Thursday, December 22, 2011

Survivor South Pacific: Ponderosa - Brandon, Rick & Ozzy

The final Ponderosa videos are up for those of us not in the US.

Brandon is as thankful for everything as you would expect, Rick is mad & is just mad, & Ozzy is frustrated in his surfer zen way (lots of "dude"s & "aw man"s).

Everyone goes on a day trip, & Cochran is excited to swim in a trench that was featured in Heroes vs Villains, & reflects on his comfort level while waves crash on the rocks behind him.  "A little pasty nerd like me in the South Pacific, surrounded by this...I feel like I kind of blend in with it now.  30 days ago...I would have felt out of my element, but now, I'm a man of nature, a man in the South Pacific...I'm just a man! The fact that I'm saying 'man' is in itself a development."

Rick tells Edna she cleans up real nice, & stares at Whitney, saying she looks a lot different.  Whitney, now with make-up & clean hair & clothes, & private sexy time with Keith, doesn't know how to take that.  Y'all are tellin' me that I didn't look this good when livin' on a beach, all smelly, & gittin' bit by them there bugs fer 25 days?

Rick wants to borrow Cochran's razor to shave his gnarly neck (like he'd ever shave that magnificent 'stache), & Cochran is concerned about general hygiene & says he can't find it.  When he does find it, he is thrilled to discover that the razor isn't charged - "Some things do work out in the South Pacific!" - & can offer it to Rick with an "aw, shucks".

Ozzy drains a bottle of beer after his check-up & I like him more in that 1 minute than I have in his 3 seasons on Survivor.  Everyone tells Ozzy they would have voted for him, & Ozzy is smiling through his frustration.  An Ozzy's gotta do what an Ozzy's gotta do, so he goes swimming.

As always, the videos are available at if you live in the US.  For the rest of us, here they are:




Monday, December 19, 2011

Survivor South Pacific: 23 Finale

The Survivor finale begins with Anderson Cooper scuba diving off the coast of Redemption Island.  Followed by Meryl Streep discussing the craft of deception she plans on using at the jury.  Oh wait - there's a delay.  Thanks, NFL.

Survivor begins 33 minutes late, & after a recap of the entire season thus far, the opening is set to quotes from the remaining players.  With so many voices speaking over each other, this must be what it feels like to be Brandon.

Fresh from being voted out by God, Brandon shows up at Redemption Island.  Ozzy is bewildered that he gave up his immunity necklace.  "He wasn't blindsided - he gave up a frickin immunity necklace!...He's playing the game like he's playing with God.  He's not.  He's playing with human beings that are greedy & want that money."  Could someone not have told him that to his face 3 weeks earlier?  You're not Christ, & you're not playing with God.  But, but...dragonslayers are supposed to be noble!

Also, we want money.

Back at Te Tuna, (I so hope that is the last time I ever have to type that), Coach chides Albert with the same voice Will Forte used when chastising Gilly.  He wants Albert to admit that he knew Brandon was going home & kept the necklace anyway.  Coach says enough with the bullshit!  No more pretending to be holier-than-thou, & no more lies! The dragonslayer will not be made a fool!

The final Redemption Island duel looks to be unfairly suited towards Ozzy's unique background of being reared by otters & monkeys.  Just climb a pole & hold on for as long as you can.  Add to that the fact that for 2 weeks, Ozzy has been on Redemption Island, fishing, eating, defeating all who come his way & feeling pretty good about his personal paradise, or - dare I say it - heaven, & this looks like 4 scary dudes are mounting their horses & heading Brandon's way for a quick smiting.

"I was raised by monkeys."        "I was raised by Hantzes."

It is impressive how long Brandon lasts before ultimately falling.  The only explanation I have is that Brandon has fully identified with the OompaLoompa nickname I have given his former tribe, Upolu, & was reenacting a Snozzywanger attack in Loompaland, this being the preferred method of escape in such a situation.

Ozzy would scurry to the top to regain his footing, & I kept thinking he would accidentally grab the top of the pole, which isn't allowed.  However, it was not to be, & as much as I wanted Ozzy out of the running, I am happy he didn't go out at the very last challenge.  He is truly an amazing competitor.

Brandon falls to the ground & thanks God immediately.  He is smiling, says he had a heart-to-heart with God, & holds "no bitterness to nobody."  What?!?  How is he not bit...ah, he's speaking in double negative code.  He is bitter.  Clever, Brandon!  He exits, of course, to the sound of a church bell.

Probst refers to Ozzy as an underdog, but I don't know if you can call Ozzy an underdog.  That's like calling Cochran an underdog in a Woody-Allen-off.  Ozzy is back in the game & since no one is congratulating him, he'll do it himself.  "I spent the last 15 days just pushing myself every single day with the hopes that if I do make it back to this final stretch, then I'll come harder than I have ever been able to in this game of Survivor."  Everyone else: "Yay."

Coach, the man who just will not stand for bullshit, tells Ozzy he wants to take him to the final 3, going so far as saying if he wins immunity, he'll give Ozzy the immunity idol he's been hanging on to.
OK.  As Ozzy says, "Who in their right mind would want to take me to the end right now?  After battling on Redemption & coming back after 8 people straight?  Come on."  Here, his arrogance is justified.

The Immunity Challenge is a balancing challenge, but this is no stacking-plates challenge.  This looks incredibly difficult.  They are to steady a board using a pulley with one hand, & with the other, they must build a house of cards out of tiles that is high enough to cross a line.  Dude.

Sophie reveals she does this for fun, & has a book on how to build these.  Probst says her tower looks indestructible, & she is confident until she runs out of tiles.  She is waiting for someone to bring her more when Probst says "part of this challenge is tile management."  Sophie has to take her tower apart & wants to dig out Probst's glorious dimples.  Later in the challenge, half of Sophie's tower falls over & she issues a command.

Sophie: "Hey Albert, drop your stack & come pick up my pieces."
Albert: "Um, I'm in a pretty decent spot right now"...also, no fucking way.
Sophie: "Drop your damn stack & pick up my pieces.  I'm gonna beat you."
Albert: "Um..."

Probst made sure that gold was captured on camera, then says there's no helping allowed.  "You want Ozzy out of this game?  Beat him."

Coach gives Ozzy a run, but amazingly, Ozzy wins immunity.  Dude is unstoppable.  His plan now is to pit everyone else against each other.  He tells Albert about Coach's promise to take him to the final 3.  Albert is suspicious, but can't bring himself to believe Coach would cheat on him like that.

Albert: "There's long curly hair all over your jacket, man."
Coach: "Oh, that's mine.  My hair falls out when I'm constantly clawing through it."
Albert: "No, this hair is really, really well conditioned.  Like, it looks more amazing than unwashed hair should look.  This is not your looks like...Ozzy's?"
Coach: "Wha....I mean..."

Coach: ""
Albert: "So, for my curiosity, did anything ever happen between you & Ozzy?"
Coach: "(mumbles), (drinks water), (walks away)"

I have a spider monkey that comes & grooms me.
At tribal council, the jury is all smiles to see the immunity necklace around Ozzy's neck.  Ozzy outs Coach's promise to everyone, hoping to stir up trouble, but Sophie distracts from that, saying she wants Ozzy gone for personal reasons, as she feels disrespected by him.  Ozzy thinks Sophie is a spoiled brat, Sophie thinks Ozzy is an arrogant ass.  The difference is, Sophie can't take it & has a major breakdown.  She has been so strong & so tough, & here she is bawling because some people don't like her.  She feels as vilified as Whitney did, y'all.  Probst probes for even more tears, & Sophie continues choking on her words because no one likes her & she even says she wishes she had never come here.  Don't ever say that on this game!  Probst tries to get her head back in the game, sadly not by performing the song from High School Musical.  Sophie says she's fine & she'll just win final immunity, so no big deal.

Rick gets voted out, unsurprisingly.  Coach stands up for that hug he seems to think everyone wants, & Rick shuts him down.

Back at Te Tuna (damn it), Sophie doesn't want Ozzy to have any plantains, but since he's off scaling trees & eating coconuts by himself, I think he's ok with that.  Ozzy being there irritates Sophie, but I can't imagine there's much that doesn't irritate her.  She seems highly irritable.  All the time.

Coach confronts Ozzy about his spilling the beans at tribal.  Ozzy explains he's been burned in the past by trusting people, & one person in particular really crushed him, as he cared about her.  He would be speaking of the lovely Parvati, who was a friend & close ally in the Fans Vs Favourites season, until she blindsided him.  Here's what Ozzy was like with much shorter hair, & a much fresher wound:

The final immunity challenge is upon us, the winner of which is automatically in the final 3.  It is my favourite kind of challenge, the enormous & ridiculous obstacle course followed by a puzzle.  Blindfolds are the only component missing to make this a perfect challenge.  The Survivors line up, & everyone heads to the leg of the course closest to them, except for Albert.  He heads to the one furthest away from him, which is also the one Sophie has gone to.  WTF Albert?  There are 2 empty legs now, over where you just were.  This proves to be a huge mistake, as Albert is constantly getting stuck behind Sophie for the rest of the challenge.  There are lots of falls & rolls, aside from Ozzy, who leaps & bounds like a chimpanzee over the net that everyone else is having so much trouble with.

Ozzy has a great lead on the puzzle, but Sophie comes from behind & wins the final immunity.  Everyone celebrates except for Ozzy, who swears, because he knows he's done.  Ozzy has a tearful moment as he reflects on his game, & doubts that Coach will keep him.  This is interrupted by shouts of celebration from everyone else, & Ozzy gives the camera a "see what I have to deal with?" look.

So what exactly is everyone celebrating, specifically?  In the most surprising moment since Jeff's green shirt, Coach relinquishes his title of Dragonslayer! gave that title to yourself!  Does that mean nothing to you?  Coach declares Sophie the new slayer, as she has slayed Ozzy.  Now Coach will be known as her Watcher.

A new Dragonslayer is born!

Ozzy plays up Coach's dramatic side, asking him to vote for Albert with him, leading to a tie, & a make-fire-off between the 2.  Coach is struggling with which of his words to honour, or is he?  Pretty sure he wants a million dollars.  At tribal, Sophie votes Ozzy because "I am the new dragonslayer."

Ozzy is voted out, & I am actually really, really sad for him.  I have never been a huge Ozzy fan, but you cannot deny that he was made for this game.  My husband does not see him as the arrogant douche that I see, & he has whittled away a lot of the hate-on I have for him.  It's just sad to see him go out so late in the game, when he's so close.  Everyone claps for Ozzy & he has his torch snuffed out for the third time this season.  Albert looks to the heavens & thanks God & I realize that all the praying left when Brandon left.  Curious.

Coach is so ecstatic to be in the final 3, he doesn't even care about the accuracy of his quotes.  "I'm not sure who said it - Mark Twain, Shakespeare - one of those guys - 'If I'm in a dream, let me never wake up.'"  Coach, that's not so much a quote as just something people say.  Often.

The final 3 have a delicious breakfast on day 39, & they all hug, & Brandon is feeling phantom pains somewhere.  Before they head to final tribal council where they will face the jury, they torch the shelter at camp, but there is no Former Tribe-Mate Memorial Walk.  I think the only people who were missing it were the former tribe-mates.  Semhar had written a spoken word piece for the montage & everything!  I happened to get an advanced copy, & here it is:

What Survivor Means To Me
by Semhar
(dedicated to my future lucky husband)

I wrap my legs around you, yet you still walk away, stretching my soul until it is as black as my tears.
I still feel your love, coursing through my veins
that you cut open when you abandoned me, leaving me to die
alone while my blood poured over a single fragrant lily in the garden that our dozen children tilled.

Geez, Semhar, lighten up.  It's just a game.

At tribal council, the jury comes in & it appears they've brought Ozzy of Green Gables with them.

That's Ozzy with a Y.

Albert does a lot of pandering in his statement - you're all amazing, so glad I had an opportunity to play with you all, but he also touches on the reason he loves this game, which is the same reason I love this game: it's a social experiment.  I had a conversation with someone who stopped watching Survivor years ago, because "it's always the same".  It was hard to keep my mouth shut, but I knew it would be like talking strategy with Brandon, & I don't want Jeff Probst to show up in an orange shirt or something.  What is so fascinating about Survivor is that it's never the same, because of the people.  It could even be the same people, just split up a different way, & it would be a different Choose Your Own Adventure entirely.  You could have your game strategy all ready before you go, & when you get there, you may realize it's just not going to work with the tribe you've been dealt.  Look at the seasons where it was men vs women...all those flirtatious women were desperate to find a lesbian in their midst as their only selling point was boobies.

Sophie goes logical, which was her plan following her emotional breakdown a few days prior.  Her argument was simple - I outwitted, outplayed, & outlasted.  Coach was self-deprecating, which was new for Coach, & he did lots of pandering about relationships built in the game.  The arguments depend on the jury as well - if you have a bitter jury, which this certainly was, there's virtually nothing you can say to persuade them to throw a vote your way.  Especially if you've made it clear you wanted to play with honour & integrity...because it will get thrown back in your face.

Ozzy of Green Gables speaks first.  He asks Coach about his word, & Coach fesses up to compromising his word & the way he wanted to play the game.  Brandon looks bewildered - he may have just realized in that moment that it wasn't God who voted him out.

Jim is next, & asks Albert the jury classic - tell me why the other two should not be sitting there? Jim also warns not to throw any compliments in there, or his vote is lost.  Jim wants to hear straight up, why Coach & Sophie suck, & Albert says, "I love this question - love the way you're approaching the game."  Ozzy of Green Gables laughs maniacally & OMG, I think the raspberry cordial is really currant wine!  Marilla, put a lock on your liquor cabinet!

Look!  Sophie's smiling now!

Dawn wants to know why Sophie aligned with Coach & Albert, in particular.  Even though Sophie's voice is so shaky it's making me nervous, she sounds like she had a plan.  She says she had wished she was a man before starting this game, because men can always seem to get 2 young girls to follow them to the end, & she knew she couldn't do that.  "I saw [Coach] as the equivalent of a young girl.  He was someone who said to me 'loyalty is worth more than a million dollars.  I want to come out of this game restoring who I am.'  That's a guy who's not gonna write my name down."  When it came to Albert, he was into strategy, & Sophie wanted someone to discuss strategy with.  And with that answer, she sounded like she had a plan from the beginning, & didn't end up there by luck.

Rick is mad & just is mad.

Brandon asks Coach about his word, & Coach says what Brandon wants to hear, & that's that Brandon raised the bar re: Christianity & praying & God, & he thanks Brandon for that.  Brandon: I forgive you.  Come on, Brandon, you have to make it harder than that!  Even God asks for a few Our Fathers before absolving any sins!  Brandon asks Albert, "Did you know I was going home?" Albert stalls & goes into his Bella Swan impression once more.

How could...the thing is...they said...look, I tried...when you...

And just like that, because he didn't just say Yeah, I knew.  But it's a million dollars!, he's out of the running.

Whitney is mad, calls Albert sleazy, & Sophie condescending.  Sophie gets a little emotional again, vowing to work on herself when she gets home.

Edna chooses to speak to the jury, not the finalists & reminds them that everybody lies in this game, so they shouldn't vote based on that.  "We signed up to be duped, & they duped us."  Like I said after watching Edna's Ponderosa videos, I like her so much more outside of the game!  I wish we had seen more of this side of her.

Keith asks about the hidden immunity idol, & Sophie pipes up, telling everyone how Coach actually found it early on with plans to use it for just the 3 of them, & then staged the praying & finding of it for everyone.

Brandon looks devastated, but Keith either doesn't understand what was just said,, I think that's it.  He just offers a blank "k, thanks guys".

Cochran is the last member of the jury to have his say.  He is impressed with Coach's game, but comments on how Coach says honour so much, the word now means nothing.  He would like Coach to discuss his strategy without using the word honour, & it's like a game of Taboo!

I am ready to buzz you out, Coach.

The stress of being forbidden to use his favourite word leads Coach to implode.  He says he got caught up in the game, & compares his game to a house of cards that "looks nice for so long...but now everybody hates me, the cards are gone, & the game I tried so hard to play was in shambles."

Everyone votes, & Jeff takes the urn with the votes & walks from the South Pacific to LA, which is not as impressive as these trips used to be:

I mean, that is awesome.  Probst takes the urn & hacks his way through the jungle with a machete ALL NIGHT LONG until he finds a waiting plane that flies over an Indiana Jones map to the US, then he SKYDIVES out of the plane, lands next to a motorcycle which he rides to LA, & then unfortunately, just walks into the studio.  Not even a skateboard after all of that?  Whatever, I am getting a signed buff from that man.  That alone is awesome.

2011 Jeff Probst just walks into the studio & suddenly we are live & Coach is a Russian villain from an episode of 24.

And the winner is Sophie!  Coach gets a few votes, but there is not even one for Albert (if only this had been a handsome-off!).  I never disliked Sophie, but I am sad for Coach.  As my husband said, Coach would have been happier losing to Ozzy than Sophie.  At least Ozzy is OZZY.  Sophie's fairly unlikeable although I know at least one person for whom she was the pick to win it all, & I'm sure that person is regretting not joining the Survivor pool this year because she would have won...

Sophie is celebrating with her family, & the rest of the Survivors come out, led by Papa Gummi Bear, bouncing here & there & everywhere.  The entire reunion show needs to be longer (perhaps an extra hour online only?) or better managed.  Probst didn't even talk to Mikayla!     

I'm a lingerie football player who was stalked by a fellow Survivor.  And you don't have time for me?

Ozzy spoke way too much, even if it was inspiring & positive.  Or possibly dangerous, with a message for kids that they can do anything, just learn to fall down & pick yourself up.  A valuable lesson, for sure, but I fear it will result in many injuries of children trying to hold their breath for 3 minutes underwater.  There is no way there should be enough time for Ozzy to field a question from a kid in the audience like "How do you climb trees & swim so well?"  Are you kidding me?  Don't you read my recaps, kid?  OZZY IS AN OTTER-MONKEY, that's how he does it.  Let's move on, please.

Keith has cut his hair, completing his transformation into Joe Jonas & holy Adam's apple, look at that neck!  His shaggy hair was hiding that?  Oh, look in the far left corner - hair can hide an entire Semhar!  I understand now.

Coach is discussing (what else) honour & integrity & makes a passing comment about the 7 layers of viking heaven & Jeff goes wild.  He is gleeful.

Thankfully, there's time for Cochran, who looks great in something other than sweater vest - & scruff works for him.  He is the most entertaining to listen to, by far.  He tells Jeff that the reaction he gets from people on the street is positive, "but then I go on the internet like an obsessive freak & everybody hates me."  Not everybody!  There's me, & I found a tumblr all about Cochran today!

Jeff reminds everyone that Cochran wrote a prize-winning essay at Harvard on Survivor's jury system.  Cochran says that "the biggest shock was that my knowledge of the theory & having watched every single episode didn't mean anything once you get out there, because it all depends on who you're put with."  So has Survivor changed the previously socially anxious Cochran?   "Now I've put myself through really the most socially uncomfortable, psychologically unpleasant experience you can imagine, & it's being broadcast to millions of people who can make fun of you & ridicule you?  Like, it makes real world interactions seem like nothing."

Cochran tells Probst he's not dating anyone.  Nobody?  "No...just come at me."  I adore Cochran.  While I'd like for Survivor to go back to having a cast of all newbies, I would really love to see Cochran come back in another season with some of my other Survivor favourites, Courtney Yates & Jonathan Penner.

Brandon's bit is a little heartbreaking, as he's disappointed his whole family, & he really believes he played a good game, trying to be Christ-like.  He has no support - no one in his family is there, except for Uncle Russell in the audience, trying hard to look bad-ass.  No wonder he needs God so much.  Brandon says, "I don't think very many people are proud of me", & just remembering how desperately he wanted his tribe-mates, especially Coach, to be proud of him is quite sad.

Jeff speaks to Russell in the audience, which was totally unnecessary, but he was definitely tearing up, & made clear that Uncle Russell & Russell from Survivor were 2 different people.  To me, that was his way of saying the guy who has been hard on you is the persona, not the real me.  Or he could have been saying "When you talk to me, don't forget the 'Uncle' out of respect, you son of a bitch."  Who knows, & already I've spent more time on this than I wanted to. 

Ozzy wins the $100,000 Player of The Season/Fan Favourite, with Cochran not even a close second.  I gave you my votes, Cochran.

Probst asks Christine about her "very unlikely friendship" with Stacey.  First of all, why are you so surprised they're friends, Jeff?  "Would you ever have been friends otherwise?"  "Um, yes, Jeff."  Stacey says Blam! and also that they call each other every day & call each other Salt & Pepper & I feel like my dream of a Wake Up, Long Island! morning show hosted by them is within my grasp if a CBS affiliate would just take my calls!

In other news, Edna is pregnant, Jim is still a jerk & a bully, Whitney & Keith are still in love.  For all my teasing about her, you never really know what goes on behind closed, secret marriage doors, so I'm happy they seem happy.  I guess.

I'm glad Jeff handed over the cheque at the end of the Live Reunion.  I am a huge Survivor fan, & not once have I ever bothered to watch the cheque presentation on The Early Show the next morning.  So it's nice to actually see it.

I have really enjoyed recapping this season of Survivor - I've received loads of positive feedback, so thank you for that!  Any thoughts on the finale, or on the season in general? Are there any players you would want to see come back?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Survivor South Pacific: Ponderosa - Edna

Edna's episodes of her arrival at the Ponderosa camp for jury members are actually really great.  For someone who didn't have much of a presence in the game, she comes across as very likeable here...maybe the pressure was too much for her, as she says she's excited for Ponderosa while holding back trembling tears. It's pretty cute that she points out that 33 days is the longest she's ever gone without a shower.  Me thinks you doth protest too much!  Someone do some digging & find documentation of Edna's 3 month experience in the Mojave desert.

After her shower, she changes into an "I love nerds" shirt & puts her hair up using only a pencil: a skill I am extremely envious of.  I wish I had liked her more when she was in the game.  Upon arrival, she is not greeted with the same passive aggressiveness that Cochran had to deal with.  It's a big happy family now, led by lovebirds Keith & his true love Whitney, who jokes about buying South Pacific S&M products to play with back in their tent while Keith looked embarrassed.

On the beach, Whitney is sunbathing in Elyse's bathing suit, which was left behind because they blindsided Elyse & she didn't have time to pack.  So I hope you like that fact that Keith is getting all up in your bathing suit, Elyse!  Whitney says a number of hilarious things, given the fact that she left her secret husband when she fell for Keith.  She says she doesn't even like the bathing suit, which is sparkly & actually really cute, because she is "so anti-sparkle it's ridiculous."  Does that include shiny diamond rings?  Zing! Nailed it.  So why is she wearing someone else's bathing suit when she doesn't even like it?  "I like to have options."  Yeah you do.

If you only have time to watch one part of Edna's Ponderosa experience, I implore you to watch the second part, as it features a robot-dancing Cochran which is both impressive & adorable.

As always, those in the US can watch the Ponderosa episodes at, & the rest of us can watch here:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Survivor South Pacific: 23.13 Hugs & Pleasure Domes

First things first, make sure you click here to see Jeff Probst sign a buff to send to me because he liked my LEGO version of him & the Final 7!  I had made them for my all-LEGO recap a few episodes back.  I think it was LEGO Brandon crying that got me the buff, so thank you, Brandon.

You get a buff!

Secondly, you can now place your votes for the Player of the Season/Fan Favourite at
I won't try to influence you on who should get your vote(s), but I ask you to consider this (& please imagine triumphant horns in the background):  Who is a player who actually played the game?  Who made a bold move because he wouldn't leave his Survivor fate up to chance?  Who stood up against his oppressors?  Who endured Tai-Chi on the Beach with another great player this season who will most likely win $1,000,000 so doesn't need your vote for a mere $100,000?  The answer is as clear as his translucent skin, so I will leave it at that.

Now to the actual episode....holy prayer circle, there was so much going on in this episode it's hard to know where to start.  It begins with the five.  The five that have been together since Day one.  Now, fight to the death!

There is a prayer circle right off the bat, as Brandon says, "The most important thing for us to do is give thanks to the person who did this for us."  God is a person?  And also, there is nothing wrong with believing in yourself & having pride in yourself for getting this far.  Just saying.

Albert wants Sophie out.  "The more & more I look at it, Sophie's getting increasingly dangerous.  She's a very well-spoken girl, very intelligent...she's started to build a little bit of a resume - she's got 2 immunity wins under her belt, & I, frankly, don't know if I want to sit next to her at the end."  Albert tells Rick they're still looking good to go to the end together, but all Rick wants to do is blow bubbles underwater for the next 6 days or something.

2 outta 3 ain't bad.

Off to Redemption Island Arena where Edna is facing off against Ozzy.  The challenge is a slide puzzle to release a hatchet which they must use to cut a rope, releasing a bag full of cubes that is part of another puzzle that is part Rubix Cube, part Sudoku.  There are lots of parts.  None of these challenges have seemed Ozzy-tailored, so that's something, I guess.  All of Te Tuna is helping Edna, no one is helping Ozzy, but it doesn't matter - Ozzy can focus his beady little otter eyes while his opposable thumbs & toes go to work.  Ozzy wins, & he is the only one happy about it.  So long, Edna.  May you always Outclean.  Check out this animated Edna doing what she loves most while Zooey Deschanel sings about cotton.  Awesome job, revengeofnajoge!

Back at camp, Albert says one of the smartest things I've heard all season.  "When we first got together, the 5 of us, way back on the Upolu beach, we talked about honour & integrity all the way.  The interesting thing about the honour & integrity card is, in the game of Survivor, I do not care a single thing about honour & integrity.  I really don't."  Smart, & it breaks Coach's record of how many times he can say "honour & integrity" in 1 minute.

Son of a samurai!

Brandon does not see it that way.  He tells Albert, "You realize that now that we have 5 people here & someone's going home tomorrow, that it's impossible for us to not make the final 3?"  Uh oh...Brandon's trying to talk strategy.  What's next - Probst wearing a green shirt?  Also, impossible?  God doesn't do impossible, Brandon.  There could always be a Survivor miracle...

Sophie is sharing her thoughts on Ozzy with Coach.  "Ozzy is the most dangerous player...every single player that goes through Redemption, he gets the last say with every single jury member.  Ozzy gets to feed them, he comforts them after they've been voted out.  Every single jury member has gone through, like, Ozzy's Pleasure Dome on the way out.  The way I see it, we have to send Brandon to Redemption - we have to put the 2 most dangerous players in the game together & get 1 of them out."

Coach agrees, so he's not very receptive when Albert takes his case against Sophie to him.  Albert is pushing the idea that they'd be better off with Brandon next to them at the end than Sophie.  Hold up - I thought the only reason Brandon was still around was because they all wanted to take Loco with them to the end?  Why is he still around throughout all of his outbursts & instability if this wasn't the plan all along?  Sophie incredulously thinks Brandon would be a threat in the final 3 because "superficially, at least, he's the most loyal, the most trustworthy, the most godly man out here, & that's not somebody I would want to go to the final 3 with."

Brandon's the most godly? I'm friggin Ozzy Christ Superstar!

Brandon walks over while Coach is telling Albert that Brandon is next because he's a huge threat & I am wondering how I missed this side of Brandon that Sophie & Coach are terrified of.  Brandon wants to know what they're talking about & Coach is either super-paranoid now, or trying to prove to Albert how threatening Brandon is, because he freaks on Brandon, even calling him a bully & suggesting he's acting like (gasp!) Russell!

Brandon holds back the tears & says "That definitely hurt my feelings, what you just said, bro."  Aw, he called Coach "Dad" in Brandonese!  Coach is immediately sorry.  "I apologize about saying the Russell thing, but he really did a number on me & so when I see you doing the same thing that he did, it kind of freaks me out."  Brandon then earnestly says "Please give me a hug, man."  How is Albert not laughing?  Dude is playing to win.  Coach slowly extracts himself from his comfy hammock & they hug it out.  "I love you, bro."

After this touching over-reaction/make-up non-event, Coach gets a one-on-one & says "The apple never falls far from the tree, & meeting his father was double confirmation of what I need to do for my next move."  Enter Brandon to offer Coach some coconut to the sweet sounds of the creepy strings from LOST.  I'm looking for Ben Linus to enter the frame.  "Cheer up, man, God's got everything under control."  The way he looks up at Coach is seriously creepy enough to not need the LOST strings.  He has serious Daddy issues.

No thanks, bro, I'm good.  No roofied coconut for me today.

At the Immunity challenge, Probst is in a green shirt & yells, "Come on in, guys!" & I think of Cochran & I miss him, & WTF, is Jeff wearing a green shirt?  Brandon talking strategy has actually changed the world as we know it!

Probst takes the Immunity Necklace back from Coach, who is now sporting Legolas braids behind both ears.  Coach opts for the Whitney way of giving up the necklace, which is to delicately pivot & stand there while Probst does all the work.  This is made all the more awkward by Coach leaning backwards so Probst can reach more easily.

The main set piece for the challenge is a huge wall they must climb using a rope, grabbing 5 bags which contain puzzle pieces.  They must match up the pieces, & the 3 pieces that have no match will give them a combination that will release a flag, which is back at the top of the wall.  Winner gets immunity & pizza. 

Rick & Brandon are the first ones moving on to the puzzle, but Rick falls behind.  Soon Brandon is up the wall with his combination, with Coach right behind him, but he's too late.  Brandon wins, & of course, immediately shouts his thanks.  "THANK YOU JESUS!" Thank you Father!"  He points to the heavens & a church bell rings.  On his way to receive his necklace, he points to the sky once more, & a church bell rings.

Brandon gets to choose 1 person to share his pizza, & obviously he picks Coach, but instead, he chooses Rick?!?  Rick responds by whipping off his hat & whistling for the cows to come on home, & we hear a snippet of a western-themed score.  Have I mentioned how much I love the editors & foley guys on Survivor? They rock.

Back at camp, Coach is pissed, but he's at peace with it.  Um, ok.  The pizza is delivered via jet ski & I am reminded of the amazing Jeff-brings-the-votes-to-the-finale-in-LA-by-every-mode-of-transportation-possible bits Survivor used to do.  I wish they'd do that again.  I also remember that Rosie O'Donnell used to host the live show, as did Bryant Gumbel.  I will participate in a prayer circle to praise whomever decided to let Jeff take over.

Sophie just wants to smell the pizza, even though she isn't allowed to have any, & Albert is suspicious.  For good reason, too, as Sophie tells Brandon & Rick that she's voting for Albert.  Rick relates how just the other day Albert told him they would go to the end, & how he lied to Albert's face, "Yeah, ok".  Brandon's ears perk up - he doesn't like that Albert promised the end to Rick, but he's ok with Rick being a liar?

"The Bible says that when you sin, your sins are gonna be shouted out from the rooftops."  Unable to find a rooftop, he just does his shouting from the same place he always does.  Everyone attacks Albert because they have uncovered that he lied to a competitor in a game for a million dollars.  Wait, is that right?  Everyone's so upset because Albert is playing the game?  Wow.

Don't hate me because I'm handsome!

Everyone is hating on Albert, & there is literally no way for him to be safe at tribal.  Not a way that makes any kind of sense or is rooted in logic, that is.  Albert lies to Rick's face, screaming with his eyes "DUDE!  I'm trying to play this game & you're telling Brandon all my shit?!?  Not cool!"  He's screaming this with his eyes because he can't get a word in.  Sophie, with what must be a terminal case of sideboob, as her entire side is blurred out, gets in there, swearing at Albert to let her finish her sentence.  That's actually funny, because Albert's been sounding like Bella when Edward wants her to move to Jacksonville to be safe from him & his hair & his intense idea of love.

"You can't...I don't...Wait...If you...No, I...Just...But you..."

After the storm blows over, Albert says, "If I could just draw Brandon back over with me, man, I'm right back where I need to be."  Albert, you are crazy.  Everyone hates you so much now, there is literally no way Brandon could make any difference.  Again, at least not in a way that makes any kind of sense or is rooted in logic.  Albert tries to get back in Brandon's good graces by trying to explain why he would promise Rick the end when he didn't really mean it.  "I'm trying to win." is what it comes down to, but Brandon doesn't really hear him, as he is busy whittling his very own cross to bear while the heavens shine down on him.  Seriously.

And so the light shone down on the most loyal of men...
Albert tries speaking to Brandon in his own language.  "I feel like your heart is closed to me right now, man."  Suddenly Brandon is not so sure he should vote Albert out.  That's all it took?  Albert continues pleading his case & Sophie & Rick are watching from home, cursing themselves for not sequestering Brandon directly following the Albert attack.  Albert turns on the charm, telling Brandon all those other guys meant nothing to him, & they don't have the special bond we share, baby.  "You're making me look bad, & I'm not a bad dude."  I'm going to go ahead & guess that no one could make this man look bad.  But I digress.

To continue my literal streak, Brandon has been enlightened by the heavens & says, "I'm not voting you.  I just made up my mind."  Wow, that was easy!  To celebrate, they pray, but I'm fairly certain Albert is thanking God for Brandon's gullibility.  Brandon then says he'll give Albert his Immunity necklace.

That's right - this episode gets TWO Stacey Blams!  BLAM!

After all, Brandon doesn't need immunity because Coach & Albert would never vote for him because they told him so.  Albert looks like he's struggling to suppress a giant smile.  Don't smile yet, many times have we heard that same promise, & how many times has it actually been followed through?  Only Erik from Fans Vs Favourites springs to mind, & you can skip ahead to the 7:00 mark to see how that worked out for him:

Brandon sits Coach down to let him know what's happening in that Loco head of his.  "You know by now that God speaks to me."  Coach nods his head as if this is a normal & sane conversation to have.  While cameras are rolling.  Brandon tells Coach his plan, ending with, "I know you'll never vote against me.  And I know you'd never do anything or vote any way that you knew that I was going home.  This example would probably be the pinnacle of why we're out here - forgiving.  If we can't forgive our brother, our Heavenly Father will not forgive us."  Oh, right.  Brandon's there to be an example for Christ, who I'm positive is looking to Brandon for guidance.

Brandon continues, saying "I honestly believe this is what God wants us to do..."  Coach is quick to speak up & clarify this: "No, no...remember, this is what God wants you to do.  What I need to do right now is I need to pray, & I promise you this - I will do whatever God tells me to do."  Nicely done, Coach.  How can Brandon find fault with that?  He'll probably still give you the million dollars.

Coach bows down & prays in the sand.  "I begged God to speak to me like he's never spoken to me before.  I asked God to give me the Holy Spirit of divine interpretation & wisdom.  I prayed & there was a name in my head over & over & over soul has never grieved like it does in this moment."  Well, are you sure you're supposed to vote that person out?  God has been paying close attention to this season of Survivor, so maybe you overheard Him casting his vote for the Player of the Season?

As tribal council begins, right after Probst comments on what a powerful position Brandon is in with that Immunity Necklace, Brandon declares he is giving it up.  The reaction shots of everyone are priceless.  Jeff's neck seemingly gives out & his head drops an entire foot.  Dawn's eyebrows shoot up to hide under her bangs.  Rick executes an eye-roll that would have Christine wiping proud tears away from her perfectly rolled eyes.  Coach goes into a why-have-you-abandoned-me pose, looking upwards & shakily clawing at his face.  Jim freezes in a jaw drop, following with the ingenue darting eye move perfected by Manic Pixie Dream Girls everywhere.

Brandon walks over to Albert & ceremoniously places it around his neck, & then of course, they hug.  Jim looks confused & disgusted that the necklace is going to Albert.  Dawn whispers, "What is going on?"  Cochran looks like he is loving the fact that this is happening right in front of his face.

Probst asks WTF & Brandon says, "I made a statement here every tribal council that I would stay true to the commitments that I make & that I would give my own place in the game up for them."  Coach explains that Brandon was going to vote for Albert, then prayed about it & changed his mind.  Whitney, a girl with both a cross tattoo & necklace, raises her eyebrows at this.  But adultery is still totes cool.

"I've had a lot of time to pray with Albert & I knew that if I didn't give him the immunity tonight then he was going to Redemption.  It's really hard to explain because my loyalty's...a little bit different."  He goes on to tell a heartbreaking story of being caught up in a bad crowd & his friends would say they had his back when they really didn't.  "I was really willing to give my life for these was people taking my loyalty for whatever they wanted to use it for, & then leaving me hanging."  Quite sad, & it is genuinely fantastic that he has left that life behind him, but I think he missed a life lesson there.  Maybe cool it with the unconditional devotion. 

About Coach & Albert, Brandon says, "I consider these 2 guys my best friends.  We have a very solid connection with each other because of Christ inside of them."  Whitney laughs.  "I was drawn to them, man.  It wasn't by coincidence."

What's Albert's take on all this?  In other words, how is he going to play this now that Brandon has given up his immunity for him?  "It blows my mind because when I got to this game, something told me that there was a bigger reason why I was here."  Sophie rolls her eyes, & somewhere, Christine is weeping with pride.  She taught the OompaLoompas well in her short time with them!

Now, here is why Jeff Probst is so awesome: he listens to Albert spew his spiritual awakening propaganda to Brandon & the jury, & then says, "So, is there a part of you, as a Christian man, who now wants to take the necklace off & do the same thing that Brandon just did for you?"

Oh yes, I did.  You've been triple blammed.  BLAM!

 Brandon looks up expectantly.  Don't leave me alone with the rival gang, bro.  Albert says he absolutely would...if he really thought Brandon was in danger, but he's not, so let's just drop that line of thinking, k, Jeff?

Rick speaks for more than 3 seconds at tribal & ends up outing Coach's hidden Immunity Idol that he's been hiding from nobody except the jury.  Oh, Rick.  We can always count on you to bring the LOLZ.  Brandon admits he's feeling less secure, but doesn't ask for the necklace back.  "It's up to him" he says, but whether he means him or Him, I have no idea.  Albert is not stupid, & says, "I hope Brandon feels comfortable with me, him & Coach, knowing that he can make a move like this & go untouched."  That's a no.

Everyone votes, & Brandon & Albert vote for Sophie.  Sophie is behind the obligatory misspelled vote, Branden, & Rick votes Brandon.  Coach is the tie-breaker, & he votes...Brandon.  Hey, God told him to!  Not his fault!  Brandon stands up to leave, & for the first time, I dislike Coach as he says "It's God's will.  Go win Redemption."  If that leaves a bad taste in my mouth, it must leave one in yours.

Albert's necklace unclasps itself out of disgust & falls into his lap, much like the angel Lucifer fell from Heaven.  How dare you try to win this game, Albert?  I bet that was your plan from the very beginning.  Disgraceful.

This Sunday night is the 2 hour finale, followed by the live reunion show.  How will Brandon fare in Ozzy's Pleasure Dome?  Sounds sinful!  Will the tribe-mate Memorial once again go on forever?  What will the jury say?  Will Probst have a Survivor paraphernalia gift basket waiting for Cochran to go along with his $100,000 when he rightfully wins Player of the Season/Fan Favourite?  And will Coach actually pull off this win that seems inevitable? 

Let's all pray on it.

Survivor Buff For Me!!

Last night I was on a mission.  A mission to win a signed Survivor buff from Jeff Probst.  I have mentioned in previous recaps that Jeff is very active on Survivor nights, tweeting & touting with viewers, answering questions, & showing off those magnificent dimples.  He randomly swags a select few with signed buffs for their queries, comments & photos.  Last week I was ready to send him the LEGO characters I had made for my previous all-LEGO recap, when Jeff announced he would be absent from twitter that night.  My heart was broken, as I'm sure Cochran's was, as the last episode was a big one for him.  Turns out Jeff just got married, so I'm glad he wasn't tweeting on his Honeymoon...or am I? Congratulations, Jeff!

Anyway, last night Jeff promised to give out twice the amount of buffs, so I made it my mission.  I sat down with my iPad & iPhone, & I must have tweeted him this photo about 30 times over the course of the episode. 

Totally buff-worthy, right?

Sorry about that Jeff, & twitter followers who were on twitter between 8-9pm last night...I have since deleted the extra 29 tweets.  Jeff gets so many tweets that I couldn't possibly expect him to see just one tweet, & damn it, I was on a mission.  I wasn't checking tout during the episode, & I wish I had, because it turns out Jeff did indeed see that very first tweet, & mine was the first buff given away!

I can't quite figure out how to embed a tout video here, but make sure to CLICK HERE to watch Jeff Probst's reaction to my LEGO Jeff Probst & Final 7.  It made my night, & my son Kai loved that jeff Probst said his name.  I have to say that I was skeptical of the touting at first, but this video is WAY COOLER than just a quoted tweet.  I can't wait to get my buff in the mail & I promise to wear it & never take it off until it smells as bad as I think they can smell.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas is...Funshine Bear

What is it about Christmas that makes everyone nostalgic?  Is it time spent with family & friends rarely seen?  Is it the traditions we pass along to our children?  For me, it's mostly the stuff.  

That may sound shallow, but my memories are kept in those Christmas containers in the cold cellar.  It's the unpacking of decorations, ornaments, & photos that have been boxed up for a year that brings a lifetime of memories flooding back.

My favourite Christmas Tree ornament is a cheap, one-eyed imitation Care Bear made from bright yellow pom-pom balls.  It even has an over-sized heart on its bum.

It has had a prominent place on a Christmas Tree for the past 29 years.  I brought "Funshine Bear" to glorious life in 1983, at a Christmas Party when I was 5.  There he is on the table in front of me - freshly made, both eyes firmly glued on.  And there I am, just beginning to master the art of scattering people with naught but a glare.

1983 Bechtel Christmas Party, Reading, PA

I have never been in possession of a department-store-beautiful, colour-co-ordinated, professional-looking Christmas Tree.  Growing up, our tree was decorated with ornaments that were either homemade, gifts, or from a special occasion deemed important enough to mark with an ornament purchase.  Each year there would be a few more, & each ornament has its own story & memory that would get unwrapped every year.  And then we covered (I mean covered) them all in tinsel & garland.

Here is that first Christmas with the brand-spanking new, 2-eyed Funshine Bear.  I am adorable, so try to tear your eyes away from me & locate the bear.  The bright yellow hue is a great help.

1983, Reading, Pennsylvania

Three years later, my Mother was hanging more tinsel on the tree when the ghost of a child who perished in that very room in 1847 appeared in the developed photograph.  Funshine Bear (& my Mom) lived through this spooky occurrence.

1986, Newark, Delaware

In 1992, Funshine Bear (over my Mom's left shoulder) saw my parents off to another Bechtel Christmas Party, where another child probably made a pom-pom Power Ranger that is still on his tree this year.

1992, Ajax, Ontario

Funshine Bear is always easy to spot in all Christmas photos, thus adding to the amount of nostalgia he holds for me.  You can pick him out easily, which is why I'm pleased he has thus far avoided a life of crime.

1998, Ajax, Ontario

When we moved in together & it came time for my future husband & I to have a Christmas Tree of our very own, we participated in the tradition of stealing ornaments from our parents.  Funshine Bear was the first thing I begged for, but certainly not the last.  I have more than a few childhood memories hanging on our tree.

Here is my son, Kai, at 16 months, decorating the tree while Funshine Bear looks on, wondering why I let my child have a mullet.  Those curls don't grow back, Funshine!  They really don't.  *sob*

2005, Whitby, Ontario

Do I love my Funshine Bear?  Did my Mom rock the crushed velvet in 1992?  Totally.  To me, this bright yellow ornament means Christmas more than anything else.  It reminds me of every wonderful Christmas I had as a child, & that the time goes by so quickly.  I want to make Christmas for my own family as special as the ones I remember.  We put a lot of effort into Christmas, from handwritten notes from Santa (in fancy penmanship & sparkly pens), to Rudolph leaving a new jingle bell from his harness every year. It might mean that I'll have a 15 year old who still believes in Santa, but I can live with that.

2011 BFFs

Funshine Bear gets to hang out on our tree with a delightful assortment of ornaments this year.  A drum that my husband made as a child (it's even older than Funshine), a polar bear my son made when he was 2 at The Toronto Zoo, an ELF ornament (favourite Christmas movie), WALL*E (the first movie Kai saw in a theatre), Jack Skellington as Sandy Claws (Kai's favourite movie at 4), & a Hogwarts ornament from The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter because we're cool like that.

Memories, old & new.

Like my parents, & I'm sure my In-Laws as well, we didn't have many Christmas decorations when we first started our life together.  But over the years, accumulation happens.  Homemade, gifts, special occasions, & school projects lead to a full, if mis-matched, beautiful Christmas Tree of memories.