Sunday, March 13, 2011

Survivor: Redemption Island Episode 4: Pony Boy vs. Gollum

What can I say, in the battle of Good vs. Evil, Good triumphed! Russell comes into Redemption Island all piss and vinegar, but when Matt beats him in the duel, how does he go out? Crying like a little girl with a skinned knee. I try not to engage in schadenfreude, but for Russell I made an exception. To his credit, once his crying jag was over, he did his best to go out swinging. He ragged on his tribemates enough that Ralph tried to add insult to injury by telling Russell he found the idol. Bad move, Rooster! If it was just you and Russell, that would be fine. But you have Special Agent Phillip and Kristina from the other tribe there too, and you're giving away info they don't need to know.

This episode best exemplified what I've been saying about the difference between Russell's Game and Boston Rob's. Russell is a one-trick pony. Boston Rob changes up his game when appropriate. He's got a clue to the idol. He needs to get everyone out of camp so he can look for it. So, while Special Agent and Dead Meat are witnessing Russell's demise, Rob plans for a "beach day" complete with a made up game for all to play. Leading up to the excursion, he hints at his plumbing being backed up, and when they all head out to play, he conveniently gets a "bowel move" and runs off to "handle it". Fifteen minutes of furious searching rewards him with the idol. I tell you, I think Rob's gonna be in the final 3!

Last thought: Stephanie is a real bitch. the more she talks, the more she reminds me of Gina Kincaid form Beverly Hills 90210, almost to the point I think I will start calling her that. She is sore as hell about what happened to Russell, and she isn't about to let anyone forget about it. Worse, she doesn't let off with full fury and anger. Rather, she snipes and makes sarcastic quips about throwing the challenge. I think she's inherited that big red target Russell had on him.

BTW, I called Kristina Dead Meat, 'cause that's what she is: Omatepa voted her off, and she has to face Pony Boy on RI.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

My Thoughts on Van Halen

You may or may not have heard that Sammy Hagar's autobiography Red: My Uncensored Life In Rock is coming out on March 15th. What seems to be getting the most press is the part where he talks about the apparent mess that was the Van Halen 2004 reunion tour. While I believe Sammy is right to tell the story of how Eddie Van Halen's alcoholism threw a guitar-sized monkey wrench into that tour, I am afraid that that is what people will emphasize as Eddie's true behavior. It's not. I have a fair deal of experience in my life with people who are alcoholics, and if there's one thing I know, they tend to be completely different people drunk than sober. Remember, Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde was originally about alcoholism (read the story, and think 'alcohol' wherever you see 'magic potion'). I tend to think that Eddie's true personality is more like what Dweezil Zappa experienced when he met Eddie.

But enough on that. What I really wanted to talk about was the band itself. Van Halen has been my favorite band ever since I first heard Van Halen II in 1983. That was when my musical tastes shifted from Top 40 pop music to Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. Unfortunately, my father deemed me too young to go see a concert during the 1984 tour without adult supervision (and it was going to be a cold day in hell before he EVER went to see a band like Van Halen play!). By the time of the 5150 tour, I was not only old enough, but I could pay for my own ticket. But you may recall there was a small change in the band between those two tours.

When it comes to Van Halen, there are fans generally divided into two camps: Those who prefer the David Lee Roth era, and those who prefer the "Van Hagar" era. I am not either of those people. Personally, I think it is a stupid dichotomy. Yes, Van Halen with Sammy doesn't sound quite the same as Van Halen with Roth. But for me, the musical change coincided with my change from a teenage boy into a young man. While they still made hard rocking and fun songs, there was a seriousness to the music that I don't think a Roth-fronted band could never have achieved.

If there was a downside to Sammy's tenure in the band, it was that Sammy had an aversion to singing Roth songs. It's not that he couldn't handle them (contrary to the opinion of some, Hagar is a better singer than Roth). Rather, he didn't want to sing them. Therefore, the first six years of the band's history was progressively marginalized on all of the Sammy tours. This means I never got to hear Dance The Night Away live (at least, not until 2007).

I am glad the Brothers Van Halen reunited with Roth, as the reunion tour in 2007 meant that I got to see a show the 14 year-old me missed out on. I hope they finally do come out with an album this year, as they have been away from the music scene for far too long. At the same time, I am sad that the rift between Eddie and Sammy is still so great, because any tour with Roth means that the entire Hagar catalog will be completely ignored. David Lee Roth can't even sing like David Lee Roth anymore, let alone try belting out anything Sammy sung.

I had some more thoughts, but it's late. Come back tomorrow for my thoughts on Survivor: Redemption Island Episode 4-Pony Boy vs. Gollum!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Survivor: Redemption Island Episode 3 - Francesca vs. Pony Boy

Aaaand here we go!

Finally, we get to see how the 'duel' format was going to work. The producers were smart when they decided two have only two members of each tribe picked randomly to witness the event. This adds a level of complexity to the game, as the witnesses are not obliged to tell the truth of the proceedings to the rest of their tribe.

As for the duel, it essentially plays out like a one-on-one challenge. Basically, Pony Boy and Francesca have to break themselves out of jail by fashioning a pole out of sticks and twine to reach past a locked door to grab three keys to open three locks. First one to open the door wins. Francesca rushes to an early lead, but her pole breaks before she can get the third key. This gives Pony Boy the edge he needs as he catches up and passes Francesca, opening the locks and winning the duel. Francesca is the first person actually eliminated from Survivor.

I have a bone to pick with CBS. I expected Ashley to go on a raging tear based on how they teased this week ("hell hath no fury" and all that....). Instead, we are shown Boston Rob giving her the full-on Robfather speech ("I did what had to be done"), and her securing his promise that Kristina and Phillip will be voted off first before her. Then, we see her crying when she brings up in a confessional what Rob did to her pretty Pony Boy. Yeah, she's upset at Rob, but this is not the firestorm I was led to believe was coming.

Remember what I said about witnesses at the duel not having to tell the truth about what happened? Well Steve and Dave at Zapatera decide to lie through their teeth to Russell and tell him that Francesca won the duel. See, this tribe wants Russell gone in the worst way. He is described as a "black hole": he does nothing but suck the light and energy out of everything. They want him gone so badly they decide on a risky venture, throwing the Immunity Challenge. The lie about Francesca would essentially be adding insult to injury.

Throwing an Immunity Challenge is a very risky strategy. It's generally a high risk-low reward proposition. But since the target of this is Russell, I say the risk is worth it. Problem was, they were so obvious about it. From Steve barely pushing the wheel, to Julie missing the buckwet when she spat, to Dave actually stopping to move puzzle pieces (to his credit, he did pantomime like he was still trying to figure the puzzle out in his head) you would have to be blind not to see that the challenge was thrown. They even managed to make it obvious to Gollum (my new name for Russell).

Gollum knows he's in a bad spot. He has been unable to find his 'precious', he has a minority alliance, and now his tribe just threw a challenge. Even disfigured hobbits can read the writing on the wall. His only chance is to try and pick off the "Tyson" from the main alliance. So, he sends in Stephanie (she of the "Biggest blindside E-VER!" hyperbole) to do a sell job on Julie. Julie actually seems to become charmed by the idea of flipping, and apparently expresses an agreement to do just that. In her confessional, she expresses ambivalence about flipping, and so we head off to tribal with a possible blindside in play.

It ends up being for naught, as Julie sticks with her alliance and Gollum is sent off to fight the Pony Boy.

I have to say that so far every Tribal Council has delivered the goods big-time! Tonight we had Stephanie flip her bitch switch and lay into the tribe for throwing the challenge and for not recognizing the blazing genius that is Gollum. As she went on, I realized she reminded me of Gina Kincaid (as played by Vanessa Marcil) from Beverly Hills 90210. Gina was also a petite brunette with a bitch streak in her as long as the Bay Bridge. She whispered to Julie after the final vote that a "Storm's a coming!" This one, I'm certain will deliver on her threats!