Archive for March, 2013

WWE’s Dolph Ziggler Intends to Steal Wrestlemania from The Rock

March 29, 2013

Dolph Ziggler and AJ Lee (WWE)

Quick Note: Wrestlemania season is heating up and XFINITY has you covered! We’re going to have interviews and insights from top WWE Superstars, on-location tidbits from Wrestlemania weekend, and more. Order Wrestlemania here. And be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute details.

It isn’t hard to figure out who the next breakout WWE Superstar is going to be. It’s usually whoever is carrying a bashed up Money in the Bank briefcase.

Right now, the man with the severely damaged luggage is the same guy who is consistently having the best matches on the show. His name is Dolph Ziggler…

Gordon Holmes: I have a theory about you.
Dolph Ziggler: (Laughs) OK.
Holmes: I’ve always heard that nobody had to teach Beethoven or Mozart how to play a piano, they just looked at it and it made sense. Now, I look at an announce table and I think, “Oh, there’s a place to put a computer, and this chair looks comfy.”
Ziggler: (Laughs) Right.
Holmes: When you look at it do you think, “I could bounce off that table and land in that chair on my head”?
Ziggler: No actually, not at all. Sometimes things just work out that way. (Laughs) I have no idea what’s going to happen. They work out that way and I’m happy and lucky to be safe after doing it.
Holmes: You get tossed and then gravity does its business.
Ziggler: Yes. The important part is at the end of the night it’s entertainment for the fans and any way that I can possibly do that…that’s my way of doing it.

 

Holmes: Right now you are Mr. Money in the Bank. I have never seen a piece of luggage go through such wear and tear. Does that thing still open?
Ziggler: There’s one at TV and one that I take with me at all times. And they’re both so smashed that the locks don’t even stay locked anymore. The one at TV, I don’t even know if I could open it if I had the jaws of life with me.
Holmes: I feel like that’s some kind of loophole. Say tonight you cash in on Alberto Del Rio, if you can’t get that contract out, how is that legally valid?
Ziggler: If you want to get into the legal aspects of it, the briefcase is an actual contract. So, even though there’s paperwork inside, I don’t need it. I just hand over the briefcase.
Holmes: It has to be in the mysterious WWE rulebook.
Ziggler: But don’t worry. If it can happen, it’s going to happen.

Holmes:There’s some confusion about your actual finisher. You’ve used the Zig Zag, you’ve used a super kick. Is there one you’re hoping to cement as your go-to finisher?
Ziggler: I’ve been using the Zig Zag for a long time. The super kick is great and I think I do it really well and it adds to my repertoire. It’s just not always readily available for me to use. Once it is…if it ever becomes fully available for just me to use, I would take it in a heartbeat.
Holmes: So it isn’t available yet. Is there a concern that you don’t have a clever name for it yet?
Ziggler: No, the announcers usually make up the moves. I just do the moves well, that’s my part.

Holmes: Which Superstars did you idolize when you were younger?
Ziggler: I was a big fan at a really young age of Ric Flair. I had an uncle who used to show me beta tapes. And even though kids my age mostly liked Hulk Hogan, I thought this guy was cool. But as I got older I realized that this guy was so good and he could be out there with anyone. That’s been my goal since day one.
Holmes: Does it bother you that he’s rubbing shoulders with the Miz?
Ziggler: I think it bothers everyone in the entire world that he’s rubbing shoulders with the Miz. I even had a match at old-school Raw with him in the Miz’s corner and I was taunting him saying, “You backed the wrong guy. It should be me with you in my corner.” I feel like he’s so good at what he does that we’d make a hell of a team. But apparently Miz needed him more. And I think when they were training (Flair) forgot to show him how to finish the figure four.
Holmes: Well, there are a couple steps to that move. But I think he has it down now.
Ziggler: Yeah…that’s good. Only took him a couple of months. That’s good.

Holmes: XFINITY Watchathon Week is going on until March 31st and we have roughly a jillion shows from HBO, Showtime and everywhere else that are free with XFINITY On Demand.
Ziggler: Wow.
Holmes: Right? If your schedule allowed for a week on the couch watching TV, which shows would you binge watch?
Ziggler: I’m a huge fan of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” “Curb” would be first. I’ve heard “Dexter” is awesome. A serial killer guy out there having fun? That sounds right up my alley.

Holmes: I really enjoyed your “WWE Download” show on YouTube and I noticed that you’d do a different kind of speech pattern on the show. It was lightning quick, it was hilarious, have you ever thought of bringing that onto the TV show?
Ziggler: Yeah, lots of different times. Backstage bosses and agents have complimented it. But when it comes to TV, I haven’t had the chance to do it. On that show, I was so comfortable, I got to write my own material, do my own jokes. And that’s not exactly the same leeway as you have on live TV.
Holmes: You were very funny on that show. Is there any worry that doing it on TV might make you more likable?
Ziggler: The thing was…if you listen to the crowd I think I’m a little popular anyways. So, as much as we can keep it so they still remember that I’m a bad guy, we’ve got to keep it that way. It’s a grey area, there’s not just bad guys and good guys. You get to pick who you like, who you don’t like. A bad guy doesn’t have to be bad at wrestling. Sometimes bad guys have to win the match and be better than the good guy. In some areas, in the Northeast, I’m cheered more than my opponents are.
Holmes: It’s a crime “Download” isn’t on anymore
Ziggler: Honestly, I loved the “Download” show. I loved writing the jokes for it. I loved performing it. And one of these days I’ll get to be myself and be that person that is me backstage in the ring.
Holmes: Oh, so we got a peek at the real you.
Ziggler: Well…keep it PG…borderline…make people think. I write jokes and material on my days off. It was so fun, I used to look forward to just writing the jokes for the show. And a lot of the lines I’d write that morning or while we were setting up the cameras. Other ones I’d just improv as we were doing the show. Something would pop in my head and I’d just throw it out there.
Holmes: Now that it’s over, do you have a different outlet for your comedy? Have you ever considered stand-up?
Ziggler: Absolutely, I’ve been writing for a little over a year now. I have a couple of minutes now that I’ll be sneaking into some open mics in the next two to three months.
Holmes: Live mics as in WWE shows or…
Ziggler: Absolutely not. As in LA at a small bar or twenty people in a coffee shop. Just because I’ve been writing for so long, friends of mine in comedy have given me a lot of compliments and said there’s some good stuff in there. I’ll give it a try.
Holmes: One of the good things about being a wrestler is if the audience doesn’t like those jokes, they’re less likely to heckle you.
Ziggler: Right. They can laugh or not, but if they heckle just let them know that I’ve been wrestling for twenty five years.

Holmes: You guys have a world of really talented guys backstage to help you out. You’ve got Arn Anderson, Ricky Steamboat…is there anyone in particular who helps you out?
Ziggler: Yeah, the first one you mentioned is pretty accurate. Arn Anderson is kind of an unsung hero in the business. He was one of the Horsemen, one of the best working wrestlers of all time. And backstage he’s such a helpful tool for all of us. And for some reason, even though we’re not the same kind of animal, he’s been very helpful, very influential. Him and Pat Patterson have been huge helps for me. Those guys didn’t settle for being good, they wanted to be the best, and I think they see that in my eyes. I try to do that every night and I get frustrated if I didn’t literally steal the show and have the best performance. Those guys appreciate that.

Holmes: Now you’ve got AJ on your arm and Big E. Langston has your back. Has there been a bit of an adjustment period having those two along?
Ziggler: Yeah, it’s been very interesting. I had Vickie by my side and I’ve been by myself. In a weird way I’m becoming one of the veterans of this locker room. Which is crazy.
Holmes: That doesn’t sound right.
Ziggler: I’m 32 years old. I’ve been here eight and a half years.
Holmes: Wow.
Ziggler: As the roster is changing and we have less guys from the late 90s, unless they’re on a light schedule, I’m good enough to be giving back to young up and comers. And it’s really cool to have someone like an AJ and a Big E. I really appreciate that they want the best, they want to know what’s going on, they want to know why I did things in a match. It helps that they were childhood fans. AJ’s dream as a child was to be a WWE Superstar. I was five-years-old and I wanted to be a Superstar. We have that bond. It makes it that much more rewarding. And we’re just getting started.  Once Wrestlemania comes and goes we’ll have more time to settle in and I think you’ll see a nice trio of great talent that could be the future of the business.
Holmes: Has anyone pitched the name Zig-E and Big E?
Ziggler: I’ve heard that, but we’ll figure it out when we need to.
Holmes: Oh man, I thought I came up with that myself.
Ziggler: (Laughs) Congratulations.
Holmes: Just lie and tell people it was me.

Holmes: You mentioned the people on the lighter schedules. We’re approaching a Wrestlemania where four of the six main eventers don’t wrestle that often. Does that annoy you, does it inspire you?
Ziggler: It’s both. It really pisses me off. But, it also is good business. Every year a part timer comes back, but there’s a reason that they’re back. Whether it’s the fans want to see them, if they’re a draw, if they’re a movie star, there’s a reason that they’re back. They’re not back just to do it. There’s business to be had. And it pisses me off and it motivates me a hundred percent. It makes me want to be that guy that they’re begging to come back. I appreciate it, it’s just good business. When people come to Wrestlemania to see the Rock and the Undertaker and they leave that Wrestlemania thinking, “Wow, that Dolph Ziggler stole the show. I can’t wait to tune in to ‘Raw’ to see what he does next.” That’s how I’ve lived my entire career.

Don’t miss WWE Wrestlemania, Sunday April 7, 2013 at 7 pm ET on Pay Per View.

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‘Survivor: Caramoan’ Episode Recap: War in Bikal

March 27, 2013

'Survivor: Caramoan' (CBS)

Quick Note: We’re going to be bringing you all kinds of “Survivor” fun this season including episode recaps, exit interviews, and Power Rankings with Michael Skupin. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute news and info.

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Last Week: The tribes were swapped, Bikal’s momentum was stopped, and “The Beard” was chopped.

39 Days, 20 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

Let’s take a look at the tribes as they currently stand…

The Bikal Tribe (wearing purple)
Cochran – Harvard Law Student, 25
Corinne – Pharmaceutical Sales, 33
Dawn – English Professor/Power Rankings Champ, 42
Julia – Racecar Driver/Student, 21
Michael – Event Planner, 44
Phillip – Chief Executive Officer of Enter Software Sales, 54

The Gota Tribe (wearing orange)
Andrea – Entertainment Host and Writer, 23
Brenda – Paddleboard Company Owner, 30
Eddie – Firefighter/EMT, 23
Erik – Comic Book Artist, 27
Malcolm – Bartender, 25
Reynold – Sales, 30
Sherri – Fast Food Franchisee, 41

Quick News Note: Congrats to the “Survivor” crew on being renewed for the 2013-14 season.

We start off after Tribal Council with the Stealth R Us Tooers apologizing to the newbs for sending Matt on his merry way.

Corinne lets Michael know that she’s going to do everything in her power to keep him around. We’ve found Corinne’s kryptonite, and apparently it’s homosexuality.

Phillip doesn’t like that Corinne is talking to Michael and tells Cochran that he wants her gone before the merge. Cochran smartly talks him down, explaining that it’ll send a bad signal to the Gota branch of Stealth R Us Too if they boot one of their own so soon. Cochran’s quietly having a hell of a season.

Tree Mail arrives the next morning and it hints at strong and weak players. Phillip is confident that his strength will lead them to victory. Famous last words…

Reward Challenge Time: The tribes will be tethered together and walk around an oval track while carrying 20-pound weights. If a player gets tired and has to duck out, he or she has to pass off his or her weights to the rest of the team. First team to catch the opposing team wins a trip to an island for coffee, cookies, croissants, and other words that start with the letter “C.”

Brenda will sit out for Gota.

Fun Fact: I believe this challenge was done in Palau.

Not much to describe at first, except for Phillip telling everyone they should walk because the “Girls will tire.” Sexism aside, it’s also because he assumes at some point he’ll be carrying all the weight.

Dawn and Cochran are the first one out of the challenge, and then…oh wait…it’s over. That was quick. Gota catches Bikal and wins the reward.

Dawn’s cool with the loss because the coffee will give Gota diarrhea. Glass is always half full.

At the Caramoan coffee bar, Andrea is psyched to get a chance to share a reward with the fans. She hopes to get to know them so they’ll vote for her in the end.

Malcolm one ups Andrea by kissing everyone and expressing his love for them. Oh man, Twitter just exploded with jealousy.

Back at Bikal, Corinne is blaming Phillip for the loss. She approaches Cochran with the idea of getting rid of him. Man, Cochran in the middle. His goal now is to keep the faves together at all costs.

Meanwhile, Phillip wants to turn Julia into a double agent. He tells her to meet up with the other fans at the merge and relay info to Stealth R Us Too.

Later, Julia tells Dawn that Phillip wants her for a new alliance and that maybe they should try to get rid of him. So, your head is on the chopping block and you make moves against the person trying to work with you? These “fans,” I tell ya…

Anywho, Dawn immediately lets Phillip know what’s up.

Over at Gota, Malcolm spearheads an alpha-male alliance with himself, Eddie, Reynold, and Erik. Do four guys and two idols make a numbers advantage?

Reynold tells Malcolm about his idol, but Malcolm doesn’t return the favor. Dun dun dun…

Immunity Challenge Time: Three members of each tribe will paddle into the ocean, dive down, and retrieve a phoenix statue. They’ll return to shore and place the statue at the base of a tower. One tribe member will use a grappling hook to retrieve keys. First tribe to use the keys to unlock the tower and pull their statue to the top wins immunity.

Sherri will sit for Gota.

Brenda, Erik, and Eddie, and Dawn, Corinne, and Michael are the water teams. Gota gets off to a hot start, but Bikal manages to catch up.  Gota regains the lead and gets their statue back to shore first, but Bikal isn’t far behind.

Phillip and Reynold pull carnival game duty once again with the grappling hook toss. Reynold absolutely kills it, getting all five keys in short order. Gota pulls up their statue and wins immunity.

After the challenge, Phillip confesses to Cochran that he threw the challenge because he wanted to get rid of a fan. Nice of him to go easy on those poor Gota losers. He probably feels bad that they’re being decimated by diarrhea.

Anywho, the faves are going to split the vote in case there’s an idol. Corinne goes to bat for Michael, but Phillip doesn’t think they need him. Phillip explains that he’s qualified to make such calls because he played with the smartest, best looking, best smelling, most charismatic player of all time, “Boston” Rob Mariano. OK, maybe he didn’t say all of that, but it was close.

Corinne interrupts Phillip as he’s talking to Dawn and Cochran and things get ugly. He tells her to take a hike in slightly nicer terms. She takes that hike, but lets us know that she’s dying to vote him out. Who would’ve thought those two kids wouldn’t get along?

That night at Tribal Council, Julia thinks the favorites are tense because they’re thinking past this vote.

Corinne wants to vote off the right fan because it’ll be important later.

Phillip thinks he and Corinne have the same goal, but different processes of getting there.

Dawn thinks conflict is OK as long as they want the same thing.

Michael thinks he should stick around because he works hard and is trustworthy.

Cochran thinks it’s dangerous for Michael if everyone thinks he’s BFFs with Corinne.

Corinne admits that it’s super cool that Michael is gay, but she’s only known him for a few days.

Voting Time: No votes are shown.

We’ve got one vote for Michael, one for Julia, one for Michael, one for Julia, one for Michael, and…one for Julia. A tie.

Voting Time Again: No votes are shown.

Alrighty, we’ve got two votes for Julia and the eighth person to be eliminated from “Survivor: Caramoan – Fans vs. Favorites” is…Julia.

Verdict: Bikal loses? Check. One of the fans goes home? Check. Thank goodness the merge is around the corner.

Who’s Going to Win? Erik is a favorite and potentially in the challenge-threat alliance. WINNER!

Power Rankings Results: Michael Skupin had Julia in spot twelve, while my pinch hitter Benjamin “Coach” Wade had her in eleven. So, the current score is Team Skupin 83, Team Lightning Punch 103.

Any questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

Guy Uses ‘Jedi Mind Trick’ to Get Out of Paying Tip

March 26, 2013
Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The alliance partner and I were enjoying dinner at a local British pub a few nights ago, when our server arrived with a puzzled look on her face. Apparently, a patron had left her a tipless receipt that had a message on it that confused her.  After some prodding, she showed it to us. The text read…

“This is not the tip you’re looking for.”

She thought this was some kind of creepy come on. Fortunately for her, we’re well versed in the nerd arts. We explained that it was more likely a reference to the scene in “Star Wars” where Obi-Wan Kenobi used a Jedi mind trick to get by some Imperial Sand Troopers.

Jerkiness of not leaving a tip aside, how messed up is it to use the Force as a way to cheat someone out of money?

And also, how easy is it to fake one of those “A-Hole leaves message instead of a tip” news articles?

Even More Whatnot…

‘Survivor: Caramoan’ Power Rankings: Dragon Slayer Edition!

March 26, 2013

Benjamin "Coach" Wade vs. Michael Skupin (CBS)

Quick Note: We’re going to be bringing you all kinds of “Survivor” fun this season including episode recaps, exit interviews, and Power Rankings with Michael Skupin. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute news and info.

Special Guest Star Alert: Pinch hitting for Gordon Holmes this week is three-time “Survivor” star and Power Rankings favorite Benjamin “Coach” Wade!

The Rules: Each week Michael and Gordon (or his designated pinch hitter) 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 Dawn is voted out this week, Michael will receive 8 points and Gordon’s team will receive 6 points. The person with the most points at the end of the season will be crowned the ‘Survivor: Caramoan’ Power Rankings champion!

Last Week: Michael had Matt in spot six while Gordon had him in spot eleven. So, the current score is Team Skupin 71, Team Lightning Punch 92.

Before we kick off this week’s rankings, let’s check in with our competitors…

Gordon Holmes: Mr. Wade. Thanks a ton for pinch hitting this week. What’ve you been up to?
Ben “Coach” Wade: I have a new book out that I wrote called “No Turning Back, the South American Expedition of a Dragon Slayer.” Pass the word because if it sells well then I have a deal to publish the Amazon adventure, and I know that’s what everyone wants to hear.
Holmes: Nice, everybody buy this book.

Holmes: Do you guys have any parting words for our buddy Matt the Beard?
Michael Skupin: So long, Matt… the “as long as it’s not me” strategy may work for a few days but will likely never get you to end game. As Cochran put it, your game of likeability got read as a game that reeked of desperation. As one of the most likable characters out there, I’m saddened to see you leave the game. I misjudged you at first and had you going deep into the game; sans the painted-egg twist, you just may have.  I could almost hear a groan across the country when your torch was snuffed for the last time.
Wade: He kept it real. I loved his genuine attitude towards the game and life, but the tribe swap mucked him up like it does so many. He was playing a great game until then.
Skupin: Once again, a castaway falls greatly due to the fact that in his naivety of playing the game he found comfort after the swap in hanging out with Michael instead of having any real plan.  Although most people get into one or more of them, an alliance is the most threatening position to be in. Maybe the t-shirts Michael and Matt should have been wearing is “I’m with him” with the arrow pointing at the other guy.

Holmes: Neither of you guys really had to deal with major tribe swaps. What strategy would you utilize if faced with that twist?
Wade: Scramble.
Holmes: Well played. Skup?
Skupin: On S25 Philippines, we were prepared for a swap or merge any day and we knew exactly what we were going to do in the event that happened.
Holmes: That’s very smart. It never hurts to have a plan to cover any possibility. Especially one that’s been done in the past.
Skupin: The “fans” were down in numbers and were so caught off guard by the swap. Tribal swaps are not new to “Survivor” and seem to be becoming more commonplace as we’ve now seen a trifecta of them on the last three seasons. If I was on the power-side of the swap (Bikal) as it appeared I was on S25 Philippines, it’s critical not to play your hand too early.  It was there that I began my stalk of Malcolm but ever so slightly because we were winning; there was no reason to cement anything until the merge. If I was on the losing side (Gota), I’d become the hardest worker around camp, become necessary in challenges, and wouldn’t start any wars.

Holmes: Alright, you gentlemen have both played with some of the current castaways. What are your mid-season grades for them?
Wade: Dawn and Cochran both get a B+. Cochran’s weakness coming into the game was his physical strength and awkward sallies towards other contestants. He seems to have strengthened both. Dawn’s weakness was her emotional discharge every other day. She is stronger and more focused.
Skupin: My mid-season grade for fellow castaway, turned tribemate then alliance Malcolm is also a B+. He is smart and so likable and has done so many things right. I’m just afraid the physical and emotional toll of back-to-back seasons could certainly cloud his judgment.
Holmes: Excellent, a round of B pluses. Sounds like they’re all doing well with some room for improvement.

Skupin: Because the newly swapped Bikal team is at such a disadvantage both physically and mentally (puzzles, strategies, etc.), I’m predicting that Gota will not lose another challenge. So my Power Rankings will reflect all Bikal members at the bottom, not necessarily based on their gameplay or strategy thus far but based on the fact that they will be the only ones to meet Probst at the now infamous torch-snuffing ceremony.
Holmes: Risk taker, I like it. Alright gentlemen, you know the rules…

Set Your DVR to Record ‘Survivor: Caramoan – Fans vs Favorites”

Michael’s Current Score: 71

Any advice for Michael? Drop him a line on Twitter: @mikeskupin

Team Lightning Punch’s Current Score: 92

Any advice for Coach? Drop him a line on Twitter: @the_real_coach

 1. Brenda: If Brenda was at the Wonka Factory, she’d go down the “good” egg chute. Her mistake-free game continues.
 1. Cochran: A smooth operator who is leading his tribe through meditation and DS rules.
 2. Malcolm: Malcolm joins Reynold out there as the man with a bulge and it appears the bulging brothers are forming an alliance that may be the end of the game for both of them. Signs of Malcolm being out in the Philippines for way too long are appearing as he confessed on national TV his expertise at lying to women. As the runner up for fan favorite last season, I’m betting he lost a few female votes with that comment.
 2. Reynold: Idol after idol he has found, days in the game for him abound.
 3. Andrea: Andrea drew the right colored egg last week. Her “dream” that Malcolm had the idol may actually have been strategy as I believe she has seen Malcolm’s bulging wrist and she may have been offering him a chance to “fess up.”  3. Malcolm: Not taking the lead in the game might decrease his female popularity fame.

  4. Erik: We are left to guess at what your game is out there while it doesn’t appear you’re doing much. At this point you don’t really have to and your relationship with Brenda and Andrea only gets stronger.
 4. Andrea: Much more aware of the game this time, you are becoming a player in some people’s minds.

  5. Sherri: I’m surprised there seemed to be no strategy whatsoever in Sherri “spilling the beans” to what could end up as the “Victoria’s Secret Alliance” of Sherri, Brenda, and Andrea.  I still believe she has game left in her and fortunately for her, Reynold and Eddie will likely “used-car salesman” themselves out of what appears to be a second chance for them.
 5. Phillip: Much to the audience chagrin, Phillip is here this time to win.
 6. Eddie: Good thing you’re on the “good-looking tribe,” Eddie! That matters so much out there. I think Eddie needs to make a break from Reynold and form other bonds as well. Putting all your eggs in one basket only works once out there.
 6. Dawn: Middle of the road most of the time, once the merge hits I think she will then shine.
 7. Reynold: Teaming up with Malcolm was a smart move, but be very careful, you may be shocked that he lies to men too! You’ll be a force in individual immunity challenges, so fortunately you’ll have no problem making it to the merge. Drawing an orange egg is eggs-actly what your game needed to give you hope but it seems like you’re forgetting that the “favorites” have played this game before.
  7. BrendaQuiet and shy her heart must be elsewhere, hang in there though there’s much more to bear.
 8. Dawn: She better pay her dues into Stealth-R-Us as her only hope of making the merge now is winning and Phillip not Hantz’ing.*

*Hantz’ing is now an accepted reality-TV term describing extremely erratic behavior.

 8. Eddie: I think he’ll be first to go once the tribes merge, better scramble fast when you have the urge.
 9. Cochran: His under-the-radar game may have to shift a bit as it looks like he’s going to become a regular at Tribal Council much sooner than he anticipated. Since winning could be a long shot, he has to adjust his game. Fortunately, he’s smart enough. Funny, Tarzan from S24 One World said the game is afoot, Cochran chose the game is anew…since when did a knowledge of Shakespeare become a prerequisite for island living?
 9. Sherri: Tried to exude too much control, now your power is slipping your ship is near the shoal.
 10. Phillip: I’m in the minority but when you’re on the down tribe, making new alliances and securing flippers is critical. A+ Phillip!  Your bullies-R-us strategy is great for early and mid-game but will fall on rocky soil come the merge and end game…if you make it that far. Phillip’s name problems continue. It began with “Franchesqua,” continued with “Aun-dreah” and now he refers to Julia as “the girl.”
  10. Michael: Once strong and smart the swap has you on the run, but you are astute beyond the game and a ton of fun.
 11. Michael: His biggest mistake was the same as Matt’s, he was just less believable in regards to the Hidden-Immunity-Idol lie which the answer should always be the same unless your name is Abi, Reynold, Peter, and Penner.  You seemed to be the only fan with a strategy! Last week you described camp-life as a “long strand of hell”…you have no idea my brother, things just got worse.
  11. Julia: Riding coattails will only get you so far, time to pick things up if you want to rise above par.
 12. Julia: Julia barely escaped elimination…fortunately for her, she didn’t have an alliance and didn’t seem as much of a threat as Matt did. As odd as it appears, not having an alliance and not really playing hard is an advantage to her now as her torch will stay lit for another three days, and although we haven’t seen it yet, for whatever it’s worth, Phillip thinks you are “extra-ordinary.”
  12. Erik: A challenge warrior you may be, your head needs to be more game savvy.
 13. Corinne: I think you picked a fight with the wrong favorite (Phillip), and it may cost you a spot. Your support of Michael will likely be seen as flipping and a new trust issue has been born.
  13. Corinne: Although the B word comes to mind, look for an idol for hope to find.

‘Survivor’ Castaway Matt: ‘I Wish I Had a Sweet Name Like ‘The Beardinator”

March 21, 2013

Matt Bischoff and Jeff Probst (CBS)

Quick Note: We’re going to be bringing you all kinds of “Survivor” fun this season including episode recaps, exit interviews, and Power Rankings with Michael Skupin. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute news and info.

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I’m not a fan of tribe swaps. On paper they look like a good way to break up alliances and shuffle dominant tribes, but in practice it often makes challenge threats less valuable before a merge (which is the only time being a challenge threat is valuable) and messes up people who have been playing strong strategic games.

Maybe Matt Bischoff wasn’t the strongest challenge threat, but he was playing a good game up until this point. With his buddy Michael by his side, the duo had quietly positioned themselves as the swing votes in the Gota tribe.

One crack of a paint-filled egg later and Matt is out of the game. Not fair.  But “Survivor” isn’t fair. Neither is life. These are the days of our lives.

I spoke with the bearded wonder the morning after his elimination and asked about his near Stealth R Us Too induction, his alliance with Michael, and his first-hand account of Brandon’s blowup…

Gordon Holmes: I’m a little annoyed that we never got a really good shot of your back tattoo while you were out there.
Matt Bischoff: (Laughs) I know, man! I know. What can you do? Got a lot of stuff of my beard though.

Holmes: Seemed like there was a lot of confusion before Tribal last night. Can you walk me through what happened?
Bischoff: Leading up to Tribal Council everyone was freaking out about this immunity idol. They weren’t sure if one of us had it or not. Corinne was especially freaking out. My strategy was to be completely honest; I convinced them that I didn’t have it. They believed me. They thought that Julia had the idol because Julia did not try to strategize or save herself at all with any of the favorites. I told them she’s just not a very talkative person, I can guarantee you that she doesn’t have the idol. I knew it was one of the three of us going home.
Holmes: Did you think it could be you or were you blindsided?
Bischoff: Was I blindsided? Sort of, but not really. I thought it was going to be Julia. But I think I was their safest bet. They knew that I did not have an idol. I wasn’t pissed off at anybody. I think it was just bad luck. I don’t feel like I could’ve done anything to save myself at that point.

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Holmes: The thing I’m having trouble with is Julia comes to you and Michael and says, “Let’s target Dawn.” But then she never goes to the favorites to get the fourth vote that’s necessary to send Dawn home.
Bischoff: She just came to Michael and I and said, “Let’s vote Dawn.” And Michael and I were just trying to appease Julia by saying, “Yeah yeah, that’s cool.” Michael and I thought that it was going to be Julia.  Julia messed up the challenge for us. She was supposed to be this puzzle wizard but she messed up the whole challenge. She was the weakest physically out of all of us and we knew we were playing a super physical new Gota. She just didn’t talk strategy with anyone.
Holmes: Even if you guys did try to target a favorite, do you think there were any cracks that you could have exploited?
Bischoff: Those four were so strong. They were sticking together until the merge no matter what.

Holmes: You and Michael were on the receiving end of quite an impressive sales pitch from Phillip regarding Stealth R Us. Was there ever any follow up about initiating you two?
Bischoff: It was pretty comical. Phillip is hilarious, dude.  I was trying to keep a straight face, but in my mind I’m thinking this guy is out of his mind. We were kind of initiated into his group. We were playing along with his silly plan. Michael and I felt confident that we were on his good side. But, I guess I wasn’t really a member.  Which is a problem, I wish I had a sweet name like the Beardinator.
Holmes: That’s the big disappointment of last night. Not that you were voted out, but you missed your opportunity to be given a Phillip-official nickname.
Bischoff: I know! Oh well…maybe next time. (Laughs)

Holmes: Last week you had your game face on, ready to face the faves in an immunity challenge. Next thing you know you’re witnessing one of the weirder moments in “Survivor” history when Brandon and Phillip start going at it.  What was Gota’s take on that?
Bischoff: I was in complete disbelief of what was going on. My thing is, I’ve never seen anything since the first “Survivor” ever…that was pretty much the most bizarre, crazy thing. But, I was super stoked. First, my feet were jacked. I didn’t want to compete in a challenge. And the fact that we got immunity and Brandon’s telling us everything that’s going on over at their tribe. I knew it wasn’t all fun and games at their tribe, we thought it probably was. It gave us a confidence boost. Maybe this is going to switch things up and be good for us. I’m very psyched that I got to witness that part of “Survivor” history.

Holmes: Reynold seems to have all of the tools to be a solid “Survivor” player, but he keeps making all of these weird missteps.
Bischoff: Now, I love Reynold, I think he’s a strong competitor, he’s great at carnival games, but I don’t think he really got the game of “Survivor.” I was playing them so hard. Basically blindsiding both of their girlfriends, Allie and Hope, two times in a row. Then it hit him, “Wow, you guys are really playing the game.” I was like, “No crap, dude. This is ‘Survivor.’” We’re from the same town, he invited me, he said, “My parents live in Cincinnati, I’d love to have you over for dinner when the game’s over with.” And then when we voted off Allie he got all pissed off and said, “I take back that invitation for dinner.”
Holmes: (Laughs)
Bischoff: It was hilarious, he was like a little kid pouting. I love all of those guys, and despite that I lied to them, we had to break up that cool kids alliance. And I think Eddie and Reynold still trusted me and would have played the game with me later on down the line.
Holmes: Michael Skupin made a good point about him fist-bumping Eddie after finding the second idol. Did you guys know he had found it?
Bischoff: No, I didn’t have any idea. It boggles my mind that he found it a second time so quickly. All of us were looking for the idol once we knew it was back in play.

Holmes: Alright, let’s do some word association. We’ll start with Cochran.
Bischoff: Sun burned.
Holmes: Phillip?
Bischoff: Crazy.
Holmes: Dawn?
Bischoff: Amazing.
Holmes: Corinne?
Bischoff: Awesome.
Holmes: Sherri?
Bischoff: Sneaky.
Holmes: Michael?
Bischoff: I love him.
Holmes: Reynold?
Bischoff: Carnival master.
Holmes: Eddie?
Bischoff: Player.
Holmes: Julia?
Bischoff: Quiet.

Holmes: I really enjoyed your alliance with Michael. It’s like you were leading the tribe, yet playing under the radar.
Bischoff: Michael and I had a great alliance. Michael and I had a hand on everything that was going on. Sherri, who was part of our alliance, she was the one freaking out. She was talking to every single person. So, people didn’t want to tell her much information. Michael and I would just calmly walk in the jungle and discuss everything that was going on. We had a strong bond and alliance. I feel Michael was the strongest strategic player out there. We were playing very hard and it was an honor to get to play with Michael.
Holmes: That’s my issue with tribe swaps, sometimes they punish strong players and rescue bad ones.
Bischoff: It screwed up my whole game. In the end Corinne wanted to keep Michael, or “her gay” as she called him. And they knew I didn’t have an idol. I can’t be pissed. I would’ve done the same thing. I would’ve been a force to be reckoned with, I get along with everyone and I’m a likable guy. It sucks though.
Holmes: No idol and not gay.
Bischoff: (Laughs) That’s correct. Maybe if I pretended to have an idol hidden in my beard and pretended to be gay I would’ve last longer. Maybe next time I’ll use that strategy.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

‘Survivor: Caramoan’ Episode Recap: Swapped R Us

March 20, 2013

'Survivor: Caramoan' (CBS)

Quick Note: We’re going to be bringing you all kinds of “Survivor” fun this season including episode recaps, exit interviews, and Power Rankings with Michael Skupin. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute news and info.

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Last Week: There was an idol, Reynold found it. Brandon had sanity, then he lost it.

39 Days, 20 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

Let’s take a look at the tribes as they currently stand…

The Bikal Tribe (wearing purple)
Andrea – Entertainment Host and Writer, 23
Brenda – Paddleboard Company Owner, 30
Cochran – Harvard Law Student, 25
Corinne – Pharmaceutical Sales, 33
Dawn – English Professor/Power Rankings Champ, 42
Erik – Comic Book Artist, 27
Malcolm – Bartender, 25
Phillip – Chief Executive Officer of Enter Software Sales, 54

The Gota Tribe (wearing orange)
Eddie – Firefighter/EMT, 23
Julia – Racecar Driver/Student, 21
Matt – Brand Manager of Two BMX Brands, 38
Michael – Event Planner, 44
Reynold – Sales, 30
Sherri – Fast Food Franchisee, 41

We kick off the post-meltdown era back at Bikal beach where Dawn is trying to be a glass-is-half-full kinda gal by saying at least the vote was unanimous. She’s got a point. How Malcolm resisted voting for Cochran to lighten the mood, I’ll never know.

Phillip is annoyed that they gave Gota hope. Corinne doesn’t understand why Brandon had to destroy everyone’s food if he was just mad at a few people. I asked Brandon, he said it was because they didn’t stand up for him.

In a similar vein, Corinne is annoyed that nobody stood up to defend her or Phillip in front of the fans.

Now that Brandon is gone, Phillip wants to stick with the plan of getting rid of Corinne. Maybe that’s an in for Erik or Brenda?

Over at Gota, Reynold says that he and Eddie have no chance of getting in good with the rest of his tribe. His only hope now is to win challenges and hope for a merge or a swap. And is if on cue…

Drop your buffs…

Everyone is given an egg that is full of paint. They smash the eggs and are splattered with their new tribe colors.

Let’s take a look at the tribes as they now stand…

The NEW Bikal Tribe (still wearing purple)
Cochran – Harvard Law Student, 25
Corinne – Pharmaceutical Sales, 33
Dawn – English Professor/Power Rankings Champ, 42
Julia – Racecar Driver/Student, 21
Matt – Brand Manager of Two BMX Brands, 38
Michael – Event Planner, 44
Phillip – Chief Executive Officer of Enter Software Sales, 54

The NEW Gota Tribe (still wearing orange)
Andrea – Entertainment Host and Writer, 23
Brenda – Paddleboard Company Owner, 30
Eddie – Firefighter/EMT, 23
Erik – Comic Book Artist, 27
Malcolm – Bartender, 25
Reynold – Sales, 30
Sherri – Fast Food Franchisee, 41

First instincts? Dawchran, Eddie and Reynold, and Matt and Michael are still together, Corinne and Malcolm are split up. The three strongest challenge players are all on Gota. There are four Stealth R Us Tooers on Bikal, but one of them is Corinne who’s being targeted by Phillip.

Also, they get new rice and flint. Ha! Hantz’s master plan has been foiled!

Over at Gota, they agree with my assessment that they’re going to own the next few challenges. Also, just like I predicted in the Power Rankings, Eddie and Reynold immediately tell Erik what was going on within the old Gota tribe. In particular they call out Sherri as the leader.

Erik doesn’t buy it because Reynold is so handsome. Oh man, the Micronesia women made it so Erik doesn’t trust pretty people!

Meanwhile, Sherri is spilling her guts to Brenda and Andrea. She likes Eddie, but wants Reynold gone.

Quick Note: Andrea refers to Sherri telling them about Gota as “spoiling.” That’s adorable, now Andrea won’t be surprised when she watches the episodes.

At Bikal, Corinne is thrilled to have Michael on her tribe because he’s gay. She even said if she was an idiot she’d turn on her alliance just to align with him. Somewhere former Power Rankings champ Charlie Herschel is smiling.

Later, Phillip tells someone named Julia that he’s thinking of becoming a double agent.  She seems nice. They should let her into the game now that Brandon is gone.

Phillip tells Corinne that he’s working on bringing Julia in, but Corinne thinks numbers aren’t an issue. She tells Dawn that he needs a “warm glass of shut the hell up.” In the Filipino heat? No thanks, I take my “shut the hell up” on the rocks.

Back at Gota, Andrea tells Malcolm that she had a dream that he had an idol. What?! Andrea’s psychic?! Where are my PowerBall numbers, Andrea?!

Immunity Challenge Time: Two by two, players will run out onto a field to retrieve giant crates. Once all six crates are retrieved, they’ll use them to create a staircase. First tribe to complete their staircase wins immunity.

Quick Note: This challenge has been done a few times. Most recently in “Heroes vs. Villains.”

Gota jumps out to a huge lead thanks to their strength advantage. For some weird reason, Phillip has to go twice in a row. His exhaustion is definitely showing.

During the staircase building, Malcolm is calling the shots for Gota while Julia is trying to get Bikal in gear. However, it’s never close. Gota gets all six in place and wins immunity.

Jeff Probst: “That was pathetic.”
Phillip Sheppard: “It sure was.”

Back at Bikal, Phillip gives everyone a pep talk. Corinne thinks the reason people think he’s in charge is because he does crazy things and everyone else goes along with it. She says that on an annoying scale that goes from one to sitting next to a baby on a plane, he’s like sitting next to a baby on a plane that has diarrhea. What I like about Corinne is the way she paints a picture with her words.

Matt and Michael approach Phillip to talk strategy. He tells them about the mysterious ways of Stealth R Us Too. If they want to be inducted and given a sweet nickname, someone from his alliance will tell them to do something and they’ll have to do it. Buh…

Matt thinks it’s crazy, but he’s willing to play along if it’ll keep him in the game.

Voting wise, it looks like Julia’s going to be the Stealth R Us Too target. Matt and Michael are willing to go along with it, but they tell Julia they’re going to vote for Dawn.

Cochran is worried that Michael and Matt are clearly a pair and keeping them together might be trouble. OK, then which is Ozzy and which is Elyse?

A Stealth R Us Too pow-wow has Corinne and Phillip wanting to get rid of Julia because she’s a challenge liability and Dawchran wanting to get rid of Matt because he’s part of a pair and they don’t think he has an idol. Either way, Corinne is happy because Michael is safe.

That night at Tribal Council, Matt says he’s psyched because he’s a fan of all the favorites he’s now teamed with.

Julia thinks the fans are in trouble because they’re in the minority.

Corinne thinks Matt and Michael are great people and tonight’s vote might not be fair.

Phillip values loyalty and challenge strength.

Corinne admits that she’s paranoid about the hidden immunity idol.

Matt says he would’ve told Corinne who had the idol. Corinne says it’s “Survivor” 101 to lie about it.

Cochran doesn’t want to keep losing because it’ll help Gota bond. He sees them as the “Bold and the Beautiful” tribe and he doesn’t see himself penetrating that alliance. Sorry folks, this is a family site. Feel free to write your own joke on that one.

Jokes aside, that’s an interesting point from Cochran. I’d never have thought of that.

Voting Time: Julia votes for Dawn, Matt votes for Julia, Michael votes for Julia, and the rest of the votes are lost to the magic of editing.

JPro tallies and returns. We’ve got two votes for Julia, one vote for Dawn, three votes for Matt, and the seventh person to be eliminated from “Survivor: Caramoan – Fans vs. Favorites” is…Matt.

Verdict: Look at that…actually strategy on “Survivor!” And it was entertaining! Go figure…

Who’s Going to Win? Erik’s on the new dominant tribe and he has a ton of options. Go, Erik.

Power Rankings Results: Tough one to call this week with the tribe swap. Michael had Matt in spot six while I had him in spot eleven. So, the current score is Team Skupin 71, Team Lightning Punch 92.

Any questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

‘Survivor: Caramoan’ Power Rankings: Tribe Swap Edition

March 20, 2013

'Survivor: Caramoan' (CBS)

Quick Note: We’re going to be bringing you all kinds of “Survivor” fun this season including episode recaps, exit interviews, and Power Rankings with Michael Skupin. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute news and info.

The Rules: Each week Michael and Gordon 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 Dawn is voted out this week, Michael will receive 2 points and Gordon will receive 4 points. The person with the most points at the end of the season will be crowned the ‘Survivor: Caramoan’ Power Rankings champion!

Last Week: Clearly Michael and Gordon are both psychic. How else could they have predicted that it was Brandon’s time to go home? They both had him in the bottom spot. The current score is Team Skupin 65, Team Lightning Punch 81.

Before we kick off this week’s rankings, let’s check in with our competitors…

Gordon Holmes: Well, last week was certainly…interesting.
Micheal Skupin: I’ve watched, read, blogged, listened, watched again, listened again, slept on it, discussed it, podcasted it, mulled it over, and I still can’t decide if that was good TV or if “Survivor” went too “Jersey Shore” on us.

Holmes: Any parting words for Mr. Hantz?
Skupin: Goodbye, B. Hantz. You may have not shed a single tear out there but your uncle Russell did when he was finally eliminated on his 3rd season. There’s no shame in loving this game that much.  Phillip found Brandon’s buttons and very strategically never stopped pushing them. I do see what CBS sees in Brandon as a player. He’s good in challenges, well spoken, entertaining, unpredictable, and isn’t afraid to stir the pot. Being on such a small island confined to a 10 X 10 shelter (the size of the tarp), you need some pretty thick skin at times.  The ability to “let go” is a huge weapon out there which Brandon never learned how to fire.
Holmes: Well, Brandon did let the rice and beans go all over the beach.
Skupin: I realize as much as anyone how different “Survivor” is from real life and it seems like the Achilles heel of so many fallen comrades is the fact the they don’t realize this until it’s too late. But, what is it about Brandon and Phillip’s real life that offers them the ability to speak of themselves in the 3rd person so often? Brandon’s mockery of Phillip’s nicknames ended so ironically as he mistakenly called out the name “exterior” as one of them. A few hours later, that became his view of the game as he was removed.

Skupin: I wonder if Brandon joins the fraternity of those that “quit” the game or does the proclamation of being the “author of his own fate” put him in a category of its own?
Holmes: I was thinking about that. I think he’s somewhere in between. His fate authoring didn’t take place until he knew Phillip was going to throw the challenge to get rid of him. It was a preemptive strike.
Skupin: Both Probst and Malcolm brought up three-time player Russell Hantz as if he had anything to do with what’s happening out there. His game is very, very different and he’d never walk from this game.
Holmes: No, he certainly wouldn’t.

Holmes: Will this give the fans a new lease on life?
Skupin: The favorites experience and advantage (sitting three at the challenge) gets clearer by the day as they covered their fire so they can cook in the rain. These tribes better swap or merge soon or it’s going to seem like another all-star season very quickly.  The fans are really struggling in challenges, and no matter how many challenge-challenged fans they get rid of, it’s not getting better.  I question their strategies and who they put in what positions, ie. Michael and Matt were put in the strength position in the reward challenge. (Where is “Shut up,” I mean Shamar when you need him?) I waited for Matt to wrap his beard around the rope when Probst wasn’t looking.

Set Your DVR to Record ‘Survivor: Caramoan – Fans vs Favorites”

Michael’s Current Score: 65

Any advice for Michael? Drop him a line on Twitter: @mikeskupin

Gordon’s Current Score: 81

Any advice for Gordon? Drop him a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

 1. Brenda: Aside from the not-so-dynamic duo (Brandon & Phillip for those too busy watching “Cupcake Wars”), we really didn’t see much of anyone on the favorites team.  I believe the pros of Brandon leaving equal the cons and since the vote was unanimous, the favorites are still in the exact same position from a “power perspective.” Brenda stays at number one.
 1. Malcolm: OK, Swaptown is just ahead. This is bad news. Bad news for the players and bad news for Power Rankers who have to try to make sense of so many different variables. Fortunately for my boy Malcolm, he has a few things working in his favor. First, his tribe is going into the swap up numbers so he’s likely to have some friendly faces wherever he ends up. Second, he’s got an idol that only Corinne knows about.
 2. Dawn: The mom tears surface once again as she choked out Brandon’s name during the game’s first-ever verbal Tribal Council voting.  She has endurance and came to play. I like her chances of keeping it all together.
 2. Reynold: You’d better thank the “Survivor” gods that you found that idol, because tribe swaps are bad news for challenge studs on tribes that are down numbers.
 3. Cochran: His ultra non-confrontational approach seems to be working well for him.  3. Cochran: Why is it smart to be nice to people who aren’t in your alliance? Because those people become swing votes when you get to a tribe swap. Fortunately for Team Dawchran, it seems like that haven’t been rubbing anyone the wrong way.

  4. Malcolm: Although it appears he’s still a member of the good ol’ boys club, a flaw in his game has emerged and that’s his alliance with the blue-eyed vixen (not the reindeer). Corinne’s game is slowly unraveling as it appears Brandon may have thrown her game off.  Malcolm diversifying is his only chance.
 4. Dawn: What’d I say about “no more tears,” Dawn? It’s OK. I’ll give you a pass every time someone freaks out and sabotages your food supply. Hantzes gotta Hantz.

  5. Michael: Although he describes camp-life as a “long strand of hell,” he seems to be keeping it all together and not ruffling any feathers.  The fans thought highly enough of his strength that they put him in the driver’s seat of the strength challenge and he was the last fan standing.
 5. Andrea:  Oh boy, I bet you were wishing on every unicorn in Care-A-Lot that Brandon wasn’t going to out your plan to get rid of Corinne. Fortunately for you, it seems like he didn’t. As someone who’s good at challenges and manages to stay out of trouble, you should have plenty of time to figure out a way to get to the merge and back to your Stealth R Us Too buddies.
 6. Matt “The Beard”: Beard actually sarcastically cried out for his “mommy” when his wet feet endured a few days of rain…try sixteen, brother!  Most of us on S25 ended up losing more toenails than we had left by the time it was over.  If you’re in this for the long haul (and I believe you are) get used to a lot more torture where that came from. I hear there’s a pretty pissed-off whale shark out there that I head-butted and rumor has it he may go “Hantz” on you.
 6. Erik: Kudos to Erik and Brenda for making the best of a bad situation with their time on the Favorites tribe. You see Brandon, that’s why you don’t burn your camp down. You never know when Probst is going to wander out with fresh new buffs for everyone.
 7. Sherri: Still strategically a threat as I believe she understands this game as well as anyone out there. She made a tactical error in allowing one of her closest allies (Laura) to go home last week. If she can keep from treating anyone like a 16-year-old Cinnabon snot (her words, not mine), she still can win this game.
  7. BrendaSee Erik.
 8. Phillip: Being a challenge beast will buy him a few extra days out there. Strategically, he’s making the same mistakes RC did on S25…always playing and always playing too hard.  A mix of social vs. gameplay may be the best recipe to go deep in this game.  He’s the first contestant to ever out-commentate Probst during a challenge. His unprecedented references to African-American embattled feature films provided Phillip with an inner strength to press on. His references included “Kunta Kinte” (Roots), “Django” (movie), “Miss Jane Pittman” (movie), “Mammy” (movie), “Amistad” (movie), and a “Ya Mon” for good measure at the end.
 8. Sherri: It’s time to stop being bummed about the loss of Shamar and Laura. With the swap coming, you have a chance to reinvent yourself. The challenge threats are going to be in immediate danger, so you’ll have a chance to weigh your options and hopefully create a new alliance.
 9. Erik: I give Erik credit as he actually tried to take on Brandon as he littered the beach with camp rice and beans. He became the first contestant to actually encounter the other tribe when he hand delivered the immunity idol during Brandon’s non-torch snuffing eviction.
 9. Julia: Holy cow, Julia…if you’d be quiet for one second people could get to know you. If you keep running your mouth with your new tribe, they’re going to send you packing immediately.
 10. Reynold: This episode could have been named “Reynold has another bulge.” This is the first time he breaks into my top 10 simply because he found the hidden immunity idol without a clue once again. When he found it I yelled at the TV, “You learned your lesson, don’t tell anyone!” Yet he did.  Then when he told Eddie, I yelled again, “Don’t fist-bump, it can be seen across the island and it only means one thing!” After 13 days he says in a confessional “I’m still not going to trust anyone fully.” It only took him 12 years, 25 seasons, countless blindsides, and 13 days out there to realize this.
  10. Michael: Yup, Brandon spilled the beans literally and figuratively last week. The fans know a lot of the favorites’ business. But, it won’t take long after the swap for Eddie and Reynold to let the faves know what was going on at Gota. Did they appreciate that you and Matt were the ones with the power? Could be trouble.
 11. Andrea: Andrea was outted as telling Brandon about Phillip’s plan to throw the challenge. That caused an unprecedented upheaval at camp but a not-so-unprecedented betrayal of trust. It may appear Phillip is targeting Corinne to go home but I think Andrea is next on his radar.
  11. Matt: See Michael.
 12. Eddie: Eddie caught a break at Brandon’s expense. Thirteen days in and now he wants to try and see how that “flint-thing” works?! He’s forgetting the “Survivor” fire building tie-breaker. Make fire as often as you can, people. It all matters so much.
  12. Phillip: It was a rough week for The Specialist. In his defense, it looked like he was being very diplomatic at Bikal beach. He didn’t seem to lose his cool until the challenge. However, his back and forth with the Conqueror is going to make it tough for him to get in good with any fans.
 13. Corinne: I thought her interruption of Brandon when he was removing himself from the game was unnecessary.  Her speech to throw the challenge was potentially costly.  It marked her with the favorites and the fans. It looks like now you’re Phillip’s next target.  It appears your game from the last time you played is emerging and they all know how to play against that.
  13. Corinne: Oh man, what’s going on in this week’s preview? You were doing such a good job of acting like you didn’t want to stab Phillip in the face. What happened? Here’s hoping you two don’t end up on the same tribe.
 14. Julia: I think she’s still there. Without a real alliance and seen as possibly a liability in challenges, I think she has seen her last sunset from the beach.
  14. Eddie: Like I said, tribe swaps are bad news for challenge studs that are down numbers and don’t have immunity idols. (How’s that for a run-on sentence?!) Sadly, Eddie…that’s you.

‘Survivor’ Castaway Brandon Hantz: ‘I Am Perfectly Mentally Stable’

March 14, 2013

Jefff Probst and Brandon Hantz (CBS)

Quick Note: We’re going to be bringing you all kinds of “Survivor” fun this season including episode recaps, exit interviews, and Power Rankings with Michael Skupin. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute news and info.

[xfinity-record-button id=”6680657917899399112″ program_type=”series”]

Well, if Brandon Hantz wanted to go home, ruining his tribe’s food supply and threatening Phillip was certainly an effective way of doing it.

Remember when the worst thing you could do on “Survivor” was practicing your yoga in someone else’s rock garden?

I spoke to Lil’ Hantz the morning after his explosive elimination and asked him about his historic meltdown, his relationship with Phillip, and why it’s important to be the author of your own fate…

Brandon Hantz: Hey Gordon, how are you, sir?
Gordon Holmes:
I’m alright, the question is; how are you?
Hantz:
I’m doing good. Let’s start this sucker off by saying I’m perfectly fine. Don’t feel bad for me. I’m happy. I enjoyed my edit. And no, I don’t need to go to a hospital. I am perfectly mentally stable. I have three beautiful babies, a beautiful wife. I’ve put it in perspective that “Survivor” is “Survivor” and life is life. Now we can continue with the interview.
Holmes:
Thank you. Last night was rough to watch, but it’s good to hear that you’ve come out of it with a positive attitude.
Hantz:
Oh yeah. I appreciate it, man.

[iframe http://xfinitytv.comcast.net/watch/Survivor%3A-Caramoan—Fans-vs.-Favorites/6680657917899399112/21699651702/Survivor%3A-Caramoan—Persona-Non-Grata/embed 580 476]

Holmes: How close was it to getting physical with Phillip? Did that cross your mind?
Hantz: Of course it crossed my mind, did you see my face and my body language?
Holmes: You were not a happy camper. But was there any point where you thought, “I’m going to punch this guy”?
Hantz: No, not really. When he started talking about my family and all that stuff, that’s when my body went that way and Jeff was like, “No no no no no.” (Laughs) “You can’t do that buddy, you promised.” But anyways, that was the closest point because it was unnecessary to bring up my family and my kids. It had nothing to do with “Survivor.” All is forgiven as far as Phillip is concerned. Thirty minutes afterward I could’ve talked to him. That’s just my character personality. I forgive and forget.

Holmes: Something that seems to get glossed over is how your tribemates feel about you. In “South Pacific” several players said you could’ve won if you got to the end. Here you clearly had a good relationship with several of your tribemates. What aren’t we seeing here?
Hantz: It’s awesome, dude. But you know what I see when people started talking bad about me? I see a bunch of followers. People jumping on the bandwagon cause it’s “Survivor.” I loved my tribe. I had an issue with Phillip, that’s it. The way he talked to people.  I feel like I was standing up for people like Brenda and Erik who were getting treated like garbage. As you see in the previews for the next episode, Corinne wants to vote him out. It’s agitating to see how things changed so quickly when I’m involved in the equation.

Holmes: You were only mad at Phillip, but when you toss the rice and the beans, that affects people you care about like Dawn and Erik. Was it worth it?
Hantz: Yeah. Did you enjoy watching it? (Laughs)
Holmes: Honestly, I didn’t.
Hantz: Well, it happened and it was amazing. It was really liberating. You ever get to the point where you were like, I’m pissed off and you just want to say something to hurt somebody else and you finally have enough courage and you say, “You suck”? And a weight has been lifted off of your chest? I was tired of being taken advantage of. And I proved my point. I don’t regret one second throwing the rice and beans out. I love Dawn and I love Erik, but you’ve got to realize that nobody stepped up for me. It’s “Survivor.” Nobody said, “That sucks.” When you see someone getting pummeled and you don’t say anything, that’s where I have a problem.

Holmes: You wanted to be the author of your own fate. It was important to go out on your own terms.
Hantz: Yes.
Holmes: Why is that better than playing the game and winning or losing?
Hantz: Because I was always going to lose, believe me. You either die the way they want you to or you go out on your own. Either I go to Tribal Council and they vote me out and I take it in the rear, or I do something drastic. Something that nobody will ever forget. Why wouldn’t you?
Holmes: It looks like there’s going to be a tribe swap next week. There will be a tribe merge in a few weeks. Why not hold out and see how things go?
Hantz: Because, man…have you ever played “Survivor”?
Holmes: I haven’t.
Hantz: There was a guaranteed spot for me in Ponderosa already laid out. So, I was going home. They were going to throw the challenge. We’d get to Tribal Council and we’d get to Jeff, my name was voted for, then it’s over. They cost me a million dollars, you don’t think that’s worse than going without rice for a couple of days? I think it was pretty even. They got it and I got it.

Holmes: Alright, let’s do some word association. We’ll start with Andrea.
Hantz: Sneaky.
Holmes: Corinne?
Hantz: Terrible.
Holmes: Erik?
Hantz: Awesome.
Holmes: Malcolm?
Hantz: Wish-washy.
Holmes: Brenda?
Hantz: Awesome.
Holmes: Dawn?
Hantz: Awesomer!
Holmes: Phillip?
Hantz: Oh God…that’s pretty much it, “Oh God.”
Holmes: Cochran?
Hantz: Very, very disloyal.

Holmes: Sometimes grudges last past the season. Is there a chance that you and Phillip can mend fences?
Hantz: The game doesn’t need to come into real life. I Facebook messaged Phillip after the season. I tried to get in contact with him. I want to make it clear to Phillip that anything I say about him is game related. I will never take shots about Phillip and his personal life. As a human being, I respect Phillip. I don’t know him in his personal life, but I’m sure he’s a great guy. But as a Survivor, I would never want to play with him again, if I ever play again.
Holmes: If invited, would you play again?
Hantz: Of course. My thing about playing again is I wouldn’t play unless Russell was there. This season, I didn’t know who was going to be out there and I wanted Russell to be out there. Number one, I could beat him. I think as far as challenges, he’s an old man. He can’t hang with me. I can beat him as far as going farther, because even after what I did, he’s still going to be a bigger threat than I am. Which is good for me.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

‘Survivor: Caramoan’ Episode Recap: A ‘Survivor’ First and a ‘Survivor’ Worst?

March 13, 2013

'Survivor: Caramoan' (CBS)

Quick Note: We’re going to be bringing you all kinds of “Survivor” fun this season including episode recaps, exit interviews, and Power Rankings with Michael Skupin. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute news and info.

[xfinity-record-button id=”6680657917899399112″ program_type=”series”]

Last Week: The favorites were visited by a bushman named Tata, while a grain of sand and a lack of challenge prowess respectively forced Shamar and Laura to say, “Ta ta.”

39 Days, 20 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

Let’s take a look at the tribes as they currently stand…

The Bikal Tribe (wearing purple)
Andrea – Entertainment Host and Writer, 23
Brandon – Chemical Disposal, 21
Brenda – Paddleboard Company Owner, 30
Cochran – Harvard Law Student, 25
Corinne – Pharmaceutical Sales, 33
Dawn – English Professor/Power Rankings Champ, 42
Erik – Comic Book Artist, 27
Malcolm – Bartender, 25
Phillip – Chief Executive Officer of Enter Software Sales, 54

The Gota Tribe (wearing orange)
Eddie – Firefighter/EMT, 23
Julia – Racecar Driver/Student, 21
Matt – Brand Manager of Two BMX Brands, 38
Michael – Event Planner, 44
Reynold – Sales, 30
Sherri – Fast Food Franchisee, 41

The countdown to Hantzageddon kicks off with a seemingly calm Gota camp after Tribal Council. See, one speck of sand helped bring the Gotians together. And while they aren’t yelling at each other, they do make it clear that Idol Hunt Part Deux is going to kick off at dawn.

Over at Bikal, Brandon is feeling bad about leaving his family to play “Survivor.” He tells everyone to vote him off the next time they go to Tribal Council. Wait, is this a “South Pacific” rerun?

The next morning, Brandon tells everyone that he doesn’t want to leave, he wants to play. Buh…

Reward Challenge Time: Two members from each tribe will hold onto ropes that are holding up nets. Members of the other tribe will shoot coconuts into the net basketball-style. When both of a tribe’s nets drop, they’ll lose. Winning tribe gets everything needed for a delicious barbecue.

Andrea, Dawn, and Erik will sit for Bikal.

Brandon and Phillip will hold nets for Bikal, Michael and Matt will hold for Gota.

Quick Note: This is very similar to a challenge that was used in the original “Fans vs. Favorites.”

Not much to describe here except for Phillip shouting out some kind of weird strength chant. Kinda like Alan Rickman in “Galaxy Quest.”

Another Quick Note: “Galaxy Quest” is very underrated.

Brandon is the first to drop his net, he’s followed by Matt. It’s a tough struggle between Phillip and Michael, but Michael can’t last and his net drops. Favorites win reward.

Yet Another Quick Note: When the Favorites went to pick up their barbecue stuff, Corinne made a beeline for the wine. That’s my girl.

Back at Gota beach, Sherri is not pleased that getting rid of Laura didn’t results in a challenge win. Because Laura would’ve been great at holding up twice her weight in coconuts.

The Gota idol hunt commences, and Matt lets us know that he definitely wants to find the idol. Thanks, Matt.

However, that’s quickly a moot point, because Reynold finds it again. This dude has won one challenge and found two idols.

Meanwhile at Bikal, Brandon is in a bad mood again.

Brenda pitches the idea of repositioning the tarp, but Phillip would like to conserve energy for challenges. Brandon comes to her defense (and Phillip wasn’t being confrontational) and says that Phillip is acting like a dictator.

Phillip stays level-headed, but Brandon wants to argue. Wow, I never thought I’d type the words, “Phillip stays level-headed.”

The two try to make peace…somewhat. They shake hands, but Phillip lets us know that Brandon’s going home at the next opportunity. Later, Phillip says that he’ll throw the challenge to get rid of Brandon. He even sounds concerned that Brandon could be a physical danger to someone. That’s telling.

Brandon and Phillip chat again and it goes downhill fast. The breaking point might be when Brandon starts making fun of the Stealth R Us Too nicknames. Too far, Brandon.

Oh wait, Brandon snaps and dumps out all of the beans and rice. He then yells at Phillip as Phillip smartly walks away. OK, that’s too far.

Quick Take: I will say that this is easily the least shocking “shocking” moment of all time. During our pre-game interview, Brandon was ready to flip out in an air-conditioned office. What did they expect would happen under the stressful, luxury-deprived conditions of “Survivor”? Actually, that’s probably exactly what they were expecting…

Immunity Challenge Time: Two members from each tribe…

Just kidding. Brandon tells the Fans not to let Phillip get to the end of the game. Reynold wants to know where Brandon is going to be.

Corinne steps up as the Favorites designated spokesmodel and says that they would like to forfeit the immunity challenge. This announcement doesn’t break the Fans’ hearts.

Probst smartly calls Brandon over before he gets a chance to straight up murder one of the Favorites.

Once Brandon has his own platform, he outs the Stealth R Us Too alliance and claims that Boston Rob is the only reason Phillip got to the end of “Redemption Island.” Well, he’s got a point there.

From there, Brandon rants on about a dozen other topics. This is not fun to watch.

Andrea breaks down and cries because she’s grown close to Brandon during their time together.

Brandon then claims that he dumped the rice to make things even for the Fans. Uh huh…

Phillip thinks Brandon needs to grow up. Brandon thinks Phillip needs to shut up. I think that when they look at me they throw up. (“Stand by Me” and “Galaxy Quest” in the same recap!)

Phillip brings up Brandon’s kids and that’s too much. Brandon starts to step toward Phillip, but Probst quickly diffuses the situation.

Probst then has the Favorites give the idol to the Fans. Reynold wants Probst to declare them the winners, which is hilarious.

From there, JPro let’s us know that they’re going to do Tribal right there and then. Sweet, night off for the crew.

Voting Time: Brandon votes for Phillip, everyone else votes for Brandon.

The sixth person to be eliminated from “Survivor: Caramoan – Fans vs. Favorites” is…Brandon.

Verdict: Well, that certainly happened.

I’ve often compared “Survivor” to a circus in that there’s really something for everyone. If you don’t like the smart strategy or the big personalities you might like the buff bodies or the physical challenges. And if you don’t like any of that, here’s some dude freaking out.

Are some people into that? Sure.

Is it my cup of tea? No.

“Survivor” at its best is a triumph of the human spirit over adverse conditions. When people from different walks of life can work together and create a community.

This was the exact opposite of that.

So, now that the Jerry Springer-inspired portion of the season is over, I’m looking forward to what the people who have a chance of winning this game are going to do.

Was It Irresponsible to Have Brandon Back? This reminds me of one time when I was babysitting my niece and my nephew. He was smaller than her and had knocked over some block structure she had built. She was livid, literally shaking. Ever fiber of her being wanted to knock that poor kid into next week. You could just sense it. She even raised her hands as if she was about to clobber him.

But she didn’t.

Why? Because she knew she would have been in serious trouble if she did.

It’s probably the same with Brandon. If he was truly crazy he could’ve just punched Phillip in the mouth.

So, I’ll reserve judgment on this issue until I’ve had a chance to interview some of the other members of Bikal. If they felt like they were in physical danger, then bringing him back was a mistake. If not, then it’s all part of the game.

Who’s Going to Win? If Reynold can find thirteen more idols, the million dollars is his. If not, my money’s still on Erik.

Power Rankings Results: Clearly Michael Skupin and I are psychic. How else could we have predicted that it was Brandon’s time to go home? We both had him in the bottom spot. The current score is Team Skupin 65, Team Lightning Punch 81.

Any questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

‘Survivor: Caramoan’ Power Rankings: Meltdown Edition

March 12, 2013

Brandon Hantz (CBS)

Quick Note: We’re going to be bringing you all kinds of “Survivor” fun this season including episode recaps, exit interviews, and Power Rankings with Michael Skupin. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute news and info.

The Rules: Each week Michael and Gordon 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 Cochran is voted out this week, Michael will receive 4 points and Gordon will receive 2 points. The person with the most points at the end of the season will be crowned the ‘Survivor: Caramoan’ Power Rankings champion!

Last Week: Michael and I both had Shamar in spot seventeen. Michael had Laura in twelve, while I had her in spot thirteen. So, Michael gets 29 total points, and I get 30. That brings our current score to Team Skupin: 50, Team Lighting Punch: 66.

Before we kick off this week’s rankings, let’s check in with our competitors…

Michael Skupin: Two challenges are back!
Gordon Holmes: Oh, I knew that would make you happy. What’d you think of last week’s episode?
Skupin: The fans are still wearing shoes for every water challenge…what a disadvantage…think competing in soggy, heavy, squishy sneakers. And we got a celebrity appearance from a man named after women’s floatation devices, “TaTa” and he certainly lived up to his name. I was as interested in his shelter building as I was his island chef routine. The fans “sans tarp” sure could have used him. And for the recond, I loved the “local flavor” of this twist!

Holmes: Any parting words for Shamar?
Skupin: There’s so much irony in a man that did two tours in Iraq (90+% sand) and one grain of sand takes him out of this game.  I’m sure the pain was intense, but enduring pain on “Survivor” is part of it. As a soldier, you have ALL my respect and admiration forever no questions asked, as a Survivor…you never quite got it.  I’ll miss you out there.

Holmes: And for Laura?
Skupin: A gutsy, semi-strategical game we saw out there. You were potentially a couple of sessions through P90X short of making the merge.

Holmes: Do you think Gota can turn this thing around?
Skupin: Although it appears the fans have a decimated tribe (which is partially true), it may have actually been strengthened. Although a beast, what role would Shamar have played in the immunity challenge?  They remind me a bit of Matsing (blue tribe from “Survivor: Philippines”) when they were down to three pretty powerful athletes, Malcolm, Denise, and Russell Swan, but ended up one rice pot short of a victory.

Set Your DVR to Record ‘Survivor: Caramoan – Fans vs Favorites”

Michael’s Current Score: 50

Any advice for Michael? Drop him a line on Twitter: @mikeskupin

Gordon’s Current Score: 66

Any advice for Gordon? Drop him a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

 1. Brenda: Stays at number one. We didn’t see much of the favorites…Tata got all their airtime and was certainly more interesting. A challenge beast again, this chica came to play.
 1. Malcolm: Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that this Wednesday’s episode will be forever known as “The One Where Brandon Freaks Out.” I’m assuming it’ll also be a perfect example of why Malcolm is so dangerous in the game of “Survivor.” Namely, the dude knows when to duck into the background and let other people fight. When Russell Swan was losing it, Malcolm was quiet. When Tandang was imploding, Malcolm was quiet. I expect to hear next to nothing from Malcolm this week.
 2. Malcolm: After living in Malaysia for 18 months and often catching his own dinner to make ends meet, he likely was the most entertained by Tata. Even with two challenges, nothing happened to make the favorites change any of their positions, although they didn’t put Malcolm in charge of the carnival games for the first time.
 2. Cochran: It’s hard to write about any member of Bikal this week without tying it into the impending meltdown. So, instead of going into how I think everyone should fade into the scenery, I’ll give odds on how that person set Brandon off… Odds – 30 to 1: Cochran asks for his “South Pacific” sweater vest back and Brandon is overcome with grief because he left it in Samoa.
 3. Dawn: She may have taken a vacation in this episode…maybe “mom” was out shopping or at the mall.  3. Dawn: Odds – 1000 to 1: Brandon has had it with Dawn’s constant cursing and spitting around camp and finally gives her a piece of his mind.

  4. Cochran: Although the red hue in his arms appears painful, understand pain is a part of the game. If Cochran ever says he was going “deer” hunting for food, we now know he’s more than likely “dear” hunting. I’m voting him most likely to be blindsided by Victoria’s Secret (she’s in this season … right?)
 4. Erik: Odds – 50 to 1: Erik proposes starting up a “Guys Who Foolishly Gave Away Their Immunity Idols Right Before Being Voted Out” support group. Brandon doesn’t react well to this idea.

  5. Michael: They haven’t shown any real relationship or alliance with Sherri but I see one brewing here. He moved up in the rankings because it appears he’s beginning to follow the power in his tribe. If the Michael/Matt alliance explodes, I’m afraid “The Beard” will be seen as the bigger threat and rightfully so. His “we’re not winning with you guys” rant regarding Reynold and Eddie was spot on.
 5. Michael:  Michael and Matt are two peas in a pod. They’re running the show over at Gota. However, Michael is doing a slightly better job, because it doesn’t come off like he’s controlling the game as much as Matt is.
 6. Sherri: The best expression at Tribal Council since Eliza Orlins! She lost a few spots based on her “yes, I said that,” uncharacteristic of her level-headed play thus far.  She’s still in a strong position and her name is not coming up during the many Tribal Council conversations swirling around the Gota tribe since they’ve gone three straight times.
 6. Matt: Basically what I said about Michael, but a little less subtle. And, the reason I’m pushing this point is it looks like Gota is going to hit the merge down numbers. When that happens, you don’t want to be the guy people are viewing as the leader. He’d be better off letting the remnants of Gota pitch ideas rather than coming up with them by himself.
 7. Matt: We’re way underestimating this guy I put as 19th in the Power Rankings week one.  He steadily moves up the charts. Matt’s methods are working great and I believe he literally has an alliance with everyone on his tribe.  He’s underestimated physically and has this calm…“It’s all good” non-threatening way. 
  7. SherriAlright Sherri, you’ve got some reorganizing to do. You lost your Phillip and your Natalie in a two-day period. That’s no good. I’m not too worried about you though. You should make it to the merge easily, and then have some room to maneuver while the alpha-types battle it out.
 8. Phillip: The first seven minutes of the episode were all Phillip and his antics. If corporations and coconuts have anything to do with success, we’re seeing the next Zuckerberg.  There’s so much other drama from what should be a drama-free, winning, eating, Tata-loving tribe…he’s beginning to fall under the radar.  Although it appears he’s scorning the most strategic player out there, Andrea.
 8. Andrea: Odds – 25 to 1: Brandon is mad that Andrea took him down last week with a side headlock takedown. However, Andrea refuses to give him a rematch.
 9. Andrea: She’s been scrambling it seems since day one out there but there are few more capable.  She’s good in challenges and strategically I think she’s safe.  She’s a farmer out there as she is constantly planting seeds and watching what blooms. 
 9. Corinne: Odds – 2 to 1: Brandon loses his cool when Corinne calls him “An unemployed, uneducated leech on society, and the only thing I’d vote to give you is a handful of anti-depressants so that no one else has to be subjected to your constant crying anymore.”
 10. Eddie: He appears to be less of a threat, yet less of a challenge beast than Reynold.  He’s been on the wrong side of every vote thus far.  If he could start playing both sides, he could possibly save himself if he makes it to the merge and create an entirely new game for himself. 
  10. Brenda: Odds – 10 to 1: Brenda’s…um…attractive physique…accidentally sparks some kind of Mikayla flashback.
 11. Julia: Although she was outted at Tribal Council as being the strongest female, and although strategically she doesn’t appear to be playing a strong game or in a good position, I think she’s safe for now.  She’s not this low in the ranking based on her safety in the game but based on her “power” in the game to change it. Step on the gas, race-car driver!
  11. Phillip: Odds – EVEN: Phillip’s crazy mixes with Brandon’s crazy and they have a bit of a crazy showdown.
 12. Corinne: I had so much hope for you out there this time.  The shift in your game play was awesome until you got over-charmed by Malcolm as so many have.  Instead of joining a two-person alliance, and being a three-headed force, you joined the new guy out there who is scrambling to find his place out there.
  12. Eddie: You and Reynold are kind of a matched pair at this point, but you might want to distance yourself from him. Reynold seems to be rubbing everyone the wrong way, but people seem to really like you. Maybe you, Julia, Sherri, Matt, and Michael can hold numbers until the merge.
 13. Reynold: Goodbye, “Not-so Hidden Immunity Idol.” Goodbye, chance of making the merge. The only reason you’ll live to see another day is you finding a way to beat the favorites in the immunity challenge. Sadly, your time left out there may be as short as your shorts. I really wish you understood this game, you’re a heck of a competitor. And one lesson you need to learn…people lie on “Survivor.” Even my day-one alliance and good friend Lisa Whelchel learned that eventually.
  13. Julia: If Gota loses again, they’re in deep trouble. As in, Pagonging-on-the-on-deck-circle kind of trouble. (How’s that for a mixed metaphor?!) Anywho, Sherri’s proven that she’s in well enough to avoid the “We need to get rid of challenge liabilities” hammer. And while Julia may be better in challenges, Matt and Michael are the ones calling the shots and they saved Eddie and Reynold last week.
 14. Erik: He seems a little in over his head this season. He may be the most athletically gifted in challenges but mentally and emotionally I think he’s still playing the “what if” game from his last time out there. 
  14. Reynold: C’mon, Reynold. You need to win friends and influence people. Instead you’re telling everyone how you don’t trust them. Matt and Michael appreciate that they need you if they’re going to get to merge in decent shape. Play nice and act like you want to align with them even if you don’t.
 15. Brandon: Although I loved his challenge beast-ness, Brandon may have too much pride for this game.  Pride may be a softer word than ego in this case.  All Hantzs have a lot of fight and a lot of passion in them.  Russell strategically channeled his fight. Brandon sadly doesn’t have that skill set yet. He’s definitely entertaining. Team dynamics are as big as alliances this early in the game. Brandon’s doesn’t appear to be playing a “team game.”   15. Brandon: Are you shocked that Brandon is going to freak out? I’m not. Other members of the press who interviewed him before the game started aren’t shocked either. The guy just doesn’t respond well to the pressure of “Survivor.”

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