Survivor: Cambodia – Second Chances – Ep 2 – The Feast of Permanent Liability

I remember a great Simpsons episode were Homer was making up his own religion and needed a fake holiday so he could call off from work. He looked up and saw the sign in Moe’s that said “Maximum Occupancy.” It became the Feast of Maximum Occupancy and Homer had himself a day off at the bar. That popped into my head during this episode after Spencer called Abi a “permanent liability.” He’s not wrong. However, by the end of this episode she had the last laugh and the feast.

In Survivor, you never, ever, ever make one of your alliance members feel as if they are not wanted. Because if you do, they will go find someone who wants them. The Takeo Spikes majority of Spencer, Shirin, PG, and E forgot about that with Abi. Or…they were really taken in by Jeff Varner. The Australian vet told us that he flipped on Vytas in the first vote because his secret Early Season alliance was not trying very hard. It seems as if Season 1 & 2 joined forces with Season 12 before anyone even hit the beaches. I wonder if Kimmi is secretly part of that too. Varner got rid of S12 winner’s brother so that the others felt energized in the game. If you believe him, then he was never a part of that majority alliance in the first place.

If you believe his victim this week, it was because she tried to express doubt about him. Who knows. What we saw was something completely different.

Abi is a maniac. We saw that in her season, we are witnessing it now. She’s probably a very nice actual person – but on Survivor…maniac. She was shown being a general nuisance for the first half of the episode and driving her alliance mates – and the other side, Terry included – a bit nuts. And then Shirin and PG decided to have a fairly audible bitch session in the dark. Never a good idea – because…the not seeing who is listening in part of it. Abi heard it all and confronted them. PG defended herself and they had it out. Shirin slinked off. PG returned the shelter and said it felt good, as they all laughed.

All except Terry. It was an unexpected move for the guy who really played a horrible social game in Panama. He found Abi and sat with her and did something that guys all around the world fail at all the time, to the chagrin of the ladies who love them. He listened to her. Guys…sometimes that is ALL you have to do. Shut up and listen. She flipped right there on the beach.

Later, Probst would draw a parallel between Shirin abandoning her alliance mate and joining in the mocking to what happened to her last season. That’s a bit weak. It’s like comparing Zac Efron and Zach Galafinakis. Sure, they are both humans named Zachary. But ask most ladies about who they want shirtless in their room…and we have an overwhelming winner. Sure, Shirin felt alone last year and Mike came to her, and a parallel could be found here. However, last year it was after some vicious personal attacks. What happened to Abi wasn’t like that. It was wrong – and horrible Survivor gameplay. But it wasn’t ugly. I see what Probst was doing – trying so hard to tie in the season’s theme – but it was forced.

It’s a darn shame that Shirin and Spencer had their game completely collapse upon them because of an unforced error and a secret, pre-game alliance. But it did. And Spencer did have his parallel be apt – a plea for a chance at Tribal Council. I’m glad he got it – I like Shirin and would have liked to see her play another time, but I like Spencer even more.

It is interesting to see that strategic players are getting targeted this time around. Fishy is also getting flack in the other tribe for playing the game. This is not a good development for this season – I don’t want a season full of alpha males grunting their way to the title. I like schemers with a bit of a sense of humor – and I am very hopeful that next week’s twist makes it easier for Spencer and Fishy to have a new lease on life.

Five Things:

1 – Stop trying to make me root for Savage. It’s not going to happen. How was anyone moved by a wealthy, buff lawyer talking about his love story with a South African model? Anyone relating to that? Any story that involves Playboy and tears…doesn’t tug on my heart strings. Namesake? Well, it worked for him. That Playboy story made him think of his pregnant wife in a positive way, which is not the usual guilty feeling guys get when thinking of their pregnant wives and Playboy at the same time. Fishy asked if Namesake was idol seeking and that further dropped him in the eyes of Savage. Not sure how Fishy’s morals are in question here…but whatever. Again, didn’t care much for Savage the first time around and he ain’t doing much for me now.

2 – Joe is playing the same game again. But he’s better at it now. As Fishy said, Joe is someone you want to keep around early on to keep you strong and then you turn on him the first chance you get. That’s what happened last season, and will happen again this season at this rate. That said…cool hammocks.

3 – Spencer’s foreshadowing. Last week, he told us that he didn’t realize Varner was a crazy person. Think about Varner’s game so far and he’s either an evil genius or a crazy person. He voted out an ally to rally his other allies, and then only managed to get the upper hand because the other side messed up. If they didn’t exile Abi, there is no chance his plan would have worked. Woooooo! would probably have been voted out this week instead. Crazy person…maybe.

Survivor: Cambodia – Second Chances – Ep 1 – Downward Dog or Downward Spiral

The 20 past Survivors that we all voted for to return to the game – or least some of the ones that I voted for – finally get the chance to jump in the water and make the most of their second chance at Survivor. Some of them do, at least, others have forgotten how to cut wood. Others seem to be obsessed with accessories. In other words, it’s just like any other season of Survivor. Wacky and unpredictable.

Who knew that Shirin would be viewed as a sage Survivor analyst? Who knew that we would get not one, but two, anecdotes from older male Survivors about how their kids have either true crushes or man crushes on younger Survivors? Who knew that Abi would be just as crazy as ever? Oh wait, that third one was completely expected.

What I didn’t expect was that yoga would be used as a negative for poor Vytas. I don’t believe that it was the actual practice of yoga that got him in trouble – it was just an excuse to get him out. Shirin said it more accurately – it was his connection to Terry that was the threat. It seems that Aras and Terry became best buds after Exile Island – and thus, Terry and big brother are now bros too. And Shirin has learned this little fact and used it to take him out.

One more unexpected fact…Vytas and I have the exact same type of underwear. Me Undies. Great website – even better under garments. Good taste, Vytas. I will say…I make it work better. Just saying.

In all seriousness, I was sad to see him go. However, I am fairly sure that I’ll be saying that a lot this season. Most of these past Survivors were enjoyable to watch the first time around. Even Kass. That’s the sign of a good piece of casting – this group. Think about what the vast majority of them all have in common – a real true love of the game, and a burning hunger to play it again. That’s what makes it a potentially great season.

Case in point – Jeff Varner. I will admit – it’s been a long time since I watched Australia. And it is not one of my favorite seasons. I remember that he got a little bit screwed over thanks to Skupin’s injury and Colby’s excellent fake out. Other than that…I don’t remember a thing about Varner. And here he is. And boy, wasn’t he interesting to watch. Remember him at the live vote last season? He leapt out of his seat like it was full of spikes. And he is playing hard – a bit awkwardly, but he’s playing hard. 14 years later.
Great job, Survivor. Now let’s hope that it plays out well.

Five Best Things I Saw

1 – Kelley Wentworth. I KNOW! I’m surprised too. Going into this – I thought she was a bad selection for the season. Honestly. And now I feel like an idiot. Don’t mess it up, Kelley. Even though I’m a little pissed for my notetaking shorthand that we have two Kelly Ws on the roster. She’ll have to be E from now on. E with the sexy high blue socks. E with the hidden immunity idol. It may have been one of my favorite pieces of editing ever seen before on this show – watching E looking back and forth from the ongoing challenge to the spot where she knew the idol was hidden. Amazing. Would she grab it despite having all 19 other players right there? Yes. Yes she will. This gorgeous blonde woman actually has balls. And that’s what Survivor does for us all.

2 – Kelly Wiglesworth. She’s back. And she will now be No E because I need symmetry. That’s right – this guy is giving a stupid nickname to one of the most important figures in the history of Survivor. But she’s back. And she is clearly not very interested in talking about how she lost to Richard Hatch. By one vote – because Greg was a massive flake. And because this is Survivor…she of course got another shot at the first ever challenge. And lost it again. Of course. Watching her and Varner go again – you can see that time is not an ally of Survivor players. It’s friggin hard to do. I am pulling for No E – there are no flaky crazy people this season like Greg, right?

3 – Abi. Oh yeah. That’s right. Someone our voters watched the first time around and say…oh yeah, let’s put this crazy person back on TV. She has told us that she doesn’t want to be crazy. But because this is TV – you know that this cannot happen. The crazy will win. It will win quickly. It will manifest faster than Francesca can get voted out of Survivor. It already has started – someone took her bracelet, and that person is PG. Um, what? Why would a professional jewelry maker (really) travel out to Cambodia to go on television and steal a piece of crap bracelet from a crazy woman? And if the previews from next week are any indication – we get night vision drama from her. The best part? She keeps saying how much she wants to not be crazy. It’s like the person we all know that complains about the assholes they date…and then they keep dating assholes. It’s just going to happen. Just run with it.

4 – Survivor producers. I love the fact that we are in Season 31 and the show keeps finding cool stuff to do. I loved how they had the Survivors board a boat to get stuff – that’s been done before – but then making them race to get to another boat to claim a big bag of rice. First of all – Big Bag of Rice is my favorite swing band. Second of all – so cool. I loved how Big E tried to swim all the way. Didn’t she learn from Steph? And then had to have Wooooooo! bail her out after SuperJoe tried to pass her.

5 – Insane Bro Posse. I don’t like this too much, I just wanted to come up with a fun nickname for them. We have Namesake, Savage and SuperJoe banded together on one tribe and poor Stephen Fishbach left on the outside. They are broing out so much that a football game almost broke out. They started watching old episodes of “Entourage.” One of them single handedly took down a tree. Ok, that last one actually happened. And poor Fishy couldn’t even cut a branch – and he got a sad goofy music montage showing him failing to actually cut anything. This guy finished second in his season – and he is getting the goofy edit after one episode. As someone who has always related to the nerds like Fishy – I am hoping he manages to put something together with Keith and the ladies on the tribe. But, doesn’t look good.

Survivor: Second Chances – Season 31 Preview – Who Will Earn Redemption?

Guess who’s back. Back again. Shady’s back. Tell a friend.

Honestly, I have no idea if I can do this with my insane schedule. But I am going to try. This season is such a cool idea and is completely Rodney-free…I just have to try. Between the new job (yay – unemployment sucks!), classes (yep, I’m gonna be that old guy sitting in the back trying to keep up), and getting re-married (double yay – divorce and dating both suck!), time is going to be a challenge. Not a Reward Challenge – I have plenty of chocolate and peanut butter here if Jenna and Heidi were asking.
But a challenge.

Forgive me for some weeks of late posts and possible short analyses. Some weeks it could just be something like this – “Did you see that? What was Woooooo! thinking?!?! Time to go to bed. G’nite.”

But I think that after last season’s Collection of Horrible People and The Dumb Ass Things They Say…we have a great season ahead of us. Many fans have been clamoring for years for the show to give second chances to many of the past contestants that had never gotten the Boston Rob, James, Parvati treatment and been brought back several times. There are tons of great Survivor players, crazy characters, hot men and women, and strong personalities that are just itching to return. Hooray for good ideas!

I both liked and hated the idea of having the fans vote. First, it’s a nice thing to put the fans in charge of something – we have been watching this show for 15 years and the only thing we have ever really had in our control was the stupid Fan Vote after All-Stars that gave Rupert and undeserved million bucks. And that leads me into the reason I hated the fan vote – people are pretty stupid. Case in point – Wooooo! is back, and Shane Powers is not. Wha? Come on people – Woooooo! gave a million bucks to Tony while Shane carved a BlackBerry out of a piece of wood. I mean, outside of government jobs, no one even use BlackBerrys anymore! Imagine what this guy could do with an Iphone 6?

Anyway, we also have a great innovation that I think could be fascinating – hidden idols at challenges. You get the clues at camp and then have to find them at the challenge. Awesome. I am really looking forward to seeing these people try and crawl through and obstacle course while searching for an idol. And add to that this…the idols could look like a carved bear on a rope necklace, or it could just be an everyday object. Jason and Eliza’s stick argument could actually be obsolete.

Overall, the fans did a pretty good job, and the show did well in providing us with some solid names to pick from. I’m still amazed a couple of them made the cut – Kelly Whatshername from Blood vs. Water 2 over Carolyn from last season? Did the fans expect Carolyn to win so her votes wound up staying home? Of course, the underachieving hot woman has won the second time around before…cough…Amber…cough.

So without further ado…Your Second Chance Survivors:

Survivor: Worlds Apart – Ep 3 – Cannon Fodder Follies

So, we had a great first two episodes and I guess a step backwards isn’t that big of a deal. I think after most of us witnessed the events of the first two we all realized that some of the people on this season were really not long for the world of Survivor. Incompetence in challenges, inability to communicate at camp, and utter annoyance just means that some folks are either early cannon fodder, or just horrible enough for savvy players to keep around at a voting foil at the end.

I feel confident in saying that Nina, Will, Mike and Shirin are four such players. Not that they aren’t really nice people, or successful at what they do in the real world – but so far after over a week in the controlled jungle of Survivor…they are not cutting it. Let’s take them one at a time, and add one more for good luck.

Mike – Oh boy. I am not too sure if Mike has actually watched a season of Survivor, or if he just based it on the descriptions friends of relatives who read about Survivor 10 years ago provided to him. Yes, it is very important to have a well functioning camp. You really can’t sit around all day and assume the work will get done. However, one thing is for certain…if you do the opposite, your tribe will hate you.

Mike needs to listen to Lloyd Dobbler and chill! When the show does a montage of anything done by a Survivor…you know it is bad. Last week, it was a montage of Nina and her tribe failing to communicate. This week, it was of Mike chopping wood. Mike is pissed that he feels like he’s doing all of the hard work. Lindsey sums up the Blues rather accurately by stating that Blue Collar workers love to critique others’ work ethic because they each think they do it better. Very wise observation.

Mike’s proverbial nailing himself on the cross took a poor turn when he got on Rodney’s case for the last time. Rodney wanted to know if there was a “C” on Mike’s shirt, a sports reference to a player being selected as team captain. Rodney wants to eat before he helps get the firewood. Mike wants him to do it now. Rodney doesn’t like morning wood. Mike likes it quite a bit. Most guys? Big fans.

Rodney goes to get the wood and tosses it violently in the corner as Mike pleads his martyr case to the ladies. And then Lindsey owns him. She rips into him about how they cook the food, help with the chores and keeps the fire going. He doesn’t seem to be willing to give her the props, and she exclaims, “How to f*** do you think the fire got there? Your God? Did he make it with his beard?” Snerk.

Mike’s takeaway? Offended because of the blasphemy. Sigh. Totally missed the point and likely will never see the point. Rodney said it earlier, “ain’t nobody gonna be my daddy” out on the show. Mike can’t see the others and is amazed that they don’t see him the way he sees himself. Classic.

Shirin – Let me just point out…I like Shirin. However, her tribe doesn’t seem as much into her. I can’t imagine why – who doesn’t like a long, aggressive eyewitness account of Howler Monkey After Dark? Personally, I love learning about the mating of monkeys. I would especially enjoy it after several days of sleep, food and water depravation. Carolyn thinks Shirin is crazy and can’t imagine how she survived in Corporate America. Shirin can’t imagine how the monkeys don’t want to snuggle after sex.

Later, the tribe is going idol searching – something we incredibly don’t see the Blues and Nos doing – despite the fact that Carolyn already has it. Shirin and Max are going together, while Joaquin is off trying on his own. Remember, he was aligned with So and is on the outs with the tribe. Shirin suggests a truce in the search because, obviously, it is a fruitless endeavor. He chooses to be a dick. He compares her to a mosquito, and I am comparing him to a dick. That seems fair.

Joaquin – or Joaq, as Tyler calls him…or guac as I heard it the first time – tells her she needs to find it. Shirin calls him on this and tries to bait him into telling her that she is on the outs, not him. He is increasingly dismissive and obnoxious. My read? He thinks he’s a stud. And maybe he is back home – maybe his charms work on a lot of women. However, if a woman fails to fall for his brand of bro charm, then he has no use for her. This is textbook. Shirin sees through him and so he wants to get rid of her. Shirin and I have a common enemy here, so I am hopeful that he’s not long for the game.

The interesting part is that Guac shared the clue with Tyler. Now, as we all know, it mattered very little since Tyler is aware of Carolyn’s possession of the idol. However, it could lead to a pairing of these guys which could lead to some interesting drama with the Whites. The 4-1 vs. Guac seems most likely, but who knows what’s going to go down now.

Will – He seems like a nice guy. I have great respect for anyone who can dance and sing in public and not feel self-conscious. So, I can see how he got cast on the show. He’s, well, interesting. He also has a sharp wit. He could be a lot of fun if he lasts this season. Unfortunately, I can’t see him lasting very long.

Yet again, Will struggled physically during the challenge. All of the Nos were winded thanks to Pretty Boy Joe’s moronic strategy, but Will was even more winded. This trend does not bode well for him long term. His only hope, in my opinion, is that the Nos start to win challenges. If he can make it to the merge, then his failings in challenges will actually help him stick around. But that’s still a few episodes away. And the Nos better start shaping up.

Survivor: Worlds Apart – Eps 1 and 2 – So What? And The Assistant Coach Is A Poor Remake

On the day of Episode 3, I have finally caught up with this season of Survivor. This past month involved a whole lot of travel, the start of a new job, my engagement to my beautiful fiancé and the ongoing efforts to merge all of our stuff together in the house. It’s been a bit crazy. I still haven’t watched the end of Top Chef! And House of Cards is sitting there waiting for me to binge watch.

But enough of that…we have Season 30 of Survivor to get into.

I like it.

That’s right – once again, a gimmick idea that Survivor producers have come up with had a chance of totally crashing and burning and somehow managed to totally work. At least so far. I remember when the show did the ethnic season (Cook Islands) it seemed to be a disaster waiting to happen. In fact, it started out pretty horrible and then it turned into one of the best seasons. It happens time and again – blood vs. water, Exile Island, etc.

The one exception is Redemption Island – the Boston Rob season started out so good and then got tiring as he dominated a bad bunch and Philips’ antics took center stage. Worlds Apart has started out this way – pretty great. Let’s hope it becomes something great by the end and not something tedious.

The season has three tribes divided by profession – White Collar, Blue Collar and No Collar. White = executives and corporate America people…those usually in charge. Blue = the vast majority of American workers…those who built America on their labor. No = people who live by their own rules and work in some of the more offbeat jobs. How will they interact with each other…and then once their tribes merge? Pretty fascinating.

One would expect the bosses to clash over who is going to be the Alpha Dog – and that’s already happened. However, unexpected is that these folks are better with their hands and in challenges than expected. The worker bees should be great at the physical aspects of the game, but would they be leaderless? Again, not unexpected to see them do well physically and to see them push back against someone who makes them feel as if they aren’t working hard. And the no collars? Creativity was expected, but the ruthlessness was not…I think that’s unexpected and very possible.

Because of the late nature of things, I will do a lot of Treemail Top 10s in this column. Let’s do a little on each person first, and then the challenges.

Masaya Tribe – The White Collars.

Max – He taught a class on Survivor in college. That’s hard-core. He’s also embraced the Richard Hatch School of Naked Survivoring. He is instantly one of my favorite ones this season – and to have him be on the White Collar team surprises me.

So – I disliked from the minute she said she made people cry at work. That’s everything I hate about corporate America.

Joaquin – I hate him instantly. He is every dude who thinks they are hot stuff but are really just assholes in a suit. I bet he gets a lot of women to fall for it and then treats them like garbage. Why did he gravitate to So? Because she’s hot. Of course, she’s too smart to fall for his crap. Maybe if he gets voted out soon they can flirt some more at the resort holding the early boots.

Carolyn – Also an unexpected favorite. I love how she instantly could tell that Joaquin and So were lying – extra funny because they thought they were such good liars – and she beat them to the hidden idol. So perfect. I also respect how she rolled her dice a bit and trusted the group that So was going to go instead of her. Now she has an idol and a majority alliance in the tribe.

Tyler – A former talent agent and NFL placekicker (really, how often do you get to say that sentence?), he is also a budding star from this season. Seeing him trying to carry on a conversation with Shirin as she was naked from the waist down…may be Top 10 in funniest Survivor moments ever.

Shirin – A Yahoo executive who has been a fan of the show since she was 16. She’s also catching the Hatch disease.

Top Chef: Boston/Mexico – Ep 14 – One Win! Two Wins! Three Wins!

Welcome to Mexico! Cue the Hat Dance. Not that hat dance. The other hat dance!

We are in the final round of the season and very shortly a brand new chef will be able to claim the title of Top Chef, the cash and all of the other thing Padma voiceovers every week. Six weeks after the action in Boston came to an end; the chefs make their way across the border, and the Imaginary Fence of McCain, into our neighbors to the south.

Fish Bitch, Gumby and Melissa arrive crosscut to scenes of the furious Mexican Clam Battle between George and Zaphod for the right to make their way back into the competition. Tom arrives to bring the chefs to the final LCK meal and we catch up to where last week’s online footage ended – with Tom deciding who will the fourth on the Final Four. Both men made delicious clam dishes, but Zaphod edges out George for the final slot. Sorry, George – DC does not get this one this year. It would have been interesting for him to get his third shot at it, but he should consider himself rather lucky to be one step away from the Final Four.

So, good for Zaphod! He was doing so well this season before the foie gras fiasco. He managed to beat some good chefs – Adam, Kats and George – to get back to business. And he gets no rest as the four of them are led to Padma and local Mexico City chef Enrique Olvera. Zaphod mentions how Enrique’s restaurant is #20 on the Pellegrino List. And if I had any idea what that was, I am sure it would really impress me. Zaphod has also been instructed off-screen to strip off the Top Chef jacket so that he and the other three are all in street clothes. As a result, the poor guy is standing there in his white undershirt like a mini version of Stanley Kowalski.

The chefs are presented with a regular Quickfire Challenge – No twists involved. They have to make a dish using the local Prickly Pear called the Xoconostle. Surprisingly, Spellcheck has no idea what that fruit is, and neither did I until this episode. Melissa reveals that during the six weeks she actually studied this fruit in her prep for the finals. Good for her! Michael Voltaggio also redirected fish Bitch to practicing Mexican cuisine – as Volt (I know I used to call him Hawk, and that Brian Voltaggio’s restaurant is Volt, but it is so much easier essentially calling them both Volt at this point) can sense a second Top Chef title in his inner circle.

Zaphod points out that he is used to making cactus thanks to his Texas roots and that the Xoco is very tart and needs a balance. He is making a vegetarian dish to feature the Xoco, and because at its heart Mexican cuisine is very vegetable-focused. Gumby is making a relish, Fish Bitch is badly cooking a steak and Melissa has zeroed in on the salmon. Meanwhile, Padma is brightening the whole place looking majestic in a white dress.

Zaphod – Xoconostle and Tomatillo Stew With Roasted Peppers and Pepitas – Enrique points out the same thought about Mexican cuisine. Score for Zaphod!

Gumby – Garlic Shrimp With Olive Oil, Prickly Pear Sauce and Xoconostle Relish – The olive oil really stands out. That would be good if it was an olive oil challenge. And if it were, I would hope somebody would make it with spinach.

Fish Bitch – Ribeye Tataki With Xoconostle Salsa and Nopales Salsa Verde – Unfortunately, her steak is cooked in varying degrees of “doneness” even if the sauce had good flavor.

Melissa – Salmon Ceviche with Xoconostle, Leche De Tigre and Prickly Pear Salad – The liquid is the best part for her.

Gumby and Fish Bitch hit the bottom and will not earn the Elimination Challenge advantage. Melissa’s was refreshing and Zaphod focused on the Xoco. Only a novice Top Cheffer would not see this coming…Zaphod earns the win.

Amazing, in a very short span of time he went from fighting for his show life to having an advantage in the challenge to send him to the Final Three. Never give up on these shows, future contestants.
Never, ever, ever.

Top Chef: Boston – Ep 12 – To Take A Risk, or Not To Take A Risk

OK, so here we are. Boston is being left behind – to deal with 300 inches of snow, apparently – and we are making our way to Mexico. We have a Top 4 ready to compete next week, but us viewers are not entirely sure which four of the five are going to be there.

LCK was a cliffhanger as the show is getting the reveal of the winner ready for next week’s episode. One thing is for certain though – we have a 50-50 chance of our third female Top Chef champion. That’s a mini-spoiler for this episode’s elimination – sorry about that, but since I am late as usual, I am sure the dozens of people reading my column have already watched the whole thing.

The M&M Ladies are in it. We all knew Melissa was in after last week’s victory and the Free Pass to the Finals. This week, Fish Bitch continued her recent strong showings and joined her bestie in the championship round. Good for them! I said it before, and I will say it again, neither have gotten a winner’s edit (especially Melissa), but who knows. Top Chef editors are not as predictable with their tendencies as other shows. I suspect that one of the boys, or perhaps Fish Bitch, is going to win it all.

Speaking of Melissa…why was she even playing this week? That made no sense to me. Essentially, last week’s win was not a Free Pass to the Finals…it was immunity this week. Why not just say that? She got to compete with no pressure whatsoever – so it ain’t all that surprising that she won the Elimination Challenge. Without the specter of Padma’s knife or even the concern that a bad dish will poison the well for her in subsequent challenges…she was free and clear to cook with a calm mind, body and soul. The other three? Not so much.

We start at the Quickfire Challenge where Padma and Wylie Dufresne show up to talk about the rich history of beans. Honestly, could you think of a worse PBS special? Padma & Wylie’s History of Beans. Even Padma’s hotness would not save that from the Tedious Hall of Fame. Although it would provide medical science with the long sought after cure for insomnia.
So the four of them (again, why is Melissa there?) get to make bean dishes with a trip to Napa on the line. Melissa wants to win it for her lady. I still think she shouldn’t be there. George makes a lot of fart humor. He even quotes one of my dad’s favorite joke songs, “Beans, beans, the musical fruit. The more you eat, the more you toot.” Seriously, to his final day on earth a well-place fart joke would make him giggle like a schoolgirl.

Top Chef: Boston – Ep 11 – It’s A Family Affair

Spoiler Alert everyone! There really is no spoiling to be had as the only person eliminated this week from having a possible shot at being Top Chef took place on the web during LCK. No chance of accidentally letting slip who got their knife packing marching orders this week.

Instead, the show elected to send one of them forward to the finale in Mexico. So, no elimination during the Elimination Challenge, and the winner earns a bye next week. That’s a pretty cool twist. It also means that no one was there to take on Adam and Zaphod on LCK. That meant two of my favorites had to battle head-to-head to determine who was going to be the LCK placeholder in Mexico.

Presumably, the three remaining chefs cook next week with one of them sent packing to LCK. That puts three chefs in the Finals and two in LCK. That probably means that the Finals in Mexico will feature four chefs to start with – although the show has been known to take out an extraneous chef during an initial Quickfire Challenge.

Anyway, why all of the sudden easing up on our intrepid chefs? Because this week features family visits and the producers have some fun and merriment planned for them. I believe they realized that it would have been pretty cruel to send one of them home in front of their mom, dad or sibling.

I have to say…the four relatives that joined Gumby, George, Melissa and Fish Bitch were all bringing their A Games to the competition. We got to see some really cool family dynamics shake out on national television. Honestly, I said it last week; I am very disappointed that the show failed to do more with the M&M Girls and their burgeoning relationship. The two women both battled parental disappointment and cultural prejudices as they embarked upon becoming chefs. When you also factor in the male dominance of this profession you really have to have mad respect for both of them. They have earned their success and the fact that they have just one parent between them that sees this is heartbreaking.

Melissa’s mom was, and is, a very impressive woman for being as supportive of her baby girl as she has been over the years. Alice raised her daughter and picked up the pieces after Melissa’s dad could not get over his daughter being both a chef and a gay person. As a father, that sentence is just baffling to me. There is nothing my boy could do that would lead me to disowning him. Nothing. If he went to prison, I’d visit him every month. If he became a meth addict, I’d track him down and bring him to rehab. If he became a Republican, I’d try to use smaller words to make him understand things.

But, a chef? Um, I’d eat his amazing food and tell him how proud I was of him. A gay person? I’d tell him his boyfriends better be good to him or they’d have to answer to me.

And poor Fish Bitch! BOTH of her parents don’t approve of her profession and she is now estranged from them. And, they are in the restaurant business! Seriously?!? When she said that she was ok with this – she’s lying. She may believe that she’s ok with it and may have completely convinced herself of the being ok-ness of the whole thing. But…in her heart of hearts, and probably after some intensive therapy sessions…it ain’t ok. Nor should it be. That’s effed up. I feel for Fish Bitch and would adopt her into my family if she’s willing.

Top Chef: Boston – Ep 10 – The One Where I Forgot The Show Was Back


Crap! Crap! crap! Double crap! Crap on a cracker! Crap on a cracker with a half jar or crusty salsa!

I totally forgot Top Chef was back last week. I got too used to holiday schedule and zoned on it until I saw a spoiler on Twitter. Crap.

The interesting thing is that if I hadn’t been spoiled I would have been thrown off by the show’s editing. Melissa has gotten such little air time this season – so few that I haven’t even discovered a fun nickname for her – that when she got ample airtime this week, I thought got she was doomed. Plus, her dish was a scorched short rib. If you ever had a scorched short rib you know how unfortunate that is to the diner.

But instead, the show threw me a curveball and took out poor little Zaphod for his wildly undercooked foie gras. Such a shame. I like Zaphod. He really seemed like a threat to win it all. And it’s always a shame to waste good foie gras. It was a deserved elimination as his culinary violation was a pretty big one, but it was still sad for me, and many viewers, who dug the little guy.

As for the challenges, we will lead with the elimination challenge since it was the better one and it was the only one that the Top Chef website included on the site. I would really need to review the 12 seasons of the show to see if they have ever actually done a Julia Child-centric episode before. It seems like something they should have done before Season 12. I would do that, but as I have already established…I FORGOT THE DAMN SHOW WAS ON!!!

Anyway, so, Julia Child. I kept expecting to see the show cut to brand new scenes featuring the beautiful Amy Adams that sadly just distracted from the cool Julia Child scenes. However, that didn’t happen. But it did enable me to think about my unhealthy crush on Amy Adams. Granted, it is not as unhealthy as the one on Padma – but that just isn’t fair to Amy to compare her to Padma. I mean, just check out her white boots on loving display during the Quickfire.

Wait a minute, I digressed again. So, Julia Child. The chefs are brought into the Stew Room following the Quickfire and presented with a tiny sign telling them to Press Play. I was half expecting to see Lawrence Fishburne show up to tell them their whole lives were an machine-fabricated dream world. That didn’t happen. They were shown an old Julia Child episode featuring the immortal Jacques Pepin. Clearly, they knew what was coming, even if Zaphod falsely guessed they would just be making rabbit. He probably should have made that rabbit as it turns out.

The chefs get the pleasure, and I mean, seriously, the pleasure, of making a Julia Child inspired dish. If Julia Child did not exist there would be no Top Chef. Or any of the 5,593 cooking shows on 18 different networks. Not to mention…they are all cooked in butter, spilled wine and occasional drops of blood (as seen here in the classic SNL sketch). Thanks to my girlfriend moving in, I now own her class French cooking book and I look forward to mangling her many dishes in the years to come.

Celebrity Apprentice, Jan. 4 – Don’t Deny the Cosby Factor

Another season of Celebrity Apprentice is upon us. It’s another season filled with people we know well and people we don’t know well. It’s hard to know all the names. One we do know is Keshia Knight Pulliam, and if you don’t know her by name, you know her by the role she played.

Keshia played Rudy Huxtable on the Cosby Show. She was just a little girl when the show started, and we watched her grow up. Now at 35 years old, she’s appearing on Celebrity Apprentice, or was appearing. She was the first one to be fired by Donald Trump. Her big mistake? Not calling her TV dad, Bill Cosby, for a donation.

This particular challenge was a fundraising challenge, and she knew that before accepting the position of project manager. She needed to bring in the big bucks. However, she only brought in $8,000, which wasn’t nearly enough when she was battling the project manager on the other side, Geraldo Rivera. Cosby could have certainly donated big to help her out.

Keshia’s reason for not getting a donation from Cosby sounded a little strange. She said she hadn’t talked to him in five years and she would feel a little funny calling him. This automatically made us all think about the current Cosby scandal. Was this filmed before or after he started going through all that?

The Cosby girls from the show have said he never tried anything with them and was more fatherly than anything else. But Keshia’s reluctance to call on him and being out of contact with him has me questioning that. There has to be a reason why she felt uncomfortable calling him.

Keshia really left Trump no choice. She called into the boardroom with her Jamie Anderson and Kate Gosselin because they had raised they least amount of money. However, Jamie was responsible for the recipe of the winning pie, judged by the Cake Boss, which gave them $25,000, and Kate was in there a lot as well with the preparation of the pies. When it comes down to it, Keshia just wasn’t a good boss. She failed to get the big time donations she had access to and underestimated the others she worked with.

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