Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Diarrhea-Fest


As legend has it, the first vanilla orchid grew out of a forbidden and passionate love. When the Totonac Princess Xanat was forbidden by her father to marry a mere mortal, she fled to the forest with her lover only to later be captured and beheaded alongside him. When the young lovers' blood hit the ground beneath them, the vine of the vanilla orchid grew. Exotic, sensual, milky... the scent of vanilla is not only prized and coveted, but known to drop grown men to their knees. The plant itself is a climbing flower that can only be pollinated by one very specific Mexican bee. Flitting from stem to stem, the Melipone bee visits and tickles each and every open dainty flower. Removing these flowers from their native land and thrusting them in the faces of strange subpar bees for mass production has proven unsuccessful. Time and again, flower after flower would wilt with sadness and longing before shriveling up and dying a sad and putrid death. So begins the plain and inferior production of artificial vanilla. Artificial. Banal, pasty, scraped from the pulp of papermaking wood, artificial vanilla lacks the exotic creamy heat of the original. It is born out of necessity, not passion. Look about yourself and you'll find it all around you - in air fresheners, lotions, candles, hand soap... reality TV. It is nowhere and everywhere all at once. Nowhere because it is expected, unappreciated, looked over, ignored. Everywhere because artificial is a way of life. The unremarkable a la mode of day to day. When something is everywhere it becomes invisible... like a phantom. Let's recap, shall we?

With the moon perched high and the sea lazily still, the Baklava (Bikal) tribe returns to camp after a night out with Dimples. Weary, spent, and droopy, the Baklavas move about in a slow silence until a ghostly slip of a girl makes an announcement... "I nearly peed myself." It was a quick comment carried away on the breeze. And when it was gone, no one thought about it again. No one wondered where it went or where it came from. It just was.


Corinne noisily plops her rucksack in the sand and apologizes to Gay (Michael) and Phantom (Julia) for having to vote out Duck Dynasty (Matt). She really liked ole Duck and it sucked to have to vote him out. Phillip Sheppard, Camp Fire Girl extraordinaire, elbows himself past Corinne to make an announcement. "It was a maneuver we had to make. The target had to be extinguished and the threat removed." He then turns to Gay and Phantom, "I, uh we, chose to keep the two of you. I'll be sitting quietly in the shelter if you'd like to be bring me offerings of food and whatnot as a thank you. Specialist out! Chichaw!" Gay, wrapping himself in a silky caftan, raises a hand in nonchalance, "No no no, no need to explain yourselves. We're like the Pointer Sisters - one happy family." Corinne, sensing the rest of her tribe might catch on to exactly how delightful Gay is, snatches him away for a whisper sesh in the shelter. While Corinne is confiding in Gay about how she wants to take him shopping and throw all sorts of Asian fusion dinner parties with him while they're here in Caramoan, Phillip sits high up in a nearby tree looking through a pair of "binoculars" - two hollowed out pieces of bamboo held together by chewing gum and string - and tuts to himself with disapproval.


After his branch breaks and his "binoculars" crack in half, Phillip somersaults his way over to Cochran in hopes of crafting a new tactical maneuver. "I want Corinne gone," he announces. Cochran replies, "Not next though." Phillip nods yes and confides that he does not want Corinne making it to the Merge. And this is where Cochran does what Cochran does best - he keeps the peace talks in motion and gently quells Phillip's bubbling anger with some Cheerios laced with Benadryl in a ziplock baggie. Cochran then gently and effectively warns Phillip that if they vote off one of their own right now, it will look like a hostile attack to the other Favorites on Goiter (Gota) come Merge time. Either Cochran makes sense to Phillip or the Benadryl is kicking in because Phillip softly mumbles, "Federal Agent" before rolling over and snoring into the sand while a half stuck Cheerio hangs off the edge of his nose. Yo Cochran, have you ever considered working for the U.N.? The DPKO (Department of Peacekeeping Operations) is looking for a few good men to send into wartorn Congo. Take your little baggie of magic Cheerios with you and you could save the world, my friend.


With a new day of promise before them, the Baklavas excitedly read the latest Tree Mail...The strong must bear the weak if you hope to compete. The taste of victory today will be oh so sweet. Hearing the word "weak" within the message, Cochran gets a twinkle in his eye as he flexes his biceps. With his tiny fists and twig-like forearms he'll beat this Reward Challenge into submission, bitches! Phillip, too, is looking forward to the Challenge as he is a master Power Lifter and Arm Wrestling Champion of The World. Sure, he only lifts Nerf weights and arm wrestles his fellow Camp Fire Girls, but his upper body strength is always the talk of the Jamboree. From the outside, he may look like a half empty sausage casing, but that is merely a ruse. His muscles are hiding from public view - much like he does in his spy work. If they flaunt themselves out in the open in an ostentatious manner, then the bodybuilding industry will burrow its head in the sand and cease to exist.

Speaking of arm wrestling and all things buff, Phillip has some secret techniques he'd like to share to the world. Not being an arm wrestler myself and complete unaware of the bylaws of the arm wrestling industry, one might view Phillip's secret technique of stabbing his opponents wrist with a syringe filled with novocaine as cheating. Phillip scoffs at the accusations as he is simply playing by Prison Rules. Watch, he'll demonstrate on spindly fop Cochran.


"Come Cochran, have a seat. Oh look over there Cochran, it's a glassy-eyed tapier." *injects Cochran's bicep with muscle relaxant* "Ok, are you ready? One, two, three..." *grabs Cochran by the back of his hair and smashes his head into the table* "Go!" *pins Cochran's wrist to the ground* "I win! Chichaw! Don't mess with The Specialist!" And then Phillip moonwalked into a boulder and flipped over backwards.


And this brings us to the big Reward Challenge. Come on in guys! For today's Challenge, you'll be tied to one another in a giant chain gang as each of you carries a twenty pound sack. (Obviously, the twenty pounds in each bag is all of the "interesting" game footage of the season that the editors have chosen to ignore. "Go ahead and get it wet. We're not using it. We're going with the Buffoon Edit this year!") Starting on opposite sides of an oval course, you will race to catch the other tribe. If you get tired you can opt out by giving your twenty pounds of Hi8 tapes to anyone but Phillip. The first tribe to catch the other tribe wins. Wanna know what you're playing for? A visit to Starbutts where coffee, scones, muffins, cookies, croissants, biscotti, brownies and searching pouty golden lips await you. Survivors ready, go!


For the Baklavas, we have Phillip in front with Gay right behind him. The Goiters, on the other hand, have chosen to sprinkle their strong people throughout. We have Erik in front followed by Golden Boy (Malcolm) with Dame Reynold and his bustle in the back. Both tribes start out at a trot, but quickly decide that walking is the better move to make - at least until the old decrepit Baklavas begin to weaken. Even walking, the Goiters make impressive headway and begin to gain on the Baklavas. Corinne pleads with Phillip to start running so he trots a few steps and then announces that the girls in the group will get way too tired if the tribe continues to run. And by "girls", Phillip means "Phillip".


The Challenge continues on with the Goiters confidently speed walking with grace and power. Meanwhile, Phillip is splashing anyone who recommends they start running in the face with a handful of water. "Phillip, can we run?" *Splash!* "We need to start running." *Splash!* At one point, Gay just goes ahead and makes a power move with the rest of the Baklavas trotting behind him. Phillip begins to drift to the back of the line before announcing that he can't run now because when people begin dropping out of the competition, they'll all give their weight to him. *eye roll* In fact, Calgon (Dawn) does quit but she hands her weight to Corinne not Phillip.

Finally, the Goiters decide to go ahead and end this. Golden Boy is jonesing for a cup of java and now is the time for them to make their move. Like a group of soldiers, the Goiters trot in unison with shaggy poodle Erik leading the cadence...
I don't mind and I don't care!
I don't mind and I don't care
Phillip's in his underwear!
Phillip's in his underwear
We are young and we are strong!
We are young and we are strong
Thank God above it's not a thong!
Thank God above it's not a thong
One, Two!
Three, Four
Break it on down
One, Two, Three, Four
One, Two!
Three, Four!



The music begins to thump in anticipation as Calgon waves her arm frantically from the sidelines as she mimes the moves of a runner to her tribe. "Run-ning! They're running!" Cochran interprets it as a call to orange slices and Gatorade so he plops his weight around Corinne and runs to mama. Phantom either quits too or gets pulled under the water. Who knows? We can't see her. Is she even there? It is of no consequence though because those Goiters are ripping through the water with ferocity. With a long bony finger extended in front of him, Erik taps Phillip on the shoulder and... GOITER WINS REWARD!!!


Full of wonder and excitement, the Goiters are whisked away to the local Starbutts where a pleasure palace of sweet delights await them. Typically, I'd bitch about how these Survivors are too spoiled and not starving enough, but not today! Did you know that coffee is an aphrodisiac to our Golden Boy? *dims the lights* Bowm chicka wow wow! As the mocha goodness slides down Golden Boy's throat he begins to feel a stirring in his loins. A stirring so primal that it knows not of gender. All it cares about is doing the hiddidy dibbidy with anyone and everyone. *fills bathtub with espresso beans and dials Golden Boy's number* 

(La Jeunesse de Bacchus by William Bouguereau)

Dame Reynold also happens to be feeling a little frisky. In fact, he's a Bacchanalian. Like that's a thing to be. Some people are electricians or pessimists or maybe even Christian, but not Dame Reynold. He's a Bacchanalian. With rings on his fingers and bows on his shoes, Dame Reynold sips on the caffeinated nectar and languidly waits for the magic of the moment to drip lazily over everyone. As a Dionysian myself, I can relate to Dame Reynold on a level that I hadn't been able to before. I have a new appreciation for the lacy fop and, dare I say, that I'm beginning to like him? When the word "Bacchanalian" drips off your tongue like it's an everyday thing, I think I have no choice, but to get carried away in the moment and invite you to all my future orgies, I mean, dinner parties for I too, in mixed company, will say ridiculous shit like, "I'm waiting for the Dionysian spell to begin." Welcome Dame Reynold. Welcome to the elite society of Survivors I don't hate.

Meanwhile, at Baklava, a different sort of festival is taking place. It is not a festival of sinful delights and hedonism, but rather a festival of whines, moans, and excuses. Refusing to look anyone in the eye, Phillip tells his tribe that he knew they'd lose as soon as he saw the Goiters all lined up. Their legs told him that his tribe would lose. Their giant and powerful legs with oars and fins strapped to them. Plus, they're younger. Corinne listens to all of this while giving Phillip the side eye. Phillip can make any excuses he wants, but Corinne is going to go ahead and blame that loss on him. Cochran, however, is concerned. It is in his, and the rest of the Favorites, best interest to hold onto Phillip for a little longer, but who knows what could happen. Looking around himself, Cochran can see that Gay is slowly trying to infiltrate the Favorites alliance via Corinne. And then there is Phantom. Ghostly and transparent. Is she here? Is she there? Is she even breathing? Cochran is tempted to label her with a vanilla personality, but, if you think about, vanilla is quite tasty. People like vanilla scented products and their pies a la mode. To call Phantom "vanilla" is surely a compliment to her exotic sweetness and that just won't do. Nothing about Phantom is exotic or sweet. She's just kind of blah, kinda there. She's a used up dryer sheet. You could have sworn you threw it away, but when you go to wear those freshly laundered trousers, you find her stuck to the pant leg. Only, you didn't notice her earlier and you went through your entire day with a dryer sheet stuck under your ass. That's Phantom.


No one in the world sees Phantom until it is too late. Everyone, that is, except for Phillip Sheppard. Phillip is quite smitten with the young Phantom and confides in her that he wants her to work for him as a double agent. The only caveat is that she must do everything he tells her to do and only reply to him with a "Sir, yes sir!" He sees spunk and potential in her that no one else sees therefore he'll put her through his rigorous training academy (The Babysitters Club) and teach her the ways of Mata Hari. "You will dance for me in a jeweled bra and plaits in your hair. The steps to the Fan Dance are an integral and complicated part of your training, but don't worry. I won Dancing With The Stars back in the 1980's and have moves that even Michael Jackson never heard of. Chichaw! You cannot tell anyone what I just told you though. If word gets out that I'm a phenomenal dancer, Cochran will battle me to a dance off and I wouldn't want to embarrass him." Julia nods slowly and silently. She would speak if she could. Maybe.


Over at Goiter, another unlikely duo is coming together. Golden Boy has decided that when the Merge rolls around, he could be in trouble with the other castaways. Being a strapping young buck never bodes well the further into the game you get. People tend to look at the bulging pecs and taut abs with disdain (and lust). If he can make a foursome out of the alpha males (Golden Boy, Dame Reynold, Theddie (Eddie) and Erik), then he just might have a fighting chance of making it to the end. His first target is the famous actress of stage and screen, Dame Reynold. Lucky for Golden Boy, the Dame likes to lounge in a tepid bath of lavender water after a night of Bacchanalian mischief making. With candles floating around him and cucumber slices on his eyes, Dame Reynold is delighted to have an audience with Golden Boy. His delight grows exponentially upon hearing exactly what it is that Golden Boy is offering. In fact, the Dame is so desperate for a successful ensemble piece to work on next (There are no small parts, only small actors.) that he blurts out to Golden Boy that he has a Hidden Immunity Idol in his skinny jeans. Upon hearing this, Golden Boy reacts much like he did back at Starbutts - he gets a total game boner and giggles uncontrollably. He can't wait to take control of this game. Me either!


Back at Baklava, Calgon is in the garden tending to her mums when she tells Phantom that she needs to talk some game with her. Phantom stares blankly before exclaiming, "Thank god!" Then, something interesting happens. She whips off her jeweled bra, takes the braids out of her hair and shoves the vial of Phillip's urine (secret ink) into Calgon's hand. Phantom doesn't know what Calgon's relationship is with Phillip, but she's sick of him! She's sick of smuggling things in her rectum around camp just "for fun". She sick of practicing her Fan Dance for the monkey family down the lane. She's sick of attending The Babysitters Club so she blurts out to Calgon that Phillip tried to make her a double agent. She assures Calgon that, while she's fantastic at crossing borders undetected, she's just not cut out to be a double agent. What if they join forces and overthrow Phillip instead? Calgon squenches up her face into a masterpiece of cocked eyebrows, crinkled noses and contorted lips before speed walking quickly over to Phillip and telling him everything Phantom just said. *throws a whisk at Calgon* Someone, anyone, take Calgon away!

Phillip listens to information that Calgon relays and decides that Phantom needs to go home now. She made a foo pop and I'm not exactly sure what that is - although it sounds really gross - but Phillip doesn't care for it. He has a long and illustrious history encountering foo pops. Foo pops were there when he stormed the beaches of Normandy and, let me tell you, you don't want to cross one when your britches are soaked and you just got kicked in the head by a parachuter. It is best not to get your hands dirty and simply send the foo pop home. I don't think Calgon knows what a foo pop is either, but she does agree that Phantom should be the next to go.


And this brings us to the big Immunity Challenge. Come on in guys! For today's challenge, three members of each tribe will paddle out into the ocean and then dive down to release a statue. You will then bring the statue back ashore and place it at the base of a tower. Then, three other tribe members will use a grappling hook to retrieve keys. Once you've collected all five keys, you'll unlock the tower and pull your statue to the top. The first tribe to get their statue to the top and release their flag wins Immunity. Survivors ready, go!


Calgon, Corinne and Gay are paddling for Baklava while Erik, Theddie and Mowgli (Brenda) paddle for Goiter. Both tribes arrive at the statue dock together and load the massive statues into their vessels. The Baklavas over tip over, but manage to save themselves in time and arrive onshore right after the Goiters. With Dame Reynold tossing for Goiter and Phillip tossing for Baklava, I think you and I both know how this will end. The Dame is an incomparable tosser. He has plenty of practice from his career onstage. He's thrown everything from gloves to porcelain figurines. And he does it with such flair! One stockinged leg in front of the other, toss! Toss! GOITER WINS IMMUNITY!!!


Back at Baklava, Calgon is trying her best to keep everyone's spirits up. She congratulates Gay for how well he did and hands out Rice Krispie Treats to everyone before going back to her ironing. Phillip, however, is shiftily staring at everyone and avoiding eye contact whenever possible. And when the time is right, he snatches Cochran into the brush with a grappling hook and tells him that he has a confession. Nervous Nelly Cochran's brain goes into overdrive wondering if those were Pee Treats he ate just a second ago. No, Cochran, those weren't Pee Treats. Calgon had those treats covered in a cloth gingham napkin and sitting safely on the windowsill until you guys got back from the Challenge. They attracted bears, wolves and sly foxes, but no urine.

Phillip's confession is that he could have totally won that Challenge... had he wanted to. Cochran chokes on the giggles marching up his esophagus and replies, "I knew you were going to say that." What I love most about this isn't the remarkably bad lie Phillip has just told, but the fact that he feels the need to impress Cochran every chance he gets. Earlier it was with the arm wrestling thing and now it is with his game acumen and ability to deceive. What a complete and utter foo pop. Cochran, however, is delighted. The level of delusion that Phillip operates on day in and day out excites the young lad. He likes a little razzle dazzle in his Survivor. A little jazz hands razzmatazz. Even better than that, he likes a good old fashioned lion story. Well, that's good because Phillip is about to compare himself to a wild-maned lion who killed his cubs. You wanna know why the lion killed his cubs? Because they were potential rivals. Chichaw! Razzmatazz!

Let us leave the land of fancy and return to the game at hand. So, the plan is to split the votes between Gay and Phantom in order to flush out the Idol if one exists. At the revote they will then vote to get rid of Phantom. The problem is that Corinne doesn't want to split the votes. Gay is gay and she is going to go to the ends of the earth in order to protect him. Having people write down his name on a piece of parchment paper - even if only in jest - makes her nervous and unwilling to obey. It also makes her open her giant trap and tell the others that she wants to play with Gay for the long haul. *smacks self in head* You never, ever, mention playing this game with someone outside of your core alliance when you're around Phillip. You just don't. Phillip is emotionally unstable and the mention of an asset from a different agency sends him into a tailspin.

Which is exactly what happens! Phillip, in all of his glorious paranoia, decides that they no longer need Gay and that they will get rid of him instead of Phantom tonight. Naturally, Corinne is having none of that and tells Phillip that they need Gay to win Challenges. *smacks self in head again* Is Corinne trying to get herself voted off? For someone who seems to have a level head, her playing is remarkably "off" at the moment. It must be Gay. The show tunes and Restoration Hardware catalogs are clouding her judgment. Personally, I don't have a problem with Corinne - not yet anyway - but I do question her judgment sometimes.


And this brings us to Tribal Council. We begin with Gay who admits to Dimples that it has been difficult to keep the tribe's morale up. He's been performing Penzance every night because, let's face it, Gilbert and Sullivan always lifts spirits. But instead of reacting favorably and gathering around the piano sipping gin martinis, the tribe is tense and cagy. Perhaps Gay should tinker with his piano arrangements some more.

Corinne then freely admits that the tension in the tribe stems from the Favorites not knowing which one of the Fans to send home. No one wants to make a mistake in the game being this close to the Merge. Phillip then commandeers the discussion and reveals that all of this is about "the process". Even though he and Corinne may not get along, they are indeed coconspirators working towards a common goal. That goal is successfully avoiding all foo pops that may stand in their way of total global domination. Naturally, Corinne has no idea what Phillip is talking about so she simply sits and nods.

And while we're on Phillip and because Dimples loves Phillip and this is The Phillip Sheppard Show, let's stick with Phillip and get his opinions on the Challenge. According to Phillip, he carried that statue out in the water all by himself which probably tired him out and kept him from tossing his grappling hook effectively. Keep in mind, Phillip wasn't out in the water! He was onshore yelling, "Row! No foo pops! Chichaw! Row!"


Alright, enough of this buffoonery. Let's get to the vote. By a vote of 3 - 3, we have a tie and by a revote of 85 to eleventeen (if you ask Phillip, that's his recollection of the vote and he's standing by it), Phantom Julia is the 8th person voted out of Survivor Caramoan. Since I don't think she even showed up for Tribal, someone kindly pass her a note and let her know she's free to go back to racing her hot wheels. Thank you.

So, what did you think of last night's episode? Do you like that Golden Boy is taking his destiny into his own hands? Will the Favorites reconvene peacefully during the Merge? Should Gay be playing tunes from H.M.S. Pinafore instead of Pirates Of Penzance? Comment it out bitches and have a great day!