Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Survivor 23.12

Here’s your Official Survivor: South Pacific Recap Trilogy for week 12:

Mary Beth’s 2Cents:

It was Survivor business as usual tonight. A lot of jockeying for position was happening among the remaining tribe members with Cochran and Edna trying to make something happen that would keep them around at least one more episode. But first…

At Redemption Island, Ozzy reigned supreme in a challenge where he, Dawn and Whitney had to balance dinnerware and add pieces when Probst told them to. Dawn was the first one out which meant she was gone. Whitney fell next which meant the two of them were off to Jury Duty whilst Ozzy was the last man standing.

He made some speech about him being the perfect person for Redemption and made a Robinson Crusoe pose against a sunny sky. I threw up a little in my mouth!

Back to the tribe, poor Cochran realized he might be out next and made a plea, with a little white lie about it being his birthday soon, reminding them all how much he sacrificed for their sake and asking for their "gift" of another day or two.

Not all of them were feeling the grateful love, but Albert seemed to bite. Albert won Individual Immunity even as the others were labeling him "Prince Albert" because he does nothing in camp and even put out the fire in a half hearted attempt to show them he was doing something.

Cochran tried to use that to his advantage by telling Albert about his new nickname and Albert tried to get Rick (the silent man) voted out. But at Tribal Council, Rick spoke! I can't for the life of me remember what the heck he said but his mustache was moving up and down and sound was coming out of his mouth so he was speaking.

Then, Brandon started explaining about there not being any shades of grey in his game and then he had a good cry. What? Yes. It happened. I'm still trying to figure it out.

Anyway, nothing worked for Cochran and next week he gets to go head to head with the Wizard of Oz in the Redemption Challenge. Oh please, for the love of all that's holy, let Cochran win. I want to see that happen. I want to see the look on Ozzy's face when that happens. I want to hear the shear delight in Probst's voice when that happens. Please, please, please let that happen. Pretty please with sugar on top!

Jamie’s Prognosis:

Well I was kind of sad this week because, of course, I was rooting for Cochran and he got voted off. OK, OK I agree that it was super weird that he admitted that he gives his own mother massages. It was a Norman Bates moment for sure, and the following shots of his pasty white body on the massage table didn’t help much. But I STILL felt like other than Coach he is the only one out there who was playing any sort of a strategic game. 

So here is my take on the remaining six contestants:

1. Coach. I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I like Coach Wade. He’s goofy, I know, but I like his whole yoga on the beach, Zen like presence. Let’s face it! He has created a loyal band of Jesus lovin’ followers out there. It is a bit Jim Jones meets the Godfather, but the fact is that the “family” is still working for him. Go Dragon slayer all the way!!!

2. Sophie. She bores me but she is pretty smart and savvy. She’s playing it somewhat under the radar, while also at least maintaining some sort of a presence (are you listening Rick?). I feel like at some point that she could have the potential to make a big move.  I don’t think she really buys into the family thing but is rather just playing along. She’s still in the game in a strong way at this point.

3. Albert is real purty to look at but his behavior this week shows some vulnerability. While his biceps are great company, I don’t think that his people skills are much better than Ozzy’s. He acted this week like a… man. If you’re a man don’t get offended, but it’s true. 

You HAVE to do some “housework” to make it in this game knucklehead or people will get PISSED off at you. Sheesh. I don’t think he has what it takes to make it to the end because he doesn’t seem to have it in him to make a move that would give him an edge. He’s a follower at this point and he’s a little annoying.

4. Rick. He spoke some more this week. I have nothing else to say about him except that I still hate his porn ‘stache.

5. Brandon continues to be the resident tortured soul.  Lets face it; there’s a village missing an idiot somewhere, but they won’t miss him for long. By the looks of next week’s preview, he will continue to allow his cheese to slide off his cracker and will be yet another Hantz who won’t win Survivor. 

6. Edna. This season’s hanger on is above average in the annoying and useless department. She wears a weird paper hat on her head, has a bland personality and possesses very few useful skills in the wild. Maybe she’s anesthetizing all of us because when she’s on screen I don’t feel a thing. 

Out on Redemption Island we still have the great Oz, a surfer from Venice California who thrives in a world of his own but crashes and burns when he’s around anything without gills. John Cochran, a Harvard Law student, now joins him. Wouldn’t it be AWESOME if Cochran were the one to beat Cockzy and knock him out of the game?  I realize it’s a long shot, but a girl can dream, can’t she?

The Booth’s Bits:

Tonight’s episode was gratifying for a number of reasons. The start put a smile on my face and the end had me shouting, YES!!! Sandwiched in between were a few decent quotes and several uplifting moments.

The show opened with some small talk regarding whether Edna or Cochran should go first. By herself after the group discussion, Sophie admitted she just couldn’t take Cochran anymore and that she didn’t like him. Finally, a voice of reason!

The duel at Redemption Island pitted Ozzy, Dawn and Whitney in a plate-balancing contest. Here’s the Reader’s Digest version: Dawn let her plates fall and cussed. Whitney dropped her plates, so Ozzy won and got to stay. Dawn had to go home, she cried. Whitney was sent home and she cried. Ozzy told the members of Te Tuna, “See ya.”

Oh ya, one other thing. Whitney is mighty purty.

Between the Redemption Island duel and the Immunity Challenge we were treated to more of the bromance between Cochran and Benjamin (the Survivor formerly known as Coach). They did their silly little Tai Chi routine on the beach while telling each other how much they loved one another. I bet their babies would have prominent proboscises and have superiority complexes…

The Immunity Challenged involved a beanbag toss followed by some sling shot fun. By winning, Albert not only won Immunity, he was also rewarded with a shower and a massage back at camp. Host Jeff Probst told him that he could share his reward with one other tribe mate. He chose Benjamin.

He then amazed everyone and gave his reward to Cochran because he thought it was his birthday. Cochran was really lying about it being his birthday, but it was worth sinning because now he had more bromance time with Benjamin.

Seeing the smug Benjamin and the extremely pasty Cochran getting massaged by Island girls made me happy that Albert made the bold move. But I am willing to bet if Whitney was the one giving the massages he wouldn’t have given it away. She’s mighty purty.

Prior to Tribal Council, there was the usual scrambling. Edna knew her time on Survivor was growing short and was worried. Cochran, being a Harvard law student, realized that being Benjamin’s main squeeze wasn’t enough to ensure him sticking around. At one point he summed up his situation saying, “I don’t want to be Sharon Tate in this scenario.” That made me chuckle.

It should be noted that Cowboy Rick did the unthinkable on day 29 of this season of Survivor. He spoke. Swear to God. Not once, but two or three times. It was pretty cool. He even made a funny and referred to Albert as “Prince Albert”. I thought he played for the Cardinals…

At Tribal Council, true to form, the former members of the Upolu tribe stuck together and voted off Cochran. That’s when I shouted, YES!!! Evidently Benjamin didn’t love him that much.

This entire episode amplified my aversion for Cochran and reinforced that he is indeed nebbish. Tribal Council also made it clear that the only semi-normal people remaining are Sophie and Albert. Oh ya, Ozzy is still lurking on Redemption Island. But he’s kinda of freaky too. So I’m pulling for Sophie and Albert.

One last thing, did I mention that Whitney is mighty purty? She is. Mighty purty. I’m sure glad she is on the jury. Until next time…from the booth.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

It’s A Family Affair

Yesterday we rallied the troops for another monumental Vagnoni family breakfast at Bonnie’s Diner. When we gathered on the Fourth of July, there were 24 of us in attendance. I am proud to announce that we were able to hit that same magical total on Saturday. That number meant that once again, a “kids” table was required to accommodate our brood.

Joining me for this epic gathering were Mom, brother Mike, his wife Amy and their boys, John and Ryan, brother Joey, Uncle John (the Godfather) and Auntie Janet (Fellow Survivor Geek), cousin Susie and her boys, Alex (the Godson) and Nick, Uncle Joe and Auntie Joanne, cousin Mark and his wife Pat, cousin Annie and her daughter, Mia, Uncle Dave and Aunt Bonnie, cousin Mindy and her daughter, Samantha, cousin Shelly and her husband, James.

As planned, Susie and I formally announced our plan to put together a book chronicling the escapades of our family at the venerable “Cottage”. As we distributed the info request forms, a buzz started and the old stories were soon flying all over the small northside eatery.

Mixed in with all of the reminiscing were laughter, plenty of smiles, a few tears and a delicious breakfast. It was wonderful spending a morning with 23 people that I love. Here are a few photos from the bash.

A Portion of the Vagnoni Clan

Auntie Joanne, Uncle Joe and Uncle John - The Godfather

Mia and Nick at the "Kids" Table

Auntie Janet, Ryan, Amy, John and Mike

Annie and Susie

Me and Joey

It was great to see how well received the “Cottage” book idea was. Using the family breakfast at as a “launch party” was a wonderful idea. Again, thanks to cousin Susie for that one. Now it’s just a matter of getting it done.

Until next time…from the booth.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Survivor 23.11

The info synopsis for tonight’s episode of Survivor was, “Previously unseen moments shed light on the contestants and their decisions.” In other words, a crappy recap show. But knowing people would still be expecting something, the three of us came up with your Official Survivor: South Pacific Recap Trilogy for week 11’s recap show:

Mary Beth’s 2Cents:

Looking into my crystal ball…what do I see???? Hmmm, interesting…interesting…

Cochran – This young one will go far. He has the smarts to understand how the game is played and the luck to have the personality that makes others want to take care of him. The hardest thing for him to do will be to convince others to join him in making a big move in the game. He might fail at that which is why I don't think he will be in the final two.

Albert – Mr. Albert doesn't have the chutzpah to get anything going. He's transparent when he tried and Coach will take him out before he gets anywhere. However, he is physically strong enough to win a couple of immunity challenges so he might squeak in there.

Brandon – Little Hantz's day are numbered. He's outlived his usefulness and he can't compete in challenges to win anything. He's also a blabbermouth and that is the main thing that will get him outted in a heartbeat.

Edna – Young Edna is kindling. She will go up in flames soon. She has no place and the only thing working for her is her vote. Once Coach doesn't need that anymore, bye bye!

Rick – Rick? Who? Oh yeah....Rick! I dunno. Maybe they'll let him hang around and clean up the camp once it's all over. He is the most forgettable player in Survivor history!

Sophie – Sophie suffers from hanging around with Rick too much. She's becoming invisible which is bad because from what I've seen of her in interviews she could have been a contender.

Benjamin (Coach) – My pick to win it. The only other person who could take it is Ozzy and he's burning himself out with all of his shenanigans.

Dawn – Ah, my crystal ball says Dawn is leaving soon. Too bad. I liked Dawn. I wish she had more of a backbone but, eh…she was a good player for what it was worth.

Whitney – Whitney? Oh...Whitney. Whitney suffers from Rick-syndrome. She was bland and a hanger on. She'll be following Dawn out the back door.

Jamie’s Prognosis:

My recap of the recap will be brief, since I am wrestling a 22-pound turkey this evening. I enjoyed the recap, which I often don’t watch. I enjoyed it because I got some additional insight into a few people. There were some entertaining moments. I chuckled as Papa Bear attempted to guide Cochran in the ways of picking up chicks… by admiring their earrings and asking where they got them?? LOL…that was cute.

I was also not aware that Keith and Whitney were exploring one another in the biblical sense whilst sleeping under the same blanket as Cochran. Hmmm, kinda kinky. I enjoyed finally getting to hear Rick speak; “It’s a chicken…grab it by the neck and spin it or bite it’s head off”.  It was worth the wait to hear you say that, Rick. 

But most of all I became resolute in whom I would like to see win Survivor this season. Yes, I still like Coach. He’s my kind of guy, I’m sorry he just is. If you knew my dating history this would make you chuckle. I like people who are outside the box, quirky and offbeat. I loved his Hercules story where he describes himself as Zeus. I love when he says stuff like “the more arrogance you have the less wisdom you display”. 

LOVE that dragon slayer. But…I want Cochran to win. I do not find him to be nebbish, Paul Vagnoni . I think he’s playing good game and…he’s a kind soul. He loves animals. He’s nerdy cute and funny in a self effacing way.  He’s nice to other people.  He’s being strategic. He’s a fellow Survivor Geek, FSGP!!

The recap show really showed how badly his tribe of origin treated him, and that sucks all ye who are buff and bikini clad and are now watching from the comfort of your own homes because you got voted off. You may be beautiful but COCHRAN’S STILL THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope and pray for a Cochran - Coach final two. Ozzy who?? Now if you’ll excuse me, my turkey awaits.

The Booth’s Bits:

On Wednesday, August 31 I posted a blog with our 4-word evaluations for each of the castaways based on very brief bios. I thought that it would be interesting to look back and see what we had to say. Here are the remaining ten competitors – seven in “the game” and three on Redemption Island. I have added a comment on how our early assessments look now.

Te Tuna Tribe

John Cochran
Mary Beth’s 2Cents: Quiet, deadly, watch out.
Jamie’s Prognosis: Embrace your inner geek.
From The Booth’s Take: Where’s the pocket protector?
Comment: Looks like Mary Beth was right in predicting this nerd would go far. I think Jamie was just being esoteric.

Albert Destrade
Mary Beth’s 2Cents: Might be a contender.
Jamie’s Prognosis: Another Coach? No thanks!
From The Booth’s Take: Self-absorbed pretty boy.
Comment: Once again, Mary Beth proves to be prophetic. What’s up with that?

Brandon Hantz
Mary Beth’s 2Cents: HANTZ! Says it all!!
Jamie’s Prognosis: Enough with the Hantz’s…
From The Booth’s Take: Big shoes to fill.
Comment: Hard to tell how we felt about Russell’s nephew. However, you can see Jamie’s hidden love for him.

Edna Ma ­
Mary Beth’s 2Cents: May be too weak.
Jamie’s Prognosis: Yuppie. Doctor. Annoying. Oprah?
From The Booth’s Take: Too smart for game.
Comment: Nobody expected Edna to go this far. How did this happen? Could someone please tell me?

Rick Nelson
Mary Beth’s 2Cents: People will trust him.
Jamie’s Prognosis: Shave your porn ‘stache!
From The Booth’s Take: Rugged good old boy.
Comment: Okay, people trust this rugged good old boy with the porn ‘stache, but why? Maybe it’s because he hasn’t said more than four words…

Sophie Clarke
Mary Beth’s 2Cents: She could be great!
Jamie’s Prognosis: Looks beeeotchy to me.
From The Booth’s Take: Might hang around awhile.
Comment: Mary Beth and I hit this one on the head. Jamie let looks get in the way. Ha!

Benjamin "Coach" Wade
Mary Beth’s 2Cents: Oh. Please. Not. Again.
Jamie’s Prognosis: I love crazy “Zen”.
From The Booth’s Take: Act is getting old.
Comment: Okay, this time it was Jamie’s turn to look like the genius. I guess even a blind squirrel finds a nut.

Redemption Island

Dawn Meehan
Mary Beth’s 2Cents: She will go far.
Jamie’s Prognosis: Older female, look out.
From The Booth’s Take: Pain in the ass.
Comment: The ladies nailed this one, although I stand by the fact that Dawn is indeed, a pain in the ass. A neurotic pain in the ass.

Whitney Duncan
Mary Beth’s 2Cents: Coattail rider, then out.
Jamie’s Prognosis: Blonds have more fun!
From The Booth’s Take: Could be a contender.
Comment: I think we were all somewhat accurate with our early analysis of Whitney. Combined we were spot on!

Oscar “Ozzy” Lusth
Mary Beth’s 2Cents: Looks like a target.
Jamie’s Prognosis: Dark and hairy Fabio!!
From The Booth’s Take: Target on his back.
Comment: Ozzy, Ozzy, Ozzy. Because of your horrible social game, you do have a target on your back. Plus, Jamie no longer cares about your swarthy good looks.

With only two or three episodes left before the big finale, here is how I see things shaking out. My head says the Final Three will be Benjamin, Edna and Cochran. My heart would like the Final Three to be Ozzy, Sophie and Albert. We shall see…

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Until next time…from the booth.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Koos Thanksgiving Tradition

It was a typical cold afternoon in late November at Koos Inc. All four of the production lines were humming, spitting out Safe Step Ice Melter® in packages ranging in size from 10-pound bags to 100-pound drums. All three of the forklift operators were flying around the plant, doing their collective best to keep up. They knew that if they didn’t, a line would stop and they would hear it from the Production Supervisor, namely me.

Okay, not all of the forklift operators were doing their best to keep up.

As I stood chatting with Will Meurer from the manufacturing department, veteran forklift operator Herb “Butch” Krienke screeched to a halt inches way from the two of us. Doing my best Arno Schubert impersonation, I bellowed, “What the f*ck is wrong with you, Butch?”

Most of the work force paused momentarily to see what had caused my reaction.

Krienke, without even batting an eye, yelled back, “Excuse me! I was just wondering if Danielson is picking up the stuff for Thanksgiving. You know it’s Monday already!”

This resulted in all of the crew in the immediate vicinity to cock an eye and wonder what was going to happen next.

Shooting a quick glance at Meurer, I replied in a firm, no-nonsense tone, telling Krienke that Danielson would be picking everything up on Wednesday afternoon so he can hand it out between shifts. Danielson was Arnie Danielson, the Plant Manager.

Noticing that I now had everyone’s attention, my voice increased in volume when I asked Krienke if he had let the office know whether he wanted a turkey or a ham this year. He replied, “Hell ya, I told them I want the ham. They can keep those turkeys.”

Meurer then told Krienke, “You’re nuts, give me the bird any day.”

As Krienke laughed and sped off on his forklift, I noticed that the rest of the employees had stopped staring and were now having “small group discussions”. I let them go for a bit before finally asking them why nobody was working.

After a short pause, a bagger whose nickname was Bonehead stepped forward saying, “Paul, most of us just started working here and we don’t know nothing about the turkey or ham thing. Hell, we didn’t even know we was getting anything for Thanksgiving!”

Remembering that the production at Koos was very seasonal and that over 50% of the laborers were indeed brand new; I ordered the lines to shut down and had an impromptu plant meeting.

When the machines quieted down and everyone had gathered, I asked the man they called Bull Dog to step forward. As he did, I asked him, “Dog, you’re a Union Steward, didn’t you tell the guys they had to make a choice between a turkey or a ham for Thanksgiving?”

Bull Dog looked perplexed for a moment, and then grinning slightly, shrugged his shoulders and said, “Oops, my bad. Sorry Paul.” I told him not to worry, there was still time.

Catching the gaze of Krienke, Meurer, Bull Dog and several other Koos old-timers, I then looked at my watch before addressing the crew with my solution for this problem.

“Here’s what we are going to do”, I announced. “Since it is nearly 2:00 o’clock and break time, any of you who haven’t already made your choice, get over to the office and let Millie or Louise know what you want, a turkey or a ham.”

The word ham hadn’t left my lips when 15 or 20 dirty, dusty, hardhat wearing workers darted for the ramp, making a beeline out of the plant, across the parking lot and into the office to let the unknowing ladies know whether they wanted a turkey or a ham for Thanksgiving.

With all the novices over at the office placing their orders, Tyrone Walker, a veteran Koos employee of several seasons, walked past me and the other remaining veterans, shook his head and muttered, “You guys just ain’t right.”

As we burst into laughter, the phone in my office rang. Taking a moment to compose myself, I answered it. It was Millie, one of the secretaries from the office. Now Millie had a bit of a southern accent, so sometimes some of her words were hard to understand.

Not this time.

“You assholes did it again! A turkey or a ham! Happy Thanksgiving, Paul!” With that she hung up the phone rather firmly. I smiled to myself, knowing that the Koos Thanksgiving tradition had carried on for another year.

I hoped you enjoyed this holiday classic from the Koos Inc. vault. Next month you will be treated to that masterpiece, “A Koos Christmas Story”. Make sure you don’t miss it!

Until next time…from the booth.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Don’t Jump To Conclusions

New Chicago Cub Manager, Dale Sveum
This past Thursday, Dale Sveum was hired as manager of the Chicago Cubs. Sveum played for the Brewers from 1986-1991 and coached from 2006-2011. Sveum’s best season came in 1987, when he hit 25 home runs and drove in 95 runs while batting primarily in the ninth spot in the lineup. On April 19 (Easter Sunday), he hit a walkoff home run at County Stadium to give the Brewers a 6-4 victory over the Texas Rangers for their twelfth win in a row.

It wasn’t long after the announcement before the Chicago radio was putting its special spin on the signing. On 670 The Score, Boers and Bernstein were Googling “interesting facts” about Dale Sveum and joking that they couldn’t find any.

On their facebook page they posted Sveum’s high school picture for their meatball fans to mock. David Kaplan from WGN and Comcast couldn’t let that one pass him by and posted the photo on Twitter.

Along with all the Chicago-style hilarity came an observation regarding the natural connection between Sveum and Prince Fielder. The free agent first baseman has never been shy about how much he appreciated Sveum and considers him one of the best coaches he ever had. This prompted the following speculations:


“Does this all add up to Fielder signing the megadeal he seeks with the Cubs?

Just imagine how many times he’d hit the ball out onto Sheffield Ave. He’d have a fan club just waiting out on the street for a chance to nab a home run, much like Sammy Sosa did in his heyday.

Imagine Fielder spending 81 games hitting in cozy Wrigley Field. Imagine when the wind is actually blowing out. With his huge uppercut, there wouldn’t be a pitcher in the league that would want to pitch to Fielder.”

This was from -

“Hire the Milwaukee Brewers hitting coach and could their slugging first baseman follow? That has to be the line of thinking for many fans with the news that Dale Sveum has accepted an offer to manage the Cubs after spending the past six seasons in Milwaukee working with Prince Fielder, who is one of the biggest prizes in free agency this offseason.”

And finally, from Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel –

“No offense to Dale Sveum, but Brewers fans are way more worried that Prince Fielder will follow him to the Cubs than they are about losing their hitting coach.”

Mr. Haudricourt has got that right. While it doesn’t thrill me to see Sveum named manager of the Cubs, the very talk of Prince ending up on the Northside of Chicago sickens me. I really don’t know what I would do if the unthinkable were to happen. It would be odiously heinous.

Seriously though, I don’t think Prince will sign with the Cubs for a number of reasons.

Owner Tom Ricketts has intimated that the Cubs were looking to slash payroll in 2012. Spending 200 million dollars on a free agent isn’t exactly a cost saving measure. Granted, this could change with the hiring of Theo “the Messiah” Epstein as President of Baseball Operations.

I don’t believe Prince would want to join a team that is basically starting from scratch. It is not in his nature to be content playing with a bunch of underachievers whose style of play is lackadaisical at best. Just ask Manny Parra.

Prince isn’t going to play for Chicago just because Sveum is there. If he wanted to play with people he knows, he would stay with Milwaukee. They chose him in June of 2002 as the seventh overall pick in the draft. The Brewers have been a part of Prince’s family for ten years.

Prince is all about family. He wants to be a better father to his sons than his was to him. The presence of his young sons, Jadyn and Haven in the Brewer’s clubhouse is well documented. Would he be afforded this same luxury with the Cubs? Is there even enough room in their antiquated locker room?

Prince Fielder and his sons, Haven and Jadyn
 I honestly don’t think having Sveum as their manager gives the Cubs an advantage in signing Prince. Any talk of the Cubs having an inside track based solely on Sveum being there is ridiculous.

Sadly though, I must accept that while Prince possesses a rare combination of determination and childlike enthusiasm for the game, it could very well come down to money. That is a cold, hard fact.

But if it does come down to money, and the Cubs are one of the teams in the bidding, they had better out bid everyone else. Prince isn’t going there just because Dale Sveum is their manager.  He knows if he signs an 8-year contract, Sveum will only be around as long as the Cubs are winning.

Based on these reasons, I optimistically (okay, maybe foolishly) feel that the team with the inside track is still the Brewers. Prince needs to remain in Milwaukee. Hopefully, Mr. Attanasio agrees and will pay the man.

Until next time…from the booth.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Survivor 23.10

Here’s your Official Survivor: South Pacific Recap Trilogy for week 10:

It was business as usual on Survivor tonight. The Big Three – who once thought they would be the final three – duked it out in a Redemption Island challenge where they had to balance posts on the top of their hands which was balancing a board on top of that.

Those kinds of challenges look brutal to me and dumb ol' Jim couldn't hack more than a few minutes before his Survivor adventure was snapped away from him. I thought I saw him blubber a little bit as he tossed his buff into the flames. Anyway, it was, as I said, business as usual. One more unbalanced failure out and Ozzy was the victor.

If you look up the word “ego” in the dictionary there is a picture of Ozzy right next to it. The Oz is so full of himself. He just had to brag about how well he's been eating on Redemption Island, and how rested he was getting and how strong he felt. Sheesh!

They let him go off back to Redemption mumbling all the good things about himself. The rest of the group headed back to camp where the real jockeying started.

Realizing he's only going to make it to 7th place, Cochran started talking to Coach trying to get some reassurance that he would be kept around longer than some of the others. Coach was positively smarmy as he tried to assure Cochran but not really. In other words, he was brilliantly non-committal yet somehow fatherly.

Cochran referred to this as “drinking the Coach Kool-Aid”, which, as I recall, was something like I said in an earlier blog! Coach is Svengali despite his denials and if there is anyone on that island that doesn't know it, well…they're just stupid!

Actually, they are stupid. It kills me when they all talk about making a big move to further their game and then no one actually has the guts to do it. If Albert had stuck to his guns and they followed his plan, this would have shaken up the entire game.

Now, it's going to be awfully predictable I think. Ozzy will come back unless there is some complete freak of nature twist and he actually loses a Redemption Island challenge. He will quickly be voted off again and not get much further in the game. The rest will slowly pick each other off starting with Cochran. I think it will be Coach and Albert in the final two.

Most Awkward Moment: That strange between her legs camera shot of Dawn on the balance beam! Whew…that was something no one needed to see!

Moment I Wished Would Have Happened: I was hoping that right in the middle of doing the Coach tai-chi, he and Cochran would have broken out into a rousing rendition of the Hokey Pokey.

Question on Everyone's Mind: Who the hell is that Rick guy and what exactly is he still doing out there? I've seen tree stumps with more personality and potential to win! Sheesh!

Well tonight’s episode of Survivor won’t be one to go down in the history books. There was some half hearted talk about a blindside but it didn’t happen. It was no surprise that Dawn and Whitney were voted off, virtually eliminating the old Savaii tribe, save for Cochran. But I was able to invent a new word! It happened whilst watching Ozzy out on Redemption Island, frolicking in the sea and gleefully pretending to play the part of Robinson Crusoe.

I will give the great Oz credit where credit is due. He is just spectacular in the water. He wields that fishing spear like the mythical Triton. He’s almost amphibian. If this guy wasn’t a sea bass in a past life, I don’t know who was.  And of course there is the tree climbing and the coconut picking and the conjuring of fire out of nowhere.

If Armageddon happens, I seriously want Ozzy by my side. But that is the only way I want to spend any time with dead behind the eyes Ozzy. He just bugs me this season. He’s become so smart alecky self confident. So I was thinking “That Ozzy is sooooo cocky” and then I thought, “wow…that kinda sorta rhyme’s a little” and then it just came to me. My new word. “Cockzy”. Do with it what you will…

Here are my top ten moments from this week’s show:

#10. Coach and Cochran doing tai chi on the beach. (That was downright adorable! I told you they are my Survivor dream team… I love their budding bromance!)

#9. Cochran talking to the camera about how he was only allowing himself to take ginger sips of Coach’s Kool-Aid. Jim nailed it when he referred to Coach’s hold on his team as cult like (and that’s about the only thing Jim nailed out there!)

#8. When Cockzy almost lost the challenge at Redemption Island. His hands were moving, the poles were wavering…come on you all know you were holding your breath like I was and kind of hoping to watch it happen!

#7. Keith making the sign of the cross as he threw his buff into the fire on the way out of the game. Lotsa religion out there this year…not that there’s anything wrong with it, but I keep waiting for Pat Robertson to pop out of the foliage. 

#6. Cochran trying to balance a bowl of rice on his head during the challenge (as if)!

#5. When Albert said that Edna should be voted off because the point of the game is NOT to outorganize, outclean and outgather. She’s become the Hazel of the South Pacific!

#4. Albert’s abs.  Nuff said.

#3. The fact that Edna, who is a physician, did not know the answer to how to prevent dehydration in the wild. Please, if you live in the Los Angeles area, do NOT have any medical procedures requiring anesthesia. Sheesh…

#2. The fact that Rick still has not said a single word the entire time he has been out there. Could he end up being the only player in Survivor history to win the game without uttering a single word?

And my #1 top moment from tonight’s Survivor Episode is: If you watch the post show playback of the tribe writing down their choice for ouster, you will see that Brandon wrote down “Don”. Yes folks, I do believe he thought Dawn was a very thin, effeminate man.

Tonight’s episode started out with Benjamin (the competitor formerly known as Coach) pontificating to his minions. Jim Jones had nothing on this guy. The episode ended with next week’s coming attractions showing Benjamin declaring that he should now be referred to as “Zeus”. Got much of an ego there, son?

Squeezed in between all of Benjamin’s gut-wrenching braggadocio was some classic Survivor action. There was a Redemption Island elimination duel, an Immunity Challenge and a Tribal Council with a twist. The twist turned out to be an immediate second Immunity Challenge with a second Tribal Council to follow. Pretty good stuff.

The duel at Redemption Island was won by Ozzy, which resulted in the elimination of both Jim and Keith. Although they were eliminated, they became the first two members of the all-important jury.

In true Ozzy fashion, Ozzy made it clear to everyone that he is enjoying his solitude on Redemption Island. He is getting stronger by the day and looks forward to defeating whoever he meets in the subsequent duels. What he says is all very true, but does he have to be so cocksure about it? Sheesh…

The first Immunity Challenge consisted of maneuvering over two teeter-totters while carrying a bowl of rice on your head. It came down to Sophie, Brandon and Dawn, because basically everyone else was a bunch of uncoordinated klutzes. Especially Cochran. Sophie won Immunity, which meant Benjamin’s Cult of Seven would vote to send either Whitney or Dawn to be with Ozzy on Redemption Island.

Dawn was the victim of choice in a rather mundane Tribal Council. The twist of an immediate Immunity Challenge proved to be rather exciting. It was a Survivor general knowledge contest and it came down to Whitney and Sophie.

If Whitney could upset Sophie, Benjamin’s Cult of Seven would be in a world of hurt. They would be forced to vote off one of their own with out Benjamin instructing them whom that person would be.

It would have been sweet, but it wasn’t meant to be and Whitney was sent packing to join Ozzy and his new campmate Dawn on Redemption Island. Damn. I was momentarily disappointed. However, award-winning host Jeff Probst quickly washed away my dissatisfaction with a very sagacious observation.

With Benjamin’s Cult of Seven looking content and somewhat full of themselves, he said, “Well, the good news is the seven of you have accomplished your goal. The bad news is no where left to hide; this game is about to change.”

Probst was spot on. As I predicted last week, Benjamin’s Cult of Seven would get to the point where they will have to start eating their own. And like last week, I again hope that someone from Redemption Island can somehow upset the “family”. But I’m not counting on it.

I am going to be content watching them implode from within. And it will be glorious. Let’s see if Zeus has any lightning bolts hidden up his sleeve. Until next time…from the booth.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

La Casa Da Lago

See that big white house just to the left of this paragraph? That is the famous “Cottage” from my childhood. My dear Dad and his three brothers and sister purchased it back in 1967 and owned it until 1974. It was located on beautiful Camp Lake in Salem, Wisconsin. It was the Vagnoni family getaway. It may have been a stretch to call the old place a cottage, but that is what we called it. 

Unless we decided to get ethnic, then it was “La Casa Da Lago”.

As romantic as the name La Casa Da Lago might sound, the cottage was in reality a beat-up monstrosity in dire need of much repair. The 2-story structure was built into the side of a hill and featured 4 bedrooms and a spooky attic.

As far as it being a getaway, it was actually less than 20 miles away and on a good day you could make it out there in about 30 minutes. That is, unless you were riding out there with Uncle Dave in his infamous AMC Marlin. Then you would be there in 15 minutes and will have heard at least fifty different songs.

With all that being said, La Casa Da Lago was truly a magical place for a ten-year-old boy in the late ‘60s growing up in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Those times were filled with a multitude of adventures, each one more memorable than the next.

Recently I was reminiscing with my cousin Susie about all of our escapades at the old Cottage. Being a fellow blogger, I suggested that between the two of us we could fill a book with these tales. She was receptive to the idea and we have decided to give it a shot.

It didn’t take much brainstorming for us to come up with a preliminary list of story topics. From the recesses of our aging minds were able to come up with at least 20 memories.

Things like: burning down the Cottage (twice), being drunk at Grandma and Grandpa’s 50th Wedding Anniversary party, making a beach in the dead of winter, the movie we made – “Orgies of Murder”, the neighbors believing we were connected with the Mafia and the scary Thanksgiving sailor.

The creative games we played out at the cottage will also provide numerous tales for the book. Games like, the clothes exchange (don’t ask), sparkler races on the peninsula and the outrageous game of “Rollers, Runners and Stoogies”. You can click on that link to get a hint of just how imaginative (demented?) the Vagnoni children were.

We also plan on picking the brains of our relatives for additional ideas on November 26. That is when we are assembling for a family breakfast at Bonnie’s Diner. This could be epic. Vagnoni get-togethers usually are, we are a creative bunch.

Here are a couple of pictures from La Casa Da Lago.

Vagnoni Clan Going Swimming
A Vagnoni Family Meal at La Casa Da Lago
Using the family breakfast at Bonnie’s Diner as a “launch party” was a wonderful idea. Thanks to cousin Susie for that one. I am excited about this book project; it’s going to be loads of fun. If you want to see the Vagnoni clan in action, stop by on the 26th at 8:30 am. Warning: you will never be the same again.

Until next time…from the booth.