Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Survivor 23.3

Here we go with the three rundowns from tonight’s episode of Survivor: South Pacific.

Mary Beth’s 2Cents:

I want to make it known that I'm probably the biggest Russell Hantz fan in existence. I would prefer it if he was on all remaining seasons of “Survivor” from now until the end of time. Now, I know that's not possible so I was really thrilled to read pre-season that his nephew Brandon was going to be on this season.

After three shows, I can tell you, I cannot stand Brandon Hantz. He is probably the most annoying individual I've ever seen. He is so stuck in his head going back and forth between his beliefs and his lust and his “need” to be honest and NOT be like his Uncle Russell that he's letting it make him do the most absurd things!

I mean, it's entertaining to watch him self-destruct, I guess, but mostly it's just becoming annoying. He really doesn't have to worry about being like Uncle Russell. Uncle Russell was the best player “Survivor” ever saw (yet he never won!!! Shame!!!). Brandon will go down in “Survivor” history as one of the strangest people to ever compete. Coach needs to cut him loose the first chance he gets!

Honestly, Brandon got so on my nerves that the rest of the show seemed mild and non-eventful! I mean, I kind of expected Semhar to lose the Redemption Island challenge. It was weirdly entertaining that she broke into spontaneous spoken word to calm herself down. Okay, maybe it was just weird. Not really entertaining.

I did get a good laugh from watching Papa Bear sprinting across the beach into the woods. I don't know why but the sight of him retreating into the woods at a semi-dead run cracked me up! It was a good effort, nonetheless. I was sorry to see him get voted out. I know they think did the right thing but I have to think that keeping Cochran might have been a mistake for the later challenges. We'll see, I guess!

*  *  *  *  *

Jamie’s Prognosis:

Well I decided tonight that spoken word artistry is not for me. Semhar's shameless merchandising of her "skills" in the early part of tonight's episode just killed it for me! I mean, if she is not the absolute worst player in history, who is? 

I am truly surprised and shockingly dismayed that she did not get eaten on Redemption Island. I'm no Christine fan, but Miss Coconuts never stood a chance in the balancing challenge. Oh and guess what…just in case you didn't know, according to Semhar Redemption Island is really scary and you're all alone! Buh bye…

On the Upolu team, Brandon and Coach had a tattoo contest (Coach wins). Once again to my extreme PLEASURE Coach continued to be fairly normal, level headed and respected amongst his teammates. They won the challenge. GO COACH!

Brandon continued his idiotic tortured journey. He (gasp) took off his shirt. And if he hadn't pointed out his weird Hantz tattooery, his teammates might not have known that he was a Hantz, but of course he couldn't wait to tell them. He didn't even have the shirt over his head before he started blabbing about it.

He continued to stalk and harass Mikayla again this week and inexplicably made her cry (she will regret that when she has eaten something). By the looks of things he took a nap in the campfire (did anyone else notice that?). Surely he is a convicted felon. When I have time I'm doing a background check.

In the end Savaii lost the challenge and one of them faced the long lonely walk at tribal council. Ozzy continued his hippiesque reign over his teammates, and it looked to be a choice between Cochran and Papa Bear.

I have to say that I have never warmed up to Papa Bear. His frantic run into the jungle in sagging wet undies to idol hunt did not help my opinion. Then he put on some very unfortunate looking jeans (they've only been out there a few days…why do those jeans look like that?) and made a controversial "bulge" in his pocket. Did he have the immunity idol?  Of course not…Ozzy has it hidden in his ponytail. 

Papa Bear got voted off, sparing Cochran. I still like Cochran and hope he can up his social standing.  I wish his nose wasn't so sunburned because that does not help his social situation. I hope Papa Bear and his sad wet clothes beat Christine though. I still don't like her bad attitude.

*  *  *  *  *

From The Booth’s Take:

Tonight’s episode started out nicely. Christine and Semhar square off in a duel on Redemption Island to see whom will be the first competitor eliminated in season 23. The duel involved balancing a small totem on top of a pole that they have to add extensions to, making it taller. Whoever lets fall loses.

Before the duel begins, Semhar starts doing some “spoken word” mumbo-jumbo about getting naked and having ten kids by some guy she hasn’t met yet. Honest.

When she finishes, Probst asks her if that calmed her down. Semhar said she was totally calm now. Although she might have been totally calm, it didn’t prevent her from letting her totem fall of the pole.

I was happy with the result. The only thing that could have made it better if the totem had hit her in the mouth, thus insuring no more spoken word. I’m not a fan.

Did anyone else catch what Probst said as she was leaving? “Semhar, your adventure has come to an end.” I think he is trying to brand another catch phrase like, “The tribe has spoken.”

This may shock you, but I have to say it - No more Hantz!!! I can’t take it anymore. I’ve had enough. I bet you never thought you would hear that from me, but it’s true. I have had all I can stand of Hantz.

Brandon Hantz, that is. Got ya, didn’t I? There could never be too much Russell Hantz. But seriously, enough already with his deranged nephew. Initially, I thought he was going to be entertaining, however that didn’t last long.

First he tells us that he feels terrible because let his family down by lying and that God had chastised him for it. Looking quite repentant, he promised would never be bad again. It was like he was at confession.

His next move is to gather the entire Upolu tribe so he can reveal that he is the nephew of Russell Hantz. He shows them his cool Hantz tattoos, and then goes off into the woods to say three Our Fathers and five Hail Marys to complete his penance.

Later, Brandon has a confrontation with the lovely Mikayla and blows a gasket, gathers the tribe and starts another weird emotional scene. All he does here is erase any doubt the rest of the tribe might have had about him being a total nut job.

Fortunately, Upolu beats Savaii in the Immunity Challenge and we are spared any more Brandon drama. What we not spared is the Savaii tribe’s Papa Bear.

When he realizes that either it will be him or Cochran voted off, Papa Bear frantically sprints into the woods to search for the Hidden Immunity Idol. When Elyse sees this, she asks, “Did you see Papa Bear run into the woods?”

When his search is fruitless, he decides to create a phony Idol and hides it in his shorts. The whole Upolu tribe is watching as he comes out of the woods. Cochran observed that, “Papa Bear came back with a smile on his face and an extra large bulge in his underpants.”

I am not making this stuff up.

The Tribal Council was rather lackluster. As predicted, despite the extra large bulge in his underpants, Papa Bear is voted off to join Christine on Redemption Island.

That’s all I got. Next week I want more Cochran and less Brandon. A lot less. He lied and he was bad again. I say send him to purgatory right now.

Until next time…from the booth.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Thanks Bro

Being a Milwaukee Brewer fan, Friday evening was special. In fact, it was very special. The Brewers did something that the franchise had not accomplished in 29 years. They won a divisional title when they beat the Florida Marlins, 4-1 and the Cubs knocked off the St. Louis Cardinals, 5-1.They are the National League Central Division champions.

Fielder and Braun celebrating clinching NL Central Division title.
The divisional championship was only the third in team history and their first in the National League. The first two were in 1981 and 1982 when the Brewers played in the American League East.

Yes, it’s been quite a while. To put this in perspective, 15 players on the current roster weren’t even born the last time Milwaukee won their division.

The only other playoff appearance by the Brewers was in 2008 when the qualified as a wild-card team on the last game of the season. And the events of last night eerily mirrored that game.

In the wild-card clincher in 2008, the Brewers beat the Cubs at Miller Park on an eighth-inning homer by Ryan Braun, then waited as they rooted for the Marlins to beat the Mets.

On Friday night, the Brewers beat the Marlins when Braun again hit an eighth-inning homer. Again they had to wait, this time to root for the Cubs to beat the Cardinals.

Prince Fielder awaiting the outcome of the Cubs-Cards game.
 When the final out was recorded in St. Louis, pandemonium broke out in Miller Park in Milwaukee. In the clubhouse, the champagne celebration began. No one was safe from the cold bubbly shower. Players, coaches, reporters, even team owner Mark Attanasio were all thoroughly drenched.

Out in the park, the fans were roaring in delirious delight as confetti rained down from above. That roar soon became a thunderous din when the team rushed out of the clubhouse armed with multiple bottles of champagne.

The crowd reveled boisterously as players stood on the dugout spraying them with the champagne. Although the Brewer game had ended at 9:40, the festivities on the field continued well after 11:00. It was tremendous seeing the players interacting with their faithful fans.

Shortly after the Brewers had clinched, Today’s TMJ4 asked on facebook, “What was your favorite moment from tonight’s game?”

There were 37 replies. Most of them were the obvious – Braun’s home run, the final out, the spraying of the champagne, etc. My response was “Seeing Prince being mobbed in the stands by the fans after the game.”

Believe it or not, my facebook comment made it on the TMJ4 Live At Daybreak show this morning. As I ate breakfast I was surprised to see it on the screen while Tom Murray read it. He even pronounced Vagnoni correctly.

It made me quite happy that TMJ4’s considerable viewing audience could see how much I appreciated seeing the love Prince was getting from the fans of Milwaukee. It was an exceptional moment.

It was also nice seeing the joy on Prince’s face during the numerous interviews he did. While he may not be the most eloquent speaker on the team, he definitely knows how to say thank you. If he said it once, he said it a dozen times, “Thanks bro.” His momma brought him up right.

I must confess that amidst all of the joy and jubilation was buried a small bit of melancholy. Deep down inside I realized that there was a pretty good chance that this could be the last time I would see Prince this joyful as a Milwaukee Brewer. It made the whole scenario somewhat bittersweet.

When and if Prince moves on, I will have to deal with it. What else can I do? If he does go, I just hope he winds up on a team where I can continue to follow his career.

During all of the happiness last night, some friends on facebook tried to spoil my buzz by suggesting that Prince will be a Chicago Cub next year. Hopefully this was just some good-natured ribbing on their part. My reply to this foolish notion was concise and to the point – Never.

Perhaps my facebook friend, Rob Chagdes, put it best when he very intelligently commented, “I love the Cub fans that think Prince would go to a horribly run franchise when he will have his choice.”

Well said, Rob, well said.

However, I can’t be concerned with that now. Next on the agenda for the Brewers are the National League playoffs. I am optimistic that they will have home field advantage in round one and perhaps we can see another celebration at Miller Park. If they can keep the momentum, who knows how far they can go.

What I do know is that no matter how deep the Brewers go in the playoffs or where Prince ends up playing next season, I will always have those unforgettable moments from last night. And for that, I say to Prince, “Thanks bro.”

Until next time…from the booth.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Survivor 23.2

Tonight was the second episode of Survivor South Pacific and this is the second recap featuring Jamie’s Prognosis and Mary Beth’s 2Cents. So far, all of the feedback has been positive about the new contributors. In fact, facebook friend, Patty 4-Names, a Fellow Survivor Geek, left this comment: “PV! Your new guest commentators are FABULOUS! Watch out – they might start their own ‘spin-off’ blogs!” Trying to live up to that high praise from FSG Patty, here are the recaps from this week’s show.

 Jamie’s Prognosis: Therapy anyone?

Lets see…who needs therapy in week 2?  Let's start with poor Semhar who found herself alone in the dark on Redemption Island struggling with abandonment issues. Let me just ask…is Survivor a good place to fix lifelong abandonment issues?  Hmm, I think not. But I feel for her. I spent the better part of this week trying to convince people that I too am a spoken word artist and nobody was buying what I was selling either.

As a Coach fan I am happy to report that thus far this season for the first time the “Dragon Slayer” does NOT need therapy! His people skills continue to evolve. Yes I know, I know, it’s early in this journey but I like what I’m seeing so far. Go Coach!!

We didn’t see much of Cochran this week, but as is my way I am also rooting for this underdog. I like his self-deprecating sense of humor and am impressed that he has achieved the status of becoming a separate entity by referring to himself as “Cochran” along with everybody else. I think that is cool! You keep reinventing yourself Cochran and don’t take your moms advice… you looked great with a machete.  

Do I need therapy? One of my favorite moments of the show was watching Ozzy show off his amazing tree climbing skills in a tight pair of swim trunks (I enjoyed it A LOT) but I’m skeptical that he wasn’t tipped off about the location of the idol. That seemed like a BIG long shot without any clues…

And speaking of clueless, Christine was clearly in need of a therapist to help her with her people skills. I mean it’s a social game sister!  Instead of just wandering the beach alone looking for immunity idols and pissing everyone off, perhaps your time would have been better served being nice to your fellow castaways. Obnoxious and it cost her.

But let’s get down to the player who needs therapy the most. Brandon. Is it any surprise that he is a Hantz? Clearly this entire gene pool has issues. Robin Williams once said, "God gave men both a penis and a brain, but unfortunately not enough blood supply to run both at the same time".

If this isn’t the best living example of this I don’t know what is!  He is a married guy who is so not in control of himself that he must vote off the object of his lust for no other reason than to protect his own virtue? 

Can poor lingerie football player Mikayla scratch out a restraining order on a fig leaf or something? He is just creepy and he has nooooo game. The way he tried to convince the others to vote for her was just… stupid. He’s gotta go soon.

Finally, did anyone notice that when Christine arrived on Redemption Island and tried to awaken Semhar she didn’t move? Didn’t I predict last week that something would eat her out there?  I’m just saying…

*  *  *  *  *
Mary Beth’s 2Cents:

Okay, episode 2 is always something of a yawn at first. It's because they have to give everyone a chance to get some camera time so the audience gets an idea of who these people are. But, wow, did it get better once they got to the challenge!

I liked the sort of reverse Maypole action it started with. Watching Cochran struggle to get over a ribbon was hard though. I genuinely like the kid and part of me has to believe that somewhere down the line he's going to make one of those game changing moves that will be of a historic proportion. (I could be dreaming, but hey! I can dream!)

Oh yeah, Ozzy got an idol. No big surprise there, but it looked kind of calculated the way he was just up in the gnarly tree and all of a sudden, out of the blue, without a single clue? Hmmm, makes me wonder a bit…

But Holy Hotbed of Tribal Intrigue, Batman! Tribal Council was a hoot to watch. All the “I'm gonna put it out there” and “I have to be totally honest” that just caused them all to start doubting each other. Frankly, I'm glad crabby old Christine got the axe but I thought for a minute that Brandon was on the way out!

What the heck was he doing? I mean, clearly he is attracted to Miss Mikayla and it's bothering him that he is, but get it together man! I never thought I'd be saying this, but that “Little Hantz” may be too sensitive for this game! Uncle Russell would be so ashamed.

*  *   *  *  *
From The Booth’s Take:

Tonight started out slowly with Semhar at Redemption Island, blubbering about having abandonment issues. She then started doing some poetry or as she calls it, “the spoken word”. To me, spoken word translated is crappy poetry.

The show remained at a snail’s pace as nerdy, neurotic Cochran proclaimed that he was going to change into cool, mellow Cochran. We also saw Ozzy climbing like a monkey while finding a Hidden Immunity Idol without benefit of a clue. That dude has wild skills.

The pace finally picked up when we learned that Brandon is a full-blown freak. First he spills the beans to Coach about being the nephew of Survivor Hall-of-Famer Russell Hantz. Needless to say, Coach is flabbergasted with this news.

Next Brandon ogles the lithesome Mikayla while saying SHE is evil and must be voted out. He mumbles something about having made mistakes in the past and that he won’t be tempted by Mikayla. The boy has serious issues and it’s pretty bad when the least of them is being Russell’s nephew.

Tribal Council is when things really got interesting. Because they lost the maypole/giant puzzle Immunity Challenge, Coach and the rest of Upolu tribe had to vote some one off to Redemption Island.

Following a little small talk, the gloves came off. First Coach shocked everyone by throwing Christine and Stacey under the bus for conspiring against the lovely Mikayla. They asked him where he got his information, but Coach didn’t let on that it was Brandon who told him. He said it was all about loyalty.

When Christine and Stacey persisted and questioned the loyalty of Coach, the brutally handsome Albert came to his defense saying, by not revealing his source, Coach was indeed showing his loyalty. Huh?

After Jeff Probst stirred the pot a little more, a squirming Brandon ultimately came clean and admitted that he was the one who told the two girls to vote off the luscious Mikayla. Looks of astonishment were on the faces of everyone.

When the smoke had cleared and the drama was over, Christine was the one voted off and sent to Redemption Island. What a bunch of fools.

That’s it for now. Tune in next week to see Christine kick Semhar’s ass in the elimination challenge and also find out what Spawn-of-Satan Brandon will do next.

Until next time…from the booth.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Diversity Is Everywhere

The word diversity means different things to different people. One dictionary definition is “the state of being diverse; variety.” That is fairly obvious. This definition is much more illustrative, “a range of things; a point or respect in which things differ.” Personally, I’m a big fan of diversity. You learn from things that you are not accustomed to or that are different. Keep your eyes open. You will notice diversity where you work, where you worship and even in the television programs you watch. Diversity is everywhere.

The reason I mentioned that diversity is evident even in the TV programs we watch, is because I happened across such a program this past week. To say the cast was diverse would be a gross understatement.

The principal characters included an angry black man, an older alcoholic woman, a flamboyant gay man, a blonde air-headed bimbo, a foreigner with a heavy accent and a dyslexic lesbian. I told you it was an eclectic group.

This show was quite enjoyable. The black man, who was smoking constantly, seemed to be a newcomer to the show, but the boozy older woman was helping him to feel at home. Despite his sullen demeanor, she was clearly fond of him.

Everyone loved the overly animated gay man. Besides possessing an almost comical personality, he was very wise and always had the right answer to the tough questions. He was one of my favorites.

Another favorite was the flighty blonde. She wore tight, clingy clothes and flirted with everyone. She was your stereotypical dumb blonde. Or was it just an act to garner attention? I’m think it probably was.

The foreigner with the thick accent was a bit too smarmy for my liking. Although he was very intelligent, he was constantly fawning over the females on the show, especially the blonde, but not so much the tipsy senior lady. He too, craved attention.

The dyslexic lesbian was a hoot. She had a southern accent and wore tops with crazy graphics on them. She was quite popular with everyone and was constantly poking fun at the inebriated matron.

The best thing about this program was that it was syndicated and on each weekday morning. Since discovering this wonderful little pearl of diversity, I have become a regular viewer, it’s that good.

By now you are probably wondering what is the name of this magnificent show I have been babbling about. And what channel is this terrific program on?

No, it’s not a hit reality show on VH1 and it’s not an emotional daytime drama on the Lifetime Network. And it’s not a hot new series on HBO or Showtime.

This incredible gem that is chock full of diversity, is none other than, Match Game ’74 and can be found on the Game Show Network. Ha! Had you going, didn’t I?

The angry black man was Scoey Mitchell, an 81-year-old actor known for frequent game-show appearances, starring in the short-lived series Barefoot in the Park and a recurring role on Rhoda.

The older alcoholic was Brett Somers, an actress, singer and comedienne who passed at age 83. She had a recurring role as Blanche Madison opposite her real life husband Jack Klugman on The Odd Couple.

The flamboyant gay man was Charles Nelson Reilly, an actor, comedian, director and drama teacher who passed at age 76. He was known for his comedic roles in theater, movies, children’s television and animated cartoons.

The blonde bimbo was Elaine Joyce, a 65-year-old actress who appeared on many TV shows, including The Young and the Restless, Days of Our Lives, The Andy Griffith Show, Green Acres and Hawaii Five-O.

The foreigner with the accent was Richard Dawson, a 78-year-old actor, comedian and game-show host. He is best known for his role as Corporal Peter Newkirk on Hogan’s Heroes and being the original host of Family Feud.

The dyslexic lesbian was Fannie Flagg, a 66-year-old actress, comedienne and author. She is best known for the 1988 novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, which was adapted into the 1991 movie Fried Green Tomatoes.

I do love Match Game and if you think about it, it really was quite diverse. You had people from several countries (Canada, England and America) with different ethnicities. They had various sexual preferences and suffered from assorted disorders (alcoholism and dyslexia).

When you enter into the equation the drinks, a pipe and plenty of cigarettes, you have to agree with me, Match Game ’74 was a diverse show. Diversity is everywhere.

Until next time…from the booth.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Here We Go!

The twenty-third season of the Emmy Award-winning reality series Survivor premiered tonight. Longtime host Jeff Probst welcomed sixteen new castaways along with two returning veteran players to embark on the adventure of a lifetime as they are abandoned in the South Pacific. The tribes are named Savaii and Upolu. I’m not quite sure who comes up with these names. As usual, the curtain raiser was basically a getting to know the characters episode. And what a bunch of characters we have this season.

Here are the names that made my note pad tonight:

Semhar. She immediately became the center of attention. She mostly rubbed people the wrong way. Except for Ozzy. I think he was hankering to rub her the right way. She said her main problem is “I’m extremely honest.” Translation: Loose cannon.

Christine. Came across as a tough New York broad. She knows how to play the game and she has Coach in her sights. And he is fully aware of it. There could be some monumental confrontations.

Mark. He quickly informed the Savaii tribe that he was an ex NYPD detective and was gay. He then told them he preferred to be called “Poppa Bear”. He is quick to tell people how they should have handled the situations they were in.

Brandon. He is the nephew of Hall-of-Famer Russell Hantz. He doesn’t want the others to know this. Trouble is, he has Hantz tattooed on his body in two different places. Plus he is fighting a “growing” affection for Mikayla.

Mikayla. She is not only easy on the eyeballs, but is also physically strong. She is going to excel in the challenges and will be a force to be reckoned with. I can’t blame Brandon for being smitten by her.

Dawn. She is the ubiquitous matronly female contestant. Usually they are strong willed and a bit motherly. Dawn is just neurotic and cries a lot. She’s not long for the South Pacific.

John. He immediately made it known that he is a Survivor savant. He even went as far as requesting that Probst calls him “Cochran” because everyone knows all the favorites are addressed by their last name. The guy is a total geek. He will be interesting if he is able to stick around.

*  *  *  *  *

As promised, here is Mary Beth’s 2Cents:

Okay, I'm calling this episode of Survivor the Two Nuts episode. Why? Well, let's see…

Two returning players: Coach and Ozzy – 2 nuts! The polar differences in how each tribe greeted these two was amazing! Ozzy was taken in like a prodigal son and Coach was just about shunned with the proverbial cold shoulder!

I found that really funny because, as I recall, Ozzy, while being an athletic player, was not always the most honest person on the tribe, and Coach, while being a complete nutcase, never really screwed anyone over. Yet, the tribes don't seem to think that way!

Semhar's passionate plea about what she “knew” her abilities were: Throwing coconuts into a basket. In this case, she threw exactly TWO nuts, declared she was tired (poor dear) and asked for a replacement! Loved her tribe’s response to her saying she was “sort of sad” about losing. I was “sort of” amazed more people weren't upset with her!

Tribal Council: Semhar and Cochran go head to head, mano y mano, TWO NUTS!! Trying to explain who was the most ineffectual, useless, unnecessary, dead weight in the tribe.

Her plea that she was a provider because she made sure they all had toothbrushes was a classic! Cochran's response, “You found a couple of sticks!” was priceless too. I live for those moments! I'm glad she's gone. He has some time to grow up now and, hopefully, he will because I genuinely like the guy and think he could be a good player.

Oh, one more nut – Dawn, the older blonde who had the breakdown on DAY FREAKIN' TWO!! I mean, c'mon, who breaks down on the second day? You're not even starving yet. It hasn't even rained! You haven't gotten any serious bug bites or parasites! MAN UP ALREADY! This is Survivor, toots! Get on the boat and paddle!

The same thing goes for Brandon Hantz! How dare he besmirch the name of Hantz! And yes, I did just use the word besmirch! That's my 2Cents!

*  *  *  *  * 

Now for Jamie’s Prognosis:

 I am not going to lie… I love Coach.  I realize that the dragon slayer has had MAJOR problems in the past with his social game, but I think he got off to a great start tonight.  He may have lost the first challenge with Ozzy, but he was really kind of… cool.  I will pray that when his potassium level drops because of starvation he doesn’t go off the deep end again.

Other thoughts for Episode 1:

Brandon isn’t narcissistic creepy like his Uncle Russell.  Instead he is stalker creepy and like Paul Vagnoni, already in love with lingerie football player Mikayla.  Who, by the way, could go a long way because she was great in the challenge.  She is attractive as well as intimidating, God bless her!!

Dawn crying on day 2 was pathetic.  You’re on SURVIVOR. You should at LEAST make it to day 4 or 5 without crying. However, she seemed kind of vulnerable and her teeth are really white. The effect was that the others seemed to want to protect her.  She wasn’t even on the table at tribal council, so that makes me wonder… is she an emotional over thinker OR a brilliant Survivor strategist?

Cochran… awesome move to go by the last name.  I think that charm and humor IS enough to keep someone around. So far I like him and his sweater vest.

Rick and Whitney seem like early strong contenders also.  Christine seems angry and a little too aggressive.

Semhar’s coconut situation really got in the way of her success this week, which I’m sure was a big surprise to her since clearly her coconuts have been working magic for her up until now.  A Spoken Word Artist?  Really?  As soon as she began to speak I wanted her to stop. 

Ozzy clearly wanted to make her his cuddle buddy, but that’s how bad of a player she is… even her boobs couldn’t save her from being the first one voted off.  Something is sure to eat her in the dark on Redemption Island.

Oh and speaking of Ozzy?  Love the Jesus/Fabio look and the guy is a HUGE threat in challenges, but he’s not the most brilliant social player either. I predict that he’s got trouble ahead.

*  *  *  *  * 

And finally, My Quick Wrap-up:

So what happened tonight? Upolu won an exceptionally close Immunity Challenge sending Savaii to the first Tribal Council of the new season. Probst didn’t have to stir the pot very long before a flamboyant Semhar and a nebbish Cochran were forced to try to convince the rest of their tribe why they shouldn’t be the one voted off.

In the end, a blubbering Semhar was overwhelmingly sent on her way to Redemption Island. Her departing performance was so heart wrenching that one of her ex-tribe mates said, “Should have taught her how to build a fire.”

Just in case anyone is questioning my Survivor expertise, scroll down to the blog titled, "Only Two Weeks To Go”. It is the last one on the page. In it, we gave 4-word evaluations of all 18 players. For Semhar I wrote: “The first one eliminated.” Just sayin’…

Until next time…from the booth.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Some Fun

It was 5:00 on a blustery Friday in January. I was a senior in high school looking at the entire weekend in front of me with no homework to worry about. I didn’t have to work and the only plans I had was a Kenosha Flyer hockey game on Saturday night. But I needed something to do tonight; after all it was Friday night. I wanted to have some fun. Little did I know how much this fun would end up costing me.

After a bit of contemplation, it came to me that there was a basketball game at school starting 7:00. After the folks said it was okay to borrow one of their cars, I called up my buddy Dave to see if he wanted to go. He said sure, it sounded like fun.

Yes! Fun, that’s what I wanted. I grabbed my jacket, jumped in the yellow 1970 AMC Rebel and sped off to pick up Dave. There was fun to be had.

When Dave got in the car he immediately asked if I brought anything. Being a bit naïve at the time, I asked him what he was talking about. He said, “You know, do you have anything to drink?” I told him no, not to worry, I knew where to go.

Full disclosure number 1. Before going on, there is a “minor” detail that you should know. In 1975 the legal drinking age for the state of Wisconsin was 18. At the time I was only 17 years old.

There was an Italian restaurant (that shall go unnamed) on the northside of Kenosha that had a liquor store. Being large for my age, I never had a problem obtaining adult beverages at this particular establishment, even without a state ID.

On that night, I picked up a 6-pack of Schlitz Tall Boys and a pint of Southern Comfort. We had about an hour before the game started to consume the purchase. We were going to have fun.

Having successfully accomplished the task of pouring all of the alcohol into our young heads, we arrived at the game with time to spare. Staggering up the bleachers, a loud “Hey Paul” greeted me. It was Lori, a junior that sat next to me in typing class. She waved for Dave and I to come join her and her two girlfriends. Of course we obliged.

Full disclosure number 2. I had a thing for Lori. What can I say? She was cute, plus she was Italian.

Most of the basketball game was somewhat of a fuzzy blur. I’d like to say it was the fluorescent lights in the gymnasium, but it was more likely the half pint of Southern Comfort and the 48 ounces of Schlitz that I demolished in less than an hour. I can’t say I remember if we won or not. Nonetheless, we were having fun.

Leaving the game, we “happened” to run into Lori and her friends in the parking lot. With a collective smile, they asked us if we could get some more alcohol. Obviously they had detected that we were slightly intoxicated. I said sure and the three of them jumped into the Rebel. Heading back to my favorite northside Italian restaurant, I thought to myself, now we are really going to have fun.

Having grabbed four bottles of Boone’s Farm Apple wine, I was back in the car in the blink of an eye. I know, I know, Boone’s Farm Apple wine. It wasn’t my idea. It was the drink of choice for our three female guests. I wasn’t about to argue with them.

Unfortunately, the Schlitz and Southern Comfort that was already inside of me did argue with the Boone’s Farm. The toxic mixture of the three different types of booze quickly took effect of me in a bad way. Let’s just say my judgment quickly became alcohol-impaired. Severely.

What happened next made this brutally evident. Having just passed Park View Tavern on north Sheridan Road, I turned right and drove up the hill, supposedly to cross the railroad tracks. But that never happened.

Instead, I took a sharp left. For some unknown reason I decided to take the family Rebel and it’s five passengers for a trip down the railroad tracks. It must have been the Southern Comfort. And the Schlitz. And the Boone’s Farm Apple wine. But we were having fun. Weren’t we?

Full disclosure number 3. This railroad crossing no longer exists in Kenosha. It was eliminated a few years later. I guess timing is everything.

The trip down the railroad came to a rather abrupt halt when the rear end of the car became hung up on the tracks. The five of us were stuck high up on the hill, directly across from St George’s Cemetery. Kind of creepy, huh?

We did everything humanly possible to get the car off of the tracks. Nothing worked, not even the jack. It was getting colder and the cemetery was getting creepier. I was beginning to wonder if I was still having fun.

As things were beginning to look hopeless, a station wagon pulled up at the bottom of the hill. Four guys popped out and asked if we needed some help. Relieved, we shouted back, “Yes, please!” They climbed the steep hill to offer their assistance.

While the six of us were attempting to lift the back end of the car off the tracks, we were interrupted by some bright flashing lights. Looking behind us we saw a police car back at the railroad crossing. The cops had gotten out and were headed our way. I began feeling this wasn’t going to be so much fun after all.

Despite being somewhat alcohol-impaired, I did some quick thinking and was quite gallant. Not wanting Lori and her friends to get in trouble, I asked the guys in the station wagon if they would give them a ride. They scurried down the hill and left just as the cops arrived at the car.

The cops told us in no uncertain terms that we had to get out of there right away. It seems there was a train scheduled to be coming by in a little bit and the car needed to be towed away.

The policemen waited for the tow truck and instructed us to get into a second police car that was waiting for us at the bottom of the hill. Now I knew this wasn’t going to be fun.

Stumbling down the hillside, I tripped and landed in a heap halfway down. Adding insult to injury, my glasses flew off my head when I fell. A brief search proved fruitless, I couldn’t find them anywhere. Besides, the police were hollering at me to hurry up and get over to the car.

The ride in the police car was less than pleasant. Needless to say, the officers were not impressed that we were underage and extremely intoxicated. They were rather persistent in their questioning about where we had purchased the alcohol. I am proud to say I didn’t snitch. I might have been only 17, but I knew all about omertà.

When we got to the police station, I was prepared for the worse. However, things weren’t as bad as they could have been. Sure, we received a stern lecture, but, remarkably, we didn’t even get a ticket. The officer told us he was going to strongly suggest to our parents that they take away our driver’s license for a while. Then he called our folks to come pick us up.

I guess things could have been a lot worse. Especially for Dave. His folks weren’t home, so the police allowed my dad to drop him off. You guessed it. His parents never found out. He got away scot-free, unscathed and unpunished.

That wasn’t the case for me. I had to face my disappointed folks, which was pretty tough. Dad did what he always did when one of us let him down. He was completely quiet. It was a stoic silence that seemed deafening. Mom, on the other hand, was hysterical. That was also to be expected.

However, there was one refreshing moment that occurred during all of the drama. After Dad left to pick me up from the police station, Mom frantically questioned my brother Mike about when I had started to drink. He replied with feigned astonishment, “Gee, this must have been the first time!” Evidently my younger brother also knew about omertà.

 And, yes they did take away my driver’s license. I also had to pay the towing charge for the Rebel. On top of that, I never found my glasses and had to buy a new pair. It was tough watching that Flyer hockey game without my specs.

Full disclosure number 4. My parents gave me back my driver’s license as soon as they needed me to go to the store for them.

Not having my glasses for a while wasn’t the only thing I had to deal with after my trip down the tracks. I wasn’t looking forward to facing Lori in our typing class on Monday morning. Remember, she sat right next to me. I fully expected her to act as if I never existed.

When Monday came I made sure to get to class before Lori did. Nervously, I kept squinting at the door, anxiously waiting for her to arrive. Finally she entered the room and quietly walked to her desk, clutching her books tightly to her chest.

Before sitting down, Lori stopped in front of my desk. I thought to myself, here it comes, she’s really gonna let me have it. After a pause that seemed to last an eternity, she finally spoke.

In a soft, almost timid voice, Lori said, “Paul, are you mad at me?” Before I could reply, she added, “I don’t blame you if you are. We should have never left you Friday night. I’m really sorry.”

After the initial shock wore off, I managed to blurt out, “Aw, don’t worry about it. I’m just glad you didn’t get in trouble.” With that, she smiled and sat down next to me.

As class began, she leaned over to me and whispered, “Do you want to take me to the basketball game in Muskego in two weeks?” I told her that I probably could. Then I thought to myself, yep, I’m gonna have some fun.

Until next time…from the booth.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Did you know?

While I enjoy this lovely 60° weather, I have decided to shoot out a quick informational blog. These facts might be completely useless but I promise that they are interesting. Some of this random useless info might make you scratch your head or it may astonish you. Either way, this is stuff you never needed to know but will make your life just a little better once you do.

With that being said, did you know in 1972 I won the Kiwanis Club award for choir at Lance Junior High School? I was the male recipient, while Carol Mickewicz garnered the female honor. We were presented with our awards at an afternoon ceremony at Bradford High School. I think I still have it somewhere.

Did you know that in high school I nearly received straight A’s in gym class? It’s true. Despite my considerable girth, the B grade I earned in the first semester of sophomore year was the only time I didn’t get an A. Obviously Len Apple and Glen McCulloch recognized my efforts.

Did you know that in grade school I wanted to be a priest? My only concern was I didn’t know if I would like the wine. Eventually I dropped my quest of a religious vocation. Ironically, in high school I discovered I could guzzle an entire bottle of wine without stopping.

Did you know that I could name the starting lineup for the 1966 Green Bay Packers? While that in itself isn’t that unusual, the fact that I can tell you each of their jersey numbers as well, makes it rather impressive. Of lesser importance, I can do the same thing with the 1969 Chicago Cubs.

Did you know that I once got the family car stuck on the railroad tracks while in high school? It involved Southern Comfort, Schlitz Malt Liquor and Boones Farm Wine. Regrettably, it also included three females, some sailors and a trip to the police station. Oh ya, and a tow truck and a new pair of glasses. Oh dear…

That seems like a pretty good place to stop. Looking back, each one of these topics are quite “bloggable”. Let me know which one of these you would like to see expanded into a full blog. The top vote getter will be the subject of my next effort.

One last thing before I close. A week from tonight is the premier of Survivor: South Pacific and the return of my weekly recaps. It also marks the debut of Jamie’s Prognosis and Mary Beth’s 2Cents. The addition of these two Fellow Survivor Geeks should make the recaps very fun.
That’s it for now. Make sure to let me know which “Did You Know?” subject you want me to write about. Until next time…from the booth.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Labor Day Tradition

Happy Labor Day, everyone. I hope you all are able to enjoy this great American holiday with family and friends. Today is the day honor the nation's working people. Most Americans consider Labor Day the end of the summer, for many students it marks the opening of the school year. For me it brings back memories of my first Labor Day.

Being a creature of habit, I have decided to continue a tradition. This marks the 3rd annual posting of the blog that chronicled “My first Labor Day.”  

My first Labor Day was June 9, 1975, four short days after I graduated from Tremper High School. This was my first grown-up job. Sure, I had worked at Howard Johnson’s and Burger King while I was in school, but those were high school jobs.

I had a job as a laborer at the infamous Koos Inc. fertilizer/ice melter plant. This was a bona fide, real-life job where I went to work each morning five days a week and for this I received a paycheck for $91.18 each and every Friday afternoon.

The amount of $91.18 was after taxes were taken out. My gross pay was $120.00 for forty hours. Insert your own joke here.

Hey, I said it was a real-life job, I didn’t say it paid a lot. For my $3.00 an hour I got to lift 40-pound bags of fertilizer in a hot, sloppy plant with slippery mud covered floors. In the winter we were treated to 50-pound bags of ice melter in a building that had no heat whatsoever. Although we were freezing, at least the floors weren’t muddy. Now they were covered with a toxic dust that you inhaled all day long.

Did I mention that Koos Inc. featured no running water? Most guys simply stepped to the nearest open dock door to relieve themselves. Otherwise, if you wanted to use an actual restroom you had to maneuver through the entire plant, walk down a long flight of stairs and go across the yard to the “Jap Shack”.

The “Jap Shack” was nothing more than an old storage shed with a few beat-up lockers, a couple of picnic tables, a number of rats and a toilet with a sink. This venerable structure received its colorful name because it allegedly held Japanese war prisoners during World War II.

Don’t ask me, I just worked there.

And so did a multitude of fascinating characters. People like Virgil Tucker, Dead Man, Bone Head, Stretch Babic, Munk Ekern, Tyrone Walker and Ziggy Gutowski. Each one possessed unique characteristics. They obviously had to, with monikers like those. They all left a lasting impression on yours truly.

But none like the legendary Arno Schubert. I could easily write a story about Arno each day for a month. This ornery “old” German was well known in every drinking establishment between here and Paddock Lake. I say old because he was about 36 and I was only eighteen years old at the time.

The only problem about sharing stories about Arno is that it would take so long to clean up the language. With Arno, cursing was an art form. He made Dice Clay, Earl Weaver and other high-profile foul mouths look like choirboys. Let me give you an example.

Because of his propensity for filthy phraseology, he was often asked to “watch his mouth”. One classic moment is when a burnout named Lanny challenged Arno that he couldn’t go the whole day without cursing. Arno’s response? Cover your ears mother.

“F*ck you, you stupid motherf*ckin’ c*cks*cker.”

That was one of the things that I learned on my first Labor Day. How not to talk! Koos Inc. made me realize why Emil and Milly Vagnoni had been drilling that stuff into my head throughout my childhood. Now I was experiencing why in my first real-life job.

On that first Labor Day, I honestly considered making a run for it during first break. I often wonder how my life would have been different if I had. Do I regret not quitting Koos Inc. on my first Labor Day?

Probably, because I ended up working there for over sixteen years. Things would have definitely been different. Maybe better, perhaps not. Who knows? One thing that I am sure of, staying at Koos Inc. on my first Labor Day has provided me with a mountain of material for future columns. Until next time…from the booth.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

10 Reasons To Go D’oh!

According to Wikipedia, “D’oh” is a catchphrase used by the fictional character Homer Simpson, from the long-running animated sitcom, The Simpsons. It is typically used when Homer injures himself, realizes that he has done something stupid, or when something bad has happened or is about to happen to him. I usually use something a tad bit stronger when I injure myself or if something bad happens to me. D’oh! is what I utter when reading or hearing something that I consider unbelievably idiotic.

Here are 10 reasons for me go D’oh!

1. The hoity-toity aristocrats looking down on those of us that put ketchup on a hot dog.
-  These same folks most likely enjoy ham and pineapple on a pizza. Lighten up Francis and put some ketchup on your wiener.

2. The contingent of basketball fans who think the NBA began when Michael Jordan became a Chicago Bull.
- Because the NBA is currently irrelevant, this hardly matters. What does matter is whether this group is aware that Ronald Reagan wasn’t the first President of the United States. I’m scared to know the answer.

3. People forgetting what Leonard Little did while continuing to vilify Michael Vick.
- Although I would never invite either of them to dinner, what Vick did to animals was deplorable and hideous. What Little did took the life of another HUMAN BEING. There is a difference.

4. Michele Bachmann, State Fair Corn Dogs and Elvis’ Birthday. Not individually, but together.
- Well, I suppose you could make a case for Bachmann all by herself.

5. Individuals refusing to understand that not everything in life is black and white.
- The time has come for people to realize most issues in life come in various shades of gray. The sooner people realize this, the better.

6. Millionaire TV personality Kelly Ripa worrying on air how much it’s going to cost to send their kids to college.
- The insipid studio audience audibly showing their concern for Ripa’s dilemma magnified the absurdity of this scenario exponentially. After a loud D’oh!, I vomited in my mouth.

7. Some White Sox fans still pining for Aaron Rowand to return to the pale hose.
 - C’mon folks, there’s a reason why he just got released by the San Francisco Giants. He’s not any good any more, face it.

8. Cub fans sincerely believing that Prince Fielder will be a Chicago Cub next season.
- Is it proper to use delusional and ignorant in the same sentence? I am serious about this. Very serious. Anyone who truly believes this knows very little about Prince Fielder.

9. Voice of the People letters in the Kenosha News signed, “Name Withheld”.
- If someone is too cowardly to sign their name to a letter, they should be required to sign it - Gutless, scumbag worm meat.

 10. People hating what they don’t understand.
- This news flash just in. There are a multitude of religions, political views, cultures and ideologies in the world! Everybody doesn’t think or live the same way as you do. To hate because you don’t understand something isn’t ignorant, it’s unconscionable.

Obviously some of these are much more significant than others, but for me they are 10 reasons to go D’oh! As always, your comments and opinions are welcome.

Until next time…from the booth.