Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Early Line

This weekend marks the 135th Run for the Roses in Louisville Kentucky. Every year on the first Saturday in May three year-old thoroughbreds run at Churchill Downs in the Kentucky Derby. Once the field is established, odds are established for each horse. After that, Mint Juleps are sipped, bets are placed and they’re off!

In honor of this fine tradition, I would like to place the odds for the remaining contestants in Survivor Tocantins. Tonight, much to my chagrin, the adorable Sierra was sent packing. That leaves the official “field” at six.

Here are my odds for the 18th run for the title of Sole Survivor and the $1,000,000 check that goes along with it.

My long shot is Coach Ben Wade at 20 to 1. I know what you are thinking. How can this fool make the self-proclaimed Dragon Slayer the long shot? Easy, the man is a liar, a storyteller, a fibber, a real bullshitter! And at this point everyone is on to him. Besides, if he made it to the finals, no one would vote for him.

Going off at 15 to 1 is Debra Beebe, the middle school principal. Tonight she also proved to a liar, just like her chum Coach Wade. The problem is that she is not a good one. She starts blubbering shortly after the latest falsehood slips out of her pretty mouth. I wonder what the parents of the children at her school are thinking. Nice boobs?

Next is the local girl, Erinn Lobdell at 10 to 1. I realize that she is from Waukesha Wisconsin, but can you say windsock? She changes her mind more often than she changes her panties. Oops, bad analogy for Survivor. Because of her proneness to flip-flop, I could be wrong about Erinn. Could be the dark horse.

At 7 to 1 I have James Thomas Jr., affectionately known as JT. Before tonight’s episode I had the affable hick as my favorite. However, throughout the show he was constantly kissing up to the nefarious Coach. That, and the fact that I am tiring of his Jethro Bodine act, dropped his odds.

Although I don’t particularly care for him, Stephen Fisbach garners 4 to 1 odds. He is kind of a worm and a bit smarmy but that can be a good thing on Survivor. The thing I like most about him is that he is always thinking and analyzing everything. The fact that he hasn’t really pissed anyone off yet makes him a strong candidate to win it all.

The unlikely favorite is Taj George at 3 to 1. She was strong out of the gate, appearing to be powerful and vocal, a tough competitor in the challenges. Since then she has kept her yap shut and sucked in the challenges. The perfect strategy! She is not getting under the skin of her tribe mates and doesn’t seem to be a threat during challenges. Brilliant!

Please keep in mind that Taj and Stephen possess the only Hidden Immunity Idol. I am not sure which of them actually has it, but one of them does. Being that it must be played before the final four, it could emerge very soon.

There you have it, the official odds for the final six left at Tocantins. If you don’t agree, let me know who your favorite is. With that being said, I feel it necessary to remind Fellow Survivor Geek Jamie that Sandy is no longer available foe consideration. Until next time…from Tocantins.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Fill In The Blank

Having frequently spoken of my fondness for television game shows, I thought that it was time to bring up my favorite game show, the star-studded, big money Match Game. Besides, in my column Survey Says!, I had promised to write a column about my favorite and not-so favorite Match Game celebrities.

Match Game aired on CBS from 1973 to 1979, with the syndicated Match Game PM nighttime version showing on local stations from 1975 to 1981.

The first week's celebrity panelists, in seating order, were Michael Landon, Vicki Lawrence, Jack Klugman, Jo Ann Pflug, Richard Dawson and Anita Gillette with Gene Rayburn acting as emcee.

Since that first week there was a myriad of celebrities making up the six-person panel that provided the contestants with risqué and often-bawdy answers to the raunchy fill-in-the-blank questions read by the egotistic Rayburn.

With such an immense inventory of personalities to choose from, it made selecting a top 5 a little tricky. Picking the not-so favorites was a little easier. That being said, here are, in no particular order, my least favorite Match Game celebrity panelists:

Gary Burghoff - He thought he was a top-notch nightclub performer but he wasn’t. He was Radar O’Reilly, not Frank Sinatra. Not even Nancy Sinatra.

Eva Gabor – I liked her shtick on Green Acres. On Match Game she was just annoying. It wasn’t a gimmick, she really was Lisa Douglass. The woman didn’t have a clue.

Bob Barker – The great host of The Price Is Right was a terrible panelist on Match Game. He was too busy promoting TPIR and his other projects. He was somewhat of a pompous ass. That was Rayburn’s role.

Alex Karras – Accomplished a lot. He was memorable, starring in the NFL, Blazing Saddles, and the TV program Webster. The only thing that I remembered him for on Match Game was trying to look intellectual while puffing on a pipe. It didn’t work.

Joey Bishop – He just didn’t get it and was never funny. It seemed as if he never knew what was going on. Brett Somers constantly had to tell him what to do.

Now for the hard part, picking my all time favorites. I narrowed it down to twenty, then finally a top 5 with ten honorable mentions. First, in alphabetical order, the honorable mention list:

Bart Braverman
Joyce Bulifant
Bill Daily
Dick Martin
Scoey Mitchell
Debralee Scott
Brett Somers
McLean Stevenson
Marcia Wallace
Betty White

You may be surprised that Bret Somers wasn’t in the top 5. The truth of the matter is she barely made honorable mention. She was a bit too “drinky” and was always asking Rayburn to repeat himself because she wasn’t paying attention. As much as I watch Match Game, she eventually got on my nerves.

Without further adieu, in reverse order, my top 5 Match Game celebrity panelists:

Patti Deutsch - She cracked me up all the time. She had a dry sense of humor and despite her prominent overbite, I found her a bit fetching.

Elaine Joyce – I will be honest with you, she would have made the top 5 on her looks alone. However, I did find her mildly amusing. Was easily the most attractive panelist ever on Match Game.

Fannie Flagg – Was witty, charming and her self-deprecating manner was hilarious. She could also be counted on to wear a t-shirt or sweater that Rayburn or one of the other panelists felt compelled to comment on.

Richard Dawson – Besides being funny and flirtatious with the ladies, he also provided the correct answers more than any other panelist. This made him very popular with the contestants when it came time for the big money match.

Charles Nelson Reilly – Number one hands down. Next to Dawson, he provided the best answers, was the most humorous and forever referred to Somers as Susan. Why, I don’t know, but he did and it was hysterical. Plus, take note Alex Karras, Charles looked good smoking a pipe.

Those are my favorites and my not-so favorites and I am sticking to them! If you want to let me know who made your lists, I will be glad to post it in the comments section. But don’t be surprised when the Kenosha News snatches them up and does a Sunday feature on it. Until next time…from the booth.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Warrior Alliance Crumbles

I am not going to be too wordy in tonight’s recap of Survivor. That is because I want to celebrate the decimation of Coaches pompous Warrior Alliance. The look on his smug face was priceless as Jeff Probst uttered the fatal phrase to Tyson at Tribal Council.

When Probst proclaimed, “The tribe has spoken” to Coaches main stooge and right-hand man Tyson, I was ecstatic. The only emotion that could have equaled my elation was the utter astonishment felt by the Coach.

Until those glorious words were spoken I didn’t really believe it would happen. From the beginning it appeared that Sierra’s impending exit was only a formality as Coach calmly explained to her that, “In love and war, it’s killed or be killed.” Huh?

As it turned out it, he was talking to the wrong person. It should have been his smarmy sidekick Tyson the slimy rat bastard.

Early in the show, Tyson made his feelings clear by saying, “I don’t like Sierra, she is of no worth!” Later, in his best little snotty voice, he told her, “You’re the next to go and you’re not going to be able to change that.”

Obviously Coach had Tyson convinced just how invincible the Warrior Alliance was. So much so that in the Immunity Challenge Coach, JT and Stephen ate pizza rather then competing. This move left Tyson as the only male in the challenge.

Only some last second heroics in the challenge by Debra prevented Sierra from spoiling Coaches devious plot before they even got to Tribal Council. This actually made the ending all the more spectacular and unexpected.

Shortly before Tribal Council, Tyson, being the repugnant jerk that he is, declared to whoever was listening, “Tonight’s Tribal Council will be awesome. I hope Sierra cries a lot.” Hey Tyson, who’s crying now?

With the apparent Warrior Alliance crumbling before our very eyes, it makes you wonder what tricks the maniacal Coach has left up his sleeve. Remaining for him to work his magic on are JT, Erinn, Taj, Stephen, Debra and my girl Sierra.

That’s all I have for you. I told you that I would make it short, that I wanted to celebrate this miraculous blindside. It will be very interesting to see what’s in store for us next week in Tocantins. Until then…from the booth.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


This weekend proved very enlightening for yours truly. Saturday afternoon at approximately 3:00 pm I discovered that “Fonzie” was still the diminutive Italian character that wore a leather jacket on Happy Days. I was extremely relieved to find he had not become a 6’1” 180 lb. Dominican who plays leftfield for the Chicago Cubs.

But my weekend of enlightenment did not end there.

Not only did I learn that the leftfielder for the Cubs was actually Alfonso Soriano and not “Fonzie”, I also was clued in to a few other facts. Besides the Cubs leftfielder, their ace pitcher, first baseman and third baseman also had real names!

Indeed, all four of these players had honest-to-goodness adult names. In addition to Soriano in left, the Cubs have a pitcher named Carlos Zambrano, not “The Big Z”. Their first baseman is not “D-Lee”. No, he is Derrek Lee. And, believe it or not, Aramis Ramírez plays third base, not “Rommy”.

Thanks to the professionalism of Thom Brennaman and Mark Grace, I was made aware of the quartet’s actual names. The key word in this sentence is professionalism! Brennaman and Grace did the Cubs game on Saturday for Fox and not one “Fonzie” was uttered.

Professionalism isn’t in the makeup of the two gentlemen that masquerade as broadcasters for the team they cover in the third largest market in the country. And I am not talking about Ken Harrelson and Steve Stone.

Before going any further I must tell those who don’t know me that I am not a Chicago Cubs fan. I was for a few years in the ‘60s, however the arrival of the Brewers in Milwaukee changed all of that.

Since then I have developed a passionate dislike for Chicago sports teams, with the strongest disdain being held for the team on the northside. That being said, it is not this aversion to the Cubs that makes me cringe when Len Kasper and Bob Brenly do a game.

Whether the game is on WGN or Comcast, there is always the same glib, over-familiar banter oozing out over the airwaves. I happened to turn the game on Friday afternoon just as it was beginning. I was greeted with, “Hi everyone, Len and Bob here with all the gang from WGN!”

Len who? Bob who? Who’s in this WGN gang? Fonzie? D-Lee and The Big Z? Maybe Rommy! There have been times when Alfonso Soriano was at-bat that neither “Len” nor “Bob” referred to him by Soriano. Nope, it was always “Fonzie”.

Hell, I would have settled for an Alfonso. Maybe I have truly become middle-aged man, but you would expect a tad of professionalism from this duo. Being funny and personable is one thing, however the amateurish presumptuousness of Kasper and Brenly is a bit much. I’m not their next-door neighbor!

Being a big fan, I watch, a boatload of baseball games. With the Brewers, White Sox and Cubs available most of the time, there are also games on ESPN, Fox and TBS to choose from. With the advent of the new MLB network I now have a veritable cornucopia of games for my viewing pleasure.

Being able to watch games on all the different networks at my disposal, I am now able to hear a variety of broadcasters along with their differing styles. Some I like more than others for one reason or another.

The smug, know-it-all color commentary of Steve Stone or Joe Morgan is something that I can do without. The combo of Brennaman and Grace did a nice job covering the Cubs/Cardinals game Saturday, although Grace might want to say no to a Lucky Strike now and then. Matt Vasgersian is a fine example of an announcer that can show some personality while doing a game.

Whether I like them or not, what Vasgersian and all the others have that Kasper and Brenly lack is professionalism. Using a player’s nickname is okay once in a while during the course of a game, but not relentlessly. Some sense of decorum is required.

Arthur Fonzarelli is “Fonzie”. He always has been and always will be. Not Alfonso Soriano, despite what Len Kasper and Bob Brenly might lead you to believe. Until next time…from the booth.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dragon Slayer or Bullshitter?

Survivor fans finally got the Tribal Council that we were teased with last week. Unfortunately we had to put up with Coach’s bizarreness throughout tonight’s episode to get to it. Admittedly, it made for quality reality TV. Okay, I know that’s an oxymoron, but you know what I mean.

As the show opened, Coach related a story of how he was air lifted into the Amazon and was captured by seven midget natives with bow and arrows. He went on to say that they tied him to a stake and took turns beating him with a little club. Fortunately (?) he was able to escape.

Later when Jeff Probst questioned him at Tribal Council about this amazing tale, the Coach got more graphic in the details. He then explained that he typically tells the PG-13 version back at camp. The story helped to reinforce the fact that he is one peculiar dude.

He continued to amaze/amuse his Forza tribe mates and Probst by revealing that he has faced “five, six, seven or eight life or death situations. Moments when he thought he had three seconds left to live.”

His bull shitting wasn’t the only Coach “moments” that we were treated to tonight. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

Shortly after telling that captivating story he made several observations. First Coach declared that Brendan was the dragon and therefore he was the dragon slayer. Weird, eh? Wait, it gets better.

Next, he stated that Sierra was the bowel movement of the dragon and had to be eliminated. Hmm, no I won’t even go there.

You want more Coach quotes? When Stephen was being sent to Exile Island, Coach looked him square in the eye and said, “Be the wizard Stephen, be the wizard.”

Here's another one, after Tyson won Individual Immunity, Coach gleefully states, “This assures that Brendan is going home, because the dragon slayer has spoken!” I am serious he actually said that.

One last gem to illustrate how twisted this guy is. At one point in the show he raised his arms toward the heavens, looked upwards and pontificated, “Coach Wade is the chosen one!”

I am sorry; the Coach is starting to creep me out. Tyson is a freak, but he is trying to be a freak. The Coach is strange and he is not trying. It comes natural to him, it’s no act. Plus, you can tell that he believes his own bullshit!

To his credit, Coach Dragon Slayer backed up his bullshit tonight by using his evil powers to convince the others to do away with Brendan the dragon. The coming attractions for next week show Coach doing his best to eliminate the dragon’s bowel movement, Sierra. Until next time…from the booth.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

You Get What You Need

Back in 1969 the Rolling Stones told us that you can't always get what you want. Although fairly obvious, it’s still a bit discouraging in the grand scheme of things. However, if I remember correctly, Mick also told us that if you try sometime, you just might find you get what you need! At least that offers a sliver of hope.

Well, that’s exactly what we fans of Survivor need to do this season - hope that we at least get what we need. Because it is becoming abundantly clear that we can’t get what we want.

Don’t get me wrong, early in tonight’s episode I optimistically thought that things were taking a definite turn in the right direction. There were numerous indications that Survivor Tocantins was going to become must-see television.

We wanted personalities and we were getting them. Bizarre personas were beginning to run rampant in Brazil. And it was great!

Coach Svengali, when not impersonating Keith Carradine, was constantly analyzing everyone and everything. Early in the show he declared, “It’s about me now!” and then laughed maniacally. Later he was talking about being a dragon slayer and calling people warriors. The coach was starting to creep me out again.

But not nearly as much as that lunatic Tyson! What a nutcase this guy he is.

His comments make you want to punch him in the forehead and at the same time vomit. A prime example of this was when he was discussing his primary adversary Brendan. While calling him a sneaky bastard, Tyson also mentions, "that Brendan has felt my steamy breath on the nape of his neck, even his lower back…"

What a freak. Exactly what Survivor fans wanted!

After Tyson was victorious in the initial post-merge Individual Immunity Challenge, we got more of what we wanted. Scheming, lying and backstabbing, all key ingredients of any Survivor season. And we were getting it tonight!

Coach and Tyson were deceiving their former Timbira tribe-mates Sierra and Brendan. Stephen was turning his back on Taj and the Exile Island alliance, while Debbie and Erinn wandered around like deer in headlights. JT chipped in, helping to create the potential for an all-time great Tribal Council.

For the first time this season I honestly was anticipating Tribal Council with baited breath. This was going to be good, I had no idea who would be told those fateful words, “The tribe has spoken.”

Then it happened. The Tribal Council to end all Tribal Councils was snatched from our viewing pleasure. How you ask? By Joe’s infected, pus-filled left leg, that’s how!

After the Individual Immunity Challenge, Jeff Probst noticed just how vile and disgusting Joe’s leg looked. Probst dismissed the rest of the challengers and had the medic check the leg out.

Following the examination, Joe was declared a no-go, which in turn put the kibosh on the Tribal Council that we were licking our lips over.

In the end, the Stones were right, you don’t always get what you want. But I didn’t really think that we needed to be disappointed. Not like that.

Well, I am going to the Chelsea Drugstore to get your prescription filled. I will be standing in line with my friend, Mr. Jimmy. Until next time…from the booth.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Survey Says!

Being a longtime fan of the game show genre, I am a GSN junkie. GSN, aka the Game Show Network, is devoted to showing television programming in which people compete to win prizes. GSN provides a schedule of all-time great programs with a smattering of modern game shows tossed in. My preference lies with the vintage shows.

No offense to Catch 21, Chain Reaction or Lingo, the new shows that GSN offers just don’t measure up to the classics. Give me Let’s Make a Deal, Match Game or Password any day of the week, no questions asked.

For good measure the network also features classic episodes of games that are still producing new programs. Shows such as Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune fall into this category. Another example is Family Feud.

Family Feud has been on the air from 1976 to the present, with a three-year hiatus from 1985-1988 and a four-year respite from 1995-1999. During the roughly thirty-year period, the Feud has seen many configurations and no less than five different hosts.

As any good game show savant knows, the host makes the show. This was never more evident than with Family Feud. Through the years I have either loved this show or detested it based on the host at the time. Here is what my “Survey Says” about the five different emcees, ranked from worst to first.

5. Richard Karn, 2002-2006. Easily the weakest of all that have held the role of master of ceremonies. I could not stand Family Feud during the Karn era. You could make a drinking game based on the number of times Karn would utter the phrase, “That’s right.” I enjoyed him much better when he was saying, “I don’t think so Tim!”

4. John O’Hurley, 2006-Present. Only slightly better than Karn. The gaudy, garish set doesn’t help matters. For some reason, the dashing O’Hurley seems to lack sincerity, like he is doing a bit. Maybe I it’s because I will always think of him as J. Peterman.

3. Louie Anderson, 1999-2002. Despite lacking the good looks typically associated with a game show host and a somewhat annoying voice, I have always had a soft spot for Anderson. Rumor has it that he is responsible getting the prize money increased to $20,000 for the winning

2. Richard Dawson, 1976-1985, 1994-1995. The initial ringmaster of the Feud, Dawson had a strong television background. Besides being a regular on the greatest game show ever, Match Game, he also starred on rowan and Martin’s Laugh In and Hogan’s Heroes. Although some didn’t care for his constant kissing, it didn’t bother me as much as his persistent schmoozing. Be careful Richard, your ego is showing.

1. Ray Combs, 1988-1994. Number one on my survey, this self-effacing host was the antithesis of Dawson. The 5’8” Combs had no problem making fun of himself if it resulted in a laugh. And it often did. Don’t get me wrong, he could schmooze with the best of them, however, more often than not it was in a silly manner that couldn’t be taken seriously. On a more somber note, Combs tragically took his own life at age 40.

Despite Family Feud not being my all time favorite classic game show, Match Game holds that honor; it definitely ranks in my top five. In the not-so distant future I plan on writing a column about my favorite and not-so favorite Match Game celebrities. One of which may shock you! Until next time…from the booth.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

When Pigs Fly

You have heard the saying, "When pigs fly", haven’t you? It is an idiomatic way of saying that something will never happen. “When hell freezes over” is a similar phrase. Both of these expressions can apply to the chance I give Survivor Tocantins of becoming exciting or at least interesting.

Since there were flying pigs in tonight’s Reward Challenge, I chose that term for the title of this column. I usually look forward to writing the recap each Thursday night. So much so that I DVR “Hell’s Kitchen” so my thoughts are still fresh.

Well tonight is the last time I do that. No, next week, immediately following Survivor, I am watching Gordon Ramsay berate his group of chef wannabes. Then I might write something. Or I might wait until Friday morning.

I hate to say this, but Survivor might be approaching its final Tribal Council. Sure there were flying pigs (albeit of the clay variety) tonight. But that was about the only thing that hasn’t been done dozens of times before.

Hell, Taj even pawned a fake Immunity Idol off on Joe. When Bob did it last season I took it as paying homage to Ozzy. But Ozzy hadn’t just done it the preceding season! This time I took it as the contestants running out of fresh ideas.

Besides the lack of buzz, there is an even bigger void this season. That is the beloved twist. Everything has become so predictable. Please Mark Burnett, just one little twist!

Beside the flying pigs, the only thing out of the ordinary tonight was that the Timbira tribe members had inflatable pool toys to play with while enjoying the waterfall during their reward picnic. Yippee.

The lovely Sydney was voted out at Tribal Council leaving Taj, Joe, J.T. and Stephen the remaining Jalapao tribe members. The victorious Timbira boasts a lineup of Coach Svengali, Erinn, Sierra, Brendan, Tyson and Debbie.

So those are the ten Survivors going into the merge next week. Why am I so certain that there is a merge next week? Because they showed it on the coming attractions, that’s how!! Normally I would expect a twist, but not this season. Not a chance, no way, no how.

Out of respect to my Fellow Survivor Geeks, I will continue to attempt writing recaps. However, starting this weekend I am going to be writing about honest-to-goodness reality television. That’s right – game shows! Until then…from the booth.