Posts Tagged ‘Aras Baskauskas’

‘Survivor’ Castaway Aras: ‘I’m Either Getting Blindsided or I Have a Virus’

November 21, 2013

'Survivor: Blood vs. Water' (CBS)

NOTE: “Survivor” Hall of Fame voting is underway! Let us know who you think should be in the Class of 2013 and follow us on Twitter (@SurvivorHall) for updates and news.

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I don’t wonder what it’d be like to be Chandler Bing trying to come up with hilarious quips when I watch “Friends.” And I don’t wonder what it’d be like to flambé my handmade gnocchi* when I watch “Top Chef.”  But, I try to figure out how I’d react to every situation when I watch “Survivor.”

I’d want to be someone who’s strong in challenges but not overwhelming. I’d want to be someone who never causes a stir around camp. I’d want to be someone who always keeps his emotions in check.

I’d want to be Aras Baskauskas.

I spoke with my “Survivor” role model the day after his elimination and had a chance to ask about being stabbed in the back by Gervase, the plan he never got a chance to implement, and his recent engagement…

*I have no idea if it’s even possible to flambé gnocchi.

Gordon Holmes: Congratulations on your engagement, sir.
Aras Baskauskas: Thank you very much.
Holmes: Kat was worried that Hayden was going to dump her because she didn’t make it to the merge. Did you propose because you were worried your fiancé wouldn’t want to marry the first member of the jury?
Baskauskas:  My engagement was a direct result of Kat’s fear of not making the merge. (Laughs) No, no that had nothing to do with it.
Holmes: You don’t want to take any chances with a moment that big.
Baskauskas:  (Laughs) Exactly. But, the engagement was certainly a direct result of my experience on “Survivor.” I will say that. It puts everything in perspective when you’re out there. I came back and couldn’t wait to see her.
Holmes: You’re out there for two months or so, you’re thinking, “I don’t want to go another day without this woman.” Then you get home and pop the question.
Baskauskas:  Yeah. One of the beautiful things about “Survivor” is it makes you appreciate the things you have back home.

Holmes: Both you and Vytas seemed very confident before you were voted out. Were there any signs that a blindside was coming?
Baskauskas:  I feel a little bit like I suffered from guilt by association with that confidence.  I will say I was confident in my relationship with Gervase because we were friends before the game. But I wasn’t going around saying,  “This season should be called ‘Aras vs. Vytas.’” Things were not feeling right to me. I was very worried about that Tribal. I had this bad pit in my stomach and I told medical “I’m either getting blindsided or I have a virus.” Obviously I didn’t have a virus.
Holmes: Right. What was making you uneasy?
Baskauskas:   It’s hard for people to maintain a straight face when they’re voting you out, and Gervase was starting to be a little bit ruder to me that he normally was. Even at Tribal Council, Monica answered some questions that… Jeff asked Monica who she’s voting for, and she said, “I’m voting for the person that has the best relationships on the island.” And that was obviously not Ciera or Laura Morett.
Holmes: Is there anything you can do at that point?
Baskauskas:  Jeff asked at the end of Tribal, “Is there anything else anyone wants to say?” I was ready to say, “Jeff, I know it’s me.” But I was so paranoid of being paranoid that I didn’t say anything. I regret that because I think I could have potentially flipped that Tribal on its head and convinced the Moretts to comes with Vytas and I and the Wessons.

Holmes: I have a theory about Gervase that he is made of Teflon. Season one he says that women are dumber than cows and it doesn’t come back to bite him. You literally have to drag him to the boat in the first challenge. He stabs you in the back and the first thing you do is let him know you’re not mad at him. It seems like the things that would sink other players roll right off him.
Baskauskas: Gervase is a really likable guy. He has a lightness about him. He’s funny and he rarely takes things very seriously. I think it’s a testament to the kind of guy he when he does something, people don’t want to be vindictive.

Holmes: What was the plan going forward if the vote had gone your way?
Baskauskas:  Take out the Moretts first. That would get us to nine. Then we’d take out Caleb and Hayden, which would get us to seven. Then Monica would go. At that point, things get tricky for me. I wanted to go to the end with Gervase and Tyson. I also really loved Tina. But, my commitment was to Gervase and Tyson and Vytas’s commitment was to Tina and Katie.  If we’d gotten down to the six, that could’ve been very challenging.
Holmes: Wait, so you weren’t planning on taking Vytas to the end?
Baskauskas:   No, no, no…my brother would’ve been right next to me. He was a lock. The final four would’ve been Aras, Vytas, Gervase, and Tyson or Aras, Vytas, Tina, and Katie.

Holmes: When Tina had her outburst after you were eliminated, everyone raised their hands, saying they’d talked about being in an alliance with you. Were you worried that that strategy was going to set you up with some bitter jurors?
Baskauskas:  No, not at all. It’s funny, the person who was in more alliances than I was was Tyson. He was saying, “Aras was in an alliance with everybody.” Which is funny to me. It was a smart move on Tyson’s part. He made everyone afraid of me. And so everybody in the game at that point was thinking, “Oh man, Tyson saved me. He’s got my back.” That saved him for a few Tribal Council until he was picked up as a threat. It looks like in this next episode that they’re finally going to wake up and realize how powerful Tyson’s position is.
Holmes: He’s doing a great job of making it seem like these eliminations are just business.
Baskauskas:  Yeah, Tyson’s played three times in four or five years. He’s got a lot of practice. I think in order to win you have to treat it like a game. You can’t make it personal. That’s really hard to do. He’s also doing a great job of making people feel like they’re coming up with the strategic ideas that are in his best interest. He’s getting people to come to those conclusions using really subtle, manipulative suggestions which I think is quite powerful.

Holmes: OK, let’s get into some word association. We’ll start with Hayden.
Baskauskas:  Beef.
Holmes: Ciera?
Baskauskas:  Bug bites.
Holmes: Gervase?
Baskauskas:   Back stabber. (Laughs)
Holmes: Tyson?
Baskauskas: The messiah.
Holmes: Caleb?
Baskauskas:  Teddy bear.
Holmes: Monica?
Baskauskas:   Motherly.
Holmes: Katie?
Baskauskas:  Hilarious.
Holmes: Laura Morett?
Baskauskas:  Masseuse.
Holmes: Let’s finish with Vytas.
Baskauskas:  My brother. That wasn’t very good.
Holmes: Yeah, c’mon. I say there are no wrong answers here, but you can do better than that.
Baskauskas:  OK… friend, rival, better looking of the brothers.
Holmes: Am I a bad person for laughing when he took a cheap shot at you during the sumo challenge?
Baskauskas:  (Laughs) No, I think you’re required to laugh.

Holmes: You can’t watch “Survivor” without wondering how you’d do if you were in the game. You’re someone I always hoped I would emulate. This was cemented when I saw your reaction to being eliminated from the game. I’m a big believer in; if you get the best of me, even through devious means, I’ll tip my cap. I’m sure it’s easier said than done. How’d you do it?
Baskauskas:  Probably the same thing that the narrative of the show credited for my downfall; my meditation. Take all of the spirituality out of meditation, and it’s really a practice of awareness. I think in order to leave the game tipping your cap you have to be very aware of the emotions that come out when you’re voted out and be willing to process them. I think a lot of times when you’re voted out, anger and sadness comes up and instead of processing those feelings and taking responsibility for them, they want to put them on the people that voted them out.

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

‘Survivor’ Castaways Aras & Vytas: ‘When We Fight, It Is Knives Out’

September 13, 2013

Aras and Vytas Baskauskas (CBS)

Quick Note: I had a chance to sit down with all twenty of the “Blood vs. Water” competitors before the game began. I’ll be posting exclusive interviews with each pairing in the days leading up to the September 18th season premiere. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for those interviews, behind-the-scenes exclusives, and more…

Name: Aras Baskauskas
Age: 31
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Vytas’ Brother
Previous Season: The winner of “Survivor: Panama – Exile Island.”
Current Residence: Santa Monica, California
Occupation: Musician

Name: Vytas Baskauskas
Age: 33
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Aras’ Brother
Current Residence: Santa Monica, California
Occupation: Yoga Instructor/Math Professor
Personal Claim to Fame: Beating heroin addiction, yoga discipline, and receiving a graduate degree in math.
Pet Peeves: Stupidity and show-offs.
Three Words to Describe You:  Smart, strong-willed, and unique.

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Gordon Holmes: Aras, I know all about you and your winning ways. Tell me about this guy.
Aras Baskauskas: My brother Vytas is a very smart, very driven guy. He’s very motivated by winning. He’s very competitive and very athletic.
Vytas Baskauskas: I think Aras’s assessment is very spot on. I’m driven by winning and most of that drive comes from our relationship. It’s interesting that there’s a big million-dollar prize and I’m with my brother who I always want to win against. And in this case we’re a team. It’s going to be really cool to work together with the source of my competition, but in the end there’s only one winner.
Gordon: What was it like watching your kid brother win a million bucks on national TV?
Vytas: It was an amazing experience. Being as competitive as I am and seeing that he won…there’s no better that I can do, it’s a little bit discouraging. You can’t top first place.
Gordon: Piece of cake. Just get to the end, get all the jury votes, and win Fan Favorite.
Aras: Win first place, then go on an all-winners season with me, then there’s the rubber match. Set us up on different tribes and see what happens.

Gordon: I literally just rewatched “Survivor: Panama.”
Aras: What’d you think?
Gordon: It gets a bad rap for some reason. I liked it. The end was a little anti-climactic once Terry Dietz went home.
Aras: I get a bad rap for being a non-memorable winner, too.
Gordon: Yeah, and Terry is remembered as this great hero, but it seemed like he was kind of a pain in the rear out there.
Aras: (Laughs) Terry’s actually a great dude.
Gordon: I’m sure he is, but my big takeaway was, these people need to vote for later. Be nicer.
Aras: (Laughs)
Gordon: Quite a bit of time has passed since that season.
Aras: It was seven years ago. On May 14, 2006 I was awarded the million-dollar prize. Seven years is a lifetime. I’ve changed and I’ve grown. Hopefully I’ve gotten more subtle. I’m excited to play. I can’t wait to play again. I’ve become a fan of the show since winning. Vytas and I watch the show religiously every Wednesday.
Vytas: I was actually a fan of the show before Aras went on. I watched the first couple of seasons when it was huge. Then Aras got on the show and it reignited my love for it. So, I’m a huge fan. Even meeting Jeff the other day was so exciting.
Gordon: He is a charmer.
Aras: (Laughs) He is, he’s never off.

Gordon: Vytas, you overcame an addiction to heroin, which is awesome. Your body is going to be desperate for things out there; food, sleep, and whatnot. Is this an advantage for you seeing as you’ve been through withdrawal before?
Vytas: Overcoming addiction is probably my great victory in life up to this point. It’s since I’ve overcome addiction that I’ve had the most amazing life. When I was nineteen I went to jail for a year. Because I was addicted to heroin I was robbing people on the street. After getting out of jail, going through treatment, getting clean. The last thirteen, almost fourteen years have afforded me the most amazing life.  I’ve had to develop new life skills because I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t do drugs. I’m comfortable in my skin now and I’m comfortable not having luxuries that everyone else does. So for me, being clean and my recovery is really going to help me.

Gordon: Something I’ve been thinking about with the game recently is; what’s it like to be paranoid for 39 days? I feel like that’s something that’s overlooked.
Vytas: I think it’s difficult not to get paranoid even in pre-game. Watching people’s energy with everyone else. Coming from the underbelly of addiction, I’m pretty good at reading people and fitting into different situations. I think paranoia is letting your mind get away from itself. And using my yoga practice and my meditation practice will really let me reign my mind back in.
Aras: What I found to be the most successful way of dealing with paranoia is making mutually beneficial alliances. If I’m in an alliance with you and I’m your best bet, I don’t have to worry when you go off into the woods.
Gordon: That works if you’re aligned with a smart person. A person who isn’t letting the effects of hunger and the lack of sleep get to them.
Vytas: That’s the problem. Doing all of the analysis about the numbers and the people out here…you want to assume that people are going to make the best moves for themselves, but that doesn’t always happen. People make idiotic moves.
Aras: Like Tyson when he voted himself off.
Gordon: Oh c’mon. Vote yourself off once and you’re branded for life.
Aras: I actually think Tyson’s a very smart guy.
Gordon: Agreed.
Aras: But, I think you’re right. That’s why you want to align with people who are smart enough to make the best moves for themselves. Everyone else you have to think, what lens are they seeing this game through? And can I present to them the appropriate image?
Vytas: Like Laura got shafted by John (Fincher) the rocket scientist. So, she might be wary of young, smart guys. You have to understand what their trauma is from their season and play to that trauma. Let her know that we’re different.

Gordon: Who here do you guys want to work with?
Aras: I’ve known Gervase for a long time, and I don’t know if anybody knows that. I’ve spent evenings at his house. We watched World Series games together. That’s a no-brainer. Hopefully we’ll be able to keep that friendship under wraps. Tina, as the other winner, is an obvious alliance-mate.

Gordon: Who are you guys wary of?
Aras: I’m immediately wary of Tyson, just because he’s smart and he has shown himself to be duplicitous. That being said, he was so duplicitous last time he might take a more subdued approach this time. He’s also very athletic. I also think Hayden. He won “Big Brother,” he’s very likable, he’s athletic, he’s quiet. He’s not someone you want to hang around in the game. But, there’s nobody that I personally want out. One of the keys to our strategy is to never identify someone unless they’re an immediate threat. Let other people determine who needs to go out first.

Gordon: Any guesses for potential twists?
Aras: I think we’re going to be starting together. And then after one or two Tribals they’re going to split us. I think we’re together because they need to have a narrative about our relationship.
Vytas: Without us together, there’s not enough time in an episode to tell the story of our relationship. And since there are 20 people, we think the first couple of Tribals will eliminate a whole team. Then they’ll split us.

Gordon: I was going to ask why you think you’re back, but I know why you’re back because returning champions are awesome.
Aras: (Laughs) That’s a great answer.
Gordon: Thank you. But, that puts a target on your back. How do you deal with it?
Aras: People play within the rules of the dominant narrative.
Gordon: Like in “All-Stars” they all wanted the winners gone. In “Heroes vs. Villains” that wasn’t an issue.
Aras: Exactly, it behooves me, Tina, even Rupert, Hayden to have the conversation about getting rid of people who aren’t assets to the tribe. Let’s get to the merge with numbers. Because half of us are returnees, I think everyone is going to be thinking about numbers. People want to be safe and if we can provide that feeling of safety, we’re going to be fine.

Gordon: What’s it like when you guys fight?
Vytas: When we fight, it is knives out.
Aras: It’s ugly.
Vytas: Here’s an example; Aras and his girlfriend were staying with me when they were in between places. We had a pact; 60 days, let’s not get into one fight. Day 60, very last night we got into an awful…didn’t talk for weeks afterward. When we fight, it’s not just what we’re fighting about, it’s past scars.
Aras: Gordon, if you and I were to get into a fight I’d be very logical and present my case. When Vytas and I fight it’s largely our past coming up. That being said, it’s 39 days. There’s a start and an end. That’s easy for me to wrap my head around. But us fighting would be a bad situation.

Gordon: Alright, Vytas. It’s day 39; you, Aras, and I don’t know…Tina find a big basket of food. There’s a big glass carafe of orange juice and other glass items. I need you to keep an eye on your brother.
Vytas: (Laughs)
Gordon: Don’t let him hurt himself. Make sure he gets to that final Tribal.
Aras: I still have a gnarly scar on my back.

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

Don’t miss the special 90-minute premiere of “Survivor: Blood vs. Water” on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET.

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