Thursday, April 4, 2013

Punched In The Face

Prized for its balance of textures and flavors, the balut is a Southeast Asian streetfood delicacy. Commonly sold in the evening to cloak its horrific appearance in darkness, these tiny fertilized duck embryos are widely consumed as a high protein snack. Translated from the Malay or Filipino balut, the word itself means "wrapped". And wrapped it is! A conveniently pocketed orb of eyeballs, feathers, veins, blood vessels, an umbilical cord, and, yes, a crunchy little beak all safely nestled in a shell. Incubation time can vary from 18-21 days. Much like the incubation time of Survivors who, up until now, have been content with the status quo. Content with the giant man child moonwalking into the campfire. Content with the wide-eyed gingham matron tucking everyone into their beds at night. Content with "us over here, you over there." Sometimes though, sometimes, an egg meant for consumption before its time rolls away and is allowed to mature and flourish in the golden sun. Emerging from its shell, it'll shake its feathers with wild abandon and flutter hither and thither with all sorts of ideas. Revolutionary ideas. Independent ideas. Triumphant hairy ideas of nipples and plaid. Let down your hair, fair peacock. An idea must unfurl. Cascade. Tumble and bounce. Otherwise, it is tied too tight. Smothered. Deprived of the oxygen it needs to thrive. Let's recap, shall we?

We continue our torrid Filipino tale in the thick of night at Baklava (Bikal). Wistful clouds of truth creep about in the moonlight before floating away... far far away. Rapscallion jester Phillip Sheppard sashays into the scene and breaks the awkward silence by congratulating Gay (Michael) on surviving another Tribal Council. With his arm around a joyous Gay, Phillip then motions to Corinne and Calgon (Dawn) that he'd like a word with them in the bunker. Leading the way with leaps and James Brown slides, Phillip maneuvers through the landmines he has placed all around camp (coconuts sliced in half and placed face down in the sand). Once out of earshot of the others, Phillip giggles and reveals his deep dark secret, "There's one thing I did and didn't clue you in on. I threw the challenge. Co-coch-cochran knew about it. You noticed what I was doing, but you didn't figure it out. Chichaw! Remember when you told me to pull the line in quicker? Remember? You told me to pull quicker and I couldn't... I mean, didn't. That's The Specialist, baby. Jump back!" And then he do-si-do'd into a bush and tried to radio Langley with a clam shell. Corinne and Calgon stood in silence left to roll their eyes at one another in the night sky.

(Gesu a la Samaritana al pozzo by Giacomo Franceschini)

With the passing of time, a new day dawns and with it, a number. Twenty. 2-0. A nice round even number hangs in the air taunting Calgon with memories of yesteryear. At this time in the South Pacific, many moons ago, a Merge was afoot and Calgon's best good friend Cochran shook up the entire game by switching loyalties. Could it happen again here in The Philippines? Could a traitor be close by? With the uneasiness and anxiety gnawing at Calgon's gut and churning with malicious intent, she seeks comfort from her wishing well hidden in the trees. It is her private place to reflect, gather her thoughts, and pop Klonopin likes it's candy. And don't think that the imagery of a woman at a well is lost on Calgon. Being a religious sort, Calgon dutifully recalls the story of the Samaritan woman at the well and the lessons hidden within. Can she too accept the people around her with love and compassion? Can her fear of scallawags, like her tears, plop away into the inky blackness beneath her? *shrugs shoulders* I have no idea. Terence Trent D'arby does though... Wish me love a wishing well to kiss and tell/A wishing well of butterfly tears/Wish me love a wishing well to kiss and tell/A wishing well of crocodile cheers What a crocodile cheer is I do not know. All at once it sounds festive yet menacing. How does that portend in this here game of Survivor? Only time will tell.

Meanwhile, at Goiter (Gota), fit brawny sorts are splashing and cavorting in the crystalline blue waters. The Dame Reynold, fetching in a swim cap, is busy with his latest synchronized swimming routine as a local fishing boat approaches the shore. From the beach, Theddie (Eddie) shouts, "Sthomethingths happening!" Sthomethingth indeed! Hearing the commotion ashore, Dame Reynold pauses mid fankick and exclaims, "We've been saved! Get me off this island!" And then, with one perfectly pointed ballet leg sticking out of the water, he grips the back of the fishing boat and squeals as the fishermen pull him towards the beach. When the boat finally reaches the sandy shore, a man in a conical hat hands Mascaroni (Andrea) a note - Pack up all your crap, bitches. It's Merge time! The Goiters quickly break out into a raucous celebration of woo-hoo's. This is what they've been waiting for. This is what we've been waiting for. This is when the game can finally begin.

Gliding over the water and carrying precious cargo (i.e. Golden Boy (Malcolm)), the fishing boat arrives at Baklava where the merriment continues. Both tribes breathe in the heady aromas of one another and gleefully grasp each other in loving embraces. It appears that everyone has wanted this union for a while now - especially gangly Cochran. The Merge is the time when his freckles come together and make smiley faces.

Within the note given to Mascaroni was also a key. It turns out that this key unlocks a chest filled with food, green buffs and a brand spanking new flag for the tribe to name and decorate. With mouths full of the bologna sandwiches Calgon has passed out to everyone with the crusts cut off, the tribe workshops some new camp names. Gay thinks the tribe should be called "Stanley" while Corinne is in favor of "Douglas". Golden Boy has a better idea though. How about "Enil Edam"? Mascaroni nods in agreement, "Enil Edam means 'new beginning'." Sure, Mascaroni. Perhaps in Dothraki that is what it means. In reality, however, Enil Edam is Golden Boy giving a shout out to his mama, Madeline. *swoon* But, for our purposes, Enil Edam will now be known as Edamame. Delicious and good for you... much like Golden Boy. Badum bum!

With a full belly and a new skip in his step, Phillip wraps Mascaroni in a giant bear hug, "It's good to see my girl!" And then he whips out the blueprints he has devised in order for him, Mascaroni, Calgon and Cochran to sail into the final four. On the blueprints, in crayon, is a drawing of Boston Rob lying in bed covered in a Red Sox blanket. That's it. That's the plan! When you're lying in bed, pretend you're Boston Rob. That's what Phillip does and it's gotten him this far. But before they can lie back and creatively visualize themselves as a goateed guy with a weird accent, they need to rid the camp of those powerful Fan men - namely, Dame Reynold and Theddie. Truth be told, Mascaroni really isn't all that concerned with the first vote. There are 8 Favorites and 4 Fans. Why sweat this first vote when they've already got the numbers?

At the same time, further down the beach, Corinne is also rekindling old relationships. She wastes no time touching base with Golden Boy and telling him just how truly awful Phillip has been. His late night fire drills, the pre-dawn marches, and, oh god, don't get her started on the moat he dug around the latrine. She confesses to Golden Boy that, at one time, she even considered voting out Phillip. Golden Boy listens to Corinne's complaints and tells her that he has no intention of sticking with the Favorites alliance for much longer. Corinne replies, "But we don't have the numbers." Golden Boy then flashes his pearly whites, "I've got 4 votes. Dame Reynold, Theddie and Erik." Corinne smiles in return, "I've got Gay." That makes 6 votes. With 12 people left in the game, they don't yet have a majority, but they're close. Oh so close. To keep the other Favorites from getting suspicious, Corinne suggests that they get rid of Freebush (Sherri) first. After she's gone, they can flip the switch and get rid of Phillip. *claps excitedly* Yes! It's the perfect plan. Surely, nothing can screw this up. Not a thing.

Later that afternoon, Cochran returns with the Tree Mail. Words like "bitten", "chew" and "swallow" litter the message. Calgon breaks into a jaunty dance while thinking it'll be a challenge where she gets to eat her way through the food pyramid. Golden Boy quickly rains on her parade saying, "No! It's eating gross stuff." That shuts her up. But then we hear a tiny high-pitched gasp followed by a rapid fluttering. Tis Dame Reynold fanning himself rapidly with one hand while digging into his purse with the other hand searching for his smelling salts. If there is one thing Dame Reynold can't do, it is eat gross stuff. Let's just say you'll never find him at an oyster bar on a Saturday after his matinee performance. And you can forget about escargot. Anything slimy and squiggly that doesn't come with a side of french fries is not the sort of fare Dame Reynold will indulge in.

Theddie, it turns out, is also a little nervous about the upcoming challenge. Oh, he's not scared to eat bull testicles or the anus of an ostriche. He's more worried about the effect this challenge could have on his love life. One night when he's getting amorous with a lady friend she might flashback to that time on Survivor when he swallowed a whole tarantula. According to Theddie, she'll button up her blouse lightening quick, race up the stairs of his parents basement and not let him get to second base.

And then we have Cochran. Unlike the others, Cochran is actually looking forward to this challenge. Eating gross stuff won't hurt his reputation with the ladies. In fact, his image might benefit from an eating challenge makeover. Whereas once he might have been shy and awkward, he could now be that guy. That guy who won a necklace eating 100 crickets in 10 seconds. That guy with his collar pointed skyward who once ate raw pig intestines. Mr. Cool. The ladies, they'll come a-runnin'.

And this brings us to the big Immunity Challenge. Come on in guys! For today's challenge you will take part in a Survivor classic - a food eating competition where you will race to get down local delicacies. You will square off in a series of elimination rounds until only two remain. The final winner gets the Immunity Necklace and cannot be voted out at the next Tribal Council.

For round 1, we have Mascaroni, Freebush, Corinne, Erik, Theddie and Golden Boy. Erik stares down at the covered plate before him as it begins to crawl from side to side. Whatever is under that dome is alive! The first three to finish will move onto the next round. The players then unveil the fat and juicy beetle larvae on their plates. Golden Boy complains, "It's running off the plate." Theddie's lower lip then begins to tremble, "Isth it gonna bite me?" Oh shut up, all of youse. Survivors ready, go!

All of the players quickly pop the little rascals into their mouths and the contest seems to be more about who can chew the fastest rather than who has the cajones to eat some worms. Mascaroni finishes first followed by Golden Boy. Lastly, we have Theddie moving onto round 2.

Next up is Dame Reynold, Mowgli (Brenda), Phillip, Gay, Cochran and Calgon. Phillip immediately begins to retch at the sight of the squirmy little fellows as Calgon quietly mumbles a quick prayer to herself before asking if she can pop it into her mouth whole. Dimples immediately tells Calgon to put her food down.
Just wait.
For me to say Survivors ready, go! Bitch.
Oh. Ok.
Survivors ready, go!
Cochran tosses his larvae up in the air like it's popcorn before swallowing them both whole and revealing his tongue. He finishes first followed by Phillip and Gay.

For round 2 we have Mascaroni, Cochran, Phillip, Gay, Theddie and Golden Boy. The 6 unveil their plates to reveal a mess of shit worms. I heard it as "shit worms" so therefore, it's shit worms. Apparently, they're part of the clam family. Insert naughty joke here. Survivors ready, go!

Cochran lifts the entire bunch of shit worms at once and plops them down his gullet. Meanwhile, Golden Boy and Theddie frantically chew themselves into a tie.

For round 3 we have Cochran, Theddie and Golden Boy. Meet the mighty balut, boys. My opening paragraph metaphor. My symbol for the blossoming Survivor. A duck embryo allowed to grow just enough. Not quite all the way. Golden Boy remarks, "I can see the feathers." And I think it hits me what Golden Boy is doing. Is he psyching out the competition? Is he trying to ruffle Theddie and Cochran's feathers with psychological warfare? Perhaps. Survivors ready, go!

Cochran, again, tosses his up in the air. Only this time he added the flourish of a twirl. *gulp* Meanwhile, Theddie is vomiting and then re-eating his own vomit. You know what, Theddie? You were right. This competition just murdered your love life. And with that, Cochran and Golden Boy move onto the final round!

With the last plate before the finalists, Dimples smiles to himself and shakes his head. "Cochran, you're in the finals of an Immunity Challenge! This is David and Goliath." Golden Boy then turns to Cochran and points accusingly at his head, "This is Ginger Kobayashi right here." Cochran flips his collar up and replies, "Bring it on." Mr. Cool, indeed. The two men unveil their plates and before them lies the brains of a pig. Survivors ready, go!

Quickly, both men shove the brains into their mouths and begin to swallow. A tiny piece tries to escape from the corner of Cochran's mouth, but he simply shoves it back in. As quickly as it began is as quickly at it ended beacuse... COCHRAN WINS IMMUNITY!!! *plays 'Eye Of The Tiger'* What then ensued was a celebration. A celebration of interpretive dance where Cochran sparred like a boxer punching each and everyone one of his competitors over and over again. The lad spun, he jived, he did the worm - because he just ate of whole mess of shit worms - and then he posed with his arms crossed in front of him. He winked to the ladies in the stands and instead of walking back to camp, he strutted.

The spindly fop did a strut that would make John Travolta jealous.

Back at Edamame, Golden Boy checks in with Theddie to make sure that everyone is still on the same page. He tells Theddie that Corinne, Dame Reynold and Erik are onboard with the new alliance. While I admire Golden Boy's firm grasp on the game, I worry about his confidence in Erik. We've never seen him talk to Erik. Quite frankly, we've never seen Erik talk to anybody. He exists in the head shop of his imagination and, sometimes, you can see him wander out into the sea, glassy-eyed, to have a chat with a drop of water. Other than that, we don't really see much of the guy.

Meanwhile, Phillip Sheppard is pitching one of his cockamamie plans to Corinne to split the vote between Dame Reynold and Theddie. Because he saw Boston Rob do it once successfully several seasons ago, Phillip now has to enter into every Tribal Council by splitting the votes. Corinne, on the other hand, thinks splitting the votes is silly. She suggests to Phillip that they simply get rid of Freebush since none of the Fans like her anyways. Phillip immediately poo-poo's that idea and explains that he wants a big fish to go home on this first Merge vote. Once again he cites the mighty Boston Rob, lying in his bed, taking out the power players first. Corinne's lips form a thin line in anger. Phillip never listens to any of her situations. He never entertains her ideas and it's really beginning to piss her off.

The problem with being pissed off is that you tend to act erratically. You begin to flap your gums in vain and vent to people that you might not otherwise vent to. And this is exactly what Corinne does. She immediately goes to Cochran, Mascaroni and Dawn to complain about how Phillip wants to split the votes. She suggests that they vote for Freebush and let Phillip vote however he wants to vote. Let him fly solo. Corinne is frustrated that he strong-arms her into doing his bidding week after week. This time, she wants to strong-arm him. Listening to all of this, Cochran is fine with getting rid of Freebush although he questions why Corinne is so adamant to keep Dame Reynold and Theddie in the game. In addition, the fact that Phillip and Corinne can't peacefully coexist and come to a mutual decision is blatantly admitting to the world that the Favorites are dysfunctional rather than one big happy family.

Now, if you don't mind, I'd like to check in with Dame Reynold and see what he thinks about all of this. Dame? *curtain pulls back*

"Greetings gentle men and gentle women. I find myself in the peculiar position of hitching my wagons and petticoats to a serpentine counter alliance. Tis a necessary gesture to make when encountering a merry-andrew like Lord Phillip. For what can be gained by a buffoon in this fertile Eden in which we find ourselves lost. If I am to be a scoundrel, then so be it. I kneel and accept the challenge without haste. Oh ye game of Survivor, place your sword upon velvet shoulder and bestow upon your servant the wisdom to go forth. To go forth and prosper. To go forth and conquer. To go forth and WIN." And then he daintily held a lacy handkerchief up to his face and fainted. *stands and applauds* Brava! *throws roses onstage* What a dame!

Leaving the theatre, I am not only moved by the passion, but I am optimistic. A Serpentine Counter Alliance of ne'er-do-wells is exactly what this game needs. Fiery scamps causing a raucous is something I can get behind and support. But still, the first part of the plan must come to pass. Somehow they have to find a way to get rid of Freebush without raising suspicion and outing themselves. Perhaps Corinne can make it happen with Calgon... or perhaps not.

In the next scene we find Corinne and Calgon escaping into the jungle thick to discuss their next move. Corinne immediately jumps into how she's not heard and her opinions are never appreciated by Phillip. Whenever she makes a suggestion, he immediately nixes it. Calgon nods with understanding. She gets what Corinne is saying. Phillip is indeed overbearing and needs to handled with kid gloves. Corinne, perhaps encouraged by Calgon nodding in agreement, then reveals the inner workings of the Serpentine Counter Alliance and tells Calgon that she has the votes to get rid of Phillip if he doesn't start taking her seriously. *throws a coconut at Corinne's head* "I've got Golden Boy and Dame Reynold and Theddie..." SHUT UP! "And Gay is 100% with us too." *throws a ninja star at Corinne's head* Calgon replies, "That's like 6 people." Corinne nods, "Uh huh. And we have Erik." OMG SHUT UP!

Calgon, now armed with this valuable information, doesn't really know how to proceed. This is exactly what happened on her last season. Clearly, there is nothing left to do but cry... AND go run and tell Cochran everything. *throws a frying pan at Calgon's head* Upon hearing about the Serpentine Counter Alliance, the color instantly drains from Cochran's face and you can sort of see his heart begin to pound beneath his sweater vest. Calgon then says, "If I had the numbers, I'd vote Corinne out." Sobered by the game taking a drastic turn where 3, possibly 4, powerful men could keep winning Immunity Challenges week after week, Cochran begins to run down the people they could get to vote out Corinne. If they can get Freebush and Erik onboard, they might be able to pull off a blindside.

And so begins a quick game of telephone. Cochran tells Mascaroni what's going on. Mascaroni then tells Phillip what's going on. And Phillip, well he accosts Freebush in the shelter. Sitting across from her he whips out a list of all the people in the Stealth R Us organization. Right there, with a giant booger next her crossed out name, it says CORINNE. Phillip then dramatically takes his crayon out of his panties and writes in a childlike scrawl FREEBOOSH. He tells Freebush that if she joins them and votes out Corinne tonight, then she will drastically change the fate of her game. The only problem is that Freebush hates Phillip. She hates his arrogance, his silly names, his stupid pink panties. She hates everything about him. BUT she's in a tight spot and she's willing to make a big move to stay in the game.

Meanwhile, because Erik doesn't really speak, Mascaroni is miming him instructions to vote out Corinne tonight. She points at Corinne's name on the Edamame flag and then grabs her own neck and mock strangles herself. Erik nods his shaggy mane and gives her a thumbs up sign. Uh oh.

Golden Boy then meets with Erik on the beach to "talk" a little strategy. Again, since Erik is a mute, one has to be clever when discussing the game with him. In addition to his many many talents (juggling bottles of liquor, signing girls boobs and letting down his cascading mane), Golden Boy is also an accomplished artist. With Erik watching closely, Golden Boy grabs a stick and quickly draws a picture of Sandra Bullock in the sand. He points to the picture and nods. Erik stares silently at the drawing and smiles. He loves Practical Magic! But did he get the memo that he has to vote out Freebush tonight? Your guess is as good as mine.

And this brings us to Tribal Council. Dimples begins by noticing that since the switch, only Fans have been voted out of the game. He asks Gay if he thinks that tradition will continue. Gay replies in the affirmative. He says that is clear to the Fans that the Favorites will be sticking together until the very end.

Dimples asks Corinne what she thinks about all hope being lost for the Fans. Corinne replies that nothing is ever a lost cause. If you come to her with a good idea, then maybe she'll consider it. Phillip dramatically places his head in his hands while Calgon mumbles something about 12 people not all being able to make it to the final 3.

Oh Dame Reynold. Pray give us a stanza.
*Dame Reynold rises*
Doubt thou stars are fire
Doubt thou stars are love
Doubt truth to be a liar
But never doubt I love.
*Dame Reynold then sweeps dramatically downstage*
Not all can be on top
When there are eight
For I am a lacy fop
And aren't my ribbons great?

Dimples giggles and claps enthusiastically. He then turns to Erik and asks him what he thinks of Dame Reynold's performance. Erik nods and shrugs his shoulders. Oh dear, is he not a fan of iambic pentameter?

Alright, enough jibber jabber, let's get to the vote. By a vote of 75 to eleventeen, Corinne and her big fat mouth that can't keep a secret is the 9th person voted out of Survivor Carmoan.

So, what did you guys think of last night's episode? What does this mean for the Serpentine Counter Alliance? Are you happy to see Corinne go? If we drown Erik in shallow water, will he make a sound? Comment it out bitches and have a great day!

One more thing, I have a teeny tiny favor to ask of you lovely bitches. If you haven't already, can you please head on over to the XI COCKTAILS Facebook Page, Like it and then leave a little note saying "Colette Lala sent me"? I'm trying desperately to win a bottle of liquor signed by three of my favorite Survivors - Shakira, Golden Boy and Prickly Pete. Thanks bitches!