Archive for September, 2010

‘Survivor’ Castaway Interview – Jimmy Johnson

September 30, 2010

Note: You can’t tell from this post’s picture, but Jeff Probst’s heart is actually breaking as he snuffs that torch.

NFL Legend Jimmy Johnson has wanted to be on “Survivor” his whole life. No, I don’t suck at math. I know that Jimmy Johnson is 67 years old and “Survivor” just turned 10. But, Jimmy has been dreaming of a “Survivor”-style adventure since he was young enough to be a member of La Flor.

The good news for Jimmy? He got to live out one of his life-long dreams.

The bad news for Jimmy? It only lasted for three episodes.

I spoke with Jimmy the morning after Marty and his alliance sent him packing. We discussed his rocky relationship with that other Jimmy, how he begrudgingly became Espada’s leader and how Fox NFL analyst Terry Bradshaw would do in a sandbag-tossing challenge.

Gordon Holmes: Too soon, Jimmy.
Jimmy Johnson:
I understand. I didn’t want to talk to you this soon either. (Laughs)

Gordon: What’s been the reaction from the Fox Sports team?
Jimmy J.:
Actually, they’re all disappointed. I thought I’d get a lot of ribbing, but more than anything they wanted to see me go further. They’re irritated that Marty put together the group to vote me off.
Gordon: How do you think Terry Bradshaw would have done in last night’s sandbag tossing challenge?
Jimmy J.: Terry could have won the whole thing. (Laughs) If we had Terry tossing those bags I wouldn’t be talking to you today.

Gordon: Now, I’d imagine you’ve been hearing people say, “Put me in the game, Coach” your entire life. However, I’m assuming it’s never been more annoying than to hear those words coming out of Jimmy T.’s mouth.
Jimmy J.:
Well, Jimmy’s kind of a volatile person and he obviously wanted to play a bigger part in the challenges. And it just didn’t work out that way. Tyrone was going to take most of the shots, but Jimmy T. kept on bugging me and bugging me. So, we threw him in there. That’s just his personality. Some of the tribe members wanted to vote Jimmy T. off the first week, but I convinced them to keep him for the simple reason that I thought there might be some physical challenges down the road.
Gordon: Did you know Jimmy T. was gunning for you?
Jimmy J.: No, I knew that he didn’t think that we had a great relationship, although I thought personally he was fine. I think he wanted to be a little more out front than what he was and what the other tribe members wanted him to be.
Gordon: They didn’t show this, but during the gutter challenge in the first episode, Jimmy T. was trying to distract the La Flor puzzle team by yelling instructions at them. This seemed to annoy you. Did I read your reaction right?
Jimmy J.: Yeah, I always felt like we needed to concentrate on what we needed to do and not worry about the opponent. But, like I said, Jimmy T.’s a volatile person and he’s going to be hollering things at our tribe, their tribe, anyone who’s around there.

Gordon: Marty was the one who pulled the strings to get you out of there last night. Did you have any idea that he was behind your early exit?
Jimmy J.:
No, that was a real surprise because Marty and I had talked on numerous occasions. And I thought that Jill and him had an alliance but I didn’t realize Daniel was in there at all. I tried to convince them, I told them, “Nothing would make me happier than to see one of you win the million dollars. I’m not going to win the million dollars. So I can help you win.” I tried to convince them that I wasn’t a threat, but Marty still felt like I was a threat.

Gordon: When we spoke before the game, you described your strategy that nobody would vote for you to win the million. Do you think it hurt your case that Sandra Diaz-Twine used a similar strategy to win “Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains”?
Jimmy J.:
I don’t know if the previous episodes had anything to do with it.

Gordon: What would you have done differently?
Jimmy J.:
I think that some of the women on our tribe had started to come around to my way of thinking. And even though I didn’t have an alliance with them I could have gotten one with them, and in hindsight probably should have. I tried to make it through the beginning of the game without an alliance, but that didn’t work for me.

Gordon: You mentioned during your final statement that being on “Survivor” was more stressful than being in the Super Bowl. I think that’s a pretty strong statement.
Jimmy J.:
You’ve got to take into account that I’m 67 years old, so it’s more taxing than it’d be on a younger person. But the biggest thing that affected me was not having any sleep. It was so difficult with the pouring down rain, and our shelter leaking, and sleeping on bamboo. Not getting any sleep really bothered me. And I lost 18 pounds in that short period of time.

Gordon: You told me before the game that you were going to do your best to avoid the leader role. That didn’t seem to work out.
Jimmy J.:
I got thrown into it. In “Survivor” the people out front, the leaders are usually the first voted out. I told everybody, “I don’t want to be the leader. I don’t want to be the boss.” And after a couple of days there were arguments about the shelter and which way to do this and which way to do that and they said, “You’ve at least got to help us make decisions.” I said, “I’ll help you make some of the decisions, but you’ll have to contribute ideas. I’m not going to be the boss of this tribe.”
Gordon: Now were you a born leader or is this something that developed as you made your way through the ranks of college and pro football?
Jimmy J.:
I think it just came through the years. I was the first one in my family to get a college education, and even in high school we had a very successful team where I had my first individual successes. So I guess it started back in high school.

Gordon: You’ve dreamed of doing an adventure like “Survivor” for you entire life. How did it live up to your expectations?
Jimmy J.:
It was everything that I thought it was going to be and more. But it was more difficult than I thought it was going to be. I thoroughly enjoyed the adventure. I think it’s made me a bigger “Survivor” fan now than I was before the experience. But there’s no way in the world that you can watch it on television and really feel the impact of how difficult it really is. No sleep, no food, cold at night and hot in the day…it really wears you down.

Gordon: You spent nine days on a beach with next to nothing. What do you take back from that experience that you can apply to your everyday life?
Jimmy J.:
I think the biggest thing is my appreciation for what we have. And an understanding for what people around the world (and even in this country) don’t have. When people don’t have plenty of food and proper housing…it makes me appreciate the luxuries we have here.

Gordon: OK, time for our first-ever round of celebrity word association. Let’s start with Yve.
Jimmy J.:
Gordon: Marty?
Jimmy J.: Conniving.
Gordon: Jill?
Jimmy J.: Smart.
Gordon: Tyrone?
Jimmy J.: Hardworking.
Gordon: Dan?
Jimmy J.: Hmm…maybe that says something about Dan, I can’t think of a word for him. He’s just there.
Gordon: Jane?
Jimmy J.: Impressive.
Gordon: Holly?
Jimmy J.: Emotional.
Gordon: Jimmy T.?
Jimmy J.: Volatile.

Gordon: Benjamin “Coach” Wade and I have been ranking the players each week, and for two weeks in a row he’s made it clear that there is only one “Coach” on “Survivor.” Do you have a response to that comment?
Jimmy J.:
I went to “Survivor” as Jimmy J., not as “Coach.”

Gordon: Did you ever figure out what those howler monkeys were trying to say to you?
Jimmy J.:
(Laughs) That was one of the more fun times, because the monkeys were fairly quiet until I started hollering at them.
Gordon: And given the choice between conversing with howler monkeys and Jimmy T., which would you prefer?
Jimmy J.: The howler monkey usually made more sense.

Quick Note: You can follow me on Twitter for “Survivor” updates at @gordonholmes.

‘Survivor: Nicaragua’ Episode 3 Recap: 3rd Down?

September 29, 2010

Last Week: In the undercard matches, Holly got the best of Dan with her “Sandy Shoe Submarine” maneuver while NaOnka bested Fabio with her patented “Sock Swipe.” In the main event, Shannon was putting his “Homosexuality Accusation” finishing move on Sash when his tag team partner Chase turned on him and joined the Majority Minority Alliance (man, that’s confusing).

39 Days, 20 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

Here are the tribes as they currently stand…

The La Flor Tribe aka The Young Tribe (wearing yellow)

•    Alina – 23, Art Student
•    Benry – 24, Club Promoter
•    Brenda – 27, Paddleboard Company Owner
•    Chase – 24, Race Car Jackman/Country Singer
•    Fabio – 21, Student
•    Kelly B. – 26, Medical Student
•    Kelly S. – 20, Nursing Student
•    NaOnka – 27, P.E. Teacher
•    Sash – 30, Real Estate Broker

The Espada Tribe aka The Older Tribe (wearing blue)

•    Dan – 63, Real Estate Executive
•    Holly – 44, Swim Coach
•    Jane – 56, Dog Trainer
•    Jill – 43, E.R. Doctor
•    Jimmy J. – 67, Former NFL Coach
•    Jimmy T. – 48, Commercial Fisherman
•    Marty – 48, Technology Executive
•    Tyrone – 42, Fire Captain
•    Yve – 41, Homemaker

Quick Note: Jeff Probst has promised us one of the meanest things he’s ever seen on “Survivor” tonight. I’m betting NaOnka tells Fabio the truth about Santa Claus.

We start off back at La Flor camp and the whippersnappers seem to be happy with their decision to send Shannon back to Louisiana.

NaOnka isn’t buying it though, she thinks the rest of the tribe is, “faker than faux fur.” In our pregame interviews she used that exact phrase to describe how she was willing to play the game.

The following morning we meet up with the elderly. Apparently they’re looking for monkeys. Their theory is where there are monkeys, there is sure to be food. Well, that’s Marty’s theory. Jimmy Johnson’s theory is that he can communicate with the monkeys. He hoots and hollers at them, but doesn’t get them to hand over the food.

Marty lets us know that he doesn’t like having a celebrity on his team. I’m not sure I follow his logic. Jimmy’s celebrity doesn’t give him an advantage. If anything it draws focus from other players and allows certain players and alliances to sneak under the radar.

Marty and Jill are next seen discussing strategy, she wants to reveal the idol to the rest of the tribe to gain their trust. That’s different. I kind of like that strategy.

We jump back to La Flor where Fabio is using the scuba mask to blow on the fire again. He tells the rest of the tribe that when he stands up after blowing on the fire he feels dizzy. Have we learned nothing from Michael Skupin?!

Fabio tells us his strategy is to be out-there and crazy. Mission accomplished, my friend.

Back at Espada, Marty shows everyone his immunity idol. It’s shaped like a key. I’m not sure why they didn’t name it the Key of Immunity.

Jimmy T. applauds this bold move…literally. He thinks this makes the tribe five times stronger.

Jill thinks Marty’s stock went up, which is good for her. Jill is smart, she has a power player in her pocket. He can make the moves and if the tribe turns on them, Marty can take the hit.

Next up, Dan lets us know that the conditions are getting the best of him and he’s worried that the tribe is going to think he’s a weak link. He says he’s strong, just not as strong as Tyrone.


Oh, sorry. My Understatement Bell just went off.

Back at La Flor, the Majority Minority Alliance is discussing who to take out next. They’re worried that Alina and Kelly B. might have the hidden immunity idol. A blonde with a purple streak in her hair who I’ve never seen before says she only trusts the core five members of the alliance.

Immunity and Reward Challenge: Both tribes will race into a field to recover 10 tribe-colored barrels. Once they have their barrels they’ll place them in a triangle pattern (similar to bowling pins). Then they’ll try to throw sand bags onto the barrels from a distance. The first tribe to get a bag on all ten barrels wins immunity and a “Survivor” garden that includes spices, fruit and other goodies.

Sadly, this reward does not include delicious Nicaraguan Tona Beer.

Note: XFINITY TV does not encourage drinking.

Medallion of Power Advantage: The mysterious Medallion of Power will utilize its awesome strength to reduce the number of barrels by two.

La Flor elects not to use the MoP.

I spoke with Rob Cesternino from “Survivor: The Amazon” last week. (How’s that for a name drop!) He had an interesting thought that every time you don’t use the MoP it’s hurting you and every time your opponent doesn’t use it it’s helping you. So, it’d make sense to use it every time you have it. I argued that in last week’s Hay Mate challenge, you got a 25% advantage (1 out of 4 balls) and in this challenge you’d only get a 20% advantage (2 out of 10 barrels). I’d save it for the bigger advantages.

But, he’s the “Smartest Player Never to Win ‘Survivor'” and I’m a jerk with a blog, so what do I know?

Jimmy J. jumps into coach mode and tells each player which barrel to go for. He’s drawing up the play like it was NFL game day.

The younger tribe retrieves their barrels first, but just barely. The younger tribe also gets their barrels into place first. Probst gives Dan a hard time about not being very mobile.

Tyrone and Benry start off tossing sand bags for their respective teams. Tyrone jumps out to a big 5 to 2 lead pretty quickly.

Note: They don’t even say Espada or La Flor on the scoreboard.

The younger tribe makes a comeback and ties it at six. Jimmy T. lets Jimmy J. know that he wants into the game. And by “lets Jimmy J. know,” I mean “tells Jimmy J. incessantly.”

“Throw it to Lucas!”

Benry goes on a tear and puts La Flor up nine to seven.

Jimmy J. pulls Tyrone and puts in Jimmy T. but it’s too late, La Flor wins immunity and reward.

As the tykes pick up their reward, NaOnka and Kelly B. both discover an immunity idol clue.

Sure enough, the second the two get back to camp NaOnka pushes Kelly B. over to get the clue. In the ensuing chaos some bananas were squished. Careful ladies, James was voted out over a much less serious banana-related etiquette infraction.

NaOnka follows this up by giving her own audition speech for “Heroes Vs. Villains: Part Deux” by telling us she’ll push Kelly B. so hard her leg will fall off. What’s worse? She didn’t mention which leg.

Back at Espada, Jimmy T. tells everyone that he feels his talents aren’t being properly used. Jimmy J. defends his strategy of sticking with Tyrone in the challenge.

Eventually everyone breaks into groups and starts discussing voting strategies. Marty tells us that he wants Jimmy J. out so the tribe will “Lose their daddy” and everyone will have to come to him. That just sounds creepy.

Jill doesn’t care who goes home as long as it’s Dan, Holly or Jimmy J.

Jimmy T. and Dan are both on board for voting for Jimmy Johnson. Jane and Tryone both seem to be leaning toward Dan.

In other news, Jane and Holly have created some kind of an alliance. Hopefully Holly took more than 3 seconds before deciding on an alliance mate this time.

That night at Tribal Council, Jimmy T. again complains about not being put into the challenge sooner. He also complains about not having an opportunity to lead. Look out, JPro. He may want to host next.

Dan defends his physical prowess saying he’s not the strongest or the weakest. Jill politely disagrees. Jane also points out that Dan has had major knee surgery.

Nobody points out that his alligator shoes are waterlogged. That can’t help.

Jimmy T. claims there are four weak players on the team. Probst asks everyone individually if they think they’re a weak player. The only person to admit to being weak is Jimmy J.

Voting Time: Jimmy T. votes for Jimmy J., Jimmy J. votes for Dan and the rest of the votes aren’t shown.

JPro does some serious tallying and returns. One vote for Jimmy J., one vote for Dan, four votes for Jimmy J. and the third person voted out of “Survivor: Nicaragua” is…Jimmy Johnson.

And I’m not sure, but I thought that I heard the sound of “Taps” being played gently by a distraught CBS executive.

Too soon for “Christmas Story” quotes?

Verdict: We’re getting quite a mix this season. We’ve got Jerry Springer-esque players like NaOnka, Holly and Shannon and some really strong players like Brenda, Jill and Marty. I’m still digging this season.

But wait, what was Probst’s meanest thing ever? NaOnka pushing Kelly B.? Kelly B. wants to be treated like everyone else, and everyone else would’ve been pushed.

Who’s Going to Win? Jill has Marty thinking he’s the puppet master, but she’s the one who figured out the clue and decided to reveal the idol to the tribe. She’s a force.

Power Ranking Results: Coach and Randy called it, they had Jimmy Johnson in spot eighteen. I had him in spot sixteen. So, the current score is Team Dragon Slayer 30, Team Truth Seeker 22.

What Do You Think? Will you stop watching this season now that Jimmy Johnson is gone? Was NaOnka pushing Kelly B. one of the meanest things in “Survivor” history? Would you rather be trapped in a room with NaOnka or Jimmy T.?

‘Survivor: Nicaragua’ Power Rankings – Round 2

September 28, 2010

The Rules: Each week our two combatants will create separate power rankings. The ranking of the person who is voted out of the next episode will determine the number of points the two players will earn. For example, if Sash is voted out this week, Coach will receive 8 points and Gordon will receive 5 points. At the end of the season, the team with the most points will be named the “Survivor: Nicaragua” Power Rankings Challenge Champion.

Last Week: Shannon Elkins’s bizarre Tribal Council helped propel Team Dragon Slayer to a six point lead. Coach had Mr. Elkins in spot twelve while Gordon had him in spot six.

Now, let’s have a quick word with our two competitors…

Benjamin “Coach” Wade: I am going to continue to enlist the help of the King of Gabon (Randy Bailey). I have relegated him to only chiming in with one or two words but I think you will like what he has to contribute!
Gordon Holmes: I feel like there’s an alliance forming against me.

And before we start this week’s contest, let’s honor the most recent castaway with a new Power Rankings segment…coachrequiem

Coach’s Requiem: Shannon, I wish that you hadn’t been such a miter saw in Tribal Council. I liked your strong-to-the-end method but there is only one Slayer, my friend.

The King of Gabon’s Two Cents: Boo, James, Russell, Who Dat. Tool Shed!


Current Score: 12


Current Score: 6

tyrone .. tyrone
#1: The man begins to speak and it is with humor, wisdom and courage.
The King of Gabon’s Two Cents: Shaft!
#1: He’s strong, he’s smart, he’s keeping his head down in a crazy tribe – Tyrone is playing things just right. His next step is to find a solid alliance (Marty and Jill?) to help take the heat off of him once they hit mergeville.
brenda . marty
#2: Not only is she flirty and sexy, now she starts to make power moves! My dream woman…doesn’t she kayak or paddleboard too? Helping to turn the tribe around so that crescent wrench would be voted out was brilliant.
The King of Gabon’s Two Cents: Lucy Liu!
#2: In Marty’s favor: He’s building alliances with the few sane people in Espada and he’s got the game’s first immunity idol. Working against Marty: He kind of reminds me of Keith Famie from “Survivor: The Australian Outback.” Anyone else getting that vibe?
marty . brenda
#3: A little power hungry and Gordon Gekko-like when he found the idol. “I found the idol (big eyes) I mean WE found the idol.” Give me a break. Be careful; Plato said that “The measure of a man is what he does with power.” Nevertheless, I think he is smart enough to stay under the radar and savvy enough to herd the sheep.
The King of Gabon’s Two Cents: Randy wannabe.
#3: Every week Brenda makes me feel stupid for underestimating her. I’m going to keep going back to how she worked Chase. She didn’t say “Let’s get rid of Shannon.” She said, “Why do you need Shannon?” Totally put the ball in his court. Genius.
fabio . chase
#4: Ridiculous to a tee, this guy is pure entertainment. I love the hair flips, the “duh” looks and everything else that goes along with his 100 I.Q. However the true brilliance goes to his tribemates that nicknamed him Fabio… PERFECT!
The King of Gabon’s Two Cents: Good ta see ya, Matty.
#4: Chase, you’re not high on this list because I think you and Brenda are solid. (In fact, I’ve yet to see anything that shows me she’s into you at all.) You’re here because La Flor can’t afford to give up any of their strong guys now that Shannon is gone.
yve . sash
#5: Not sure about the edit so far. No confessionals yet which means she is either very boring or very safe. I pick the latter.
The King of Gabon’s Two Cents: Yawn (But that’s how you win nowadays).
#5: The Biggest Bachelor in New York has to be liking his place in the game right now. He’s got a dominant alliance within a majority alliance…and it’s made of minorities. (OK, I confused myself.)  He has to be careful not to let the others in on what’s really going on or he could find himself headed back to the Big Apple.
kellyb . jill
#6: Really starting to love this girl. She kicked ass in the challenge, hasn’t used her leg as an excuse for anything and is starting to emerge as a player.
The King of Gabon’s Two Cents: Time to put a beat down on NaOnka. I’m tired of her trash talkin’.
#6: Jill’s my vote for the most dangerous player in the game right now. If Espada heads into the merge with the numbers she’s golden. If they don’t, she’s the last person the youngsters would view as a threat.
benry . yve
#7: Even though you are not being shown, I can feel you safe and tucked away under my dragon wing. Watch out everyone, he’s flyin’ so low he’s buzzin’ the “Survivor” trees.
The King of Gabon’s Two Cents: Douchag (not a typo).
#7: Still don’t know what to think of Yve. But seeing as she’s yet to submarine anyone’s shoes or have a fit over not being listened to, I’m going to assume she’s safe for the time being.
sash . benry
#8: Minority alliance…clever, Mr. Ladies Man. The question is, just how snakey are you going to get now that your snake is in foreign territory?
The King of Gabon’s Two Cents: Two people arguing at Tribal Council; one is a confirmed idiot; therefore the other one must be an idiot. (I know, I should talk.)
#8: So…whose side was Benry on? He seemed to be down with Shannon’s Alpha Male alliance, but he voted with Team Brenda. Verdict is still out on him.
chase . kellys
#9: Now that your girlfriend is saved better watch out and separate (not that I’m jealous or anything).
The King of Gabon’s Two Cents: Thank you for getting rid of that Louisiana (expletive deleted).  Where were you for 19 and 20?
#9: Purple Kelly, Kelly Purple, whatever they call her has booked a flight on the Under-the-Radar Express.
Some people may hate that strategy, but far too many under-the-radar players have walked out of this game with a million-dollar check to dismiss it.
jane . kellyb
#10: Gotta come out with some more survival techniques to keep you off the chopping block. Not that you have to worry with Jimmy T and Kooky Bird Holly on your tribe.
The King of Gabon’s Two Cents: Nice start.
#10: I think Kelly B. made a mistake at last week’s Tribal Council. She was very quick to speak up and say how much she trusted Shannon during his meltdown. Will this come back to bite her? I hope not, I think she’s adorable.
kellys . jane
#11: Growin’ on me. You are cute enough to be another Natalie White.
The King of Gabon’s Two Cents: Reminds me of Jess from “Big Brother 8.”
#11: Jane will be fine…for now. There are way too many issues around Espada right now between the Holly vs. Dan feud and the JimmyX2 feud. But if Espada starts dropping challenges to the young bucks Jane’s days will be numbered.
jill . fabio
#12: Still not sure about you yet. You are on a tribe full of loons and buffoons so you are safe for now. I think you could go far unless there is a tribal switch and you end up on the wrong side.
King of Gabon’s Two Cents: Doctors never win. Good luck.
#12: Poor, Fabio. His main alliance member spontaneously combusted while NaOnka is hating on him for having the audacity to be upset with her for stealing his socks. He’ll be fine though, I’m sure La Flor is on his side when it comes to Sock-gate.
alina . jimmyt
#13: On the outs, gotta dodge and weave and bring in some bad-ass woman power. Get in with the girls cause the guys aren’t goin’ for you.
The King of Gabon’s Two Cents: WHO? (Read above comment for Yve.)
#13: “Jerry, Hello!” You’d think a super fan of “Survivor” wouldn’t make the mistakes Jimmy T. has been making. We didn’t see much of him last week, but they did hammer home that the Jimmy Feud is still very much alive. If it goes down, I still see T. prevailing over J., but only cause T.’s more useful in challenges.
dan . dan
#14: An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. I’m waitin’ for you to open up a can on that crazy hoot Holly for stealin’ those shoes. I like your style.
The King of Gabon’s Two Cents: Guido.
#14: Prediction: The man with the $1,600 shoes becomes “Survivor’s” sole survivor and buys a million-dollar pair of pants with his winnings. Yeah, probably not.
jimmyt . naonka
#15: Such a character. I love it and I hope you stay but you gotta tone it down a little. Start wearin’ your hair in a samurai knot, it will help you think better.
The King of Gabon’s Two Cents: America’s vote my fat, flat, flabby ass.
#15: NaOnka is basically throwing her game away over a pair of socks. Seriously, just tell Fabio the socks are haunted and I’m sure he’ll hand them right over.
holly . jimmyj
#16: And I thought Crazy Sandy was crazy. Holly, you are giving coaches a bad name here. Pull up your bootstraps and act normal for cryin’ out loud.
The King of Gabon’s Two Cents: OMG.
#16: Does Jimmy J. actually have any allies within Espada? It was nice to see him bring Holly back around last week, but have we actually seen him form any really strong bonds? That, and if Espada starts losing challenges he doesn’t bring much to the table as far as physical prowess.
naonka . alina
#17: Awesome entertainment, if you like that sleazy kind of evil manipulation and trash talkin’. Quite possibly the lowest line ever “I’m gonna punch that girl so hard her leg is going to fall off.” How low can you go, baby?
The King of Gabon’s Two Cents: Starting to love her but won’t have much more time!
#17: “Oh, Johnny. Did you back the wrong horse.” Dr. Peter Venkman – “Ghostbusters II”

Yeah, I quoted “Ghostbusters II.” Wanna make something of it?

jimmyj . holly
#18: His snowballin’ isn’t stonewallin’ the Dragon Slayer. I’m not buyin’ his pep talks and although I could never coach like him in the NFL there is ONLY ONE COACH ON “SURVIVOR.”
The King of Gabon’s Two Cents: “No jury is ever gonna vote for me to win. I know that.” J.J., you’re not gonna get close to any jury.
#18: In honor of Coach agreeing to be my Power Rankings competition, I had the players come up with their own “Survivor” nicknames. Holly chose “Hollywood.” I think it’s accurate because she’s stopped eating and she’s lost her mind.

What Do You Think: Who’s going to win this round; Team Dragon Slayer or Team Truth Seeker? Would you pay $1,600 for shoes? Is there room for more than one Coach on “Survivor”?

‘Survivor’ Castaway Interview – Shannon Elkins

September 23, 2010

There have been some jaw-dropping Tribal Council moments over the years. My favorite? When Dreamz broke his deal with Yau-Man after accepting his truck in “Survivor: Fiji.”

But “Survivor: Nicaragua” nearly topped that last night thanks to Shannon Elkins’s decision to question Matthew “Sash” Lenahan’s sexuality.  Unfortunately for Shannon, his unorthodox line of questioning didn’t do much to keep him in the game. I had a chance to chat with Shannon the following morning to discuss why he isn’t a homophobe, what he thinks of New Yorkers, and what really happened to NaOnka’s socks.

Gordon Holmes: Now, in the first episode you managed to offend women, and this last episode you offended homosexuals. Was there a group you’re sorry you didn’t get a chance to offend while you were out there?
Shannon Elkins:
I really wanted to piss off the white people.
Gordon: Some would say you’ve already…
Shannon: Hey man, are you gay?
Gordon: Am I gay? No.
Shannon: I’m joking with you, man.
Gordon: But if I were gay, I’d be cool admitting it.
Shannon: Exactly! Thank you, my brother. Thank you! Dude, I’m not a homophobe and I’m not a sexist. I’ve been married for eleven years, my brother. I give women props, they rule the world. I said nothing bad about women. But when people watch TV you’d swear they still believe in Santa Claus. It’s called an edit. All I wanted was for after 39 days for the men to sack up and bring home a victory for the guys, you know what I’m saying? I said women beat us in marriage. Are you married?
Gordon: (Laughs) I’m not, but I do have a long-time alliance partner.
Shannon: There you go. If your girlfriend is pissed off with you, your life is going to be miserable until she’s happy again. Am I correct?
Gordon: That is true.
Shannon: There you go, women rule it, my brother. And when Sarah Palin runs for president I’ll be wearing a Sarah Palin t-shirt.
Gordon: You said you’re owned in marriage, how does your wife feel when you say that?
Shannon: She laughs cause she knows she owns me.

Gordon: Now regarding your Tribal Council exchange last night with Sash, you say you’re not homophobic but it could easily be taken that way.
As far as the gay bashing, I didn’t bash any gays. I didn’t say, “I hate gays.” I didn’t say, “Gays are stupid.” I stereotype, my brother. It’s like the show “Waterboy,” people think we ride airboats to work, we have no teeth, and we wrestle alligators for a living. Well people from Louisiana think people from New York are either in the mob or gay. I stereotype like everybody else stereotypes.
Gordon: Were you at all concerned that Sash was in the mob?
Shannon: No, I was concerned that he was gay and I was protecting my (expletive deleted).
Gordon: So, why even ask that question? How would that help your game?
Shannon: Well first of all, you know how an edit works, you’ve been around “Survivor” a long time. That’s not how it went down. I don’t have to ask Sash if he’s gay. Look at the kid, he’s gay. He kept on and on telling me I was a liar. He should have kept his mouth shut and he wouldn’t have been called out in front of America. I said, “Did I lie to anybody in here?” Alina is the perfect example, she told them she was voting for me, then she came to me and told me what they were saying. So, she knew I was straight shooting. But when Sash kept calling me a liar, I’d finally had enough, like I’d been interrogated by the police. I said, “I lied to you because you lied to me.” He said, “When’d I lie to you?” I said, “When you told me you weren’t gay.” That’s how it really went down. As far as me coming out and asking if he’s gay? C’mon man, nobody needs to ask that dude if he’s gay.
Gordon: You mentioned the edit, are you concerned with how the show might affect your everyday life?
Shannon: No, not at all.
Gordon: There was a pre-game interview where you referred to homosexuals using a derogatory term.
Shannon: Whoa, when did I use a derogatory term against homosexuals?
Gordon: It was in a pre-game interview with a different outlet.
Shannon: What’d I say?
Gordon: You used the f-word to describe a homosexual.
Shannon: You must’ve lost your damn mind, I’ve never used that word.
Gordon: Fair enough, I wasn’t there for that interview. What was your relationship with Sash like before Tribal Council?
Shannon: Sash loves everybody. He’s really soft spoken, a little sweetheart. Our relationship was nothing. He was going and telling Kelly B. I was voting her out. I say, “You say you’re going to be in this alliance with us guys and then you’re stirring up all this crap. What’s wrong with you?” There was one point where I called him out and he obviously didn’t like me. He had his minority alliance; he didn’t want anyone white involved.
Gordon: What did you think of the minority alliance?
Shannon: (Laughs) Hmm…I’ll answer like this, if I said that, they’d be going crazy on me right now. But because I stereotype I’m a homophobe. So whatever, it’s OK for him to have his minority alliance, I guess.
Gordon: Just to make sure that you’re getting an opportunity to get your side across, you’re saying you’re not a sexist and not a homophobe.
Shannon: Correct.

Gordon: What were things like between you and Chase before Tribal Council started?
I knew from after Day 1 that Chase had a thing for Brenda, everybody knew it. In the game of “Survivor” you have to break up couples. I think we were strong at first, but then she had him. She knew she couldn’t play me like that so she went with Chase. Brenda is a great player, I hope Brenda wins. I hope she goes all the way.

Gordon: Last night you mentioned that you might have done better on the older tribe. Why is that?
Cause I’m a grown-up, man. I’ve been married since I’m nineteen. I’m thirty years old. That’s a long time to be married. I think it’s five times the rate of people in California to be married. It kind of adds some years to your life. I had to grow up really fast. I was never a twenty year old.

Gordon: Last night NaOnka and Fabio went at it over NaOnka swiping Fabio’s socks. Can you tell us exactly what happened with sock-gate?
NaOnka went out there and she caught her socks on fire. I had a long pair of socks like those Hooters socks that come up really high, you know like the girls at Hooters wear?
Gordon: Umm…I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Shannon: Aw…you’re lying. Don’t worry, your girlfriend won’t read this.
Gordon: We’re fine, she never reads my stuff.
Shannon: I gave her those socks. And Fabio had two pairs of long socks. He had a pair he’d use in the games and a pair he’d sleep in. I gave her my socks, then I found out she was talking smack on me and trying to get me out. I helped prevent her from getting blisters on her ugly feet and she wants me out? So, I got my socks from her. I went and buried them. She went into Fabio’s bag, took his socks and put them on. He finds out that she put his socks on and she says, “He’s too scared to take his socks off of a girl, that’s what kind of people you’ve put me on an island with.” And he’d just stare at her, and she went off on him. She basically sat him down. When you see him there he’s basically crying. She thought someone was sabotaging her or someone misplaced her sock. No, she misplaced her sock cause she found it later.
Gordon: Man, poor Fabio.
Shannon: Fabio is hilarious, he’s one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met. I know they show me bashing him in episode one, but I came back and apologized. There’s footage of me somewhere saying, “I love this kid, I hope he never goes home.” He was the life of the camp, we all laughed at his expense.

Gordon: Alright, word association time. Let’s start this off with NaOnka.
Gordon: Brenda?
Shannon: Sneaky.
Gordon: Alina?
Shannon: Kick ass.
Gordon: Purple Kelly?
Shannon: Who?
Gordon: Purple Kelly?
Shannon: Who?
Gordon: I see what you’re doing there. Kelly B.?
Shannon: Awesome.
Gordon: Fabio?
Shannon: Dude.
Gordon: Chase?
Shannon: Played.
Gordon: Benry?
Shannon: Obsolete.
Gordon: Sash?
Shannon: “Narnia.” Like the movie.
Gordon: “Narnia”?
Shannon: That’s how deep in the closet he is.

Gordon: Let’s finish this on a lighter note. As a New Orleans Saints fan, did it bother you that Jimmy Johnson went deeper into the game than you did?
No man, we’re playing “Survivor.” He can beat me in “Survivor.” But on the football field the Cowboys are stinking it up right now. Jimmy’s a cool guy, he’s a cool dude. I’ve got a lot of respect for him. I’m not mad at anyone beating me. No bitterness here.

‘Survivor: Nicaragua’ Episode 2 Recap: Primal Council!

September 22, 2010

Last Week: The tribes were split between the young and the wise, Shannon pitched an alliance made up entirely of guys, and Wendy couldn’t save herself after several long-winded tries.

39 Days, 20 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

Here are the tribes as they currently stand…

The La Flor Tribe aka The Young Tribe
(wearing yellow)

•    Alina – 23, Art Student
•    Benry – 24, Club Promoter
•    Brenda – 27, Paddleboard Company Owner
•    Chase – 24, Race Car Jackman/Country Singer
•    Fabio – 21, Student
•    Kelly B. – 26, Medical Student
•    Kelly S. – 20, Nursing Student
•    NaOnka – 27, P.E. Teacher
•    Sash – 30, Real Estate Broker
•    Shannon – 30, Pest Control Company Owner

The Espada Tribe aka The Older Tribe (wearing blue)

•    Dan – 63, Real Estate Executive
•    Holly – 44, Swim Coach
•    Jane – 56, Dog Trainer
•    Jill – 43, E.R. Doctor
•    Jimmy J. – 67, Former NFL Coach
•    Jimmy T. – 48, Commercial Fisherman
•    Marty – 48, Technology Executive
•    Tyrone – 42, Fire Captain
•    Yve – 41, Homemaker

Quick Note: Jeffrey Probst has promised us an awesome Tribal Council. Has he ever steered me wrong? No. Has he ever hurt my feelings?  Totally.

We start off with Espada after Tribal Council. Holly is regretting voting Wendy out. If only she’d known before Tribal about Wendy’s amazing blister-free feet.

The following morning, the Espada gentlemen are not pleased with how uncomfortable the shelter is. A morning meeting is held, and assignments are handed out by Jimmy Johnson. (He’s on this show! Why didn’t anyone tell me?!)

Jimmy T. pitches an action item involving fishing which is quickly shot down by Tyrone. Oh Tyrone…didn’t you watch last week’s episode? Jimmy T. will not not be not heard!

Marty lets us know that he’s stepping back and letting Jimmy J. assume the leadership role. Because “Survivor” rule #1 states that being a leader is a poor strategy.

Meanwhile at La Flor they allow Kelly Purple to speak. She claims that she’s never gone so long without bathing. Fabio/Jud/Judson/Judweiser doesn’t share that problem.

Next we meet up with Sash and NaOnka. Apparently NaOnka is concerned because she hasn’t been approached for an alliance yet. Sash lets her know that he’s half Jamaican and he wants to bring as many minorities to the end as possible. He dubs Brenda the “Asian Sensation.” I’m not sure if I condone this nickname, but it’s leagues better than “Kelly Purple.”

Back at Espada, the tribe is knitting and chasing kids off of their lawn. Oh, and Jill is eating snails. Holly has a fit over this for some reason. She takes the remaining snails and throws them away. Escargot-gate!

Holly claims that Dan was making fun of her. So, she does what any rational person would do and fills his shoes with sand and sinks them in the ocean. Wow, that’s a special brand of crazy.

Later, Dan notices that his alligator shoes are missing. He also lets us know that those shoes cost $1,600. Wow, that’s a special brand of crazy.

Holly starts to feel bad and calls a tribe meeting. She confesses to throwing out Dan’s shoes and apologizes. She’s like Russell with a conscience.

Tyrone has an early bid for line of the night saying, “I’m going to keep one eye on her, and one eye on my shoes.”

Holly lets them all know that she intends to play a trustworthy game from that point on. Tell Wendy that.

Back at La Flor, the tribe is watching cartoons and making Colorforms. Oh, and NaOnka is flipping out because one of her socks is missing. NaOnka does the mature thing and swipes Fabio’s socks.

Fabio takes exception to this and an argument ensues. This all could have been avoided if she’d offered to trade him a handful of magic beans. She thinks he isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. He conveniently proves this by sticking his face in the fire.

Back at Espada, Jimmy J. takes Holly aside to discuss her problems with the game. Jimmy gives her a one-on-one pep talk and she seems to feel better.

Quick Note: La Flor did a march as they made their way into the challenge. I didn’t dig last week’s dance, but the march was well choreographed. Bravo.

Immunity Challenge: A player from each side will have to dive into a mud pit and crawl under a rope obstacle. Then, they’ll have to dig in a pile of hay for a ball that is covered in twine. Once they’ve handed off their ball, another member of their tribe will enter the mud pit. Once all four of the balls have been retrieved, a member of their tribe will untangle the balls. From there, members of the tribe will have to pass the balls to a final member using shields. The final member will try to bounce the ball into a barrel. The first tribe to sink all four balls wins immunity. The winning team will also receive either a tarp or a collection of fishing gear.

Note: This is an updated version of a challenge the press ran (and dominated) in Nicaragua.

Medallion of Power Advantage: If Espada uses the MoP, they’ll only have to sink three balls.

Espada decides to use the mysterious power of the MoP to magically place a ball into the barrel. Actually, Jeff just dropped a ball into the barrel.

Dan will sit out for Espada, NaOnka will sit out for La Flor. Brenda, Alina, Kelly Purple and Kelly B. will be on mud duty for La Flor, while Jimmy J., Holly, and Jane will go for Espada.

The younger tribe manages to find all four balls before the older tribe gets their three. And oddly, none of the players tried my sweet face-first-dive-into-the-hay strategy.

However, Espada’s ball-passing team (Tyrone especially) does a good job and takes home the first immunity for the older tribe.

The MoP will not be denied.

Espada chooses the fishing gear over the tarp. Somewhere Russell Swan is shaking his head.

Back at Espada, a hidden immunity idol clue is found in the fishing gear. The older tribe does a much better job than Alina and Kelly B. of deciphering the clues. Jill in particular figures it out and sends Marty and Dan out to get it.

Marty digs around and eventually uncovers it. In a hilarious moment he keeps saying he’s got an idol, then he pauses, looks at Jill and says, “We’ve got the idol.”

Politicking around La Flor seems to center around Brenda or NaOnka. Alina, Kelly B. and Shannon are worried that Brenda and Chase are becoming a couple. However, the other guys want NaOnka out due to the socks scandal.

NaOnka shares her boot order with Brenda and Shannon is at the tippy top. Brenda thinks she can get Sash, Kelly Purple and Chase to vote with her.

Chase tells Brenda that Shannon wants her out. Brenda does not take this well.

And…the power goes out. Not in Nicaragua, in my house. What’s worse? It fried my DVR. Big props and much love to TxVoodoo for getting me a copy of the end of the show.

OK, we’re back.

Brenda plays Chase like a fiddle, asking him why he needs Shannon. She got all up into his ego. Brenda is a champ.

Alina caught wind of what was going on and shared it with her alliance (which looks to be Shannon, Fabio, and Kelly B. at this point).

That night at Tribal Council, Shannon takes a tame question and drives it out of the park. He in no uncertain terms lets Chase know that if Brenda doesn’t stay with him that he’ll be the next to go.

Jud tries to be the peacemaker, but Shannon isn’t having it. Shannon’s on fire, digging into Chase for being a part of two alliances.

Sash tells Shannon that he thinks he’s digging his own grave. Shannon takes this opportunity to ask Sash about his sexuality. Not sure why that was the next logical progression in the conversation…

Sash lets Shannon know that he’s probably had more beautiful girlfriends than he has and that Shannon’s game wouldn’t do well in New York.

Shannon parries that comment by replying, “New York’s full of a bunch of gay people, yeah.” He also points out that New York has more gay people than Louisiana.

Wow, that reminds me of that line from that Sinatra song, “Start spreading the not-at-veiled homophobic remarks.”

Fabio again tries to get Shannon to calm down, but the cat is out of the closet…er…bag.

JPro eventually regains control. Alina tells Jeff that Shannon has never lied to her, but Chase has.

NaOnka then confesses that she thinks her head is on the chopping block because she didn’t compete in the challenge. She then starts getting into it with Fabio saying he “Always has something smart to say.”

I find that hard to believe.

At this point Jud is begging to vote.

Voting Time: Fabio votes for Brenda, Brenda votes for Shannon, Shannon votes for Brenda, Sash (aka the Biggest Bachelor in New York) votes for Shannon, and the rest of the votes will be tallied by the biggest bachelor in Nicaragua.

One vote Shannon, one vote Brenda, one vote Shannon, one vote Brenda, one vote Shannon, one vote Brenda, two votes Shannon, and the second person voted out of “Survivor: Nicaragua” is…Shannon.

Note: It looks like Kelly B. and Benry broke ranks and voted for Shannon.

Wow, Mr. Probst did not steer us wrong. This season is off to a hot start, let’s hope they can keep it up.

Who’s Going to Win?
Loving the pairing of Marty and Jill, but my fingers are crossed for Kelly B.

Power Rankings Results:
Coach had Shannon in spot twelve, I had him in spot six. So, the current score is Team Dragon Slayer 12, Team Truth Seeker 6.

What Do You Think?
Was that the biggest Tribal Council meltdown ever? Could you forgive Holly for sinking your shoes? Are you on Team Fabio or Team NaOnka?

Benjamin ‘Coach’ Wade Accepts the ‘Survivor’ Power Rankings Challenge

September 22, 2010

Last Season: An all-star team made up of two “Survivor” champions and two “Survivor” Power Rankings champions fell to XFINITY TV’s resident “Survivor” know-it-all Gordon “Truth Seeker” Holmes. This improved Gordon’s record to an almost respectable 1 and 2.

This Season: One of “Survivor’s” proudest warriors, Benjamin “Coach” Wade has answered the Power Rankings challenge. Will Coach send Gordon to the bench? Or is Gordon, in fact, the Dragon Slayer…Slayer.

The Rules: Each week our two combatants will create separate power rankings. The ranking of the person who is voted out of the next episode will determine the number of points the two players will earn. For example, if Shannon is voted out this week, Coach will receive 12 points and Gordon will receive 6 points. At the end of the season, the person  with the most points will be named the “Survivor: Nicaragua” Power Rankings Challenge Champion.

Strategic Maneuver: Coach has enlisted the King of Gabon, Mr. Randy Bailey to assist him in an advisory capacity for this installment of the Power Rankings. The Power Rankings ruling board has informed us that there are no specific rules prohibiting outside assistance.


Current Score: 0


Current Score: 0

tyronerankings tyronerankings
#1 Tyrone – Man of steel and a man of few words. #1 Tyrone – Strong and smart enough to stay silent. That’s going to keep our friend Tyrone in this game until at least the merge. That, and Espada tossing him at this point would be challenge suicide.
judrankings brendarankings
#2 Fabio – No one will take him seriously until it’s too late. #2 Brenda – I wrote off Brenda way too early. She maneuvered Chase like a paddleboard. No, she handled him like pompoms. I hate both of those similes. Either way, she’s a player to watch out for.
yverankings judrankings
#3 Yve – Hot and Coach-like philosophy of taking strong to the end! #3 Fabio – I still don’t know if they’re calling him Fabio, Jud, Judson, or Judweiser. Either way, his goofy demeanor means alpha male Shannon probably won’t perceive him as a threat.
chaserankings martyrankings
#4 Chase – Got all the goods and will be a JT-type player. #4 Marty – Marty seemed to be right in the middle of all of the strategy discussion at the Espada camp. Better than that, he wasn’t doing much of the talking, he was listening. I still think he has what it takes to make a serious run in this game.
martyrankings benryrankings
#5 Marty – Smart, resourceful and knows when to hold his tongue. #5 Benry – I think the key to success at La Flor is going to be knowing when to keep quiet. There are some big personalities over there and it’s best to let them battle out. I think Benry’s smart enough to let people did their own graves.
janerankings shannonrankings
#6 Jane – Resourceful, non-threatening and social. #6 Shannon – Sure, Shannon is saying all the right things to rile up all the fans at home, but we don’t have any idea of what he’s saying in front of his tribe. I’ll wait till we see some of that footage before guessing where he’ll end up.
brendarankings jillianrankings
#7 Brenda – Sexy and flirty. Love it! #7 Jill Didn’t see much from Jill last episode. But, she’s very low-key. If I’m guessing, I’d say she’s not doing anything to rock the boat at this point.
alinarankings yverankings
#8 Alina – Flirt, baby, your bad-ass side #8 Yve – Didn’t see much from Yve this past episode. But if Wendy voted for her, I’m going to assume the other members of Espada dig her.
kellybrankings kellysrankings
#9 Kelly B. Identical edit to Chad (Crittenden from “Survivor: Vanuatu). Sympathy vs. smarts and stability. #9 Kelly S. – OK, let’s run down the things we know about Kelly from last episode. They’re calling her “Purple Kelly.” Yup, that’s about it. How am I supposed to rank someone based on that? All that tells me is the La Flor nickname makers are terrible at making nicknames.
danrankings alinarankings
#10 Dan – Romeo don’t go too far! #10 Alina – Don’t know much about Alina other than the fact that she’s part of the anti-Kelly B. alliance. It’ll also be interesting to see if she can figure out that hidden immunity idol clue.
hollyrankings sashrankings
#11 Holly – Sensible and trusting. #11 Sash – File Sash under the same category that houses Benry, Purple Kelly, and Yve. Need more in-game info.
shannonrankings naonkarankings
#12 Shannon – D-bag and friend of Russell. #12 NaOnka – What happened to NaOnka? She was the sweetest girl in pre-game interviews, and now she’s talking about bouncing my girlfriend, Kelly B? Also, I don’t know much about her alliances from last episode, but it didn’t seem like she was buddying up to anyone when I visited the La Flor camp.
jillianrankings jimmytrankings
#13 Jill – Predictable and no airtime makes for middle of the pack. #13 Jimmy T. – Blowing up at your tribe is not an awesome way to make friends and influence people. However, in the Battle of the Jimmys, I think Jimmy T. is ultimately more useful to Espada than Jimmy J.
benryrankings janerankings
#14 Benry – Too much of a bad thing. #14 Jane – Jane is smart and crafty. However, she may fall into the same category as Wendy where she has trouble relating to the rest of the tribe. I know they appreciate her for her ability to make fire, but how long does that appreciation last now that they have flint?
kellysrankings jimmyjrankings
#15 Kelly S. – Beautiful but too young. #15 Jimmy J. – The Battle of the Jimmys might boil down to who’s better in challenges vs. who’s more fun to have around camp. If that’s the case, look for Jimmy Johnson to be the one sent to the sidelines.
jimmytrankings chaserankings
#16 Jimmy T. – Won’t be able to turn down the chutzpah. #16 Chase – Wow, Chase didn’t wait two seconds before he coughed up the Alpha Male Alliance to Brenda. But in all fairness, Brenda is adorable. I’m lucky I didn’t give her my credit card numbers while I was in Nicaragua.
sashrankings hollyrankings
#17 Sash – Loves Russell, we hate ‘em. #17 Holly If next week’s previews are to be believed, Holly and Dan  have some kind of falling out. That is, unless filling someone’s shoes with sand and sinking them in the ocean is a weird way swim coach’s show respect.
naonkarankings kellybrankings
#18 NaOnka – Too loud, too abrasive. #18 Kelly B. – Shannon, NaOnka and Alina are already gunning for Kelly. Why? They’re worried her prosthetic leg will win her sympathy votes in front of a jury. Those three are putting the cart a few miles ahead of the horse. But, that doesn’t mean it won’t cost Kelly an early exit.
jimmyjrankings danrankings
#19 Jimmy J. There is only one coach. #19 Dan – If Espada loses immunity this week, I’m thinking it’ll be between Dan and Holly. And while Dan is a very likable guy, I don’t think Espada can afford to lose any challenge prowess.

What Do You Think: Who is your pick to go home next? Who do you think has what it takes to win the whole thing?

‘Survivor’ Castaway Interview – Wendy DeSmidt-Kohlhoff

September 16, 2010

Change is inevitable, be it in life or on “Survivor.” New contestants are introduced, Medallions of Power are put into play, and entire shows are moved to new nights.

Fortunately, some things never change. Heated arguments take place after immunity losses, alliances are broken, and quirky people who have trouble fitting in are sent home first. Now you can add Wendy DeSmidt-Kohlhoff to that list. I spoke with Wendy the morning after her dismissal and had a chance to find out how Espada feels about Jimmy Johnson, what happened to her lightning-quick alliance with Holly, and what she thought of La Flor’s sweet dance moves.

Gordon Holmes: When we were in Nicaragua you said you didn’t want to sing or dance too much for fear of alienating yourself from the rest of Espada. And then we meet up with La Flor at the challenge and they’re singing and dancing. Do you think it was a mistake to keep your toes from tapping?
Actually, my tribe was singing a lot that first night, and I kinda giggled to myself thinking that was funny. But, I thought the La Flor Tribe was adorable, coming out and doing their little thing. Oh my God, you wouldn’t believe the stuff my tribe said about how terrible and hokey that dance was. I loved it. (Laughs) I didn’t tell them I loved it, but I did.
Gordon: And what kind of songs were Espada singing? Gangsta rap?
Wendy: A lot of just popular songs, oldies more like. I can’t remember off the top of my head. I could have joined it, but I didn’t.

Gordon: What happened with your alliance with Holly? It seemed to start two seconds into the game.
It was immediately on the beach and it threw me for a loop. I didn’t want anyone seeing me with her cause I knew what they’d think. I felt it was way too soon, so I was kind of trying to go off on my own and not talk to anyone so it wouldn’t look like I was making an alliance with anybody…which kind of wasn’t a good thing for me. But Holly coming up to me right off the bat was way too fast. And I wish I would’ve said, “Let’s wait and talk later.”

Gordon: Was there anything you could have done differently to stick around longer?
I could have been myself from the start and talked more and gotten to know people. Tooted my own horn.

Gordon: Where is your accent from?
I lived in Maine in the summers and New York in the winters my whole life. Until I joined the Army in 1986 and then I moved wherever the Army sent me. “Home is where the Army sends you,” is the expression.

Gordon: Last night we got to watch Jimmy Johnson give Espada a pep talk. Did the tribe buy into that, or were there some eyes rolling?
From what I understand, he was asked to do that from the guys. And, I think a lot of people loved the fact that Jimmy Johnson was on our team. They thought it was an asset. I was surprised to hear what Marty said about Jimmy Johnson last night because he was one of the ones who was sucking up to Jimmy.
Gordon: Was Jimmy J. an asset to the team?
Wendy: I was rather disappointed because Jimmy Johnson had said to us that he was asked to be a leader and to give people feedback and to make decisions on behalf of the tribe. So, I actually was kind of excited about getting feedback on our abilities and performance. And he didn’t do that. That was very disappointing to me. I really thought he was going to be more of an asset to individuals. But, maybe that’s a lot to ask of the guy in a challenge. He’s not on the sidelines watching.

Gordon: What is the tribe’s opinion of Jimmy T. at this point in the game?
That’s a good question. Jimmy T. told me right up front that he didn’t really care for Jimmy Johnson. I think he told several people that. But, the next thing you know he changes his mind and thinks he’s not such a bad guy. I think Jimmy T. said a lot of stuff that people misinterpreted. I heard people say that he was getting on their nerves. But I think they interpreted his comments incorrectly. Like last night where he said, “I have to go away and I have to calm down.” I think that hurt him a little. Well, not a little, a lot. I think that he’s a really nice guy.

Gordon: You were the first person I interviewed in Nicaragua, and I thought you seemed like a nice person even though we didn’t get to sing together.
Gordon: But it seemed like a lot of people had already judged you based on your attire, before they’d ever spoken to you. I heard a few times, “The woman in the cowboy hat has to go.” Do you think you never got a fair chance to play the game?
Wendy: I don’t know. I tend to smile a lot and maybe that makes people uncomfortable. I’m surprised people said that just based on the hat. I wear hats all the time. And they’re not just cowboy hats.
Gordon: It may have been the boots, too.
Wendy: I don’t feel like my tribe felt that way initially. Was it mainly the younger tribe?
Gordon: Nope, people from both sides.
Wendy: Really? That surprises me. It might just be because people don’t trust people who smile a lot. Maybe it was just because they could pick someone out.

Gordon: Last night you said your husband thought you’d be the first person out of the game. What was his reaction when he found out he was right?
I didn’t tell him anything. He found out last night. And I could see by his face that he was devastated. I think he never thought that’d I’d be the first one out. I think he was teasing me. But him telling me that really affected me. I think he felt really bad. I don’t want to say he felt responsible, but I think he was sad and shocked.

Gordon: Why did you vote for Yve last night?
I voted for Yve because who was I going to vote for? It wouldn’t have made a difference. But, I clearly felt like she lied. People told me that I was being voted for, she clearly knew it and didn’t tell me.

Gordon: Alright, let’s get into some word association. Let’s start with your buddy Yve.
Oh gosh…this is a loaded question. I’m going to be a little bit subdued.
Gordon: That’s no fun.
Wendy: I’ll say, determined.
Gordon: Jillian?
Wendy: Strong willed.
Gordon: Jane?
Wendy: Tough and true to her word.
Gordon: Holly?
Wendy: Holly is just really playing the game.
Gordon: Marty?
Wendy: I didn’t trust him.
Gordon: Dan?
Wendy: Just having fun.
Gordon: Tyrone?
Wendy: Quiet.
Gordon: Jimmy T.?
Wendy: A very kind person.
Gordon: And let’s finish this off with Jimmy Johnson.
Wendy: Um…he didn’t like me. (Laughs)

Gordon: They didn’t show this last night, but after you were voted out you seemed to get a little bit lost in the graveyard…
I got really lost!
Gordon: We were very worried that they were just going to let you wander around Nicaragua until the finale.
Wendy: You know what, I was shocked. I was like, “Where do I go?” It was devastating, I wanted to fall into one of the graves and drop dead.

‘Survivor: Nicaragua’ Episode 1 Recap: Gutter Catastrophe

September 15, 2010

An excerpt from “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure”
“Don’t you want to see the rest of the movie?”
Pee-Wee: “I don’t have to see it, Dottie. I lived it.”

I lived this first episode of “Survivor: Nicaragua.”  The good folks at CBS were nice enough to let me tag along for the first three days of filming, so I’m going to bring you all of the behind-the-scenes tidbits I can squeeze out of my brain. And sorry, Pee-Wee…I’m going to watch it too.

Alright, I’m excited. Let’s do this.

We start off with Mr. Probst giving us a look at the harsh Nicaraguan terrain. He explains that this is where ancient rainforests battle for survival against some of the world’s youngest volcanoes.

Oh, ancient vs. young…I see what he did there.

Two tribes are making their way through the jungle, but they don’t seem to be divided by age. However, all of the young people are wearing brightly colored clothes and all of the older folks seem to have a blue motif going. Coincidence?

We hear from young Judson first, he explains how real the wildlife is. It turns out there are no fences like at the zoo. Thanks, Jud. Oh, and congratulations on having such an astute observation be our first impression of you.

Then we meet some guy named Jimmy Johnson. Apparently he may have coached some football team that Eagles fans prefer not to talk about.

Oh, and Brenda lets us know that she’s single. I think her exact words were, “Single, single, single, single.”

And then from atop an impressive rock formation, Mr. Probst says something about…

39 Days, 20 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

Note: He may have actually just said “One Survivor.” I wasn’t paying close attention.

The tribes meet up with Jeff on a lovely, sandy beach. We get a chance to meet the first of two Kellys, this one being Kelly Bruno. Her right leg was amputated when she was only six months old. She doesn’t intend to tell anyone about it right away because she doesn’t want anyone to make assumptions about her.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Several people could tell Kelly B. had a prosthetic leg before the game began.

Next up, Marty lets us know that he has no idea why Jimmy Johnson is in this game. To whip the old folks into shape, that’s why!

Medallion of Power Challenge: The Medallion of Power (or MoP) has been hidden in the jungle. The first person to find it gets to keep it for his or her tribe. Pretty straight-forward challenge if you ask me.

JPro doesn’t even give them his trademark, “Survivors, ready? Go!” he just tells them to get started whenever they feel like it. Maybe we’re getting a more laid-back Probst this season. Relaxed introduction aside, the players take off in a mad dash to try to find this mysterious artifact.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Dan is slow. As in sloooooow. As in, I’d assume that’s as fast as McDonald’s Grimace runs.

Finally, Brenda (I think she’s single) spots the MoP in a tree. She scales the tree and snags it for her tribe.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: As they were walking back, Jimmy T. would not stop complaining about how the challenge involved no strategy and how the other tribe would be in trouble once the challenges involved strategy. I think Mr. T. is not long for this game.

Quick Aside: Am I crazy, or does Jimmy T. sound just like Uncle Leo from “Seinfeld”?

Marty is very pleased that Brenda (who he thinks is on his tribe) found the Medallion even though he doesn’t even know what it does. Probst lets him know that it would be good for him…if she were on his tribe.

Dun dun dun…

You got Probsted! Jeff lets them know that the players 40 and older will become the Espada tribe and the players 30 and under will become the La Flor tribe.

The players in their 30s have to go home.

OK, so here are our tribes as they currently stand. Finally…

La Flor Tribe aka The Young Tribe (wearing yellow)

  • Alina – 23, Art Student
  • Benry – 24, Club Promoter
  • Brenda – 27, Paddleboard Company Owner
  • Chase – 24, Race Car Jackman/Country Singer
  • Jud – 21, Student
  • Kelly B. – 26, Medical Student
  • Kelly S. – 20, Nursing Student
  • NaOnka – 27, P.E. Teacher
  • Sash – 30, Real Estate Broker
  • Shannon – 30, Pest Control Company Owner

Espada Tribe aka The Older Tribe (wearing blue)

  • Dan – 63, Real Estate Executive
  • Holly – 44, Swim Coach
  • Jane – 56, Dog Trainer
  • Jill – 43, E.R. Doctor
  • Jimmy J. – 67, Former NFL Coach
  • Jimmy T. – 48, Commercial Fisherman
  • Marty – 48, Technology Executive
  • Tyrone – 42, Fire Captain
  • Wendy – 48, Goat Rancher
  • Yve – 41, Homemaker

Chase is very disappointed that he won’t have Jimmy Johnson on his team. He thinks his tribe is missing out on a strong leader. Apparently he’s under the belief that being a leader is good in “Survivor.” Has he ever seen this show?

After buffs are passed out, Jeff gives Brenda the option of trading the mysterious (and stylish) MoP for flint and fishing gear. Whatever they decide to give up, Espada will get.

La Flor eventually decides on…a commercial break.

Fortunately for you, there are very few commercials in my recaps. La Flor chooses the fishing gear.

Shannon rationalizes this decision by saying the younger tribe should beat the older tribe in challenges no matter what.

We meet up with Espada back at their camp and Jimmy Johnson’s hair is already looking pretty sweet. Jimmy lets us know that he’s a little worried that there could be Eagles or Redskins fans on his tribe…or writing his recaps…

We’re then treated to the quickest alliance in “Survivor” history. Holly approaches Wendy, they share a mutual respect, and they become an alliance. This all happened within the span of about five seconds. Holly even punctuated it by saying, “I’m with you all the way!” It was so quick. Like a game of alliance tag.

Wendy lets us know that the first step in her strategy is to not be the first person voted out. Make fun of Wendy all you want, but that’s a good strategy.

She also says that her husband thinks she’ll be the first person voted out. There’s some moral support for ya.

Jane then proves her “Survivor” cred by starting a fire without flint. That almost never happens.  Go, Jane.

Meanwhile at Casa La Flor, Judson manages to step on something and puncture his foot within three minutes of arriving at camp. Then he stabs himself in the finger with a crab claw. If only there had been fences…

And maybe worse than the multiple bleeding wounds, Judson is dubbed “Fabio” by Shannon. Rough start for Fabio.

When Shannon is done handing out derogatory nicknames, he corners Chase and explains why they should start an Alpha Male Alliance. Shannon then wins some hearts by explaining why he doesn’t want a woman to win. Apparently he’s concerned there may be a woman President of the United States some day. Is he auditioning for “Heroes Vs. Villains 2”?

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: The biggest thorn tree in the world is about two feet away from the La Flor shelter. I’m worried someone’s going to stumble off to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and get a thorn in the eye.

Kelly B. decides that she can’t hide her prosthetic leg much longer, so she calls a group meeting to show it to everyone. Shannon shows his sweet side yet again, saying they have to get rid of her because she’d get sympathy jokes from a jury.

That night at the Espada camp we’re treated to a long shot of an NFL legend puking. That, or Jimmy Johnson was doing his best Donovan McNabb impersonation.

The next morning we find Chase and Brenda flirting with each other. Chase doesn’t want to make promises to two separate alliances, but Brenda is way cuter than Shannon.

Me? I think Chase should align with Brenda. Why? Because if she stabs him in the back, it’ll be great fodder for a country song.

And I have to admit, I may have written Brenda off too quickly in my pre-game analysis. She seemed to have Chase eating out of the palm of her hand. “As deceptive as a Decepticon,” indeed.

Later, Alina and Kelly B. find the first hidden immunity idol clue. Apparently the clue is very difficult to decipher. Meanwhile, Russell Hantz smiles. Then he punches a kitten and kicks an orphan.

Alina is not pleased that she was with Kelly B. when she found the clue. She shares Shannon’s belief that taking Kelly B. to the final Tribal Council is a recipe for second place.

Meanwhile at Espada camp, Jimmy Johnson is giving a pre-challenge speech to rally the troops. For real.

I love “Survivor.”

Before we can start the immunity challenge, the youngins do a bizarre dance to announce their presence.

Yeah, I love “Survivor” a little less.

Immunity Challenge Time: Five players from each team are given rain gutters and are stationed on different levels of a multi-leveled structure. They’ll try to configure the gutters so that water can flow from the top of the structure into a stationary gutter below. The stationary gutter leads into a vat. A lone team member will stand on top of the structure and use a bucket to pour water down the gutters. Once enough water has traveled into the vat, it will trigger a mechanism that will release a set of jigsaw-style puzzle pieces. The last four members of the tribe will then try to put that puzzle together. The first tribe to complete their puzzle wins immunity.

Medallion of Power Advantage: If Espada elects to use the MoP, JPro will pour a bucket of water into their vat. The bucket will fill the vat a fifth of the way. If Espada uses the MoP, it will be available for La Flor to use at the next challenge.

Espada decides to make a statement by holding onto the MoP.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Jeff Probst swung by before the challenge to see what we thought of Espada not using the MoP. I thought it was a smart move and that they should save it for a more physical challenge. JPro disagreed, thinking the older tribe should do anything they can to get an early numbers advantage.

The Jimmys, Dan, Tyrone, and Marty will hold the gutters for Espada, while Judson, Shannon, Sash, Benry, and Chase will hold the gutters for La Flor. Holly and NaOnka will man the buckets on top of the structure for their respective tribes. Yve, Wendy, Jillian, and Jane have puzzle duty for Espada, while the Kellys, Brenda, and Alina will go for La Flor.

The water La Flor is using is yellow, while Espada’s water is blue. It’s kinda fun, like they’re using Kool-Aid.

The challenge starts and both tribes employ a quickest-path-between-two-points-is-a-straight-line strategy. NaOnka and Holly are really going for it at the top of the structure. Both are hustling to deposit the water as quickly as possible.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: The challenge crew was hoping the gutter portion would involve a lot more strategy. I think they had envisioned a jagged, pieced-together mess.  Surely Jimmy Johnson being splashed in the face with blue water would have made for amusing footage. However, the guys in La Flor outsmarted them. Before the challenge started they came up with the straight gutter strategy. Espada saw this and quickly copied them.

La Flor’s bin filled up first and their puzzle pieces dropped. Espada’s pieces dropped shortly afterward. However, the youngsters plowed through the puzzle to claim immunity. It wasn’t even close.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Jimmy T. tried to confuse the La Flor puzzle crew by shouting contradicting instructions to them. However, since nobody could possibly confuse Jimmy T.’s voice with a young person, all it did was confuse the Espada team. Jimmy J. was not pleased with this strategy.

Back at Espada camp, Jimmy T. tells the tribe that he’s gunning for Jimmy J. That sound you heard in the background is a CBS executive crying.

However, Jimmy J. thinks Wendy is the weakest link. Holly is not pleased to hear this seeing as she aligned with Holly after a grand total of five seconds.

Wendy knows she’s in trouble because she hasn’t made any strong bonds. Add that to the fact that Holly has stopped talking to her, and she’s right to be concerned.

So who’s going home? The Cowboy or the Cowgirl?

That night at tribal council, Jeff says something about fire representing life. Is that new?

Jane (Espada’s MacGyver) admits that something Jeff said in an article inspired her to learn how to make fire. Winning Emmys and changing lives, that guy.

Jimmy J. goes out of his way to make it known that he’s not the leader and nobody will give him the million dollars. Jimmy T. tells Jeff that he doesn’t buy that for a second.

Wendy thinks people don’t like her because nobody asked her her age. Now, I’m not old and wise enough to be a part of the Espada tribe, but even I know not to ask a woman her age. The rest of the tribe agrees with me.

Jeff lets everyone know it’s time to vote…and Wendy interrupts him! Who are you to question the almighty power of the torch snuffer?!

JPro graciously allows this interruption and Wendy takes the opportunity to give a few reasons why the tribe should keep her around. The best reason? Because she doesn’t have any blisters.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Jeff tried to start the voting about three times and Wendy kept interrupting him with new reasons to keep her around. Jeff later said that he doesn’t want anyone to ever leave Tribal Council feeling like they didn’t get to speak their mind.

Voting Time: Tyrone votes for Wendy Jo and the rest of the votes are secret.

Jeff tallies and returns; one vote for Wendy, one vote for Yve, four votes for Wendy, and the first person voted out of “Survivor: Nicaragua” is…Wendy.

Her husband was right!

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Poor Wendy got so lost after being voted out of Tribal Council. She must’ve wandered around that graveyard for five minutes.

Verdict: The first episode of any non all-star season always has a little too much “getting to know you” for my taste. But I’m encouraged by how interesting I’m finding Shannon, Brenda, and Judson. Hopefully we’ll hear from Kelly S., Sash, Benry, Dan, and the other silent Survivors next week.

Who’s Going to Win? I don’t know why I always include this section, because I’m always wrong. But so far I’m sticking with my Marty and Kelly B. picks.

What Do You Think? Who is your early favorite? Would you have used the MoP? Should a millionaire be allowed to play “Survivor”?

Jeff Probst’s ‘Survivor: Nicaragua’ Picks

September 15, 2010

The time for “Survivor” speculation is quickly coming to an end. But, I didn’t want to head into 39 days of bug bites, starving and backstabbing without hearing from the man who’s seen it all, Mr. Jeff Probst.

So, for XFINITY TV’s final bit of “Survivor” pre-game analysis, let’s find out how Jeff initially felt about the Young Vs. Old concept. Also, who does he think America will love? Who will they hate? And who does he think will surprise us?

[iframe–Nicaragua–Cast./embed 580 476]

I also wanted to get a better feel for the entire roster of new players. So, I challenged JPro to take part in one of my trademark “Survivor” word association quizzes…

Gordon Holmes: OK, let’s start this off with Tyrone.
Jeff Probst:
Don’t judge a book by its cover.
Gordon: Kelly Shinn?
Jeff: Not quite ripe.
Gordon: Judson?
Jeff: “Fast times at Ridgemont High”…Jeff Spicoli!
Gordon: Let’s try Jane.
Jeff: Reminds me of Twila from “Survivor: Vanuatu.”
Gordon: Interesting. How about Wendy Jo?
Jeff: (Laughs) The whitest woman I have ever seen.
Gordon: Shannon?
Jeff: Overblown, dude
Gordon: Sash?
Jeff: Knock that boulder off your shoulder! Life is short! Smile!
Gordon: Alina?
Jeff: Strawberry.
Gordon: Kelly Bruno?
Jeff: Foxhole partner.
Gordon: Marty?
Jeff: Don’t trust ya.
Gordon: Yve?
Jeff: (Looks around) Um…yeah.
Gordon: Ouch. Jimmy T.?
Jeff: Old Milwaukee.
Gordon: Benry?
Jeff: The quintessential snake in the grass.
Gordon: Chase?
Jeff: Red, white and blue.
Gordon: Holly?
Jeff: Bit of a cougar.
Gordon: NaOnka?
Jeff: Reminds me of one of those bounce houses that kids go in and they jump around.
Gordon: Brenda?
Jeff: Charmed, a charmed life.
Gordon: Dan aka Mr. Connected?
Jeff: (Laughs) One too many times in the suntan bed.
Gordon: Jillian?
Jeff: Hardcore.
Gordon: Let’s finish this off with Jimmy Johnson.
Jeff: One of the few guys I would like to work for.

And finally, to whet your appetite for tonight’s premiere, here’s a look at the first two minutes of “Survivor: Nicaragua.”

[iframe—First-Two-Minutes./embed 580 476]

Don’t Forget: “Survivor: Nicaragua” premieres Wednesday, September 15, 2010 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS. And you haven’t been misled, “Survivor” is NOWonWED.

Post-Show Coverage: Be sure to check back tonight for my first episode recap (that is sure to be full of behind-the-scenes tidbits) and Thursday evening for an interview with the first booted castaway.

More “Survivor” Fun: Meet the La Flor and Espada Tribes, check out our Pre-Season “Survivor” Rankings, and see what new twists and challenges “Survivor” has in store for us.

Mud, Sweat and Tears: Redemption Through a ‘Survivor’ Challenge

September 13, 2010

Visiting the set of “Survivor” is a truly unique experience. The crack crew goes above and beyond to give the press a no-holds-barred look at the show’s production. From pre-show access to the contestants, to visits to the tribe camps, to a seat at the season’s first Tribal Council, we’re allowed to see it all.

But such access comes with a price.

It’s an unwritten rule that every member of the press will eventually have to go toe-to-toe with the buff, tanned, and bruised force known as The Dream Team.

The Dream Team is a collection of twenty young men and women who help Challenge Producer John Kirhoffer fine-tune the reward and immunity challenges. They spend their summers running each challenge until Kirhoffer is satisfied with it.

I’ve squared off against The Dream Team before. In the summer of 2008 on a scorching plain located in the heart of Gabon, Africa we battled in the grueling “Temptation Valley” challenge. I was tethered to five of my fellow press brethren as we hurtled obstacles, trudged through swamps, and dug in the steaming sand.

I left that challenge with three things…

I left with an appreciation for how tough “Survivor” challenges can be. When the exhausting ordeal was over I was handed a cup of sports drink. The members of “Survivor: Gabon’s” Kota and Fang tribes got nothing. I can’t imagine what it must be like to have to compete like that on an empty stomach and without a good night’s sleep.

I left with the unique experience of participating in a challenge that was called by Jeff Probst. Now don’t get me wrong, I like to poke fun at JPro as much as anyone, but there’s no disputing the fact that the man has three consecutive Emmys for a reason. I can only imagine that having Jeff call your challenge action is the reality show equivalent of having Harry Carey or Jack Buck call your home run shot in baseball. If Jeff ever does step away from “Survivor,” I pity whoever tries to fill his logo-adorned baseball cap and puka shell necklace.

And I left with an African leech attached to the back of my right knee. It wasn’t that big of a deal, a crew member quickly lopped it off with a machete. It didn’t really hurt and the ladies in attendance were impressed. Win/win!

The one thing I didn’t leave with? A victory.  We were decimated. The Dream Team lived up to their name, leaving us in the dust…and sand…and leech-infested swamp water.

So, while I was excited to visit Nicaragua to see what the “Survivor” crew had in store for their 21st season, the thought of the impending showdown with the Dream Team never left my mind.

As we went about our visit, some details started to leak about the challenge we’d be running. It would be an early version of a challenge that would be used later in the season. We also knew it would involve mud and hay. I used my knowledge of Nicaraguan history to guess that we’d be making some kind of adobe structure.

True to form, I was wrong.

To start off, the tribes will divide into three groups. Four players will be a relay team, two players will be a knot-untying team, and the rest will be the puzzle team.

mudpit hay

The challenge starts off with a player from each relay team diving into a mud pit, then doing a military crawl under a ropes obstacle. Once the players are out of the mud they’ll have to dig through a hay stack to retrieve a bag of puzzle pieces. After they’ve found their bag, they’ll hand it off to the untying team. Then, the second member of the relay team will dive into the mud. Once all four of the relay team members have retrieved their bags, the untying team wil go to work untying the knots that are keeping the bags closed. When all four of the bags are untied, they’ll pass the pieces off to the puzzle team. The puzzle was basically a Nicaragua-themed crossword. Once the team has completed the crossword puzzle they’ll use select letters to create a two-word phrase. The first team to unscramble their phrase wins immunity.

You read that last sentence correctly; the winner of this exhibition would indeed win immunity. The Press Team would win immunity from the teasing and prodding they were sure to receive from Mr. Probst and the rest of the crew. While the Dream Team would win immunity from whatever kind of punishment they’d surely be in for if they lost to the out-of-shape, overweight, past-their-prime Press Team. The “Survivor” crew will tell you that the Press Challenge exists to help the cameramen know where to set up, or give Jeff some practice before the show starts, or to make sure the challenge is balanced. But the truth is, the “Survivor” crew doesn’t want anyone coming in and showing up the Dream Team.

Also, the winning team would receive a case of delicious Tona beer.

NOTE: XFINITY TV does not encourage drinking.

Win or lose, I wanted Probst to give his take on how I performed. Unfortunately the way the schedule worked out, I was going to do my video interview with JPro the day before we ran the challenge. So, we decided to pretend the competition had already taken place. What follows is how Jeff assumed I’d do in the challenge.
[iframe 580 476]

Frankly, it was a safe bet that history would repeat itself and it definitely makes for a more amusing video. But, a funny thing happened on the way to the Nicaraguan mud pit…

“I’ve got to say I was very surprised that the Press did so well,” Challenge Producer John Kirhoffer admitted. “I thought the Dream Team was going to smoke them.”

The first member of the Press relay team had a terrible time finding her puzzle pieces. As she dug into the huge pile of hay, several members of the Dream Team were able to pass her. It got so bad that the crew was worried that they had forgotten to put the bags of puzzle pieces into place. She eventually found them, but not before the Dream Team had built a significant lead.

I watched the second member of our team plow through the mud as I stood in the third slot (not unlike Albert Pujols). She made it through the course quickly, but all four of the Dream Team members had retrieved their puzzle pieces at that point.

I charged toward the mud pit and dove in head first. I must’ve hit it just right, because when I raised my head up, I was already halfway through the ropes course. I crawled through and pulled myself out of the slop.

Note: Before the challenge, the Press Team discussed digging into the bottom of the hay pile. Our reasoning was that the bags of puzzle pieces would eventually sink to the bottom of the stack. For some unknown reason, I decided to ignore this strategy.

With a full of head of steam, (well as full as it can be when you’re trying to keep your shorts up – mud is heavy), I dove into the pile of hay head first. Probst obviously approved of this tactic as he exclaimed, “That is how you do it!”

I dug through the hay as quickly as I could. Eventually I saw a glimpse of blue and grabbed for it. It was the bag. Success! I joined my other relay members and handed off my bag. The anchor for our relay team tore through the course as well. We were still behind the Dream Team, but we were definitely back in business.

The remainder of the challenge was out of our hands, but we had left it in very capable hands. The untying team made up a ton of time and narrowed the Dream Team’s lead. And the puzzle team managed to complete the crossword portion slightly ahead of the Dream Team.

Both sides hovered around their puzzles. But from where I was standing I had no clue which side was closer to completing the scrambled words.

It was then that I heard JPro say the words I had traveled 2061.4 miles to hear, “The Press Team wins!”

It’s a bit embarrassing to admit how elated we were by a victory that ultimately meant nothing, but we were downright giddy. Hugs and high-fives were exchanged and some good-natured ribbing was directed toward the Dream Team. Even Mr. Probst took a minute to rescind his earlier assertion that I would perform poorly…

[iframe 580 476]

“As a perfect “Survivor” challenge would have it, it all came down to the puzzle,” Kirhoffer reasoned. “The puzzle was the catch-up mechanism and the Dream Team got stuck on that.”

And as disappointed as the crew was to watch their pride and joy drop a challenge to clearly inferior competition, they had to have been a little pleased that they had achieved their goal of creating challenges that older people could compete in with younger people.

The only question that remained was, how much berating would the poor Dream Team face from Mr. Kirhoffer after losing to the out-of-shape, overweight, past-their-prime Press Team? “It’s fairly quick,” Kirhoffer explained. “I say, ‘Now it’s up to you to buy the beer and put it on ice and deliver it to them.’ And that’s what they did.”

Don’t Forget: “Survivor: Nicaragua” premieres Wednesday, September 15, 2010 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS. And yes, the rumors are true, “Survivor” is NOWonWED.

More “Survivor” Fun: Meet the La Flor and Espada Tribes, check out our Pre-Season “Survivor” Rankings, and see what new twists and challenges “Survivor” has in store for us.

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