Thursday, September 29, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific Week 3 Power Rankings

On an island all alone

17. MarkPapa Bear (Last week: 12)

Remember the heady days when everybody loved Papa Bear? Lose a challenge or two and that love goes away quickly.

You can run, but you can't hide

16. Christine (Last week: 17)

She's probably going to last another week, but somebody better than Papa Bear or Semhar will becoming to Redemption Island soon enough, and that will be the end to her time on Survivor.

Still keep an eye out

15. Brandon (Last week: 15)

I can't think of anybody having a more disasterous 3 days without being voted out. Making your alliance distrust you, having a meltdown in front of the entire tribe, and revealing that you are related to one fo the most distrusted players of all time? All that was missing was an injury that could keep Brandon in the game, but prevent him from being effective in any challenge.

14. Stacey (Last week: 16)
13. Dawn (Last week: 13)

12. John (Last week: 14)

John moves up this week because he dodged getting voted out again, and we're reaching a point where a 5 alliance could splinter. He could be a swing vote.

11. Edna (Last week: 11)
10. Coach (Last week: 10)

9. Rick (Last week: 8)
8. Sophie (Last week: 9)

Sophie and Rick flip because Sophie seems to be more of a confidant for Coach, while Rick remains as invisible as possible for a man with as impressive of a mustache as he possesses.

7. Mikayla (Last week: 7)

Here's her chance to get into the Coach alliance - Brandon has given her an easy entry.

6. Albert (Last week: 6)

5. Jim (Last week: 2)

The shake up begins! Jim slides because he definitely seems to be on the fringe of the 3+2 alliance. His voting for Cochran instead of Papa Bear could be due to a vote split that we weren't privy to, but if it isn't, Jim is in a lot of trouble.

4. Ozzy (Last week: 1)

It's tough to move Ozzy down, but he didn't look that good in the challenge, and people are starting to get the blindside thought in their head now that they know he has the hidden immunity idol. Somebody (Cochran) is going to decide that they need to make a bold move, and that will end up being the death of Ozzy.

3. Whitney (Last week: 4)
2. Elyse (Last week: 3)
1. Keith (Last week: 5)

Keith seems to have his own alliance with Whitney, and tangentally with Elyse. He has Ozzy's trust, but also knows his biggest secret and can act on it whenever he wants. It's surprising, but at the same time Dawn and Jim might have been telling the truth - the alliances could be fluid.

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Survivor: South Pacific Episode 3 Thoughts

Today I'm going to riff off of some the quotes from this episode, and hopefully cover the bigger events and stories to come out of it. To begin:

- "I don't know what happened at tribal. I think my tribe was not ready for someone who wanted to play the game right out of the box."
- "I don't think Coach liked me at all"
- "He's a big fat pain in the ass"
- "He's had it out for me from the beginning and he was going to do whatever it to took to take me out. And he succeeded."

Then later:

- "Coach Wade, you know, he didn't like me from the beginning. I just articulated what everybody else was saying."

Christine, your self awareness is unbelievable. You acknowledge that Coach might have been gunning for you because you immediately declared him to be the enemy, but try to put the blame on everybody else for your actions. Much later on at tribal council, Cochran laid out the other part of Christine's game that was poor:

- "I just think you have to weigh the pros and cons of searching for the idol. It makes you look very suspicious and it makes you look like you don't trust everyone else on your tribe. It's all about fostering a culture of trust in the tribe, and searching for an individual immunity idol is not necessarily the best way to avoid the chopping block."

Christine doesn't get it. It's not her tribe that was the problem, IT WAS HER! The single most important thing you can do in the first days of the game is not alienate yourself from the tribe. She did that even before the tribe was fully formed, and continued to do it while the tribe was starting to get together as a team. That's why she's at Redemption Island, and if she doesn't come to the necessary conclusion, she's out once she gets back into the game.

- "I'm hoping that I'll pull a Matt and pull a run here and get back in."

The irony is that Christine doesn't remember that Matt came back to immediately alienate himself from his tribe and get voted out again.

- "There isn't anything that I wouldn't do for this man/I would even take off my clothes and give him a private show to the tune of his soul..."

Does Semhar only have one spoken word piece?

- "Semhar, your adventure has come to the end. It's time to go."

Only included because this might be the new Jeff Probst catch phrase.

- "I came into this game not wanting to be like my Uncle Russell and his reputation he has of being a villain on Survivor. I wanted to be a hero, I wanted to be someone you could look up to. I'm guilty, completely guilty of the way that I acted and I reap what I sow."

- "I don't want to lie any more. I don't want to play games any more with these people."
- "I really wanted to take off my shirt really bad."

- "You say you don't want to lie, but you keep on doing it. I think it's an easy out for him. You do something bad 'Guys I told you that's not me.'"
- "So maybe he's trying to cover his tracks before he makes them. But I don't trust him. I think he's a sneak. I don't understand what's his problem with me."

- "I'm Brandon Hantz. I love God. I love Jesus Christ and I shouldn't be ashamed that I'm a different person than my uncle."

The Brandon No Last Name saga motored on, with Brandon admitting to everybody that he's Russell Hantz's nephew. It was accepted better than I thought, though it has definitely has his tribe on edge. It probably shouldn't have been said, as it has given his tribe an excuse to vote him out.

- "A mistake in my opinion. But he needed to get it off his chest and you know, that shows Brandon's age a little bit. He lets things get to him and weigh him down."

Coach hits at the heart of the matter, which is preventing Brandon from succeeding at the game. His inability to get shrug things off ends up hurting him in the game of Survivor. The conflict that Brandon feels whenever he makes any sort of move that isn't pure and honourable will end up being the end of his game. I don't know that it is completely dependent on his age though; his faith also plays a part in this conflict.

- "...I think Keith and I have a brother type thing going on. There's gotta be a certain point I have to trust somebody with the knowledge that I have the idol. And who better than Keith?"
- "I just think he's going to be a strong ally, and as far as I know he's extremely trustworthy."

A note to all future Survivor players: The whole point of a hidden immunity idol is that IT IS SECRET! OTHERS AREN'T SUPPOSED TO KNOW YOU HAVE IT!

- "Ozzy found it."
"You sure?"
"100% positive?"
"He told you?"
"I'm kinda surprised he told you."
"He has to tell me. Because he has a lot of power."

- "So I told Whitney because I wanted her to trust me just in case something happens down the line when I needed the numbers if I thought Ozzy might be making a move."

- "We've got to be careful about it because he doesn't know that I told you."

And now we have the side effect of telling somebody you have an idol - they can tell more people. A Whitney/Keith sub-alliance is interesting, especially if they bring Elyse in. It certainly puts Ozzy in an awkward position.

- "Why don't you like me?"
"Because of this. The attitude."

- "Before me doing anything people didn't trust you. It's not just me."

- "As a Christian, I am supposed to be meek, I'm supposed to turn the other cheek."
- "But I'm telling you as a man I wanted you out of this game. Very bad. But when she walked up to me the way she did, I was very upset. But what I'm trying to explain to her because she's wondering why I want to vote her out. You might want to look around and see who's really loyal and who's really not. Because it sounds like to me, you don't have really much of an alliance. Period. Anybody else have anything to say?"

Brandon's meltdown continues. Apparently being meek like a Christian means that you passive aggressively attack somebody who you disagree with (in this case, Mikayla, who was driven to tears.)

- "I think Brandon is really torn right now between following whatever crazy religious beliefs he has and yet at the same time he inherently in his bloodline is a devious jerk."

Sophie summarizes Brandon's predicament pretty well.

- "It's a different kind of aggression than Russell had, but it's an aggression none the less."

Then Coach one ups her with a fair comparison to Russell.

- "Ozzy's lost his boat, opening the door for Upolu."

Jeff comments on Ozzy's mess up at the challenge, which ultimately ended up losing his tribe the challenge. That leads us to...

- "We're going to tribal council tonight and we've got to vote somebody off and that means cutting people who aren't really that good at challenges."
- "It's basically between Papa Bear and Cochran."

Are we sure that Ozzy is that good at challenges? Even the challenge that he won wasn't necessarily him winning it - he had the help of his tribe as well. This could end up being a Boston Rob situation, only without the puzzle solving skills. In which case, Ozzy is an a lot of trouble.

- "Are you nervous about tonight? Do you have butterflies in your stomach?"
"I think I have gas."

An amusing exchange between Cochran and Papa Bear.

- "If I go tonight then you go tomorrow. If you go tonight then I go tomorrow."

- "We are up [explicitive]'s creek."

Papa Bear is already deciding to go it alone, instead of trying to rally support to his side. It's not horrible strategy since there's two other targets available. At the same time, it doesn't help the underlying problem of him being on the outside looking in.

- "I know a lot of people view [Redemption Island] as a chance to get back in the game. I view it as a chance for, you know, extended failure and just more depression. So I might do some last minute scrambling. The problem is that I already have this reputation as the nervous neurotic scrambler. If I resurrect that before another tribal council I think it's going to hurt me. (sigh) I so want to go home."

Cochran understands the predicament that he's in, which is great. If he's learned that it probably helps to play things a bit more low key, it will help his game in the long run.

(BTW, I don't buy his "want to go home" crack as anything more than a lament for how tough the game is. He's a Survivor geek; he knows that quitters are essentially pariahs.)

- "I'm going to the shelter and Papa Bear goes into a dead sprint from the woods to the water. And Papa Bear doesn't spring. Ever. And so I'm like 'Did you all just see that?'"

- "The best thing I can do is make them think I have an idol, play them and hopefully they will vote for John. I'm going to play it like I found it. I'm not going to show them."

Somebody needs to tell Papa Bear that the fake idol trick never works; inevitably somebody has already found the idol to prove you wrong, or they can easily figure out that you are acting the role of having the idol.

(Even though it seems like everybody is trying to tell everybody else they have the idol, everybody assumes that people are going to be secretive and cagey about whether they have the idol. Call it the Hidden Idol Paradox.)

- "I don't need to worry about it because I'm in the three. You need to worry about it because you're going to be in the five."

I don't get Papa Bear's point is here - is he talking about a hidden immunity idol.

- "It's a tool. Playing an idol at this level is really only getting you three more days. But that's what Survivor is all about - surviving from day to day."

Jim gets the idea about how best to use an immunity idol. He also seems to be paranoid about the idol being used, hence why he was the only one to vote for Papa Bear. But why did Papa Bear vote for Jim instead of Cochran, who would seem to be next in line to be voted out? Hopefully somebody explores this during Papa Bear's exit interview.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Today's wacky web story

Batman Villains Pyschoanalyzed by Mental Health Experts

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

UFC 135 Thoughts

After UFC 133, I was wondering if the Rashad Evans/Tito Ortiz fight really taught us anything. My theory was that Rashad beating a quick-returning Tito Ortiz really didn't show us anything - Rashad is assumed to be a much better fighter than Ortiz, Ortiz was just returning after 4 weeks from his previous fight, and Ortiz was only fighting after 2 1/2 weeks notice. We would have learned more if Rashad did not finish Ortiz. But my pal GG of Fight Game Blog responded in a tweet saying "Rashad could give Jones a little more trouble than I originally thought."

After tonight I get what he means.

I mentioned in my preview post that Jon Jones really hadn't been tested by competition as of yet. Tonight did not really change that. While Rampage Jackson might be the toughest opponent that Jon Jones has faced, it really wasn't a difficult fight for him. Jackson has a definitive style (straight ahead striking, preferably from up close) that you can counter; he's not going to bring a varied game plan at all. With Jones being in the Greg Jackson camp, bringing a straightforward, one tone style to a Jon Jones fight is an easy way to lose.

What Rashad Evans brings to a table is a style that is difficult to imitate. Much like Jones, Evans' strikes come at you from unusual angles and levels. Evans is also a very good wrestler; Jones will also have to worry about the threat of being taken down. These are two things that Jones has never had to deal with in any other fight. For him to deal with one would be interesting; to deal with two in the same fight will likely produce the definitive statement on how good Jon Jones is.
Tonight also saw what seems to be the end of Matt Hughes' career. Age has forced a changing of the guard; instead of Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture and Matt Hughes, the faces of the UFC are Georges St. Pierre, Jon Jones, Anderson Silva and Brock Lesnar.

What stays constant though is the UFC brand. The brilliance of Dana White and the Fertitta brothers was their decision to push UFC ahead of individual fighters, and to take advantage of the UFC name to equate MMA with UFC. When people talk about fighting, it is normally referred to as Ultimate Fighting or UFC. MMA is not mentioned by the general sports media.

This equality allowed UFC to build a monopoly of sorts, and to own the market. It also lets them weather losing their old stars, and create new stars.
My predictions ended up being 8-2, putting my record for the year at 78-40-2. My theoretical wagers ended up winning me $29.50 (thanks Mark Hunt!), putting my winnings for the year at $103.30.

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

UFC 135 Predictions

Preliminary bouts (Facebook):

Ricardo Romero over James Te-Huna

Wager: $10 on Ricardo Romero at 2.35 odds to win $27

Takeya Mizugaki over Cole Escovedo
Junior Assuncao over Eddie Yagin

Wager: $10 on Junior Assuncao at 2.20 odds to win $22

Preliminary bouts (Spike):

Tim Boetch over Nick Ring

Aaron Riley over Tony Ferguson

Call this a hunch pick - Ferguson probably should win, but Riley is a difficult and unique opponent.

Main card:

Nate Diaz over Takanori Gomi
Travis Browne over Rob Broughton

Mark Hunt over Ben Rothwell

This is officially the dumbest prediction I have ever made. But Ryan Fredrick explains the logic behind the pick well. Basically, if you take Hunt down, you will win. However, Rothwell is essentially the heavyweight version of Yoshihiro Akiyama. Rothwell refuses to use his greatest strength - his wresting - to win. So Hunt will probably end up with another knockout victory.

As I said, the dumbest prediction I have ever made.

Wager: $10 on Mark Hunt to win at 3.75 odds to return $37.50

Josh Koscheck over Matt Hughes

Diego Sanchez has to be angry that he had to pull out of this fight. For whatever reason, the Hughes name still holds a lot of value as a name on a resume, even though he is no longer an elite fighter, or even at the level just lower than that. And with the Diaz/GSP fiasco giving Carlos Condit the next title shot, there was an outside chance that Sanchez could have gotten the next title shot.

Instead, Koscheck returns from the hellacious beating GSP laid on him to instead get to face Hughes and prove that he is at that level behind GSP. Koscheck is very low on the list of title contenders thanks to his poor performance against GSP, but should GSP lose the title or the other contenders fail, he is in a spot where he can get the title shot.

I expect Koscheck to win, and to stop the fight by knockout.

Lightheavyweight Title: Jon Jones over Quentin "Rampage" Jackson

Ryan Pike has a great piece on how the Lightheavyweight division is truly the division of death. The title has changed hands in every title fight since Rampage Jackson unified the UFC and Pride LHW titles, save the first Machida/Rua fight where most people felt that the champion lost the fight.

But this time is supposed to be different; Jon Jones legitimately feels like a phenom. How somebody is going to beat him is really unknown, mostly because Jones has looked like a dominant fighter in every fight we have seen him in. What gets lost in this is that Jones has only fought one top 10 fighter in Shogun Rua, and really hasn't been tested in any way. We don't know how he will react to being hit by a hard strike, nor do we know how he will react to being put in a position to defend against a submission.

Rampage Jackson is not going to test Jones' submission defenses, but he can test Jones' ability to take a shot. I think he will throw some bombs early on, but Jones will weather it and wait for Jackson to tire before taking over the fight. I don't know if Jones will finish the fight, but he will win the fight.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific Week 2 Power Rankings

Well, somebody has to win

18. Semhar (Last week: 18)

I have to give credit where it's due - coming up with a poem on the spot like Semhar did takes a fair bit of creativity and smarts. Kudos to her for that.

(This is where somebody points ou that it was a poem that she had already written.)

17. Christine (Last week: 17)

On more piece of lack of awareness on Christine's part: you don't need to wake up Semhar to announce your presence.

Watch your back. Your front too.

16. Stacey (Last week: 13)

The only thing that Stacey now has going for her is the knowledge that she is the next target. That desperation might make her play harder and get her out of her predicament. Or it might make her look for the hidden immunity idol and miss it, even though it is staring her in the face.

15. Brandon (Last week: 15)

Short of being sent to Redemption Island, I don't know how this episode could have gone any worse for Brandon.

14. John (Last week: 16)
13. Dawn (Last week: 14)

John and Dawn are in the same boat, having been identified as being week the first time they went to tribal council. Normally, this would mean that you would have to find your own alliance to protect you. But in this case, the alpha males have teamed together for their own greater good. Barring some sort of miracle, these two are the next ones to go.

12. MarkPapa Bear (Last week: 7)

Through no real fault of his own, Mark gets dropped significantly. He probably stands the best chance of creating his own alliance to face Ozzy/Jim/Keith head on, but there's a good chance that he will end up being blindsided by his getting voted out.

11. Edna (Last week: 10)

Just too wishy-washy and unable to tell the simplest of lies to cover her own tracks. She easily could have name dropped Mikayla to Christine and Stacey and saved herself from being not trusted.

10. Coach (Last week: 13)

Coach knows Brandon's secret; howhe uses that knowledge could make or break his game this season.

9. Sophie (Last week: 9)
8. Rick (Last week: 8)

7. Mikayla (Last week: 6)

Mikayla is in an interesting spot, as she is going to be kept for being the strongest woman, but she has somebody gunning for her. She should be able to play this into replacing Brandon in the Coach alliance (aside: how does this not have a name yet?) She just needs to point out that Brandon is not the most stable of players, while she can be trusted to vote the right way and not rock the boat. I just don't know if she is going to make that connection or not.

6. Albert (Last week: 5)

Albert's standing up for Coach at tribal council was somewhat interesting in that it was a targetted attack against Christine and Stacey. I liked seeing the fire, and I think it will end up being a footnote in the season, but I hope that it was a rare occurance for Albert. If not, it could be a much shorter stay than expected.

5. Keith (Last week: 11)

Join a power alliance of three, jump up the list. Pretty simple.

4. Whitney (Last week: 4)
3. Elyse (Last week: 3)

Might actually be in a better position in their alliance, as being the odd people out makes it easier to flip if it becomes necessary.

2. Jim (Last week: 2)

I wasn't sure if Jim was going to go down the Marty path and make it his mission to get Ozzy out of the game. Jim obviously understands Ozzy's value to the tribe and himself as a human shield to absorb votes when things get to a merge. What Jim needs to make sure is that he doesn't get caught up in thinking he's leading his alliance; if he does, then hubris will strike with all its fury.

1. Ozzy (Last week: 1)

Between setting up an alliance of people who are willing to accept him as a fellow player, and his finding of a hidden immunity idol, Ozzy is playing a Boston Rob-lite game so far. So I'm sure that next week I'll end up writing something aobut how their games are dissimiliar.

BTW, wasn't the point of hiding clues to find the immunity idol to make it even more difficult to find the actual idol? How does Ozzy of all people find it so quickly?

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Survivor: South Pacific Episode 2 Thoughts

One of the most underrated characteristics for a Survivor player to have is awareness. Being aware of where you stand in your tribe is incredibly important obviously, but having the self-awareness to know what your weaknesses are and how to minimize them is. This episode we saw players struggle with awareness to the point of it hurting their games.

Brandon wants to play the game with integrity and honesty. His problem is that he had to come into the game by playing with deception, to not reveal that he is Russell Hantz's nephew. His inability to acknowledge that there are times when you have to be deceptive has severely hindered his game - he could easily be sacrificed should it become necessary, especially if the tribe goes on a long losing streak. As well, he still seems unhealthily obsessed with voting out Mikayla. We haven't gotten a good reason for this yet, but the implication seems to be that Brandon does not trust himself to stay faithful to his wife. He seems perfectly unaware that the rest of the tribe is looking at him oddly. If he's unable to come to grips with these major issues, he will end up with a short time on Survivor.

John had a better episode this week, but he's still in the same boat as last week. He talks too much, and seems incapable of stopping it. Unlike the others, John seems to understand that this is a definite weakness and something that he needs to control, but he has not changed yet. If he follows with his change in his work ethic around camp, he should be in a better spot. Then again, he seems to be unknowingly on the outs with the dominant alliance on his tribe, so any demonstrated self-control might not matter.

Christine wasn't lacking self-awareness this episode, but she seemed to be blindsided by the fact that she was the target to be voted out. She lacked the awareness right off the bat to know that calling out another player before even meeting them was a mistake, and that searching for an immunity idol instead of trying to form bonds with her tribe would only serve to further isolate her from the rest of the tribe.

To go even further, she lacked the awareness to know that when there is a group of 5 or 6 people talking at once, and they stop talking once you appear, THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT YOU! And that goes double when somebody involved in the conversation comes over to you and can't even look you in the eye, let alone give you a straight answer. Heck, she and Stacey seemed to lack the awareness of where each other was thinking of voting, with Stacey inexplicably voting for Edna (whose name had never come up in voting discussion) instead of Mikayla (who they at least knew somebody was targetting.)

Awareness does work the other way as well - Ozzy's observation that there was a rock way up high in a tree led him to the hidden immunity idol. As well, his and Keith's instincts were correct to attempt to work with Jim; they didn't even need to propose it, as Jim was kick to ask them to work with him. This also lets them lead Jim to believe that he is actually running the show, while they can work behind the scenes to actually control everything.

Knowing where everybody stands in the game of Survivor is a key to being able to win the game. At a minimum, you must know where you stand. But not only that, you must know yourself - your strengths and weaknesses, what might help you to advance your game, and what might hurt your game. Today was just another example of why awareness is so important in Survivor.

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Quick NFL Week 2 Picks

Buffalo (-3) over Oakland
Detroit (-8) over Kansas City
Baltimore (-6) over Tennessee
Cleveland (-2.5) over Indianapolis
Minnesota (-3) over Tampa Bay
Chicago (+7) over New Orleans
New York Jets (-9.5) over Jacksonville
Pittsburgh (-14.5) over Seattle
Washington (-3.5) over Arizona
Green Bay (-10) over Carolina
San Francisco (+3) over Dallas
Cincinatti (+4) over Denver
Houston (-3) over Miami
San Diego (+7) over New England
Philadelphia (-2.5) over Atlanta
St. Louis (+6) over New York Giants

Bonus Survivor Pick: Pittsburgh

(Last week I was 6-8-2 and my Survivor pick won.)

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific Week 1 Power Rankings

If you end up surviving one RI Duel, I'll be shocked

18. Semhar (Last week: 16)

There is something to be said for stepping up and saying that you can do something in a competition. The key is that you need to actually succeed in what you do. Semhar did not in any way, and if her getting tired by throwing flipping coconuts, she will not survive the Duel.

Don't get too comfortable

17. Christine (Last week: 17)

Playing the game way too fast is an easy way to get voted out early. By looking for the immunity idol instead of forming bonds with her tribe, Christine put a huge target on her back. Throw in that she said that stupid thing in the start about Coach being a "temporary player" and she is in a lot of trouble. She needs to either have her tribe put together an immunity streak to let her actions slide, or to quickly make up for her very poor start.

(BTW, if Chris can be derived from your name, you seem to be drawn to the idea to find an idol immediately.)

16. John (Last week: 12)

Another way to become a target? Talk way too much. John performed poorly in the challenge, was self-conscious around the tribe and talked about how poor he performed. He needs to start lying low and contributing to the tribe.

In all honesty, you would think that somebody who has watched every Survivor episode would know this. John apparently did not learn this.

15. Brandon (Last week: 15)

Brandon is doing everything right, but in having to hide his tattoos, he seems like he is acting shady. That is not going to endear him to his tribe, an could make him an early target. And should his tattoos or secret be found out? It's all over for him.

14. Dawn (Last week: 8)

Breaking down and crying in the early going is yet another way to not endear yourself to your tribe. If John does step up, somebody else is going to have to be the target. And barring a Holly like comeback, Dawn is in a lot trouble.

The Rest

13. Coach (Last week: 14)

I still have Coach low because he is prone to doing stupid things, and it is early. With that said Coach has actually started out well, putting together a seemingly solid alliance and toning down his personality. So I wouldn't be surprised if he kept moving up the rankings as we moved on.

12. Stacey (Last week: 18)

Moved up here simply thanks to her in ability to see the clue right in front of her face, and then calling herself out for it.

11. Keith (Last week: 13)

10. Edna (Last week: 10)
9. Sophie (Last week: 11)

Sophie leaps ahead of Edna because Sophie seems to be in an alliance with Coach, while Edna does not. With that said, Edna was the first to help Coach and treat him like an actual player. It will be interesting to see if this turns into anything later on, with Coach forced to make a choice.

8. Rick (Last week: 9)

7. MarkPapa Bear (Last week: 7)

Papa Bear has done a great job of integrating himself into the tribe, and to make himself a lovable character. It's going to be more difficult to vote him out.

6. Mikayla (Last week: 6)
5. Albert (Last week: 5)
4. Whitney (Last week: 4)
3. Elyse (Last week: 2)

2. Jim (Last week: 1)

Jim has the right attitude to play the game. He did stumble though. He shouldn't have expressed himself quite as strong has he did against Semhar. Being vocal so early on is something that people are going to remember. There's plenty of time for him to make people forget this, but he needs to be more aware of what he's saying when he talks.

1. Ozzy (Last week: 3)

This is probably a premature ranking for Ozzy, but he seems to be in a great position. He has a tribe that loves him and he still seems to have his gift for performance in challenges. The question is whether this will last as we get closer to the merge. Right now, I am banking on it continuing for the long run.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific Episode 1 Live Blog

Yup, Survivor is back and so is the live blog!

- Our opening montage of everybody coming in, starting with Ozzy and Coach.
- Coach wants to prove that he win with honour and integrity. Good luck with that sir.
- Ozzy says he didn't ahve the best strategy, but was the best in challenges, which is true.
- The newbies having to row in on a boat is kinda funny.
- That they are wearing "everyday" clothes seems set up though.
- Brandon has the same speech pattern as Russell.

- Whitney gets first billing after the two returning players. Coincidence, or do they think she has fame to trade on?

- Ah the glee of the people playing the game for the first time.
- Edna telling Brandon "I hope it's not Russell" almost seems set up.
- Oh man, does Brandon sound like Russell. And the tattoos!
- The enthusiasm over Coach's arrival is electrifying!

- Christine saying the returning players are "temporary players" was not a good start to the game.
- 5 seconds in and already I hate John.
- And admitting that you are a fanboy? Not the best spot.
- Somebody needs to tell Ozzy that what he did to break his egg wasn't cool.
- Christine needs to hide her disdain a lot better.
- Redemption Island works the same way as before.

- First challenge?
- Hero challenge? Nice twist.
- I don't remember Ozzy being that good at puzzles. Then again, neither was Coach.
- Naturally, Ozzy leads.
- Was Coach trying to dig to China?
- And as I remember, neither was very good at puzzles. Then again, the whole blue team seems to be bad at puzzles.
- Coach fails yet again.
- "There's no way I would ahve been able to do that, well, I might have, but we would have been here all day." Ozzy, I was betting on it.
- The Coach/Edna combination could be incredibly fun.
- Edna helping Coach could just be a kind act, but it could be interpreted poorly by the rest of her tribe.
- Wow, does Ozzy seem to be getting the Boston Rob treatment. With that said, there's no way he's going to control the rest of the game like Rob did.

- Fun juxtaposition of John being honest about his career (Harvard Law Student), while Whitney kinda lies about what she does.
- Ozzy, do you remember what happened with Amanda? Romances will kill your game.
- John is playing the awkward nerd, which is not good. The tribe is accepting him now, which is okay. But when it comes time to vote somebody out? First target.

- Coach's speech was the upmost in awkward "I'm not a threat, I'm not strategic." "I'm sorry we lost, but what I liked about it was that it felt like a team effort."
- What is with women named Christine or Kristina alienating their tribe by searching for the immunity idol?

- Jim claiming to be a science teacher is okay, so long as he can keep up the charade.
- Um, Dawn is right about worrying for the shelter, but expressing it when it seems like everybody else

- Brandon being identified as "Russell Hantz's Nephew" edges out Mikayla being identified as "Lingerie Football Player".
- Look at Brandon dropping the Delilah references towards Mikayla.
- But he isn't comfortable with Mikayla flaunting herself?
- Oh, he's afraid that he could stray from his wife. I guess we have one of our main storylines for the next little bit.

- Coach's speech about winning immunity
- Look at Coach trying to get an alliance together.

- Dawn is getting the "you are going to get voted out first" edit. Not a good thing.
- Mark is going to try to support Dawn. Meanwhile, Jedi Master Ozzy will actually carry her along.
- I might be wrong on Ozzy not being able to pull off the Rob game from last year.

- Ash toothpaste? That is crazy.
- Ozzy finally decides it is time to build a shelter, to make sure the tribe is strong. That is a great way to frame this.
- John needing advice on how to crack a coconut with a machete is not good.

- Brandon's first fish is just sad.
- And nwo Sophie thinks Brandon is hiding something. Another storyline!

- So we have Upolu figuring out how to get up the wall, while Savaii flounders (hey there's John not being very helpful in an immunity challenge!)
- Rick destroys the chopping of the ropes.
- And now Semhar is failing at shooting baskets after saying she can do it no problem.
- "Mikayla is a scoring machine!" Jeff with the unintentional comedy.
- Upolu wins immunity, with Semhar having given up during the challenge. But hey, she's showing a lot of cleavage. (
- Jim rules. "Sorta bad? I feel sorta bad when I'm out of milk. I feel like crap now that we're going home and having to vote somebody out." "It's not tag team wrestling, it's Survivor."

- Upolu gets back, and it's time to find the clue to a hidden immunity idol.
- The Stacey sequence where she continues on about how the clue could be right
- At least Semhar has the self-awareness to know that she shouldn't have gone off on Jim. It's probably too late though.
- And now Ozzy is being blinded by Semhar looks.
- Jim "[Semhar's] body is mesmerizing, but not hypnotizing." Jim is awesome.
- Ozzy telling Semhar to politick is strong.
- John is a huge fan of the game, but not playing the game? WTF?
- And then John goes into paranoia mode.
- And the fight is set up: Jim vs. Ozzy. Hopefully it goes better than Jimmy Johnson vs. Marty.
- Also, the John speech about him being the first one out? Classic misdirection.

- Dawn bringing up her crying was not a good thing.
- Jeff's hosting skills were on the display by jumping right to Jim after Semhar was brought up as being worried.
- Jim's response was great in not directly bashing
- MarkPapa Bear defending John was fantastic to further his agenda.
- For being such a fan, John should have known that Jeff would gladly let tribal council go for days if it meant good TV.
- Meanwhile, John is digging his own grave. He was onto something with the "what exactly are you doing around camp" bit, but blew it by continuing to go on.
- I think Jeff might have to clean up a mess from this tribal council.

- John needs to realize how close he came to going, and needs to think about how to change his play. A hint - shut up.
- Meanwhile, Semhar probably doesn't understand why she was voted out, even though it should be obvious. She talks about having passion, but John has just as much. And she's just as much of a liability as John, only John did not insist that he was capable at something only to show he wasn't.

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Survivor: South Pacific Preseason Power Rankings

I hate doing power rankings before we've seen an episode of Survivor. I thin it's incredibly difficult to get a read on the new players simply on the basis of their bio and odd video that is kicking around. With that said, the last time I did something like this, it lead to the hilarity of Misty, winner of Panama. So for your amusement, here are my preseason power rankings for South Pacific.

(And remember, I will disown any predictive nature of these power rankings unless I nail the winner. In that case, I will gloat forever.)

1. Jim (Savaii):

He has a great life story, doing a lot of things, but it looks like he might have a case of ADD.

In all seriousness, he strikes me as a strong contender to win - a likable person who also has some smarts to him. He is grounded, but he's also able to think strategically.

2. Elyse (Savaii):

One of the most confusing biographies of them all. Most of it reads like what a stereotypical vapid person would write. But then there are pieces which show that there is an intelligent and complex person there. I'm leaning to Elyse being a revelation, and being similiar to Brenda from Nicaragua (who she claims she is most like.)

Of course, saying that you embrace that you are a "character" isn't a good sign for future success either.

And after watching her video over at, she seems like she is truly going to fit the Parvarti/Brenda role. We will have to see how she fits in with everybody else though - there is a good chance that her game could go south very quickly.

3. Ozzy:

I think the only way to play against Ozzy is to vote him into Redemption Island early and often. If you assume that he is the greatest threat to win challenges, then your best bet is to make him compete in as many competitions as he can, in hopes that he trips up once and ends up losing.

Even if he does win every challenge though, if you sent him to Redemption Island you have an interesting argument for everybody to consider - that he had an easier time when compared to everybody else. If he is sent to Redemption Island right off the bat, he won't have to outwit anybody. Heck he won't have to really participate in any part of the social side of the game. The argument would be that all he had to do was win challenges, and if that's what Mark Burnett wanted Survivor to be, he would have never had a jury to judge everybody else.

The other side of the coin would be to let Ozzy carry you until the merge, then blindside him as soon as he does not have immunity. The problem with that idea is that (a) he could win every challenge or (b) you risk pissing him and othe people on the jury off while hurting any chance you might have of claiming to have played a honest game or (c) you risk him being able to create bonds with other players that end up keeping him in the game.

I dont' believe that Ozzy will win this season, but I wouldn't be surprised if he did. He is obviously a great challenge competitor, and his social game is not bad by any measure. If he's learned anything since his last time on the show, he has a chance of winning.

4. Whitney (Savaii):

So Whitney is best known for finishing 5th on Nashville Star. Now she's released a record.

Her bio doesn't concentrate on the singing career too much, which is a good thing. And her description of herself is a good thing - being outgoing, happy and honest are characteristics that can get you carried a far way. I do have concerns about her reasons for being on Survivor - proving to yourself that you can do it and going on the adventure of a lifetime is not showing the drive necessary to actually win.

Beyond that, she does have the qualities to be somebody who could benefit from an angry jury against a dominant player, though she lacks the qualities to be a dominant player. She is going to have to rely on others to carry her to the end, when she could strike.

5. Albert (Upolu):

I'm considering calling bullshit on Albert here - his occupation is Baseball/Dating Coach, and his inspiration in life is Crash Davis, who was essentially a baseball/dating coach. Also, do you want to be a "life-grinder" at age 26?

"I have little to no patience for ignorance" and "I also get bothered by mentally weak people" does not jive with "I have a legitimate chance to win one million dollars," regardless of how calculated and self-aware you are.

Also, wanting to prove to yourself that you can beat all in a game of strength, strategy and will does not lead one to think that you have a legitimate shot at winning one million dollars.

After watching his EW video, I am less confident in his ability to do anything - first he applied for the Amazing Race, which is a totally different game, and he is very full of himself (here's a hint - physical and social game is not unique in Survivor.)

6. Mikayla (Upolu):

So, Playboy cover model and Lingerie Football Player. Great! Being a strong woman is always a plus, and being an attractive woman is also a plus.

But you're most like Jane? JANE? That is easily the worst comparison ever.

And trying to not stand out as a physical threat? Do you not understand what a benefit it is to be a plus in physical challenges if you are a woman?

Mikayla is the most difficult to place - she could surprise in individual challenges, but at the same time she could end up getting the boot early on. Her best bet is to get to the merge with two alpha males, and let them try to battle each other to skate under the radar.

7. Mark (Savalii):


SURVIVOR contestant you are most like: I haven’t seen anyone like me.

Even though he's the Sears competiton winner, he can't come up with one previous Survivor that he's like? Say you're like Russell in being able to find things even. Something other than the lame "I'm unique." You know what? You seem like a nice guy, which makes you like many prior players. Just run with that.

His placement is going to be dependent on his tribe. If he ends up on the dominant tribe, he could go far as a reliable piece of an alliance, one that won't turn on his alliance. If he's on the weaker tribe though, he could make the jury, then get picked off. He just doesn't seem like a player capable of making a big move. That isn't necessarily a detriment to winning the game, but it does make him more dependent on how his alliance does.

8. Dawn (Savaii):

Her contestants that she is most like are Sandra, Parvati and Stephenie. And yet in her Dalton Ross video, she says that it is about time for a strong female to emerge. Now I could be mistaken, but I would think that Sandra, Stephenie and Parvati are all strong women, two of whom won the game. Maybe I wasn't watching the same show as she was?

Confusion aside, nothing strikes me as being particulary noteworthy about her. She seems destined for the jury, but who knows? She could end up emerging as a great player.

9. Rick (Upolu):

Rick has an awesome mustache. This must be mentioned if only to get it out of the way.

Rick is also very pre-occupied with people quitting, which is not going to be a good thing should somebody get the idea that they don't want to play any more. Rick will be sure to let you know why you shouldn't be quitting.

It's obvious that Rick has a high respect for Survivor as a game - the hatred of quitters, and the desire to be named "Sole Survivor" is genuine. And it seems like he is going to end up on Coach's tribe, if only beccause he's the only person to express any sort of animosity towards Coach.

He's hopefully going to be the guy who tells it like it is, and hopefully gets to last for a while.

(That hatred of lazy people who don't keep their word coudl end up biting him in the butt though.)

10. Edna (Upolu):

Edna could go far, or she could be the first one gone. That she is an anestesiologist will at some point work against her; it could be at the end when people are deciding that she doesn't need the million dollars, so she could get voted out or lose jury votes. Or it could be at teh beginning of the game, when her desire to play "for the experience" hinders her from making the moves necessary to win.

As well, Corinne Kaplan mentioned that Edna has a similiar personality to Corinne (whcih Corinne knows as she is friends with Edna.) That will get her into trouble at some point; how Edna reacts to it will also be interesting to see.

I do appreciate her abilities to nickname everybody though; hopefully she stays long enough for some good confessional time.

(At the very least, I hope she drops many $2 words on us.)

11. Sophie: (Upolu):

Okay, what's with comparing yourself to Sue Hawk, even if it is just her "trueness to character?" Why do you want to compare yourself to somebody who is best known for calling somebody a snake and for being (allegedly) grinded upon by Richard Hatch?

Beyond that, she seems to not take herself seriously - how else would you describe somebody who would list her personal claim to fame as being Prom Princess in a graduating class of 28 people (and 10 girls)? She also seems driven, wanting to win the money and thinking it will be easy.

From her video, it does seem like she will not be afraid to speak up, and could be the insstigator for many an argument. I think she's destined for the jury, but not a victory.

12. John (Savaii):


(Sorry, couldn't help myself.)

I don't know if you want to combine the humour of Rob Cesternino and the candor of Jonathan Penner - that might lead to some awkward situations when self-editiing would have helped. As a matter of fact, I think I would have left Jonathan Penner out of it completely.

I also worry about somebody who is in Harvard Law School, but is playing up his sense of humour. He might be overcompensating here.

And finally, to bury him further, uberfans never do well on Survivor. They tend to end up trying to play the game too hard and screwing themselves over.

His video wasn't very funny either (save his random shots at David Murphy.)

13. Keith (Savaii):

So you have a pacemaker and you are goign to confront people who tell lies about you behind your back. That is not a good sign for your continued existance in this game.

I feel bad for saying that, as he seems to be a good person, but unless his personality carries him far, I can see people viewing himas an easy out early on.

14. Coach:

This will be an interesting season to watch Coach. He wants to be in the Alpha Male role, but is probably better served to be a follower. He definitely needs somebody to rein him in from time to time, along with somebody to help him with strategy.

At the same time, he remains a great person to bring along to the final three, as he's less likely to get jury votes. And he is not scheming as actively as Russell, so there is less of a reason to vote him out early on.

Coach is more likely to make the jury than Ozzy. But he stand much less of a chance to win the game. He should remain entertaining though.

15. Brandon (Upolu):

That's Brandon Hantz, of the Survivor Hantz family.

Brandon has two things immediately working against him. First is the Hantz name. He can actually work around this problem by not mentioning who his uncle is. So that's pretty easy to solve.

His bigger issue is that he's 19. Youth is not well served in Survivor; juries tend to not like their their winners to be young. This might be mitigated by his having a son; it might have made him more mature than your typical 19 year old who hasn't had much life experience.

Then again, his hobby of "shooting [his] guns," his pet peeve of not getting food the way he wants or having his hot sauce forgotten indicates he might be a typical 19 year old. And being headstrong isn't a good sign either.

BTW, if I wanted to distance from myself from my uncle Russell, I would not use the terms Cunning and manipulative to describe myself.

(Oh god, Hantz vs. Hantz could be the most terrible thing ever.)

Watching the video, I'm afraid that Brandon might get caught up in the "I'm doing this to improve myself" mentality, which can be useful to rally yourself, but not to base your game play on.

16. Semhar (Savaii):

Nothing stood out in her bio - it strikes me as something that was written to not tip anybody off as to

Her video shows a bit more personality, but is also somewhat unremarkable. The only thing that stood out is her reluctance to say she won a beauty paegent. It wasn't a major beauty paegent, so who cares? That might be an indication of having a bigger opinion of yourself than you should.

17. Christine (Upolu):

This reads like somebody who I would predict to be out first, only to have her survive for a long period of time. I can't really explain it, beyond her top reason for being sole Survivor is that she won't quit, and that she seems to belive that being strong and outspoken is a good thing to use as a description for yourself.

The combination of stubborn and helpful is interesting, but seems more likely to end up being a hinderance than a help. If you refuse to take no for an answer to the question of "can I help you?" will end up causing more trouble.

Saying that most of your sentences start with "I was angry" is not an encouraging sign.

18.Stacey (Upolu):

Major props to Stacey for choosing a player that nobody else would have thought of choosing to describe themselves. Now, choosing Vecepia because she quoted verses from the Bible (specifically the crucifixion) is a bit odd.

She wasn't really a fan prior to this, which isn't a good sign for her chances. I get a feeling that she isn't long for this game.

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

On 9/11

In lieu of writing something myself, I'll just point you to some links regarding 9/11 that I found interesting:

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Quick NFL Week 1 Picks

New feature here on the 'Muse - I'm going to post my weekly NFL picks against the spread. These are using the Yahoo Sports listed spreads, so they end up locked in on Thursday or Friday. No money is being wagered either - if I make a wager at some point, I will let you know what that is.

First, the Thursday night game:

New Orleans +4.5 over Green Bay (Loss)

Sunday games:

Atlanta -3 over Chicago
Cleveland -6.5 over Cincinatti
Buffalo +6 over Kansas City
Philadelphia -5 over St. Louis
Detroit +2 over Tampa Bay
Tennessee +2 over Jacksonville
Pittsburgh +2.5 over Baltimore
Houston -8.5 over Indianapolis
Arizona -7 over Carolina
San Diego -8.5 over Minnesota
San Francisco -5.5 over Seattle
New York Giants -3 over Washington
New York Jets -4.5 over Dallas

Monday games:

New England -7 over Miami
Denver -3 over Oakland

(Bonus Survivor pool pick: New England)

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Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Shattering Realities

The Football Outsiders crew have posted their DVOA projections for this season, and they have the Bills as a decidedly mediocre team. I'm not happy about this.

You see, I had already accepted the Bills' fate. I knew they had a tough schedule (as they seem to every year), and I also knew they didn't have any exceptional talent. Their offensive line looks like crap (again), so I expected another year of middling offence, with the odd moment of pistol formation excitement thrown in. I was all aboard the Andrew Luck train, going so far to realize that if Carolina is terrible as well, the Bills have double the chance of getting Luck.

And now, Football Outsiders have burst my bubble by giving the Bills ranking of 19th, along with giving them more wins than any team in the NFC West. They're saying the Bills are better than the ENTIRE NFC WEST! And on the playoff odds, the Bills have a 15.7% chance of making the playoffs. They have a better chance of winning their division than they do getting the first pick overall! They have a 1% chance of getting the number 1 seed in the AFC for crying out loud!

I don't need this optimism. I'm perfectly content to go through this season and consider it a building season. I've already begun to wait until next year. Now I'm thinking that there is a chance they could make the playoffs if things break right.

I guess I'll have to stick with Bill Barnwell.

The last time the Bills played a meaningful game was on January 2, 2005, when they were denied a playoff spot in Week 17 at home by the Steelers' second-stringers. Since that game, the Bills have gone 36-60. And barring a miracle, things aren't about to change.

Ah, that's the stuff.

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