have realized that Matt could be a threat to her game coming back. As the weeks go on, she is one to watch. One way or another, she is going to make a big impact in this game.

Too smart for his own good

5. David (4)

His full frontal assault on Sarita was unfortunate, since it didn't work. He also doesn't seem to understand tha changing a person's mind during Tribal Council is pretty unlikely. Even if you believe that Sarita was going to be a bigger hinderance to the tribe, you have to cut bait at some point.

The two sweetest words in the English language

4. Julie (5)

Up to 4 solely by default. she took a little too much pleausre in Krista losing Redemption Island, as though it was personal to her.

Not smart enough for his own good

3. Mike (3)

You could make the argument that Mike should have been lowered even furhter, but I'm not going ot be the one to do so. Mike was kinda exposed by Grant, who ran the same play over and over again.

The power couple

2. Rob (2)
1. Grant (1)

They really need to be more subtle going forward. Saying "hey, let's go see the view" is something that you would never hear Rob say in normal circumstances, let alone while feasting on a great meal. As well,he has Secret Agent Phillip on the case, so soon it might be a case of Stealth taking out the Mentalist.

Now if we can only find a way to stop Grant from giving up hidden immunity idol clues...

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Survivor: Redemption Island Episode 6 Live Blog

In lieu of an actual post tonight, here's a tape delayed live blog of the episode...

- Matt's "What's up?" to Krista seemed like a come on line.

- Krista talks about how much more substance Matt has. Matt is really get a hero edit.

- Krista calling Matt "Blondie" was fun.

- Steve complaining about getting votes last night? WTF?

- Stephanie is shockingly nice to Steve when he asks her why he was the one who received her vote.

- Quick - what bad word did Stephanie call the rest of her tribe? My guess is "assholes".

- Why does Steve think that it was stupid for Stephanie to have voted against him? Did she know that Krista was going to be receiving the votes? His offense to being voted for by two people on the outs with the tribe is remarkable and well, stupid to borrow a phrase from him.

- Natalie and Ashley are having a spa day, trimming their leg hairs and arm pit hairs. I'm sure the fine people as Sears are happy to see their Craftmaster tools being used for such important needs.

- Ashley asks "What are we doing?" The rest of the world says "I was just asking that question!"

- And here comes killjoy Philip. Here's what I and the girls heard when Philip was talking:

"Blah, blah, blah, blah

- I will say though, Philip's analogys are pretty strong. Between the person who doesn't like dogs impression (patting the head quickly, looking straightforward) and his "I'm the redheaded stepchild" proclamation, we're moving to a more self-aware Philip. Good for his game, bad for us, the viewing audience.

- Wait, Krista is also a person of faith? That came out of nowhere.

- Man, these Redemption Island challenges have had a theme of "use this long thingy to get stuff, then use the stuff to solve a puzzle", haven't they?

- Matt referring to Jeff as "Probst" doesn't feel right. It's like he hasn't earned that right.

- And shockingly, Matt wins.

- Julie celebrating was a horrendous sportsman move. Stay classy Julie (oh, and you know that the Survivor Gods are staring a hole in you right now.)

- Andrea's reaction to seeing the duel and Krista leaving Matt the bible was shocking. Andrea is becoming more and more of a player. (Survivor player, that is)

- Sarita has a hurt tooth. I guess we know who the other target for being voted out tonight is.

- (BTW, "it's not infected, I just cleaned it too much and bacteria got in it" could easily be changed to "it's infected".)

- And now we get the "Sarita is a princess" edit.

- But wait! David is actually concerned about the well being of the tribe in challenges, and wants Stephanie to replace Sarita in the six.

- Exact quote: "If it's me and those 5 I'll shoot myself."

- And yes, he's doing it for the well being of the tribe. It's not because Sarita singled him out for criticism last week, saying he's no good under pressure. Nope, not at all.

- Because if he's looking out for the well being of the tribe, he wouldn't have voted Russell out.

- I can go on with my rant, but the point's made: David isn't doing this for his tribe, he's doing it for revenge.

- Oh Stephanie, you learn how to suck up to people you hate in the business world, not in school. (Though it helps to know that skill in school as well.)

- Philip is gathering wood, and Ashley is rebelling because he didn't ask, he dictated? Oh come on.

- Meanwhile, Rob and Grant understand that these are young girls and they just aren't going to work hard. Which is even more insulting than what Philip is talking about.

- And as if on cue, Philip calls Ashley and Natalie "beauty queens" and Ashley snotily remarks "Thank you! That's a compliment!"

- Philip mispronounces Andrea and Ashley corrects him. Doesn't she understand that he has a dry mouth which is causing the mispronouncing?

- And then Ashley decides to walk away and Philip decides to follow. You know what would have been easier Ashley? Just watching the damn fire.

- Rob refers to himself as Arafat, then says he agrees with Philip, but wanted the girls not to do anything so people would have less of a reason to vote for them. Rob is definitely playing this game at about 18 billion levels higher than anybody else.

- Stephanie's 4 point plan to get back in the good graces of the tribe:
1. Apologize to Steve for voting for him. (Even though it goes against her every ounce of being.)
2. Mention to Steve that she wanted to vote for Sarita.
3. ????
4. Profit!

- Steve thinking that Stephanie wanted to vote for Sarita and that her apology was sincere (only a day after she called him the weakest in the tribe) might make him the most gullible player to play since Erik in Fans vs. Favourites (at the very least, since JT in Heroes vs. Villains).

- Sarita touches her hurt tooth, then puts something in her mouth to chew. Um, how is that a good idea?

- Where's the animosity level between the tribes? "There's a little clash" says Mike. This is code for non-existant.

- And now Jeff is openly mocking Philip. Wow. Respect the gorillion Jeff.

- Philip says that he is using both the gorilla and the lion today. Steve's response? "BOOM. Forearm!" That clip is going to appear on The Soup.

- Hey, remember on Tocantins when JT ripped out his own tooth when it got damaged during the challenge which was essentially this one?

- Reward is picnic lunch with a view?

- Ashley vs. Ralph? Come on.

- This is awesome. Zapatera keeps on blowing this, with Ralph calling for the ball and missing, Julie unable to get a catch, and Rob intercepting some of Stephanie's launches.

- And Omatepe wins 5-0, bringing the tribes back to equal. The Survivor Gods have almost finished their striking down of Zapatera.

- That "picnic" is amazing - lobster tail? Really?

- The Boston Rob immunity idol clue saga continues! And Grant gives up the clue again!

- But a new twist - Philip knows they got the clue and is now on the hunt for an idol! This isn't going to end well for Rob and Grant, but for us viewers? Gold!

- I should really start making a list of memes I am going to steal from Philip. The latest is "Stealth-R-Us", with Philip being the "specialist", Rob being the "mentalist" and Grant being the "assassin".

- And another gem! "Hell hath no fury like a lion and a gorilla that thinks he's been provoked."

- I really need a screen capture of Philip's "I'm going to kick a little ass around here" pose.

- Stephanie is lobbying, which is good. Sarita isn't, which isn't good.

- This "not set in stone" stuff is such a mislead to keep us from figuring out Stephanie is going.

- Though there would be some irony if they kept Stephanie and all of the sudden there was a merge. I would laugh. A lot.

- They get to tribal council, and Jeff goes straight for the throwing of the challenge. If he brings up how historically it has never worked, then that would be gold.

- That's it. I'm calling it now. Ralph is the new Rupert. Blowhard who thinks he can do better no matter what. He gets thrown to and totally blows it, then criticizes the shooter for not putting the ball to the "totally open" person. Um, you lost 5-0. That's not missing open people; it's a complete and total failure.

- Jeff asks Sarita why she sat out, and Stephanie immediately jumps in to say that Sarita was "shaking in her boots" because the challenge was a contact challenge. But Stephanie was fine with Sarita sitting out because Stephanie thinks Sarita isn'tthat great at challenges. (David nods.) Hope you enjoy your time on Redemption Island Stephanie.

- One thing about this "Sarita isn't good at challenges" thing is that it's not like Stephanie has been lights out or anything.

- Also, if Sarita was worried that she was going to have to do something physical, but Stephanie was all gung-ho, what does it say about anything that Stephanie was in the least physical role?

- Sarita should have really stayed quiet. Instead she let the tribe know that she didn't want to be the one to fail, and not to come through. How exactly is the tribe supposed to feel about that? You're afraid to fail? Couldn't that come back to hurt the tribe?

- Jeff picks up on it, saying that you wanted to sit out so you couldn't be a goat. Sarita tried to deny it, but she could only get "No, but.." out of her mouth before David jumped in saying "That's exactly what she said." If you want to look at David's play generously, he's playing the Robfather plan here - getting rid of threats against him above all else. I choose to still think that it comes down to vindictiveness on his part.

- Stephanie swears again!

- Jeff knows a good thing when he sees it, so here comes the leading questions to try to sway the votes to keep Stephanie around.

- And David comes in with another shot. Who is David trying to convince at this point? And if he fails, does he understand that he has made himself a rival in Sarita, and has exposed himself as a troubleamker in the tribe? He needs to dial it down a couple of notches here.

- Ralph seems to be on board with David, which is a bit surprising.

- So David hadn't lined up support for Stephanie yet? Yikes.

- "Stifinie"? When did Philip join Zapatera?

- And there's Stephanie gone. You know last week when I talked about how Zapatera makes bad decisions? Put this in that category. What good is it to have trust if you are goign to go into the merge at a numbers disadvantage?

Tomorrow: Power Rankings come out

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New blog to check out

Mookie Wilson's blog

It's still relatively new, but the posts are well written. With any luck, he will delve more into the detail of the 1986 season (his first post was more of an overview, with a bit of personal reflection as well).

(h/t to Parkes)

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

UFC 128 Thoughts

In February, I said that tonight's fight with Shogun Rua was a win/win for Jon Jones. Now that Jones has won the Lightheavyweight championship, his win/win opportunities have ended for good.

Going into the fight, Joe Rogan compared this fight with Mike Tyson's first title fight. There were rumours that some in his entourage were comparing him to Muhammed Ali. The pressure was there for Jones to perform, but if he didn't there were still built in excuses. Jones took the fight on short notice, after fighting 6 weeks prior. Jones was sick in the last couple of weeks. It was a large jump in quality of opponent for Jones.

And yet, much like all of his other fights, Jones dominated a slow Shogun Rua, stopping him in round three via TKO. As in all his other fights, Jones never looked like he was in trouble, and was in total control for the entire fight. While Rua didn't play to his own strengths (Rua's avoidance on leg kicks to keep Jones from having an opening to take him down seemed to hamper Rua more than it hindered Jones' strategy), Jones managed to impose his own game plan on the fight. Jones seemed to prove all of his supporters correct. All of this is going to make the next 3 fights of his career the most difficult he will face.

Jones no longer will have any of the excuses. He beat a top level fighter. He will have ample notice to prepare for his next opponent. He's going to be expected to live up to the reputation he has built - one of a dominant champion who is still improving. Add to this the extra demands that will be made of him and Jones is going to be facing a much larger psychological hurdle to climb.

Sometimes it's not reaching the apex that's the problem; it's trying to stay balanced on top of it which proves to be most difficult.
Jones' victory seemed to justify the comparisons to Mike Tyson. I think it's worth making a different comparison though - one to Lyoto Machida.

Much like Jones, Machida looked unbeatable when he became champion. Machida had a style which was based on counter striking, and had done a great job of making people believe that he had a style which was difficult to beat.

Then Machida faced Shogun Rua, who found the counter to Machida. Rua attacked Machida's legs continually, and wore him down. Machida escaped the first fight with a decision that many found to be questionable, but in the rematch, Rua needed only 3 minutes to defeat Machida and win the title. After that, Machida lost to Rampage Jackson in a fight where neither fighter looked particularly good and now in April, Machida will fight Randy Couture.

When dreaming of the unlimited potential of Jones, it's worth remembering the rise and fall of Machida. It should give you some pause before you get ready to appoint Jon Jones as the best pound for pound fighter in the world.
The next Lightheavyweight contender was announced after the fight - Rashad Evans. This proved to be another victory for Dana White, a hater of the convention of fighters who refused to fight other members of their camp.

What was interesting was following the storyline that began in the last week or so, with Evans seemingly creating a beef with Jones over a non-issue. Many thought this was the start of a way to try to create more interest in an Evans/Jones fight, in hopes of catching lightning in a bottle similiar to the Evans/Rampage fight from May 2010. They both seemed to back away from that, and when they met each other in the octagon after the fight, Evans was very respectful to Jones and his abilities. You would think that if there was any animosity there, it would come out in some way during that interview.

Also interesting was Greg Jackson's reaction to the possibility of the fight. Jackson said that he would not corner either man if they fought and both remained in his camp. While probably a fair way to go about his business, what makes this intriguing is how fight camp politics is becoming more of a factor in MMA coverage.

Whether it's changing management, leaving camps or other items of the ilk, the "inside baseball" reporting has become a bigger factor in MMA journalism. This could be a sign of a maturing sport, but it also provides a question of whether this coverage is truly desired and needed. As with most of the world, the market will lay bear the answer to that question.
In my predictions, I was 8-4 and my theoretical wagers earned me $68.50, for a net of $18.50. On the year I am 27-17-2, with overall wins of $7.90.

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

UFC 128 Predictions

Quick predictions today...

Nick Catone over Constantinos Philippou
Raphael Assunção over Erik Koch
Joseph Benavidez over Ian Loveland
Gleison Tibau over Kurt Pellegrino
Mike Pyle over Ricardo Almeida
Anthony Njokuani over Edson Barboza
Luiz Cane over Eliot Marshall
Brendan Schaub over Mirko Filipović
Nate Marquardt over Dan Miller
Kamal Shalorus over Jim Miller
Urijah Faber over Eddie Wineland[1]
Maurício Rua (c) over Jon Jones[1]

Theoretical wagers:

Rua at 2.25 odds for $10 - return of $22.50
Pyle at 2.35 odds for $10 - return of $23.50
Schaub at 1.40 odds for $20 - return of $28
Cane at 1.50 odds for $10 - return of $15

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sometimes the jokes write themselves

Tim Lincecum eats 3,150 calories at In-n-Out Burger

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Survivor: Redemption Island Power Rankings - Week 5

Alright, time for something new here: weekly power rankings for the current season! These rankings are based on who I feel is in the best position to make final tribal/win the season.

Needs a lot of help

15. Krista

Facing the king of Redemption Island, and facing a tribe who doesn't like her, and another who could view her as a loose cannon, it will be very difficult for her to get anywhere close to the final tribal.

14. Matt

If anything, his running of the Redemption Island table is going to hurt him. He's put a "challenge threat" target on his back, so if he goes back, people are really going to think twice about letting him get a pass the first time he doesn't win immunity.

The Crazy House

13. Phillip

I was shocked that Phillip was showing a strategic side this week. But even still, he annoys his own tribe and has only made a connection with Andrea (sorry, anDREa.) He's in a very poor spot. Even if he makes the merge, he's going to be an easy out at some point.

Scrappy Doo

12. Stephanie

She's put herself in an interesting spot if she can make the merge by offering up her vote to the other tribe. The problem is that she has to make it to the merge. She is the next one to go should her tribe lose, and her tribe has shown a willingness to throw challenges. They might just drop her if they feel uncomfortable with her going into the merge.

Making the wrong kind of waves

11. Sarita
10. Steve

Both were quick to question other tribe mates after their failure at the challenge. Both made poor decisions prior to the challenge which others can look back at and call questionable. And in Sarita's case, she questioned the one person on her tribe that is likely to hold a grudge. They're headed to be the first ones out from their alliance.

No really, we're here

9. Ashley
8. Natalie
7. Andrea

All three are a part of the Omatepe five alliance. And yet I'd guess they are going to end up being 3-4-5 in that alliance. I realize that Rob essentially declared Natalie to by his Amber this season, but he seems to have found a new partner (more on that later). They are completely safe until their alliance has to start eating their own. Andrea gets ahead because she's realized this and is at least trying to figure out how to get out of this.

Three and four is better than five and six

6. Ralph
5. Julie

I think both haven't given enough thought to their lot in their tribe. Ralph likely thinks that his immunity idol will save him from getting voted out, even though everybody knows he has it and will gun to try to blindside him. (Yay more vote splitting!) Julie had her chance to advance her spot in the tribe by shifting to Russell. She chose to stay in her alliance for stability purposes, which is fine, but she needs to smarten up to her being in the bottom of that alliance.

Too smart for his own good

4. David

David is most likely to go rouge on his tribe. Whether it's going to be out of anger (most likely) or out of a desire to show how smart he is/how dumb his alliance is (also a possibility), he is going to do it. And it will put him in a better spot. But it will probably cost him a chance to win the money.

Not smart enough for his own good

3. Mike

Mike is a huge threat physically, but he seems more concerned with keeping everybody happy instead of actually forming a strategy in case his tribe continues to lose. Of course, he's not actively annoying anybody, nor is he plotting against anyone. It's a strong possibility that he will be viewed as a strong pawn, a la Chase last year.

The power couple

2. Rob
1. Grant

Rob has found his new number two in Grant. Grant is loyal to him, but is also enough of a threat that Rob can deflect a bit of his heat to him. So why is Grant ahead of Rob? Because even if Rob makes the final tribal, he faces a long road ahead to convince people that he deserves the million dollars.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Survivor: Redemption Island Episode 5 Thoughts

The way to win Survivor is to "Outwit, outplay and outlast". But realistically, the path to winning Survivor is to make better decisions than your opponents. Zapatera have truly failed to keep this in mind, and it has cost them two tribe mates.

I've explained why it was a poor decision to throw a challenge and all those reason still hold. One other reason why it was a poor decision - Russell would have made sure that the tribe put their best team forward and either everybody agreed, or they knew that it was his decision.

Instead, Zapatera had Sarita choose Stephanie to be the caller/puzzle solver, thinking Stephanie would be a good puzzle solver, but more importantly, assertive enough to lead people through a maze blindfolded. David and Steve felt that David would be better at solving a puzzle, and the puzzle was the more important part of the caller's job. As it turns out, they were correct and Stephanie lost to Rob's l33t puzzle solving skillz. Once they regrouped, the core alliance started to blame each other for the loss, showing that they were starting to fracture (David really did not like being told that he wasn't good under pressure.)

At tribal council, the core alliance within the tribe made another error, voting out Krista instead of Stephanie. I still do not understand how this happened beyond Julie's explanation that she felt Stephanie could still be brought back into the Zapatera fold. Even that explanation seems lacking. When Russell was voted out, Stephanie waas the most vocal about how stupid it was to throw a challenge and to vote Russell out. Krista was more subdued in comparison; to me she seemed more likely to play ball if you reached out to her. (Which is yet another poor decision on Zapatera's part; choosing to leave Stephanie and Krista on the outside, when you could use them to blindside the others if you choose, is a bad idea when your tribe has been dominant and you face the possibility of having 2 wild cards who could end up flipping to the other side.)

These failed decisions, along with a few other personal failed decisions (Ralph revealing he has the hidden immunity idol; Sarita choosing to take responsibility for assigning roles in the challenge; David not stepping up to demand the ball; Julie not flipping from a situation when she was 6th in a 6 person alliance to a situation where she was 4th in a 4 person alliance) are leading Zapatera down a losing path, regardless of how many challenges they win. They can only hope that there is still a decision that will have them switch paths to win.
Just a few quick hits:
  • Jeff Probst said that this week's episode would have one of the best examples of “outwit” [Probst has] seen in quite a while. He had to be referring to Boston Rob outwitting Grant by switching immunity idol clues to the old, vague one. While a fun move, Probst oversold that way too much. The most amusing thing was watching Rob and Grant work overtime, getting paranoid that others might get an idea that something was up. Meanwhile, nobody else seemed to care (likely because they thought Rob was trying to work out his pooping issues from last week's episode.

  • Stephanie made a smart play this week in letting Omatepe know that she and Krista were willing to flip. Giving that sort of information to Boston Rob will only end up helping them in the long run; while Russell would have used that to have Stephanie and Krista voted out, Rob is more likely to welcome them for at least a few tribal councils. And most anything that get you further in the game is a good thing

  • The most interesting thing about this week's episode? How uncrazy Phillip came across. Instead, he came across as a well reasoned person who knew that he had to do something about Boston Rob before Phillip's were virtually nil. It was a startling change in his edit which is worth watching going forward.

Tomorrow, I'll reveal my first power rankings of the year!)

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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

You made your bed, now lie in it

After the NHL chose not to punish Zdeno Chara any further for his hit on Max Pacioretty, Air Canada sent a strongly worded letter to Gary Bettman and the 6 Canadian teams threatening to pull their sponsorship of the NHL if actions aren't taken agianst the head shot problem.

(See also: Max Pacioretty expresses his anger over the lack of punishment for Chara.)

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Survivor: Redemption Island Episode 4 Thoughts

I know that this should feel like a momentus occasion - Russell Hantz has left the game of Survivor before a final tribal council. And yet, it just feels flat.

When Hantz broke down crying after losing his Redemption Island duel, I thought this was going to be his redemption. But then he railed against his tribe and how they wronged him and that feeling was long lost.

We shouldn't be surprised that Hantz didn't leave in a "classy" manner. After Samoa, he felt wronged that he did not win. After Heroes vs. Villains, he felt wronged that Sandra won. And now, after Redemption Island he felt wronged that his tribe threw a challenge to vote him out.

No matter how valid a point he might have had, Russell has tarnished an already diminished reputation by once again complaining about his lot in the game. At some point, he might realize that he has something to do with how he has been perceived in this game, and how his actions affected his end result in each season. For now though, he will have to take pleasure in watching those who voted him out, uh, win.
At the outset of the season, I made a wager with my friend Gary. He had just started out the season by naming Kristina his #1 ranked player, and I felt that this was totallly unjustified. Her directness was going to be her downfall, so I wagered that she would not even make the merge. Gary happily took the bet. He's since renounced his pick and I took his buyout offer.

What happened with her? The same thing that happened with Russell - the desire to be the one to defeat the great Boston Rob or Russell Hantz was too much for them to overcome. Thus far it hasn't come back to hurt Russell's tribe that they voted him out, but it still could (especially if a tribal switch comes into play.) And Kristina is in Redemption Island because she wanted to make a huge play when it was unnecessary.

Even tonight, Kristina could have avoided being voted out, but she played it too cute, and planted a seed about the hidden immunity idol into her adversaries. Unfortunately for her, the seed was worded so ambiguously that it lead people to believe that she had the idol and put a target back on her. All she had to do was play it cool, and not say anything. But her desire to prove how great of a player she is took over, and she made yet another dumb move. She's basically this year's Marty, only with a better player than Sash leading the charge to dump her.
It's interesting to note the difference between Boston Rob and the rest of the players. Rob finds the idol, and keeps it secret. Everybody else tells somebody, which ends up causing the whole tribe to find out and diminishing the value of the idol to basically be a two week benefit - stopping you from being voted out in one week, only to be voted out the next.

We'll see if he can continue this, but for now, it's a great play by Rob which should pay great dividends.

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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Quick probably too angry post

Zdeno Chara is a piece of shit who is no better than Trevor Gillies. I really don't care if Chara ever plays in the NHL again; what he did to Max Pacioretty was an abomination and should have him thrown out of the league forever. It won't because the league really doesn't give a shit about cleaning up their league (cf Bertuzzi, Gillies, Cooke, Richards, etc.) and that's why they will continue to be a laughing stock in the US.

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Monday, March 07, 2011

Today in Sheen

No Mas
Already Boring?
Not Winning

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Sunday, March 06, 2011

Dragon's Breath, F-18s, Poetry and All That Jazz

A variant on my original Things that Grind My Gears post happened today.

I was all ready to lay out why I think that the Charlie Sheen stuff is overplayed (My first clue: Rex Murphy's column where he tries to link Sheen's actions to the success of Two and a Half Men. Sheen's current antics came to light well after (a) Sheen was getting paid his significant salary for the show and (b) the show becoming a smash hit; any substantive attempts to link Charlie Sheen the person to Charlie Harper the TV character are very much hindsight being 20/20 here.)

But then I read this: Mark Cuban, Charlie Sheen in talks. Apparently they are discussing putting together some sort of TV show, whether it be a reality show, or a talk show, or something. And the first thought that entered my head was "AWESOME".

So I guess he isn't overplayed after all.

(In passing, I present Live the Sheen Dream, a Charlie Sheen random quote generator.)

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Thursday, March 03, 2011

Quick hit

You know, back in the day if you were "taking responsibility" for breaking the rules, no matter how unintentional, you would actually suffer the consequences yourself.


Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Survivor: Redemption Island Episode 3 Thoughts

If any future Survivor player reads this blog, please take this one piece of advice: NEVER THROW AN IMMUNITY CHALLENGE! Throwing challenges ends up biting you in the ass, if not immediately, then at some point in the future. We can go back to Thailand, and Shook Jai throwing the challenge to vote out Robb. Low and behold, they end up going into the merge with one less person, and get Pagonged.

Here's a hint - if you want to get rid of somebody, do it when you have a large number advantage over the other tribe, whether that be before the merge or after it. You are allowed to vote somebody off post-merge, after all. I don't care how much you hate somebody, throwing immunity will not end up helping you ever. The Survivor Gods wreck havoc on those who dare to taunt them.

(Oh, and getting the Survivor producers on your bad side by giving them nothing to work with? Not a good plan either.)
It was a historic show, as Russell Hantz was voted out of the game of Survivor for the first time ever. Cue the trumpets (and the unnecessary glee from Nicole Cesternino.) And while I congratulate his tribe for doing what no one had done before, I doubt they really thought anything through.

The biggest thing they did was concentrate on the bad that Russell brought in his previous seasons. They never looked at his positives:

  • He is loyal to you if you do not cross him. Natalie White, Danielle DiLorenzo and Parvati Shallow can attest to this.

  • He has never won because he rubs people the wrong way. If you think he is still as annoying, keep him until the end

  • He has played this game successfully while at a disadvantage. This could be a valuable tool going forward.

With Boston Rob, he has some sort of charisma which might get people to give him the win in the end. He's also an individual immunity threat for any challenge. You have to be leary of taking him to the merge with you. Russell is not as much of a threat to win immunity, and people do not like him. He's also most likely to hold a grudge if he comes back into the game. Why you want to piss him off is beyond me.

You can already see the seeds of this season's story - Rob's game play leads his team to victory, Russell's destroys his. It's the overarching story of Heroes vs. Villains (and to a much lesser extent, All-Stars.) This is going to be the end of the Rob and Russell Survivor stories, and they're following straight forward storylines. The only question left is whether we're going to see Russell's redemption or whether this is his final failure.

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