Brain Spill: Happy Mother's Day

Okay, let’s first start off by saying welcome back. It’s good to be back, and out of school. We also have some business to discuss.

And to answer your question: yeah, I’m a little pissed about the season finale of Survivor Exile Island. It was such a good season altogether. So much to offer. So much plot. So many characters. Yet such a dull finale to a delicious season.

It was just like the season finale of Survivor Marquesas. You had one person who everyone wanted to win. There was the underdog who, if the favorite didn’t win, was a very good consolation. But instead, those people placed third and fourth, respectively, and the final two were the two you didn’t want there. Sure they never did anything wrong, but nothing stellar at the same time. Both touted honesty and integrity to the point where neither word had any applicability to them. And in the end, (Dora hesitates) the better player won.

Last week (well, last column), I said that if Aras won, I would commend him on a job well done, despite my apparent dislike for him. So here it is: Aras, you done good, and congratulations.

I should have seen it all miles away. First off, I had to work during the live airing of the show – the first time ever I had to miss the live finale. Then of course I had to work even later. And then there’s the whole fact that it was aired on Mother’s Day; the Mama’s Boy took home the cash (and Mommy’s Little Angel took the silver). In Guatemala, I could not believe that I didn’t predict NFL Living Legend Gary Hogeboom leaving on the second-biggest football day of the year: Thanksgiving. Why couldn’t I make another correlation this time around? Looking back on past Mother’s Day winners:

– Jenna Morasca wins Amazon (the first Mother’s Day finale). Her mom was unable to make the family visit in Brazil because of her battle with cancer (and we all know how that sadly ended). Also, Matthew Von Ertfelda, whose mom did come for the family visit, took second.
– Amber Brkich wins All Stars. Her mom made the trek to Panama to visit her in the gross food challenge.
– Tom Westman wins Palau. Although “technically” not a mom, no one in the final four that season was, so it goes to the dad by default.

But strangely enough, a mom has never won on Mother’s Day. So my prediction right now for next year: a 35-45 year old mom wins Survivor 14. So if you’re a pre-menopausal matriarch and currently suffering from a midlife crisis, get your application for Survivor 14 in NOW! Of course, I’m applying, and my mom, who I watch Survivor with, counts as my family visit, so you’re all dead anyways.

Oh my God! I cannot wait for Big Brother 7: All Stars! All the catty characters from different seasons will be forced to coexist for 100 days and somehow avoid homicidal tendencies! Last year was the best season (well maybe second to BB4: The Ex-Factor), and it only makes me want to watch even more Big Brother. I am so excited for June 20th, when the action begins! If you don’t like this show, I strongly advise you to get hooked this year, because this show eliminates the physical/wilderness aspect of Survivor and goes straight to the catfights and petty childish behavior. Don’t worry, I’ll be offering my two cents over the course of the summer.

Sorry for the side note there. It’s sad that the highlight of the season finale of my favorite show was a 15-second ad for another show. But it was, just as that will probably be the best part of my column. And it was right in the middle of the show, just like my little rant there. I felt it appropriate to just explode with excitement right then and there.

So going back to the whole Survivor thing, I think it’s appropriate to do two things for the rest of this column. I’m going to comment on some of my pre-season predictions of contestants (the ones that were dead on, or way off), then appropriately conclude with the Rundown. Here’s what we have to offer with regard to the power of predictions:

“Aras- Normally a yoga instructor should suggest he’s fit and in good shape. But another part of me is saying that he’s one of those free-spirited new-wave type people (modern day hippie wannabes).” It just so happened that the first comment was right

“Sally- How did Jenna Lewis get back on for a third time? Is it me, or does Sally really look like Jenna? I can’t judge her any more, so I’m just going to say that Jenna was close to winning All Stars, so if sally is another Jenna Lewis (or Morasca), she could do well.” Maybe not Jenna’s second time, but her first time. Pre-show I ranked Sally at #8, which is where she finished, as did Jenna Lewis in Borneo. And Jenna was a victim of numbers. Close enough for ya?

“Shane- … And the fact that he’s an entertainment marketing company means he’s got to be a jerk (doesn’t mean he’s not smart, because he probably is).” This was furthered later in the same column by: “Shane is making himself seem like a hero, and he doesn’t even need a lot of space to say that. Even his bio says he ‘makes time to coach his son’s football team.’ Does anyone have a spare Father of the Year trophy around the house?” Come to find out, he was his son’s hero, and possibly did deserve that award. To sum him up: “14- Shane Powers. Believe it or not, I think he’s going to impress me. His bio does not attract me to him, but deep down I have a gut feeling that maybe he won’t be all too bad.” Not a good ranking, but it was dead-on.

“Terry- Another ‘I wish my dad did that for a living’ type of guy. This guy is a hero, because he said so with his fighter pilot wings. This guy is 46, but he does not look it, meaning he must be in good shape. I give him a high ranking for now.” This speaks for itself.

“Aras- His name is ‘Sara’ backwards! Maybe it’s like Neleh from Marquesas. He seems like he really enjoys the outdoors, which should bode well for him. But in all honesty, how could someone going on a reality TV show not watch TV? My guess is that he doesn’t know too much about the game about Survivor based on this, save for the physical/outdoors aspect.” Neleh did make the final two, which should have been another red flag. But whoops, was I off in regard to him here.

“Bruce- Talk about someone else you do not want to mess around with, being a fifth degree black belt. His resume just screams ‘respectable old man type.’ He reminds me of that one crazy teacher everyone had in high school – he was well liked and downright cool, but if you had a problem, go to him and it will all be better. Just look at his music – classical to heavy metal. This guy is cool!” No explanation necessary.

“Cirie- I’m still sticking by the nurse thing. What’s really jumping out at me is the fact that once she learned she’d be on the show, she lost 30 pounds. Cirie deserves mad props for that. Judging by her shirt in her photo, she seems like a good-natured, funny person. Also, the fact that she plays chess and loves reality TV means she’s smart, and should do well on the show.” Sometimes, even the person least in shape can be destined for success based solely on the type of person they are. Can anyone argue that Cirie wasn’t a little bundle of joy this season? I didn’t think so.

“Courtney- The only thing this chick has going for her is the fact that she’s into gymnastics, so she’s no physical liability. As for the rest, her personality seems like something no one is going to want to be around. Her favorite flower is her ‘Aunt Sandy’s roses’ and her favorite cookie is her ‘Aunt Sandy’s yumalicious cookies.’ I don’t even need to inform you that ‘yumalicious’ showed up on spell check. The fact that she even used such a word indicates she’s got a low maturity level. Another thing that’s low for her is her hairstyle ranking.” Okay, I still stick to my initial impression that she was a bit wacky. And I was right. But she did turn it around, and become a respectable person at the end of the show.

“Danielle- Last season, I said if I was a guy, I would be all over Danni. She was attractive, physical, smart, and loved sports (plus rich at the end of the show). I guess I just have a woman-crush on another Danielle again. Her favorite scents are coconut, Febreze, and vanilla. I too am a huge fan of coconut, and I am known to go around my room Febrezing things for the hell of it. Tie those into the fact that she like peanut butter (another good choice) and is good at sports, and it looks to me that she’s on the Danni Boatwright path to success. I give her high marks already.” Is second place close enough?

“Terry- Here’s another guy who can’t not do anything. My worries about people like this is that they have the life experience, but whether they can make it a non-issue determines how successful they are in the game. Terry is yet another case of someone trying to be Superdad. His favorite scents are his wife’s perfume, dinner cooking, and cigar smoke outside. Cigars smell the same inside and outside, it just means that he wants to make himself look like a good guy buy not smoking indoors. His bio features so many alpha-numeric codes that he could be making some stuff up, and I’d have no clue.” Superdad, yes. But Terry did need to ‘lock it up,’ and he struggled with this, as predicted (which never became an issue because they could never vote him off, except that time they did).

“Tina- I really think she has potential as a winner, but her biggest hurdle will be fitting in. My guess is she’s either final four material or first one off her tribe.” Nicole Delma syndrome strikes again. Here’s a person who’s more than capable of winning the game, but has one of those ‘hate it or love it’ personalities, which means only one extreme, and no middle ground. Had Tina fit in, no doubt Cirie would be first boot and Tina would be final four, if not more. But that didn’t happen, and she was first out.

“Purple tribe (old women): Tina, Cirie, Ruth Marie, Melinda
Orange tribe (old men): Bruce, Terry, Shane, Dan
Green tribe (young men): Austin, Aras, Bobby, Nick
Blue tribe (young women): Sally, Danielle, Misty, Courtney”
One person from each tribe in the final four. But look at the second person listed in each tribe. Maybe it means something, or maybe it does.

“13- Aras Baskauskas. His lack of a favorite TV show is enough of a red flag for me to put him low on the rundown. I still believe he’s not Survivor knowledgeable as he should be.” Wrong again, Dora

“7- Cirie Fields. Let the nurse take the nurture role, and all will be fine. The tribe will be better, and Cirie will find her niche. I like her right now. … 6- Danielle DiLorenzo. I don’t see anything wrong with her info, and she does have a few tallies in the ‘good’ column, so #6 is a really good rank.” But not wrong here.

“1- Misty Giles. The allusion to Amber, Danni, and Jenna Morasca is enough to do it to me. This cat knows what’s going on, and she’s the contestant I like the most going into the premier. It’s really funny I put her at #1, because I truly feel that the young women will be sent packing first.” Three sentences, none of which contained so much of a morsel of truth. This just continues the trend of my #1 pick to be booted embarrassingly early.

And with that, time for the Rundown of the final four. No Loser’s Lounge for any of these people, because none of them are losers.

4- Cirie Fields. Cirie, Cirie, Cirie. I don’t know where to begin with you. If I had to do high-school-esuqe notables, you would definitely get most improved. In fact, you are this year’s recipient of the Kathy Vavrick-O’Brien Improvement Award. Previous recipients of this include Matthew Von Ertfelda, Lillian Morris, and fellow IP columnist Eliza Orlins. Yeah, we all know you went from being afraid of leaves to the most influential person out there when it came to the vote. Plain and simple, you kicked ass. I’m not going to dilute that take-home message any more by adding more words. The less I say, the stronger what I just said. Good job with that vehicle too! You earned it.

3- Terry Deitz. All the stats in the world had him winning this. “No one has ever received their first vote on the second-to last-Tribal Council.” “Who cares how you get to the final two, just get there.” Countless weeks at #1 of my Rundown. The list goes on.

I don’t think it’s any secret that Terry was my favorite this season. So you could imagine my reaction when he fell off that platform. That was it. My hero had let me down, and his only hope was a girl who would be the stupidest person ever to take him with her. Going with the theme of this column: how didn’t I see that one coming?

Terry leaves the show with a whole bunch of consolation prizes however. Of course, you’ve got the GMC Yukon. He’s also the person who you knew every week going into the episode that he was totally safe. That type of security makes for a very pleasurable viewing experience, not to mention the fact that all his immunity wins kept him in the game for so long. Apparently even Mr. Cool Dad Himself is vulnerable to being human and making mistakes. Terry also gets an award just like Cirie did. Only his is the Kelly Wiglesworth Award for Immunity Domination (minimum four wins to be in this club). Previous winners include Colby Donaldson, Jenna Morasca, Rob Mariano, Tom Westman, and Rafe Judkins.

A friend asked me before the finale that if Terry won it all, would he go down as the best Survivor player ever. It took me a minute, but I responded ‘yes.’ His strategy of just winning everything is the best strategy ever, because it puts you and only you in charge of your own fate. You don’t have to backstab, or anything. Hell, the only person Terry voted out post-merge was Cirie. It is single-handedly the best strategy ever, but the only problem is that it’s never been done before. Oh sure the alliance proves itself as the best constantly, but there’s always a chance of a bitter juror, which is almost avoided entirely by challenge domination. However, Terry did not do that, so he is not the best ever. And that saddens me. But, is he “the best player never to win?’ Well kids, you might just have to stay tuned for the answer to that one.

Terry, I’ve already said everything I could have said about you. It sucks that you couldn’t win, but you’ll be back for Survivor All Stars 2, and you can win that. Godspeed, Mr. Cool Dad Himself.

2- Danielle DiLorenzo. With her, you have the issue with Terry. He saved her against Cirie, and she sold him up the river next round. Was what she did “right?” And with every runner-up, you have to answer the question “what could she have done differently to win?”

What Danielle did was entirely “right.” While maybe not morally, in the game of Survivor, you have to compromise morals sometimes, and hope to work it out later. Danielle earned that final immunity, and the only right that someone had to sit next to her in the final two was because she picked him to be there. It’s very brutal. The final immunity champ has extreme power. You’re guaranteed into the next round, you get to choose who you go with, and you single-handedly eliminate the other person from the game. I can think of no position of power held by one person higher than final immunity winner (FIW).

So what are the FIW’s responsibilities? That’s up to the FIW herself (female has won 7 of 12 times, so feminine form is allowed). She owes nothing to anyone but herself. And that’s something people forget – that she has the power to do what she will. So while I strongly disapprove of her decision to oust Terry (even though he helped her when he could have not done so), that was totally within the bounds of the game, and she was entitled to do so, because she thought Aras would be better to go against. And I don’t blame her; Terry would have been suicide for Danielle.

So where’d she go wrong? Obviously the jury vote, since that’s where she lost it. So let’s analyze the jury. Unbeknownst to many, she and Bruce had a strong friendship, so she earned his vote. I think Shane was full of it, and was going to vote for her anyway. Terry was rightfully pissed off at her, and respected Aras’s gameplay, so that gives Aras one. Tack on Cirie’s vote for Aras, and we’re tied. That leaves Courtney, Austin, and Sally up for grabs.

Danielle didn’t do much “wrong” this game. But as I said last time, she didn’t really “wow” people either. Danielle could have milked Austin for the fact that she spent that two-day trip from hell with him at Exile Island (and how she respected him for that, etc). Or there’s the fact that on night one, the girls tribe had Misty on Exile Island, and on the camp was Danielle, Courtney, and Sally. It’s a longshot, but it’s something. Say “my very first night on this island was spent with you two, and I’m glad for it. Even after losing the fire, we girls kicked ass at the first immunity challenge. I was extremely pissed that they broke us up, because I know we could have rocked this show as a bunch of chicks. I wish it would have worked out that way” If someone’s neutral, that could be enough to tip the scales.

I would have voted for D myself. Although mad at her for Terry, I was impressed at the fact that she beat the two challenge powerhouses to win final immunity. Also, by the fact that she got there, because I thought that was a fluke. I thought she handled the jury’s questions well, chuckling off the insults, and perhaps “meaning” what she said more. But then again, it’s not how she impressed me, it’s how she impressed the jury.

All in all, an impressive showing by her. Woulda coulda shoulda – what difference does it make now? In the spirit of giving awards, I have one for Danielle too: The Kim Johnson Saving the Best For Last Award. This is given to the person who seems to be a mere accessory in the final four, but pulls out the best on finale night, and proves to people that they belong in the final two. Previous recipients include Vecepia Towery, Jenna Morasca, and Danni Boatwright. Danielle: congratulations.

1- Aras Baskauskas. Is it me, or did he get really good looking at the live portion of the finale?

Well the time has come. I’ve delayed it as long as I could, but I’m forced to do it now. I have to talk about Aras winning Survivor Exile Island.

And it’s his first time at #1 on the Rundown.

I’m gonna make this short and sweet. It’s very easy to be critical of Danielle, who messed up her game somehow to lose. You can almost pinpoint the exact time where she went wrong, and speculate what could have been had it not happened. But it’s different with the winner. The winner did some stuff wrong, and some stuff right. Obviously the stuff he did wrong didn’t matter enough. And you can’t really tell what went right.

So, like I did with Danni last year, I have to sum up Aras’s game in a nutshell. He was the most physical on a wacky tribe. He got the numbers advantage, and took that as far as he could. When it came time to vote one of his own, he had a firm ally in Cirie, and together, they did the dirty work. He had to stand up against Terry so often, and after losing so many times, still kept his head and confidence up. He won a crucial immunity challenge. In the final three, was the better option in the eyes of the final immunity winner to bring to the final two. He performed better to a jury, and that was it. Mr. Baskauskas, you earned one million dollars (right pinky to corner of mouth).

I can’t deduct points, and it kills me. But I can make comments. First off, I want to say that I am so sick of everyone touting honesty and integrity. If I was a juror, I would hold that against him/her because Survivor was not meant to be played with honestly and integrity. If you can manage to do it, that’s fine, but don’t use that as leverage. Also, I want to point out that Aras is a klutz. That was so funny that Med-Evac had to show up on the one day that you could do nothing and not be held accountable. I loved how Danielle wanted to drug him up, because I would have asked for the same. Aras may have won, thus not getting his karma, but he certainly got a small dose of it with the stitches. Terry Deitz fans of the world unite!

So, as much as it pains me to say this, Aras deserved to win. It took me a week or two, but I realize that he earned it by doing the game of Survivor correctly. I could still be bitter, but I turned to a different source for wisdom:

“I just got so used to writing this name down, I figured it would be appropriate tonight.”

That was said by Terry Deitz. Before you jump to conclusions and accuse me of accepting Aras’s win just because Terry said so, you’re wrong. Terry made a good point that Aras was Terry’s biggest competition, and perhaps the Terry versus Aras feud was the main storyline of Survivor Exile Island. For Aras to beat Terry (who himself is a supreme player) meant that Aras rightfully deserved that money. And Aras never betrayed Terry; I just didn’t like him. But I’m better now.

Aras joins the elite club of people who have won Survivor. But he also gets an honor: The Vecepia Towery Champion Award for Clutch Immunity Win (which has double importance, since I compared this season to Marquesas). In case you haven’t noticed, these awards are given to the people who first fit the criteria (Kathy, Kelly, Kim, Vecepia – all females coincidentally). Vecepia was the first person to win because of one crucial immunity challenge, which changed the tides of the game. In the final four of Marquesas, Vee was going to be voted out by Neleh, Kathy and Paschal. When she won, Kathy was forced to side with Vee. With Paschal out, Vee went from LVP to MVP. Kathy was bringing her if she won, and so was Neleh. Vecepia went from the next boot to shoe-in for final two, and it’s simply because of that Fallen Comrades challenge. Other recipients include:

Jenna Morasca – the blindfolded maze win made the boys promise her security, such that Rob and Matt would have turned on each other in the final three.
Amber Brkich – I mentioned this in a past column, but Rupert was seconds behind her in the final four Immunity. Had Rupert won, Jenna would have stuck with him to vote out Amber (Rupert was not voting for Rob), and maybe Rupert would have won final immunity too, so Amber was doubly gone. But she prevented that.
Tom Westman – Had he lost final four immunity, Ian and the girls get rid of him.
Danni Boatwright – Buying the ‘switch with any player’ item in the auction won it for her. She won immunity, and in the course, caused New Nakum to divide. She sided with Rafe, and took that to the end.

For Aras, he beat Terry in the final four by seconds. If Terry won, Terry gives the idol to Danielle, they vote out Aras, and the fire tiebreaker need not apply. And that’s the end of Aras’s story. But he won, and in the final three, was closer to Danielle than Terry. And we know how it ends.

Speaking of ‘how it ends,’ I’ve been talking for awhile. It’s time to end this. Aras, good job.

And with that, kids, it’s bedtime for me. I hope you all enjoyed Survivor Exile Island as much as I did. It was a fun ride, and we met some interesting people along the way. I’m excited to see Shane, Cirie, and Terry all back for All Stars 2. I’ll be back for Cook Islands in the fall. But I still have to provide you with entertainment in the mean time. So send me topics to talk about, as I did last off-season. You’re also welcome email me and we’ll talk. Bring on Big Brother 7!

So until next time, when we discuss proper installation of air conditioners, stay cool

(no pun intended)