Thursday, October 27, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific Episode 7 Thoughts

Random thoughts scattered throughout the show...

The overestimation of Christine as a threat

First, let me say that this week's Redemption Island duel was probably the best one that they've done. Granted, that is damning with faint praise, but it was actually intriguing and not that obvious.

With that said, let's not pretend that Christine is some kind of threat here. She was won games of bean bag toss, shuffleboard and balancing idols. These are not your normal individual immunity challenges. Let's not mistake it for the real thing.

Also, Mikayla might have been a threat to win a challenge, but anybody else? Are you really betting on PapaBear, Stacey or Semhar on winning an individual challenge?

Christine has had a great run, but let's not put her in a position where she's a top player or anything.

What is with Survivor choosing bad movies for cross-promotion?

Last year was Gulliver's Travels, this year is Jack and Jill. A note for movie exectuives: do not cross promote on Survivor.

(BTW, good thing it wasn't Footloose - that would have been awkward for Whitney since she has a single on the soundtrack.)

Ozzy's dumb plan

Thinking Christine might go back to Upolu after being voted out is some major unawareness of what is going on. Last week Christine is giving Rick the finger. She has seen all of the outsiders get voted out of her tribe. Why would she want to go back to Upolu instead of helping Savaii for revenge? Not to mention the theory that the merge is coming is not guaranteed.

(BTW, what is with Ozzy and dumb Survivor moves? His first time around saw him throw a challenge for no good reason just to get rid of Billy Garcia. Fans vs. Favorites had him leaving an immunity idol in his pocket while getting voted out. And this time has him wanting to get voted out. I hope he doesn't play again, because I don't know how he tops this.)

Ozzy's meltdown

If Ozzy was willing to be voted out to save his tribe, that went out of the window after Cochran seemingly blew a challenge by himself. Super competitive Ozzie has returned, and with that he brought back the desire to have the strongest members on the tribe. Which means Cochran has to go.

Cochran's self denial of being "redeemed"

Cochran is smart. Getting voted out is never a smart plan, even if you still have a chance of coming back into the game. Even still, he should accept what his tribe is saying. They are trying to support him and build his confidence, which is something that he has definitely been lacking. That he refuses to accept this is his own problem.

Why doesn't he accept this rah-rah speech? Part of it is because he doesn't want to get voted out, without question. But another issue is that he has fluked out of getting voted out each other time Savaii has gone to Redemption Island. He seems to be under the impression each time Tribal Council comes along that it is him who is going to get voted out, then doesn't do anything about it. He has always been saved by somebody else, and doesn't have the feeling that he has done anything to further his game. Redemption Island might have actually been better for him, to make him think that he can be an actual relevant player, instead of an incidental player while others actually play the game.

Ozzy's dumb plan, redux

But wait! Ozzy had a dream, y'all, and it's his time for redemption. He even compares it to his gut feeling about not playing the hidden immunity idol during Fans vs. Favorites, as though that is a positive thing. To compound his stupid plan, ozzy seems to think that it would be a good idea to paint Cochran as the villain, and somehow plant him in the other tribe as a double agent. What the hell are you thinking? And then, just to put a cherry on top, you give Cochran the idol? What in the sweet blue hell are you thinking?

I could list the many different ways that this is the dumbest thing move that Ozzy has ever made, but it would be redundant. If there are Survivor gods out there, it's pretty obvious that Ozzy is going to lose, and Cochran is going to screw over Savaii with the hidden immunity idol. But at the same time, the Survivor gods like a good redemption story as well. Maybe it's time for Ozzy to come out looking good from one of his silly plans.

At least this season has been interesting.

(Programming note: Due to my vacation, no power rankings this week - if there were going to be any major changes from last week, it would be Savaii dropping, while Upolu rising.)

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific Episode 6 Power Rankings

I don't know how you do it

14. Christine (Last Rank: 15)

Who knew that Christine would end up being the Matt of this season? I mean, she's only going to end up coming back into the game in an okay position if Upolu and Savaii are close numbers. But at the same time, she's still an easy out for both teams should they desire.

13. Mikayla (Last Rank: 6)

I still don't understand how she's on Redemption Island - that Rick could not see that Edna's only value is to Coach is disappointing. Loyalty is important - however, loyalty to the fringes of your alliance is futile.

Feeling a bit warm under your seat?

12. Brandon (Last Rank: 14)

I can't criticize Brandon's game play any more; it is awful, but we all know it's awful. He's playing the game his way, which is fine. Just don't expect him to have a coherent strategy.

11. Cochran (Last Rank: 12)

Cochran better hope that Jim can save him from getting voted out if Savaii loses another challenge.

10. Edna (Last Rank: 11)

Edna is the next to go if Brandon doesn't. Period.

9. Rick (Last Rank: 9)

As I mentioned above, voting out of loyalty to a non-core member of your alliance is just dumb.

8. Coach (Last Rank: 10)

The bad Coach showed up this episode. The one that was bossy, controlling and transparent in his intentions. This is going to kill any chance he has to win his game.

7. Dawn (Last Rank: 12)

Her story is ultimately going to stop her from being able to win the game. Nobody is going to want to bring her to the end.

6. Ozzy (Last Rank: 4)

Ozzy caved far too soon on the free agent angle. He could have played it to not be voted out next tribal without using his idol. But that would have involved him having to think of a bit more subtle strategy.

5. Albert (Last Rank: 5)

Albert is in an awkward spot - he is second in command to Coach, but his name is out there as a target. If he makes it to the end, he has to somehow show that he was running the show, not Coach. That is a giant mountain to climb.

4. Sophie (Last Rank: 8)

The biggest jump - she is perfectly positioned right now in multiple ways. She can be the "safe" vote in a final tribal council where everybody hatest eh other competitors. She can orchestrate a mutiny if she feels it necessary. She has a lot of options, many of which she does not need to explore for a while.

3. Whitney (Last Rank: 2)
2. Keithe (Last Rank: 1)

The power couple needs to worry about the Jim/Cochran/Dawn alliance making a move to break them up. There is a chance that Savaii will try to break up that couple just before any potential merge.

1. Jim (Last Rank: 7)

Welcome back Jim. Your shifting of alliances has left you running the show. So long as it doesn't go to your head, you could ride this very far.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Who knew old home movies could be so cool

Getting ready for a trip to Vegas, and on a Message board I frequent these videos were posted. They're of the strip circa 1987 and 1993...

In this second video, take particular note of the Stardust. That it ended up being imploded and not kept around is a shame.

This video is great for the look at the current MGM Grand's initial interior

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific Episode 5 Live Thoughts

While I understand why Coach is concerned about being fingered as the leader of his tribe, I'm not sure why everybody else on his tribe was so concerned about this being revealed. I get Albert being angry about being put out as a ringleader, but why is everybody concerned about Coach being revealed? If anything, it's an advantage to have somebody else being the target - it gives you an opportunity to play and improve your situation!

I AM FLIP-FLOPPING ON ELYSE! FLIP-FLOPPING! Following Ozzy's lead, mocking Cochran? Not good for your situation.

I AM FLIP-FLOPPING ON OZZY! Get rid of yoru right hand man pre-merge? WTF? Jim rightly jumps on this as a selling point for Keith to get rid of Elyse (though why not just vote Ozzy out?)

I actually like Albert's move to share it with Sophie and Coach - both are likely to reciprocate his trust, and it further solidifies their alliance.

And hey, how about the new idol rules working like they wanted?

Oh god, they're now referring to Cochran as Cochran on the names at the bottom of the screen.

Ozzy does make a point about fishing taking a lot of someone. With that said, Cochran is also right to say not to too cocky Ozzy.

What is up with Jim's open mouth chewing pantomime?

I have no clue what the best strategy would be to get as much meat off the pig. Small bites and fill up your mouth?

Oh god the in basket camera shot is the most horrifici thing I have seen on Survivor?

Wait, why couldn't Ozzy carry the entire pig with him?

I should have seen that result coming - with Jeff's build up about how these tribes are the closest matched ever, a win by 2 oz, makes sense.

And who really would want to eat the meat that had been transported to the basket?

Every time I think things are in place, Cochran starts opening his mouth about getting oral herpes from that challenge. Come on Cochran, get yoru head in the game. Stop saying stupid things.

Jim worked Keith, uh, not so strong. Then Keith comes up with the other issue - is causing Ozzy to not trust them worth splitting up Elyse and Ozzy?

More importantly, why can't they vote Cochran, then vote Elyse afterwards? This feels like a play that should come closer to the merge.

Cochran making light of the injuries is not good. Then Jeff nails him with the constant Cochran narrative and obsessing point. Not a good time for the Cochran rally.

I'm shocked tha Jim of all people is the one with the awareness to know that voting somebody out, even if strategic, hurts.

I'm predicting Cochran gets voted out 4-3.

("Coch-train"? How did that make it to air?)

Well Keith, you and Whitney are now the power couple with a brilliant play. Elyse getting voted out 3-2-2 is madness.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

When you have to sell something...

Alan Hirsch has a piece on FrumForum about the accuracy of Moneyball. Since he's written a book that was critical of Moneyball (writing a critique of a book 10 years after it's focus to say it did not work in recent years - how does that teach us anything of what happened when it was applied?) In it he brings out all of the usual tired canards about how Moneyball failed - Jeremy Brown failed so Billy Beane couldn't draft, the A's success was driven by the top three starters Beane inherited, etc. But Hirsch took another usual line a bit too far:

One exception, the Minnesota Twins, has succeeded for the better part of two decades while explicitly disavowing the tactics trumpeted by Moneyball.

While I'm sure he chose the two decades time range to include the 1991 World Series champions, it doesn't help the argument too much. Here's the yearly record for the Twins from 1991 to 2000:

1991: 95-67 (win World Series)
1992: 90-72
1993: 71-91
1994: 53-60
1995: 56-88
1996: 78-84
1997: 68-94
1998: 70-92
1999: 63-97
2000: 69-93

What's also lost in this is that in 1991, the Twins signed Jack Morris as a free agent, acting decidely as not a small market team. Using the Twins as a proxy to show that the "old fashioned way" of constructing a team works is a normal reaction; pointing to the 90s as an example of this is just baffling.

(The Twins would not make the playoffs again until 2002, which is the focus of the Moneyball movie and book. That year the Athletics tied for the best record in the American League.)


Thursday, October 06, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific Episode 4 Power Rankings

Reunited for one night

16. Stacey (Last week: 14)
15. Christine (Last week: 16)

I have to admit to being impressed with both Christine and Stacey this week. Stacey's recognition that her best way of not being voted out was to make somebody else the target was smart; her choosing of Brandon to feed bad information to was genius.

Christine has turned out to be a great competitor in these duels. I don't know that she'll be able to keep it up, but she has proved to be better in them than I thought.

In a bit of a predicament

14. Brandon (Last week: 15)

I feel bad for Brandon. The more we learn about him, the more it becomes obvious that he should have never played the game in the first place. He obviously has issues that he needs to work through, some of which specifically come from his uncle's appearances on Survivor. I'm sure that at the time it seemed like a good idea for him to play, and he was caught up in the Russell fever. But as the time goes on it is more difficult for him to play, and for us as viewers to continue to watch. For everybody's well being, it's probably best if he gets voted out soon.

13. Dawn (Last week: 13)
12. John (Last week: 12)

They are showing signs of friskiness, having some sort of working agreement with Jim. But I fear it is too little, too late. Congrats to Dawn for winning the immunity challenge though; there is a chance that she has moved ahead of Cochran in the pecking order.

Everybody else

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

Just when you thought the old Coach was gone, he pulls a stunt like he did after the votes were counted. You thought that Stacey, the easily annoyed person who was just voted out of your tribe, would appreciate a group hug Coach? Wow.

9. Rick (Last week: 9)

Congrats to Rick for getting to say something in this episode, even if it was just that Albert snores.

8. Sophie (Last week: 8)

7. Jim (Last week: 5)

Jim falls this week, but if he pulls off the alliance switch, he will shoot up the ranks again.

6. Mikayla (Last week: 7)
5. Albert (Last week: 6)

Yay for inertia!

4. Ozzy (Last week: 4)

Precariously holding on to a decent spot, Ozzy is showing signs of not being Boston Rob. He is losing Jim, and has Keith and Whitney wary of the game he is playing. He needs to commit to being the puppet master, or just let somebody else take the lead on his alliance. He is lookng incredibly shifty right now.

3. Elyse (Last week: 2)

Survivor is a delicate balance at times. If you do not converse with someone on a frequent basis, you are pegged as an outsider and become a target; if you talk too much to someone, you are put into an alliance with them and then become a target. Elyse is in a second boat, and might not be aware she is in that boat.

2. Whitney (Last week: 3)
1. Keith (Last week: 1)

Keith and Whitney are in the driver seat. They have information that the rest of the tribe does not, and they are being wooed by both sides of a divide. The key is that they need to make the best decision for them going forward. I suspenct it would be to go with Ozzy and Elyse, as they would be equals in that alliance, and Ozzy would still be the main target of the other tribe. Either way, their decision will have a lasting impact ont he game.

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Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific Episode 4 Thoughts

The Cochran/Jim/Dawn alliance should count themselves lucky that Savaii won immunity this week. If they tried to go through with their plan to get rid of Elyse, it would have went down in flames and left Jim to scramble to save face.

It's a good move for Jim to be thinking about his place in the "3+2" alliance. He knows that somebody is going to be outside of a core group of four, and he can see that it's him. So he wants to turn his problem into an advantage, and he sees his chance to turn the game on it's head in the outsiders. The outsiders (Dawn and Cochran) naturally welcome this opportunity.

Just one thing: Where is the 4th vote coming from?

We can safely eliminate Elyse as a fourth vote. We can also eliminate Ozzy, since his actions are what made Dawn want to turn in the first place. That leaves Keith and Whitney as possible targets.

Both Keith and Whitney have reasons to strike against Ozzy, as they know he has a hidden immunity idol. But why would they strike against Elyse?

Just as importanly, how can they be approached to flip? Jim couldn't approach them unless he is fully committed to making Cochran and Dawn his main alliance and then dealing with the consequences. So strike him. If Cochran and/or Dawn approach them in a situation where Savaii was going to tribal council, it would come across as a desperate attempt to save themselves for another day, and would probably be laughed off.

But now, with Savaii having immunity, they can attempt to sway Whitney and Keith to swing to their side and have it seem less desperate. They have a few days to make a better effort to convince the two, and can point out things going on between Elyse and Ozzy. Heck, that could lead to the vote bouncing to Ozzy getting voted out.

Jim's key is that he can not be involved in any of the swaying of Keith and Whitney, or else Keith and Whitney could go back to Ozzy and Elyse to get Jim out of the game and solidify their alliance with Ozzy and Elyse.

The key to making a big move isn't actually making it, it's know when the time is right. For Jim/Cochran and Dawn, the time isn't right.

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