Monday, May 13, 2013

It's So Lonely At The Top

If I had a band, I would call it 'Symbiotic Reciprocity'. Just a lute and a pan flute. Strings plucked and air kissed creating whimsical jaunty melodies. Working in tandem and feeding off of one another as pairs are often wont to do. Ribbons and lace, earth and sky, muses and nymphs, dimples and tweets, gin and glitter, dogs and bars. When two ideas, two entities, two seemingly uninspired attempts at greatness make love and absorb each other's essence, something fragrant and sweet is created. When once isn't enough, twice is always better. Why be alone when you can be together? Give and take. Take and give. If at first you don't succeed, try again a second time. Two. Dos. Deux. Due. Zwei. Hard syllables firm in declaration. Teeth separated by something soft and moist. Little enamel enunciations spelling out so much more than words. It has been a harrowing sojourn in Southeast Asia. We've been down and then down again. Once, twice, maybe three times we soared for the briefest of breaths. Only to crash face first in the mud and the sludge. Dizzy, confused and desperate, we sloshed about yearning for our high again. One thing we didn't do was give up. And neither did our intrepid victor. Give up and you can never smile at your own reflection. Give up and an understudy will sweep in to take over. Give up and the play will continue without you. But persist... persist!... and you might find your pocket lined with one million ducats (a cigarette butt and a used condom if you're Jeff Kent). Let's recap, shall we?

We continue our sultry saga under the cover of night. Blackness in our souls and blackness in the air. The only light is the soft reflection from that eternal full moon. Have you ever noticed how the moon never wanes in The Philippines? It is always robust, always hearty, always there to light our way and reveal our inner icky. Speaking of icky, the shaggiest of poodles teeters apprehensively on bony limbs. He grabs a tree branch and tries to steady himself, but the world whizzes by at breakneck speed. Plants, trees, monkeys, tarsiers, the coconut singers... whoosh! When the tree branch too escapes his grip and swirls on by, Erik collapses into a hairy pile while firmly clutching his head. It began back at Tribal Council. What was one Dimple became two Dimples and then three and then four. The fire spurted and sputtered seeming to swallow up the entire cast. He tried to ignore it. I mean, why not? Watching Phillip engulfed in a fiery inferno isn't so bad, is it? But when the fire and the visions and the world continued to twirl, Erik knew this was much much more than wishful thinking.

The remaining Survivors failed to make it out of the Tribal Council staging area before Erik's collapse. And it's a good thing too. A hundred yards more into the jungle thick and Dimples would have been back in his opium den planning his next talk show. Lucky for everyone involved, he's still here to offer a sympathetic hand.

Dr. Joe and Dr. Jen are quickly ushered in to give Erik the once over. With his blood pressure plummeting and the coconut singers still doing their do-si-do's, Erik is diagnosed with malnutrition, dehydration, low blood pressure, acid flashbacks and being terminally boring. Now, I'm not a doctor - although I sometimes play one in this here blog - but Erik just ate earlier in the day! Or did he? Was he too busy making hearts with his arms and giving the Darrell's head noogies to sit down and enjoy one of Bubba Cochran's burgers? How many calories a day does a person contemplating a grain of sand need? Let's not forget, this is the guy who goes on every Reward. Pfft!

And so, after some quick poking and prodding, Dr. Joe concludes that there isn't enough blood getting to Erik's head (I've been saying this since day one!) and he must be pulled from the game. Hearing this news, a slow smile spreads across Cochran's face. He tries to hide it by covering his mouth with his hand, but we know he's twirling his mustache behind those dirty nails of his. He knows the scraggly hippy in the sand just made him one million dollars richer. We can pretend that Theddie (Eddie) and Calgon (Dawn) are threats. We can tell ourselves that Theddie has his bros on the Jury and Calgon is the old lady in the shoe struggling to feed her children, but we know better than that. Cochran knows better than that! And if I didn't know any better, I'd say Bubba laced Erik's burger with arsenic, old lace and some sort of neurotoxin undetectable by your average toxicology tests.

Back at Edamame (Enil Edam), Cochran shuffles his feet across the peace sign in the sand while stifling giggles. The three players left aren't really a threat to him, but there is the off chance that Theddie could actually win the next Immunity Challenge. If that is the case, then Cochran needs to get to Theddie before anyone else can. Theddie is the one person that Cochran hasn't bothered to bond with so whether or not Theddie stays or goes, it is in Cochran's best interest to start feigning fascination with boobs, beers, and bros. But before Cochran can study up on beer pong and spring break in Daytona, it is Theddie who makes the first move on Cochran. The way Theddie sees it, Cochran has the best chance of winning if he goes to the final three with Freebush (Sherri) and himself. The two shake on what we know to be a very flimsy final three deal.

And this brings us to the big Reward Challenge. Come on in guys! For today's Challenge, you will use one hand to steady a balancing board while the other attempts to build a house of cards. The first person to build their house high enough wins an advantage in the final Immunity Challenge. Umm, I need to interject here - NO advantages in any way, shape or form should be given at this juncture in the game. Final Immunity should be won on your own merits. There is too much at stake for, let's say, a hugely unfair advantage to propel you into the finals. More on that later. Survivors ready, go!

I'm going to cruise this real quick because we've got a cantankerous jury to get to. Build, build, build, fall, fall, fall. Hands shaking like leaves. Freebush could never be Lady Justice. The scales of truth and fairness would slide into the dirt and the entire judicial system would lose all value. Build, fall, build, fall... COCHRAN WINS REWARD!!! Calgon promptly rushes him and applies a thick layer of compliments and that motherly guilt she's so darn good at. If "Congratulations" was an Olympic sport, Calgon would be champion of the universe.

Back at Edamame, Cochran is basking in the glow of his Reward win. And like that food challenge win, he won this last Reward Challenge fair and square. If I pull out my abacus and do some swift adding, that would make 2 Challenge wins for the lad. The one where he held onto 10 pounds of weight as the others held onto 2000 doesn't count and I will forever, until the end of time, refuse to count it. Cochran, on the other hand, counts it, gilds it, mounts it and polishes it. He is proud of those 3 (read: 2) wins. Now, I may not add the same as Cochran does and I may bitch endlessly about it, but the one thing those wins are doing for Cochran, the one thing I can never take away from him, is the effect they are having on his self esteem. To a person whose number one enemy is himself, that little extra oomph is invaluable.

On the other end of the spectrum we have Freebush. As interesting as bark and about as noteworthy as some sand in your bikini bottoms, Freebush is overflowing with self esteem - to a disturbing degree. Isn't that a pisser? A likable cerebral guy with a biting wit like Cochran fights day in and day out to wave away doubt and insecurity while a leathery broad who is about as interesting as a carpet fiber has too much self esteem for her own good. But the thing about an overabundance of self esteem is that delusion is commonly a byproduct. You see, Freebush has decided that she wants to go to the end with Theddie and Cochran. In that tanned hide she calls a head, she has decided that Calgon is too much of a threat were she to make it to the final three. With her tears and wallet photos of her 6 shoeless children, the Jury will have no choice but to award Calgon the million dollars.

And then we have Calgon. Nervous Nelly Calgon who has been the center of much Survivor chatter this past weekend. Others scoff and attack when she drops the Mormon act and loses her cool, but I, on the other hand, love those moments of paranoia and anger. Those glimpses behind the perfect facade are what I live for. Sitting around watching a do gooding Mormon mom whisk eggs and dustbust under the refrigerator is boring. But the loss of control, the red face, the angry fists, the accidental profanity... that's life, baby. That's the good stuff. Those primal urges that no matter how hard you try to suffocate, always, always, have a funny way of rising to the surface. Having said that, entertaining as her paranoia may be, it is tiresome and exhausting for someone like Cochran to have to deal with on a daily basis. Cochran has his own demons to conquer and quell. Having to babysit Calgon and whatever new emotion she is about to discover is proving to be not only difficult, but dangerous. Could Cochran screw up his game if, out of pure exhaustion, he drops Calgon? He'll have plenty of time to mull it over in this next segment...

... where a bunch of people died and I took the opportunity to pour myself another tumbler of gin. I boycotted the In Memoriam segment years ago and that boycott continues today.

And this brings us to the big Immunity Challenge. Come on in guys! For today's Challenge, you will race up a three story tower and untie a bag of puzzle pieces. Once you have your bag, you will launch yourself down a slide and drop your bag at your puzzle desk. Once you've collected all three bags, you will then construct a demon hellfire puzzle of Hantzian proportions. The first person to finish their puzzle wins Immunity and will secure their place in the final three. Cochran, since you won that advantage that has no business existing this late in the game, you will have all of your bags already untied for you. Survivors ready, go!

The Challenge begins as the remaining Survivors burst forth. Up the stairs they go. Some taking one step at a time and some skipping two by two. But what we didn't realize, what we couldn't possibly have anticipated, is that those puzzle bags are tied into place using the most complicated nautical knots known to man. Alpine Butterfly intricately tangled with a Carrick Bend. A pesky Poacher's Knot wrapped around a Trucker's Hitch. Quick nimble fingers can tangle with the knots as agile as you please, but Cochran has already collected his last bag and is starting his puzzle.

Thankfully, the puzzle is much harder than it sounds. The flames of the ninth ring of hell are not only wily and deceptive, but they are wiggedy whack in nature. Flit, poof, hiss! Sputter, spoot, crackle! Even the most cunning of minds have difficulty navigating the chaos. And so, with all four players finally at the puzzle desks, Freebush makes a stunning Challenge debut (I say "debut" since she has drowned in all of the other Challenges up until now) and actually begins to lock in some puzzle pieces. Calgon is right behind her placing several pieces of her own. Poor Theddie and Cochran duck and weave under the raging flames while the women, probably used to hot flashes, simply perspire and trundle onward.

Cochran's lead has effectively vanished, but you kind of have to wonder where he'd be if he actually had to untie those bags. Would Freebush and Calgon be farther along? Would Theddie have traded in his buffoon giggles for actual concentration? We can "what if" ourselves until we're loco in the cabeza. It won't change the fact that that was a ridiculous advantage for such a crucial Challenge because... COCHRAN WINS IMMUNITY!!!

One more win and one more notch on Cochran's belt. Why, the lad is quite plainly arrogant at this point. In his mind, he has just won a million dollars. And while I agree with him wholeheartedly, I find the grandstanding to be a little off putting. The "now I have to decide who wins second place" is very Cochran of yesteryear. You remember him, don't you? The one his entire tribe hated with a burning passion. Catching that glimpse of vintage Cochran peeking through makes what he has done this season all the more remarkable. Imagine the effort it took to bite his tongue for the past 39 days. The restraint he had to hone in order to come across as not only nonthreatening, but likable. If he really wanted to, he could probably be a fantastic serial killer.

And then we have Theddie. Universally likable and silly. With not a strategic bone in his body, Theddie is smiles and jokes. He'll rip the top off of a beer with his teeth and leer openly at women's breasts, but we can't hate him! He is good times and noodle salad. A simple man with a simple dream to unite his two loves in life - dogs and beer. Puppy dogs are adorable and furry and  well, beer is beer! Combine the two in a beachside establishment called Waggin' Tails Pub and you've got yourself more than a million dollars, my friend. You've got yourself the best idea since gin and glitter.

And this brings us to Tribal Council. I have to admit I was a little surprised when Erik came trotting in with the Jury. Call me crazy, but if you're pulled from the game, then shouldn't you be pulled from the Jury? It seems odd that one would retain full Jury privileges after a medical emergency. If it was a broken leg, they wouldn't be wheeling him in on a stretcher would they?

Nevertheless! Here we are and that barking mad entrepreneur, Theddie, is OK with Erik getting pulled from the game since he was under the impression that the Erik, Calgon and Freebush had a final three alliance. Whether this is true or not, we'll never know. The fact remains that Cochran couldn't be more pleased, or lucky, that Erik was about to walk into the light.

And so, as a wise man once said, "likability is a liability" as Theddie is the 17th person voted out of Survivor Caramoan. Good luck with Bars & Barks, my friend. Be sure to invite me to the opening.

The next day at Edamame the mood is relaxed and everyone is loosey goosey for the most part. They know a feast is coming and it is just a matter of watching the sun descend into the ocean before Cochran has the biggest night of his life. In the meantime though, Freebush is working on her closing arguments and wondering how one would define the word "pawn". Cochran, reclining in a bamboo beach chair, replies, "Pawns are worthless, basically. No strategic input. No strengths. And, they're expendable." Freebush nods and whispers, "OK." She looks down at the notepad in her hand and scratches out the word "pawn". That clearly won't work when trying to convince the Jury she should win. What about some of the other words on her list? "Sacrificial lamb", hostage, victim... Oh wait, here's one! Superfluous. It has super in it so it must be good. Superfluous it is!

And through the magic of time, here we are at the final Tribal Council. It has taken months to get here. Tens of thousands of words typed. Hours upon hours of thinking up different ways to describe things like air, water and acid trips. We laughed, we cringed, we cried, we threatened to slice our wrists with whatever sharp object we could find, but we made it. We did it! We made some new friends, caught up with old friends, drank too little, drank too much. We stumbled barefoot through day after's and somehow still managed to emerge with our dignity (long gone) and our nipples sparkling. What a long strange trip it has been.

And now gentle ladies and gentlemen, we will hear the opening statements from our finalists.

Calgon stands demurely while hiding the pickaxe in her flowing skirts...
"I look at all of you, my children, and I am deeply humbled. *a ninja star falls out of her bra and hits the ground* You know how difficult this has been for me this season... *she stares accusingly at the entire front row* don't you? Mother doesn't like it when her children disobey her." *a pipe bomb slides out of her headband* I gave myself permission to play the game because god knows you ungrateful brats haven't given me spit!" And then she covered her face and cried while using the tiptoe of her Ked to nudge the pipe bomb under Cochran's seat. I think she's grown this season, don't you?

Freebush is up next. She stands in a baggy pair of pants I'd wish she'd worn more throughout the season and then *plop!* she falls over and drools into the dirt. Cochran and Dimples almost lean over to help her, but decide, in the end, that it's not worth the effort.

Cochran is up last and, let's get real, the kid went to law school. He has literally studied how to address a Jury. He knows what words to put where, when to sound authoritative ("I had to be Calgon's therapist") and when to appear humble ("I wore a Survivor buff to school and wrote a Survivor newsletter!"). He has spent 13 years crafting this final speech and it shows. He is clear and concise with that perfect touch of whimsy.

And now, Jury, it is your turn to address the Finalists. First up is *dims the lights* Golden Boy (Malcolm). He begins by approaching Freebush and placing a paper bag over her head. He then tells Calgon and Cochran that his vote is still up in the air. Next, he does something interesting. Instead of asking Calgon a question, he offers her up some advice. He tells her that she needs to come out and admit that she's a cold-blooded (killer). Just admit it! Admit you stabbed people in the back. Admit you betrayed your closest friends. Embrace it and admit it. Golden Boy doesn't care for the innocent mommy facade when Aileen Wuornos is lurking underneath that gingham polishing her gun. To Cochran he asks, "What quality do you have that I don't?" And then he took off his shirt and let his hair down. Cochran had nothing to say. And neither did we.

Next up is the owner of Woofs & Giggles - Tuesday night is Bitches Night! Theddie, looking a little like Tony Manero, asks Freebush if she is finally ready to admit that she has been carried to the finals. Freebush does that clenched smile thing that is so infuriating and shakes her head no. The Jury erupts into a fit of giggles and, in that moment, Freebush's world, her onion fries, her Dorito pizza and her Chalupa nuggets all came crashing down around her. The Jury started throwing packets of ketchup and mild sauce at her head as she covered herself with a napkin.

And this brings us to *snaps to attention and salutes* Phillip Sheppard. "Freebush, by the power vested in me as a crackerjack girl scout, I am hereby stripping you of all of your merit badges. You will henceforth be forbidden to attend the annual jamboree. Your cookies will be confiscated and divided up amongst my myself." He then turns to Calgon, "Calgon, since I have been living at Ponderosa, I have had the great fortune to study acting with Dame Reynold..." And then he burst into tears and starting clawing at the ground. The Dame sat in the mezzanine and watched carefully through his opera glasses. Vocal projection - good. Subtlety and nuance - needs work.

Erik, that peaceful guy dying from malnutrition a day earlier, is up next. He spits at Calgon, "Are you aware of the damage you caused?" Damage? *looks around the room* The damage of, oh I don't know, voting out a strategic player and playing the game? Is that the damage you're talking about, Erik? This isn't a Phish concert. We're not passing around nitrous balloons and adhering to the honor code. This is a game for a million dollars. Calgon replies that she was simply playing the game and staying loyal to her alliance. It was a true answer to a moronic question and I applaud Calgon for it.

Next up is Gay (Michael). We didn't really get to know Gay, but he has always struck me as a level-headed kind of a guy. And level-headed he is indeed. Out of all of the Jurors, Gay is the only one to recognize that even though Cochran and Calgon essentially played the same game and voted the same week in and week out, only Calgon is getting the backlash from the victimized Jurors. And while this point is astute and accurate, it also further highlights the finesse in which Cochran played his game compared to how Calgon played hers.

Everyone, shh. The great actress of stage and screen is up next and I have been deprived of his charms for much much too long. *the curtain parts*
"If we Jurors have offended
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but stumbled here
While all these vision did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
Fans versus Favorites, what a scream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck
Freebush, you do really doth suck
Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck, a liar call;
Do it to me Calgon,
Make me bawl!
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And this Dame shall restore amends."
And then he dropped a handkerchief as the crowd rose to their feet. *tear*

Then Mascaroni  (Andrea) got up and said something nice. She's not bitter, she's grateful. *yawn* Next!

I've written and rewritten this next part several times and, for some reason, it's not coming out right. Stooping to the level of someone I find so abhorrent isn't what I want to do here. Instead, I'll just keep it simple...

Calgon, you've been a great friend to the blog. Not only did you laugh when I compared you to the mom in Psycho, but you played such a consistently interesting game that I was able to have some whacky fun with your character. Thank you so much for your support. I hope we get to see you back on social media soon. Love ya lady! And congratulations! Final three!!!

And with a whoosh and our hair blowing in the breeze, we arrive at the Survivor Reunion. I took one look at that devilishly handsome Golden Boy sitting there with his hair down and I knew - I knew! - that it was going to be a good night indeed. The stars were twinkling, Dimples was smiling, and there was a rightness in the air.

So, let's get to it, by a vote of 800,000 to zero, COCHRAN HAS WON SURVIVOR CARAMOAN!!!! Congratulations you spindly fop. You not only played a more mature game this time around, but you played a patient game. And that, I believe, was the key to your success.

But wait, there's more! A million dollars (a dead cockroach and some kite string if you're Jeff Kent) is nice and all, but it pales in comparison to this awesomeness:

*runs to drag the baby pool full of glitter that I keep on standby for such occasions* Come on everyone, we're all diving in. I broke through the fourth wall and that sassy Dimples actually said my name. It's naked time!

So, that's that. What did you think of Survivor Caramoan? Did the right person win? Why did Boston Rob get more airtime than people who actually played the game? Who wants to hit up Bitches Night at the Waggin' Tail Pub with me? Comment it out bitches and have a great day!

I will see you back here in September for Survivor: There Will Be Blood or whatever the hell they're calling it. You can also find me this summer at the Bitchy Big Brother Blog and as a co-host on the Big Brother Gossip Show.

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