Survivor: Cagayan: Ep 7 – A Series Of Unfortunate Strategic Moves

Somewhere the best Survivor players in the first 27 seasons of the game were collectively cringing as this season’s pivotal merge Tribal Council unfolded. Surely they were entertained, but boy, they were probably thinking that if only they got to return this season to join this cast, they’d have an easy run to the end. Imagine some of the better strategist who never won – Rob C, Stephen, and many others – taking on this lot.

Oh, and I know, I’m late, I’m sorry, I have good reasons, yada yada, I’m doing the best I can.

Forget most everything that led up to the Tribal. We had a fun endurance challenge, the feast, and the news that a new special idol has been hidden in the merge camp. That’s all well and good. But this episode was all about the Tribal and the madness that ensued.

To refresh your memory, after last week’s quit from Lindsay and ouster of Alexis, we have the Brains/Beauty/Sarah tribe at 6, and the Brawn/Beauty/Pitbull tribe at 5. If everything holds, we have a clear winner at Tribal. However, Sarah has become the wild card swing vote. And she managed to mangle that status. On Survivor, if you are the swing vote, you need to manage it carefully. If you mess it up, you’re doomed. The best thing to do is to pick a side and try and weasel your way into a solid sub-alliance. Make your requests for staying on that side – and then just go along with things.

If you push too hard, you’ll be the bottom of the alliance and get voted out a la Cochran in South Pacific as soon as there is numbers breathing room. If you waver too much, you’ll risk the alliance finding another number, and you’ll risk invoking the ire of the other side and become their target. You also risk blowing any chance you have at jury votes if you screw folks over, and do it in grand fashion.

Which brings us to this Tribal. And the way Sarah went from potentially being in a great spot to being the first jury member. And how incredibly lucky the Pitbull team is that Trish is out there paying attention.

Sarah’s mistake – She wavered too much. Way too much. She needed to tell Pitbull right away that she was not going to flip. This would have given them time to find another target – perhaps Jeremiah. Also, she pushed too hard. Surely, she could give her alliance a suggested target – but if they were not in agreement, just ease back on the throttle. Remember Sandra’s plan – anyone but you. What does it matter if the vote goes to Pitbull, LJ or Jefra? It’s not you, and it gives your team a 6-4 lead in the individual game. Her insistence on voting for Pitbull was one of the ways she got under Kass’ skin.

And if you are clashing with someone on your team – and it was clear she was – tone it down. Give a fake apology and be nice to that person. Or else, you get what happened.

Trish noticed the two women fighting. Kass didn’t like getting bossed around – and there was some deeply rooted resentment to authority in there, so it seemed. So she was pushing back hard – and as we saw early in the season, Kass has not mastered the art of shutting the hell up. She reveals too much about her strategy and her thoughts – which is great in some aspects in life, but it is horrible on Survivor.

With this fracture in place, Trish took the initiative to court Kass. And it surprisingly took very little to get it done. We didn’t even see Kass offered anything. And just like that, power has shifted.

Let’s look at what Kass managed to do – she was potentially in a strong FInal Four position. All the Brains needed was one of the other three to slot into an end game alliance – Sarah, Jeremiah and Morganna. Kass just had to endure a personality clash with Sarah to get to the end – and then vote her out at the end. Three weeks to have a shot at million dollars. That’s it.

ANd what does she get for giving up that position? Nothing. She’s sixth in a six-person group. She’ll be voted out in two weeks at this rate. Boom. That’s it. It is possible that she flips back this week and makes it a Purple Rock 5-5 tie situation, but even that is crazy in its own right. EIther way, she can’t win this season. No one is going to vote for her – she may get to the end for this reason, but she’s done. And she could have won in the finals against Spencer or Tasha – but that’s it. Just because she couldn’t either keep her mouth shut, or see the forest for the trees.

And I am not letting Pitbull and LJ off the hook for their stupidity. Both men had idols – and both burned them for no reason. Pitbull announced that he had one at Tribal when he believed, rightfully so, that he was the target. That should have been enough to scare off votes – but Spencer wanted to see it. Nice move. And Pitbull obliged. Not a great move, but fine, nothing horrible. THe vote is verbally moved to the “other one” and so Pitbull is likely very safe. Meanwhile, another plan could have been to shut up and play the idol. All six votes on him fail. But that didn’t happen.

So what to do? Keep it or give it away. He gives it to LJ who he believes is the other one – something way too obvious. At this point you are just guessing, but I’d never have guessed LJ. I knew it was going to Jefra just because I’ve watched this show before. But whatever, he did that and now LJ is safe.

But then LJ, knowing he’s safe, goes and gives his idol to Pitbull…who we know is safe because the vote was going to the “other one!” Did he think the other one was code for let’s trick LJ into giving up his idol, even though we think he doesn’t have one because Sarah is the worst at noticing things? Either way, now both idols are played – given by one person to the other, which is bizarre – and neither were needed.

And this team is now in power.

While this was fun to watch the madness take place, it really just pissed me off to see bad game play rewarded. I’ve been liking this season so far, but I will admit I am not looking forward to the next four weeks of seeing Spencer, Tasha, Morganna and Jeremiah picked off if we go that way. And I can’t see anyone on the dominant tribe who is really deserving of the prize right now. I like Pitbull and LJ. Trish is playing well. Wooooooo! and Jefra are just kind of there. Kass doesn’t deserve it now. Who to root for?

Meh – I’m all for a good crazy Tribal, but I also want it shake out in such a way that makes the end episodes exciting and fun. I am currently a bit skeptical we will get that.

Treemail Top 10
1 – Boy, you think the editors were loving Sarah’s ample quotes to set up her downfall? “As long as nobody flips”
2 – Kass – The best laid plans are often found laid out on the murder scene floor. Yep, except you are the killer, not the cop in this scenario.
3 – Kass wanted Sarah to have “blood on her hands” from her former tribe before she trusted her. Meanwhile, Sarah through Pitbull out as a vote target. This was all personality conflict – which is a terrible way to play Survivor.
4 – I love how Spencer proved his fandom by not assuming the merge – he remembers Thailand and the fake merge.
5 – Spencer also gave the editing some fodder with his “I’m in the driver’s seat” line.
6 – The 13-year-old in my head is dying to make jokes about the “Sarah Sandwich.”
7 – I got so mad when Kass wondered who made Sarah queen. The 6-5 merge did. And her reign didn’t have to last more than this vote if you could just see it. Ugh.
8 – Tasha tried to peacemake – she even truthfully said that this vote decides fate. It did – it immediately sealed Sarah’s fate, and it will seal Kass’ too.
9 – Challenge – the balance endurance challenge. Triangles floating on the water, with footholds. The last one is to stand on top and essentially surf to the win. Thankfully there are no surfers on this season, which would make it too easy to predict who will…what’s that? There is a surfer. Oh. So. Clearly that’s that. They all essentially fall off the surfboard instantly, with Woooooooo! outlasting them all for the win.
10 – There are bats on that island! All will be forgiven if Kass captures some bats and we get to watch them eat bat.

Votes – Sarah 6 (Pitbull, Woooooo!, Trish, Jefra, LJ, Kass), Jefra 5 (Spencer, Tasha, Jeremiah, Morganna, Sarah)

Next week – Fallout. And a mad treasure hunt for the magic idol.

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Survivor: Cagayan – Ep 6 – Quitters Never Win…Obviously

I know you’ve heard this song and dance before – but really, I mean it this time. I am mostly caught up on a lot of the backlog I have been working through at home and at work and am crossing my fingers that I will reset my schedule and routine to enable a more timely post to you folks. Especially next week when the merge comes and the game begins to take shape for the later episodes.

This week we had two Survivors depart for the price of one – and they couldn’t have been framed as more diametrically opposite as possible. We had a quit and a vote out. Normally, when there’s a quit – Probst has no use for them. Remember the double-quit from NaOnka and Purple Kelly? Probst was livid. Remember Osten? That torch may still be laying in the Pearl Islands because Probst wants to prove a point. And Colton got verbally abused by the host last season for what was likely his second quit.

So why did Lindsay get off so easily? Probst essentially praised her for choosing to quit rather than risk doing something she would regret with Trish. This all stemmed from the pitch black/night vision argument between the two women following the Cliff blindside. After their verbal venom exchange, Lindsay felt like she would potentially do harm to Trish. So instead of having her daughter see that immortalized on television – she quit.

I guess when described that way it seems noble. However, it seems she doesn’t mind that her daughter witnessed her insulting Trish’s appearance, mannerisms and age on television. Mocking is fine for parental guidance, I guess. It’s ok to have her daughter learn that giving up rather than controlling your own outburst and emotions is preferable. I get that walking away is a good way to avert a situation – but not getting fired up to the point where you feel you may get physical is a bigger lesson to learn.

Perhaps if Lindsay didn’t time this noble gesture for the moment where her game got blown up. She was fine sitting back and mocking Trish from a position of power – but in the face of some gloating she fell completely apart. Perhaps a lesson she could have taught was that in the face of adversity, you find inner strength and power through and do your best. And who knows – maybe a merge is about to come and the game is going to be blown up all over again. Oh well.

Meanwhile, Alexis played hard and felt as if she was in a good spot, but the tribe elected to trust Jeremiah and Sarah over her and sent her packing in tears. She really wanted to stay – and part of me wished the show had a provision where in the event someone quits AND they keep a scheduled elimination in place that the person is given the choice if they want to join the other tribe. Not sure how feasible that is – but at least it would offset losing someone who truly, truly wants to be there.

And as for her ouster – I think the Brains made a big mistake here. They were fearful of her allegiance to LJ and Jefra – and they are likely correct that this would be a big concern. However, that’s only three people. And why would Alexis join up with them as the bottom rung of a Beauty/Brawn alliance? The Brains are also putting an awful lot of trust into Sarah who DOES have strong allegiance to the three Brawns on the other side. She can flip and be in the majority of the majority. Alexis couldn’t unless she took Jeremiah – who she was flipping on – or Morganna, who she was not aligned with. The Brains have taken a bit risk in believing Sarah is with them.

The only way Sarah doesn’t flip – in my opinion – is if she has been given a solid Final Four alliance with the Brains. And even then, I think she’s still about 50-50 with her chances. I will also add that Sarah is now in a horrible position – she will piss off the Brains if she flips and likely lose their votes. She will piss off her old alliance if she stays and likely lose their votes. She is the swing vote and there is really few worse positions to be in on Survivor.

A little bit about Pitbull and then we can wrap up. He is really playing hard. But oftentimes with someone playing very hard, he makes one move too many. I didn’t think it would work, but his gambit with Jeremiah worked almost perfectly. After winning the reward, he and Woooooooo! got a chance to raid the other camp (I loved the return of the raiding). They also got a clue to the idol. They chose to pretend that they were told to give it to a member of the other tribe. They targeted Jeremiah as someone strong and hoped the other tribe would go after him because of the clue and because of friendliness from the other side. He even thought to have Jeremiah read it in private and to get it back from him afterwards. Nice creative move. Jeremiah knew it was a clue to the idol from the old Beauty camp – so he wasn’t tricked. But the rest of the tribe seemed to buy it hook, line and sinker – even if their fishing gear was just raided.

Nice move – but then Pitbull gave it right back in his giddiness by telling his whole tribe that he was going to be totally honest with them…and revealed he was a cop. LJ said it best – “To solidify his trustworthiness, Tony admitted that he lied….Different.” HA! LJ just jumped about 20 points in my imaginary scorecard.

I think Pitbull is going too hard – and has some math issues (five is not more than half of 11). Unless he is counting Sarah as in the fold, but then why chant “Final Five!?” I wonder if that will be a major unforced error if it prevents Sarah from flipping back to his side. We will find out very, very soon.

Treemail Top 10
1 – Lindsay didn’t want to “stick around Trish’s mouth.” She could have just stayed arms length away. Unless she was looking for a smooch.
2 – Spencer after learning of the Cliff/Lindsay twofer – “Two people are out of the game…and I didn’t have to do anything.” Yup. Sure helps.
3 – Reward Challenge – I like this one. Survivors go one-on-one holding a small platform with an idol balanced on it. They must knock the other person’s idol to the ground to win. First tribe to four wins. The right play is sort of what Spencer did – toss you own up in the air and lunge at the other. However, I think Spencer did it by accident and didn’t realize it, because he didn’t do it the second time. The Spencer/Woo battles were the best ones as they eyed each other over and over. The funniest one was Jefra just dropping hers as Sarah approached her.
4 – Look in the eyes, Pitbull. If you look to close at Morganna’s…assets…you will become hypnotized.
5 – The Shame on You Lindsay message in the sand would have been so much more clever if they spelled her name correctly.
6 – Did Trish admit that she is really a man….baby.
7 – Alexis on Jeremiah – “He’s so dumb, he wouldn’t know how to lie.” Next up – your mamma jokes.
8 – Why was Spencer doing a confessional from between three trees? Was he, er, relieving himself?
9 – Elimination Challenge – The editing of the show was so heavy handed this week that you knew Aparri was going to lose. This was a mixed bag of about 15 challenges in one. All you need to know is you had to do an obstacle course and end with a puzzle. Sarah and Spencer struggled on the second number in the puzzle and allowed LJ and Woo, with some Pitbull verbal clues, to come from behind and win. Another Brain loss on the puzzles.
10 – Tribal – meh – not all that interesting other than Alexis’ tears. Kass’ quote about how the Brains needed a body to rule the game was kind of cool. She claims to have found their zombies. And the Survivor/Walking Dead crossover begins.

Votes – Alexis 6 (Spencer, Tasha, Kass, Jeremiah, Sarah, Morganna), Jeremiah 1 (Alexis)

Next episode – We merge. And Sarah is, of course, in the middle.

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Survivor: Cagayan – Ep 5 – The Meek Shall Inherit The Tribe

So, I was out of town for a few days and began working a new job this week. It was also my first week living as a single dad, without my kid, so it was a bit weird. That’s my really, really good excuse for a late and short Survivor column this week. You guys ok with that? It’s not as if you really have a choice after all.

Anyway, this week showed two things about Survivor that we should always remember – first, contestants should never give up because the downtrodden can quickly become the powerful. The second is that sometimes on this show, we really don’t see everything that’s going on.

I’m going to go with that second part initially. Having watched these few episodes, I am unclear as to what was really going on with the Brawns, other than Pitbull’s scheming, that would translate into the clear desire to eliminate Cliff. Trish kept calling him shady – and I just don’t get it. Cliff was not really a compelling Survivor – he didn’t say very much, but he seemed amiable enough. So, either we saw a LOT of shadiness edited out, or this was all Trish and Pitbull. Either way, it was completely worth it for the stunned reaction shots we got from Lindsay and Woooooooooo!!

Pitbull clearly wanted the big man out for some time because he was both threatened by him physically, and he initially started in the minority of that tribe’s power structure. He worked hard on Sarah and Trish to influence them to go with him and clearly it worked. Trish was not only at the bottom of that same power structure, but the show seemed to indicate that she wanted to link up – strategically and socially – with LJ after the tribal shuffle. The tribe’s loss and LJ’s potential ouster at the vote seemed to seriously motivate her to make a move against Cliff. And just like that, we have a new power alliance in one tribe – Pitbull, Trish, LJ and Jefra.

Meanwhile, on the other new tribe, we had all three refugees from the BRAAAAAAAIIIIIIINNSSSS tribe (sorry – my last time getting to do that – and I want to link to Urban Dictionary here…and well, Google it to know what I am talking about.) magically picking the same new buff and forming a formidable voting bloc on the new Aparri Tribe – the actual name of the former Brawn tribe. Officer Sarah was the only one left from the Brawns, so it made sense for her to link up with the Brains against the transferring Beauties. However, that’s not what appears to have happened. Granted, we won’t know for certain since they didn’t go to Tribal Council, but interestingly enough it was Alexis who finally showed up this season.

I thought at the time that Morganna’s lie about the idol or rice moment at the beginning was being shown to us for a reason – and, granted, as lies go, it was pretty solid lie. But we saw it for this reason – Sarah innocently outed her. As Cop Rock welcomed the Brains and Beauties to her camp, she mentioned the extra rice that Trish elected to collect. Genius Garrett was gone, so his idol search didn’t amount to anything – and even if he got the extra rice, the Vulcan just would have dumped it. However, Morganna’s decision came back to bite her here – Alexis was not happy and, seemingly, instantly went over to the Brains. Interestingly, we got to see the Brain Block get a complete information download from all three Beauties who came over. With the Beauties fractured and Sarah an apparent swing vote, the Brains have gone from an endangered species to being the power brokers in the Aparri Tribe.

I’ll go a step further – the editing of this season seems to be leading to a merge clash between the Brains and Pitbull. Let’s speculate. There are 13 left – and with a Final Three and potentially a nine-person jury, we have a merge in two weeks. Maybe three weeks. If Aparri wins again, they go in up 7-5 in numbers, with Sarah likely defecting. That leaves it at a 6-6 tie and the likely swing vote of Wooooooo!! or Lindsay becoming huge. If Salana wins, I can see Sarah go, and a 6-6 tie at the merge being completely crazy – will Woo/Lindsay bolt? Will the Beauties re-form? That could be fun.

Treemail Top 10
1 – Did I imagine it, or did the cameraman trip over the shelter just a bit after the Vulcan vote out? Perhaps he wasn’t watching his night vision.
2 – Someone must have made a Crap For Brains Tribe t-shirt by now, right?
3 – Reward Challenge – I love this type of challenge. It is very physical – one person essentially clings to a pole while the other tribe tries to remove them and drag them across the finish line. They competed for the right to take gigantic sugar craps in the woods…er…a pile of donuts and cookies. No word on if there were any cronuts. The best battle was Morganna/Sarah battling Lindsay and beating Trish/Jefra against Tasha. Spencer/Jeremiah had to, twice, remove Cliff from the pole. That’s a rough task. Alexis was removed so quickly they went back in time. And Officer Sarah battled, but Lindsay/Pitbull took her out too. Even though she lost her shoes. I did appreciate Lindsay wrapping Morganna in a scissors lock.
4 – Spencer – It was nice to upgrade from the moms to the hot girls. I’m sure it was. Although sometimes they can be both. I’m just saying.
5 – So, was Trish drawn to LJ because of Boston? Or because he was hot? Hmm…I’ve been to Boston. It’s nice. But I wouldn’t base my Survivor strategy on the randomness of birthplace. Even if the chowder is good. But at least she put “Mrs. Robinson” in my head.
6 – This episode of Survivor had way too many references to twerking with no footage of actual twerking.
7 – Immunity Challenge – Carry a big, long pole (shut up you guys) and bash your way through a wooden wall. The pole then becomes a table maze. At the end – get it on. Bang a gong. Get it on. The Brawn-led tribe dominated early, but a nice move by Spencer to restructure the Brain-led tribe’s set up permitted them to say close. They squeaked their way to the win on the maze.
8 – I am not sure if I love or despise Lindsay for her bluntness and candor. I ride the fence on that one. She does have great hair. And introduced me to the phrase – “I’ll swear on anything I love.”
9 – LJ must have gotten one heck of a reassurance from his new alliance for him to choose to keep his idol. Because, boy, that’s a risk.
10 – Tribal – Only highlight…Cliff gets to make one NBA reference before getting the snuff.

Vote – Cliff 4 (LJ, Jefra, Pitbull, Trish), LJ 3 (Cliff, Lindsay, Woooooooooo!!)

Next Week – Lindsay vs. Trish. And Probst has to make a camp appearance.

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The Amazing Race, Mar. 23 – Risky Choices

This is what makes The Amazing Race such a joy to watch. There are so many things possible to eliminate you. One tiny slip-up, and you’re done. This week, however, it wasn’t a slip-up so much as chance and risks.

Margie and Luke and Brendan and Rachel, after the difficult time they had on the Detour last week, were at the back of the pack. They missed out on getting tickets on the non-stop flight to Sri Lanka. There was a flight with a connection, but only a thirty-minute layover, and little chance of making it. Or they could try to get on the flight via standby.

Brenchel pleaded with the ticketing agents to allow them on the flight with the connection, while mother and son chose to try standby. That was there undoing as they couldn’t get on the flight, and the flight with the connection had already left, meaning they were stuck taking a flight several hours later. It worked out better for Brenchel, as they ran to catch their flight and just made it after hearing the Final Boarding announcement.

Not that Margie and Luke chose wrong. Both of the options carried risks, and it just happened that the one they chose was the one that didn’t work. During a difficult Roadblock, it almost seemed like they might catch up, but it just wasn’t meant to be.

Flight Time and Big Easy, aka the Harlem Globetrotters, had a challenge custom-made for them. They lucked out having a challenge that involved spinning an instrument on top of a stick as they danced. It was similar to the tricks they do when playing basketball. Flight Time then entertained the seamstresses during the Roadblock with a basketball he pulled out of nowhere.

Jet and Cord took lost their lead on this leg, mostly because of their fishing skills. And their lack of seamstress skills did nothing to help them out.

Brendon and Rachel’s flight actually ended up landing before the non-stop flight carrying the others, but they lost the lead while waiting for the Temple to open up. They also had a speed bump to perform yet still came in second to last.

Caroline and Jennifer are trying hard to pair up with the Cowboys. While the guys had given them their Express Pass a few weeks ago, now they have found a reason to glom onto them as Caroline excitedly said, “We like to be near the Cowboys because they’re magical,” then reminded them of her stalker/fan status.

Dave and Connor continue to do extremely well. They were the first ones done with the Detour, then Connor did well with the Roadblock. Of course he was helped out by the fact that he’d taken a sewing class in junior high. He also teamed up with Jennifer as sticking close to the Cowboys was apparently forgotten.

Jessica and John struggled in the Detour. They were having such a hard time catching fish that they switched Detours and got the spinning and dancing done fairly quickly, although they’re still at the back of the pack with only Brenchel and the Globetrotters behind them.

Leo and Jamal stayed the same. The Afghanimals were relatively quiet on this leg of the Race. It’s odd for them. They fell out of third place into fourth.

The racers were sent to Sri Lanka via three separate flights. Once there they had to enter a temple for some meditation. When they were finished they were sent to the Detour. They had a choice of sitting on top of stilts in the water and fishing or doing a choreographed dance while spinning circular instruments on top of sticks. Both of them carried a degree of difficulty.

Brendon and Rachel had to complete a Speed Bump after this before continuing on to the Roadblock. They were required to screenprint a number of t-shirts to perfection. They weren’t allowed to be sloppy at all. Rachel had a slight advantage with this as she had experience with screenprinting.

The Roadblock was a sewing challenge. One member of each team had to sew together a button-down shirt with a sewing machine. When it was approved, they would then get their next clue imprinted on the shirt. Rachel insisted that Brendon do it, while the other females in mixed teams did the challenge. Big Easy regretted saying he would do it, but he’s been having problems with his height on some challenges, so it was good for him to do this one where his height wouldn’t cause a problem.

We didn’t even get to see Margie and Luke compete in the Detour and Roadblock. For a few seconds it almost seemed like they might catch up, but that wasn’t to be. We did get to see their elimination. They had the right attitude here, thankful for being able to participate in The Amazing Race three times.

American Idol, Mar. 19 – Top Ten Hits

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I always hate this theme on American Idol. To do top ten hits over the past few years … well that’s what they’ve been doing so far in the competition. We need something else, something different. We need to see what happens when these artists step outside of their comfort zone. Motown, Big Band, 70s, etc. Sure, they had movie hits, but some of them still picked more recent tunes. Until then, here’s how the idols did with this week’s theme.

Dexter RobertsCruise He continues to pick the perfect songs for himself. However, he didn’t connect with the audience enough. He may have strutted out there and stuck his hand out to the crowd, but he should be able to connect without even having to do that.

Malaya WatsonWhen I Was Your Man She did really well on this. I think it was an interesting decision to not try and change up the lyrics to make it “woman” instead of “man.” I just wish we would have heard why, if it was too hard to remember, if it was to match what she was used to singing in the car, whatever.

C.J. HarrisInvisibile He always sounds great when he’s dialed down and always seems to pack the emotion into his songs. Thats how we get that singing from the side of his mouth thing. He did it all tonight.

MK NobilettePerfect MK’s heart is in the right place, and I really love her for that. She had mentioned she was doing this song to help people. But the performance just didn’t do it for me this week, and I love Pink. MK seemed to be off the entire time.

Majesty RoseWake Me Up She does great with the folk-sounding songs. it seemed she was running out of breath at the end of some of her phrasing though. I hope it’s enough to keep her out of the bottom three this week. But as the judges pointed out, she seemed to be fearing a reappearance while performing

Jena IreneClarity She did well, but definitely didn’t make me forget the original. And the forced bit with the glow sticks was just too much. So were the pink socks. If it wasn’t a song I’d heard a thousand times and I had nothing to compare it to, I probably would have liked it more.

Alex PrestonStory of My Life I’ll admit, I’m not too familiar with One Direction songs. I don’t recall hearing this before. Of course maybe Alex just made it so much his that it’s not reminiscent of the original. Regardless, I think Alex did really well on it. I’m betting I would like this version more than One Direction’s.

Jessica MeusePumped Up Kicks I like this song a lot. I never paid enough attention to the lyrics to find out how dark it was. She said she changed some words to make it less so, but my research says she didn’t. Regardless, she did well with it, except like harry Connick Jr. pointed out, she wasn’t emoting too much with lyrics that clearly required it.

Sam WoolfWe Are Young He succeeded in putting his own take on this song. I wasn’t even sure what song it was at first. The chorus is a dead giveaway though. As he fits more and more into that Kris Allen type of mold, I’m liking him more and more. It’s also the first song tonight that makes me want to download it from iTunes.

Caleb JohnsonEdge of Glory He did well taking this pop song and turning it into a rock tune. He did what he was supposed to and made us forget it was a Gaga tune. Although after last week, I’m yearning to hear that side of him again.

This is a pivotal week. The judges have been saying the same thing each week to bring more of a performance, stay in tune, own the stage, etc. If the idols are still not doing it, will they in the eventual weeks?

The Amazing Race, Mar. 9 – Mixing It Up

These are the challenges I like to see – not necessarily physically demanding, but difficult to accomplish so that it has an impact on the game. Neither the Roadblock or the Detour was a slam dunk for anyone. It made the hours much more exciting.

Also leading to some excitement were the flights to Kuala Lumpur. There were only three. The first flight could carry three teams and the second only two, placing the remaining three teams on the next flight. However, the second flight carrying the Globetrotters and Luke and Margie was delayed. It arrived just about the same time as the third flight.

The Brenchel haters almost got what they were waiting for as the reality show veterans came in last place, but the luck of the Irish was wish them so close to St. Patrick’s Day. It was a non-elimination leg of the Race. They will have a speed bump to contend with on the next leg.

Flight Time and Big Easy, aka the Harlem Globetrotters, continue to stay middle of the road. Big Easy finally did a Roadblock. Since it was jumping up to grab a flag, this was something his size was finally meant for.

Jet and Cord took over the lead for the second time in the Race. This is despite struggling a little in the Detour and the Roadblock. Certainly height played a difference for Cord on the Roadblock. Nonetheless, the Cowboys always find a way to stay near or at the top.

Brendon and Rachel should be thanking their lucky stars for the non-elimination leg. Despite being known as a whiner and a cryer, it was Rachel who insisted they not quit the Detour. She insisted they stick with it until they got it, even though they were far behind and in last place. Oddly though, we found out she wears pantyhose under her racing clothes. I’m not sure why. He coined the phrase smarter not harder on this leg.

Caroline and Jennifer did well on this leg, not depending on anyone to help them out. They did well on the Detour as well as the Roadblock and went from sixth place to fourth place.

Dave and Connor struggled a bit on the Detour, yet still came in second place. They went from first place to second.

Margie and Luke – Luke had a near breakdown during the Detour. Who calmed him down? It wasn’t Margie, but Rachel. She and Brendon left their own struggles at the Detour to come over and encourage Luke. Margie and Luke also talked about when he came out to her. She had already guessed it.

Jessica and John continue to do nothing special. They did well on the Detour, though. However, they’re only in fifth place.

Leo and Jamal stayed the same. They are racing well, but they can’t seem to displace the Cowboys or Dave and Connor to take first place.

The racers were met with a Roadblock right out of the gate. One person from each team had to jump on a bamboo trampoline being held by several locals. The goal was to grab a flag they would hand in for the clue. Cord, not the tallest of guys, struggled a little, but eventually got it. He tried forty-seven times before he got it.

The clue received after the Roadblock sent the teams to the airport to fly to Kuala Lumpur. Here they found a Detour that provided two tough choices. Either pour drinks or scratch a record mimicking what they hear to the beat. Most teams that tried the scratching did okay, but the Globetrotters had to try three times before they got it.

It was the pouring of drinks that stymied the racers, even the bartender and waitress in the bunch. Martini glasses were arranged in a two-level pyramid. Tumblers were then stacked and yellow and red liquid poured in them alternating between the colors. Picking up that whole stack, teams had to the pour this into the glasses without mixing the colors. Everyone who tried it struggled, mostly Margie and Luke and Brenchel.

What did you think of the episode? Were you happy or unhappy to see the non-elimination with Brendon and Rachel standing there? Chime in with your thoughts in the comments below.

Survivor: Cagayan – Ep 4 – Brains Save Brawn From Themselves

Sorry for the late posting, and I am hopeful the era of my late postings will be ending now (or at least lessened). I will say I have some pretty damn good excuses this week – on Thursday, I spent the day visiting my new office as I start a new job next week. Also on Thursday, I officially became a single man again for the first time in a very long time – although I’ve unofficially had that status for a great number of weeks. And then on Friday I rushed myself to the doctor after I thought I was having a cardiac incident. It seems I wasn’t – but interestingly enough…it seems I have been experiencing some stress recently.

But I am ok. The world has continued to spin. Doors have closed and new ones have opened. Sunrise, sunset. Here I stand in the light of day. Let the storm rage on, the cold never bothered me anyway.

Who is not ok? The BRAAAAAAAIIIIINNNNSSS tribe. Thankfully for the remaining members – they will be subject to a consolidation next week as the remaining 14 Survivors are likely going to be split into two seven-person tribes. And you never know in this game – Denise and Malcolm came from one of the worst tribes in show history and made it to the end. Then there was the Samoa, Russell-dominated tribe that got hammered in the beginning but then turned it around to take out the larger tribe. Then there was the Yul/Ozzy mutiny-decimated tribe who just kept winning. There are many examples of horrible early performances that turned into great Survivor success stories.

But for now…their incompetence is blinding. At least, finally, the Vulcan met her demise. It’s incredible to me that she even made it as far as she did. It is possible she may be the worst Survivor contestant to ever make it double digits in days. Think about it – is there anything she did well on the show? She was bad at leading the construction of the shelter. She was epically horrible at puzzles. She couldn’t do the physical challenges. And, of course, there was the rice incident. It is incredible she lasted this long and if the geniuses were even remotely considering keeping her around, they were insane.

There was a good point made – they had more of a chance for the Vulcan to be loyal once the buffs got dropped. But there was still a real chance they were not getting dropped, and if that was the case, they needed Spencer much more. Finally, someone on that tribe made a wise decision!

I’ve also noticed on this season a much greater emphasis on the long game rather than the short game. It is what doomed Marlin Dave in the first episode and it is evident in some of the drama taking place with the Brawn and Beauty tribes. Early on in Survivor you have to keep your tribes strong and win immunities and prepare for game twists and the eventual merge. Numbers are key. Later on you can turn on your strong tribemates – but don’t rush it.

And now I am looking directly at you Brawn Tribe. Really? Throwing a challenge to oust one of your strongest people? Are you out of your minds? How many times do we need to see a tribe throw a challenge to eliminate someone and then have it completely backfire on them? Officer Sarah needs to brush up on her Survivor history. I had high hopes for her – she seemed to be a good player right away, but boy, she has fallen hook, line and sinker for Pitbull’s BS.

Let’s assume for a moment that Pitbull’s story about Uncle Cliffy and Lindsay was true. How do you deal with that? You bide your time, Sarah. Brawn tribe hasn’t lost yet. You have numbers over both of the other two tribes. Keep your people together. It is possible that you won’t be doing a full shakeup – so keep all six of your people in line to take out any newcomers. If you are totally shaken up – you may wind up on a tribe with Cliff and Lindsay, along with four Beauty and Brains people. You may need these two. Just suck it up and keep winning and get into a good position. Later on…THEN you take them out.

Blowing a challenge on purpose only gives hope to the hopeless. Think Pearl Islands. That blown challenge led to a giant comeback and a tied merge. Think Redemption Island. Rob’s team hadn’t won a thing and was starting to fracture before the blown challenge to take out Russell took place. Zapatera could have just dealt with Russell for long enough to knock out Rob’s tribe and then teamed up to take down Russell.

Just stop blowing challenges, people. It is just not a good idea.

The only thing that kept the Brawns from doing something amazingly stupid was the complete and utter futility of the Vulcan and the Brains. Four people and only Spencer seemed capable of doing anything. If two of them were somewhat competent, then the Brawns’ foolish plan would have worked. But one on four is not a recipe for success.

The stupidity of the Immunity Challenge –clearly won by the Beauties against a lame Brains and a quitting Brawns – was offset by the brilliance of the comedic Reward Challenge. Blindfolded Survivor challenges are always comic gold. This time, they had the inspiration to place all of the obstacles at crotch levels. Hysterically, they seemed to forbid Probst from saying crotch, or groin, or nether regions, or Happy Land, or whatever. It meant Probst had to tiptoe around the words like the famous masturbation episode of Seinfeld. Clearly, I am not forbidden to use the words.

And speaking of stupidity…how is it possible to NOT KNOW HOW EGGS WORK? I understand that these pretty people are walking stereotypes but come on. The “Egg Chicken Process” is not rocket science. Although as we learned from the Vulcan, rocket science doesn’t always translate into wise decisions. So yes, Alexis, the rooster and the hen need to “get it on.” Science teachers around the world are sad. At least they heard of the word asexual.

This episode was fun due to the crotch attacks, the Vulcan elevating pathetic to new levels and the Brawn tribe being saved from themselves, but otherwise this was a bit of a placeholder. The Vulcan was never going to make it far and her elimination was overdue. And we are just an episode away from a shuffle – so we will get some new drama this way.

Treemail Top 10
1 – I will give Morganna credit – she came out pot stirring after the Brice vote out. She immediately started to point the finger at Jeremiah because otherwise she is the next target. (Of course, there is no further Beauty Tribe after next week, but still, she didn’t know that). Part of me wants to see Morganna and Spencer team up and make some noise going forward. That could be fun.
2 – Also, Jeremiah may be a pretty male model, but let’s not joke around…the man has some oratory issues. He can choke a chicken well. (see what I did there, callback)
3 – I assume LJ didn’t get much screen time this week because his crotch was hurting way too much. However, he did have the hysterical choice of covering up with his hand as a makeshift athletic protector.
4 – I need a gif of Lindsay getting conked on the head and falling over in a cartoonish way. Loved that. That one, along with Kass essentially humping a barrel.
5 – The Vulcan was so bad at the challenges that it made me think she was trying to be the worst Survivor at challenges in history.
6 – Survivor teaches us many things – this week we learned the answer to the age old question – what came first, the chicken or the egg. The answer? The dinosaurs. Thanks for that, LJ.
7 – Boy, Woooooooooooo! sure has gone to the Jeremiah School Of Oratory Skills. And clearly missed the classes on loyalty as well. I weep for the end of CliffWoo.
8 – So surprising to see a basketball challenge on a season featuring a basketball player. I wonder if Marlin Dave survived if we would get a luxury tax calculation challenge.
9 – Who expected Spencer to be the challenge monster this season? That was an amazing performance this week – he singlehandedly almost won that second place for them against the tanking Brawns. Meanwhile, I watched it twice – I don’t think Alexis actually participated in the challenge even though she was not sitting out.
10 – At Tribal, Probst all but told these Mensa folks that they needed to cut The Vulcan loose. Thankfully, they listened, including an amazing moment where Kass and Tasha were holding a side conversation directly in front of the Vulcan and Spencer. This tribe was one for the ages.

Vote – The Vulcan 3 (Spencer, Tasha, Kass), Spencer 1 (The Vulcan)

Next Week – Drop your buffs.

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The Amazing Race, Mar. 9 – Raft-Building 101

After the heartbreak of last week’s episode, it was good to see them get back to business again this week. Sure, no one wanted to say goodbye to Joey and Meghan, but their elimination just wasn’t nearly as heartbreaking as Mark and Mallory’s. Yet they still had a big looming mistake hovering over them at elimination.

Joey and Meghan started in the back of the pack and never moved from that spot. This was aided somewhat by the flights. There were two flights to carry the teams to Malaysia, and they were three hours apart. Only the first six teams got the earlier flight, leaving the remaining three for the later flight.

As Rachel rightfully predicted, this meant they weren’t racing for first place, but were racing to not be eliminated. Along with Joey and Meghan and Brendon and Rachel, John and Jessica were also in the back of the pack. Three hours is just too much time to overcome. Making it worse, Joey and Meghan didn’t ask a cab driver to wait for them after the Roadblock and had to walk quite a distance, putting them assuredly in the back of the pack, right where they started, and right where they ended.

Luke and Margie had some difficulty, but still did well. As she pointed out on the raft challenge, they were at a disadvantage. They converse with each other with their hands. So when she’s steering the raft in the front, and he’s in the back, they had no way of communicating with each other. Not surprisingly, after three seasons of TAR, Luke calls this Detour the most difficult that he and his mother have faced.

Flight Time and Big Easy, aka the Harlem Globetrotters, are doing well too. Fight Time did yet another Roadblock, knowing it was easier because of his size. He’s done all three so far. Big Easy needs to get in there and do some.

Jet and Cord are up near the lead again. While they came in sixth last week, this week they’re in second place after coming in first the first week. They still have their Express Pass and are glad the second one has been taken out of play after they gave it to the Country Singers who used it right away last week.

Brendon and Rachel had a big FAIL on this leg. They started out in first place, but will start the next leg in last place. Their cab hit some bad traffic on the way to the airport, and they got there in seventh place, just a few minutes too late to catch the earlier flight. They also struggled in the raft challenge. Their raft got stuck and so did Rachel.

Caroline and Jennifer came in sixth place after starting out in third. They were in ninth place the first week. Jennifer hit the bird right away on the Detour. It almost seemed like it wasn’t her first time with a large pea-shooter.

Dave and Connor came in first on this leg, despite making a big mistake. They overshot their destination on their raft. Rather than try to raft back there, they reached their destination on foot, losing valuable time, yet still came in first. This shows what they can do when he has two good ankles.

Jessica and John continue to do nothing special. On the first two legs they came in eighth, and on this one they came in seventh. They’re just barely squeaking by and don’t have the benefit of an Express Pass to not use.

Leo and Jamal must have gotten a lot of flak after their first season on the Race. They have decided to help people this time instead of lying to them. Gee, what a concept. Jet and Cord asked where they were to make the delivery and the Afghanimals gave them the correct answer.

After flying to Malaysia, the teams were presented with a Roadblock. One person from each team had to rappel down a waterfall and grab a club halfway down. No one had any big problems, although Cord missed the clue originally. This Roadblock didn’t alter the lineup much at all.

The next clue sent them to a raging river for a Detour. Teams had to build their own raft of long bamboo polls, make their way down the river that at some times was raging, then go to their chosen Detour, either the delivery of food or shooting fake birds out of trees with a huge pea shooter. Again, this didn’t do much to change the lineup, although some teams definitely struggled in the river. Many rafts came apart because of badly tied knots.

Joey and Meghan, already at the back of the pack, just didn’t have a chance after the mistake of not having the cab stick around and wait for them. No one else made a big enough mistake to allow the You-Tubers to catch up. John and Jessica might not be too far behind them.

What did you think of the episode? Do you think it was smart of the Afghanimals to help the Cowboys? Chime in with your thoughts in the comments below.

Survivor Cagayan – Ep 3 – Cops R’ Us Is The Talk Of The Town

So far so good this season with Survivor as we have had three hours of very entertaining Survivor madness. We have Team Beauty wilting before our eyes, we have Tasha repeatedly getting salt water thrown in her face – by her own doing, we have Philip Sheppard’s lawyers preparing intellectual property lawsuits and we have a budding super villain who may in fact turn out to be awesome.

And I didn’t even mention the 8 pm family hour wet t-shirt contest starring Morganna. But don’t think I didn’t notice that, folks.

Team Brains. BRAAAAAAIIIIINSSSS! (NSFW) Sorry. Team Nerds. NEEEEEERRRRDDDSSS!!! Damn. Team Losers. LOOOOO-H-SSSSERRSS! C’mon!! C’MON!!! Who keeps doing that? OK, Team SAT Scores…ok, we’re clear, managed to be pathetic for another 30 minutes of airtime before finally getting it together. Typical of this dysfunctional bunch, upon learning about the water tossing challenge, the smart people couldn’t decide what they wanted to do. Tasha wanted to practice – because, you know, they suck at challenges. Spencer wanted to drink – and not in a fun way, but because they were dehydrated. And the Vulcan wanted to eat, but clearly forgot she went all scorched earth a few days earlier.

However, it did give us an amazing sequence of the four remaining Mensa members in the ocean tossing water back and forth using homemade coconut bowls. Badly. With “The Blue Danube” playing over it – making me want to demand HAL to open the pod bay doors. Tasha managed to get a montage of her getting water thrown in her face repeatedly. It was almost as if they were missing on purpose – a theory I would espouse if they didn’t prove to be so inept at water tossing in the challenge. The Vulcan even got to utter the amazing double entendre line of how she “liked the hand technique.” Yowza!

The challenge got on and they were horrible again. I loved how Tasha tossed the bucket upside down at one point, and how the Vulcan is shown tossing the water to anchorwoman Kass and just drops emerging. Kass breaks the fourth wall for a moment and curses. Hilarious.

However, they eventually pull it off and make it to the puzzle/maze portion of the challenge. The Vulcan is nowhere near the challenge as Kass and Spencer take it on. They arrive last as CliffWoo is finishing it up and the Beauty Dudes are blowing their lead. Incredibly, the smart people beat the pretty people at a puzzle challenge. Who knew? And this horrible tribe manages to not lose for once. Spencer probably was that close to being taken out – and I wonder if we will look back on this moment in another 10 episodes and wonder if that was a pivotal moment in the game.

The weather played a huge factor this week, as it was not just raining, it was weather of Biblical proportions. Dogs and cats, living together. Mass hysteria. The production team got Emmy Award caliber pictures of the storming skies above the Philippines. Incredible. Pitbull was trying to move some palm fronds and almost became airborne thanks to the wind gusts. He reminds his shivering tribe that the sun always comes out in the morning. He bets his bottom dollar on that. Wooooooooo! is stoked – “this is what Survivor’s all about, baby.” Pitbull believes this is what hell would be like. No way man – that would be the office I was just working in. Lindsey may in fact have trench foot – I would know since I got it at Woodstock 94 (True story). One thing is for sure is that she is now Lindsay of the Nine Toenails.

The Beauty Tribe only needs some Sarah McLaughlin music to play over the montage of their sad, miserable pretty faces. Jefra is also concerned with flies. Last week she delivered with poop queries, and this week it was about flies and how she didn’t understand about how strategy was being conducted around her. LJ chose to take this misery and use it to his advantage by exploring Morganna’s cliffs. No, not like that! The shoreline where the idol is hidden – because amazingly, Morganna never went back to it in a week’s worth of time. And lo and behold, LJ has an idol. So he and Pitbull each have one and the third is buried somewhere in the Mensa Camp since the Genius buried it rather than take it to Tribal.

Between this morale-sapping weather and their puzzle loss, the Beauties began to unravel a bit as their led up to their first Tribal. Brice’s attempts to use Morganna’s “cliffs” to distract Jeremiah and lure him to their side failed as my sort-of namesake stuck with his LJ/Alexis/Jefra alliance and took out the fashionista. Brice used the phrase “talk of the town” about 200 times at Tribal and tried to cast aspersions on Alexis’ work habits, without actually doing it, leading Probst to verbalize a “dot dot dot” to Brice’s comments. Typical great Tribal work from Mr. Host. I had high hopes for Mr. Purple Pants, but alas, he couldn’t pull it off. At least he came to play.

American Idol, Mar. 5 – Here We Go Again

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After I praised this group of talent last week for singing songs that hadn’t been done multiple times on American Idol, they went and made a liar out of me this week. Some of them tonight did songs that have been done multiple times and/or were heavily associated with the original artist. And for the most part, they weren’t making us forget the previous performances, so that’s a big fail.

Dexter RobertsLucky Man He has done this two weeks in a row: Picked the perfect song for him. He has an advantage there as he seems to be the only one who can do that consistently, if you can call two week consistently.

Malaya WatsonTake Me to the King I like that she did gospel, but she was straining far too much with this song. It sounded like screaming in the end to me, but the judges liked it a lot. J-Lo even got her goosies.

Ben BrileyTurning Home It was hard to get a feel for his voice last week on the Johnny Cash tune, but with this one, he let his vocal soar and speak for itself. It seemed flawless, but the judges thought he and the music weren’t together in the beginning.

C.J. HarrisWaiting on the World to Change He put a lot of heart into this. You could nearly see it coming out of him. I liked it a lot, and that’s even after hearing the song not just from John Mayer, but through multiple reality talent shows.

MK NobiletteDrops of Jupiter She looked really uncomfortable the whole song, but did a great job with it. Again, it’s a song we’ve heard a lot, and it wasn’t better than Train, but it was good. What killed it though was her looking uncomfortable, which is going to come after you land in the bottom three the week before.

Majesty RoseFix You This had some great emotion flowing through it. There were some off notes when she pushed for the high note, but it kind of fit with the performance.

Jena IreneSuddenly I See She was infectious up there with this song. It’s hard to be in a bad mood watching her and that’s a good quality to have, to be able to bring that out.

Alex PrestonI Don’t Want to Be This is one of those songs that has been done often on Idol. Alex did a re-arrangement on it and it wasn’t quite as good as the original or as the other times I’ve heard it.

Jessica MeuseWhite Flag I like her performance, just not the tone of her voice in this song. I couldn’t listen to a whole album like that.

Emily PirizLet’s Get Loud She took a big risk singing a J-Lo tune. She did really well on it but the judges blasted her for cozying up to a musician instead of connecting with the audience. Well, I thought it was good.

Sam WoolfJust One I see a possible Kris Allen thing happening with Sam. He just gets a little better every week. However, the judges think he’s been singing the same emotionally since the beginning. I disagree.

Caleb JohnsonWorking Man He took Rush to the next level. This was a good version of the song, although some die-hard Rush fans might not like it. It was good, but now we need to see another side of Caleb.

I hope the theme next week is something that forces these artists to sing out of their comfort zone like Motown or 70s or Broadway. We have a good feeling now for who they are and what they like, but now we need to see them step outside of that box to see if they can still succeed. If they want to know how it’s done, they should ask James Durbin who was in the audience or Phillip Phillips who will be performing Thursday night.

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