Coasterville Commentary

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Friday, March 31, 2006

Survivor Exile Island - Episode 7

Man, it seems like forever since we were watching Survivor, thank goodness for that super size serving of previouslies.

Then since La Mina lost the last tribal coucil, sending Dan home, we start with them.

Not much to say excpept they say its cold and we see them bickering about a blanket. We turn to Casaya, who are also complaining about the cold, and they have rain to deal with as well. We see Bruce tending to his rock garden, and Bruce comments about being the tribe outsider and he just hopes to make it to the merge.

Cue cutting back to La Mina where thoughts of the mere, especially at 6-4 underdogs come to mind. Gee,do you think its merge time.

La Mina is instructed to look about their back beach for something that isn't right. They are hoping that the Survivor grocery store made a big delivery. Instead they find a very obvious boat with sealed crates and instructions NOT to openthe crates until they arrive at Casaya. We don't know what else the note said, but they are clearly thinking merge, and run back to La Mina to salvage their tarp, food and anything else that may be useful in a merge, and load it onto the boat. Note only three guys are in camp, as Sally is still in Exile out on Exile island. We see them sailing towards Casaya as have a parting shot of the La Mina flag, which is probably all but forgotten in the minds of the former LA Mina-ens.

We cut to Casaya who are clearly not informed. They are having a nice tribe dinner while talking about a merge. They see the LA Mina boat, they determine who is not on the boat, then they go and scarf down all their remaining food so the La Mina tribe doesn't get to share any of it. They then hold a Casya tirbal meeting and vow to stick together to the end, Casaya forever and all that. Let the Pagonging of La Mina begin, and they start to already work on a pecking order. They also comment about how they will act like they are being a friendly welcoming tribe, but thats just cause they will turn and vote them out one by one, and they have no say in it.

The run out and greet La Mina, and the three La Mina guys confessional about how totally friendly Casaya was, in other words they just took the bait. The crew drops Sally off from exile. I start to get worried as the word MERGE has not been officially uttered, but both tribes clearly think they are in a merge situation. The box that La Mina was given is now opened, It contained the official notice that the tribes have merged, it also contains their new buffs (black), and materials to create a new flag. They also get the traditional merge housewarming gift. (Reception foods like fruit, crackers, cheese and wine, candy, etc) As usual they act all "the game is on hold" while being civil and celebrating in the feast. They start to work building a bigger grander shelter. Casaya "Let Teri build us a nice new shelter, then we'll vote him out!" We see the much puffed medical incident: In building the stucture, there is a machete accident, Nick hits Bruce, purely by accident, on the face. We hear some dialog that makes it sound like peraps Bruce was taken off-camp to visit a first aid center of medical faciliy, but no big medicalair evacuation scene like the first round of previews suggested. All in all it cameoff as being handled as a trivial detail.

The food gift and merge count as this episodes reward.
Immunity Challenge:
Tribal immunity is no more, and the immunity necklace is debuted.
Its an endurance challenge, hang upside down from a log using only your ams and legs. Last one playing gets immuity.

This is a very short lived challenge at only 30 minutes. Cirie drops out after just 3 minutes. Interesting Casaya comments about food or gifts to tempt them off the logs. As soon as Jeff states there will be no temptations during this challenge, the entire Casya tribe drops out in quick succession, leaving the three La Mina men to battle it out. In the end Terri wins the challenge which will help shield his personal idol. In other words save yourself, even if you just signed the eviction notice on a tribe mate. One of the La Mina men later confesses that he played himself as being a weekling as he knew he could not beat Terry, but did not want to come accross as a challenge threat.

After the challenge, we gets clips of Casys being very arrogant and making no efforts to be one unfied tribe as they hold a Casaya meeting and decide that Nick has to go. We do get to see Bruce, (who is apparently now all better) get to put is 30 years as an art teacher skills to work as he gets assigned the job as tribal flag artist. In fairness the flag he created is about the best tribe created flag I have seen yet, and surely beats the tired "handprint flag" that we see so often.

Terry all but tells them they he has the secret idol, when playing from what is surely a minority position, he comes out acting like he can shake Casaya members loose, and even acts like he has some power move. It leaves them tinking Terry is nuts, so I guess the telegrpah line didn't work. Going to tribal council it seems all but apparent that Nick is going, which usually would mean Nick is safe.

We go to tribal council, and we have the pleasantries about the new tribe name and the welcome party. Jeff is quick to call Casaya out on their arrogance as demonstrated at the challenge, and Casaya is truly all arogant as they basically say Hell Yeah Jeff, and there is nothing La Mina can do about it. We all know Mark Burnet and Jeff Probst hate when tribes get arrogant, I'm sure the two had a meeting right after that tribal to figure out how to knock Casaya down a notch to pound some respect for the game into them.

Jeff comments that Terry is safe, and several people have been Exiled )okay, Bruce, Terry and Sally (Melina so voted off ages ago). If you hold it, please keep it a secret until after you have been voted out.

Votes are cast La Mina votes tribal lines for Shane, Casays votes tribal lines for Nick.

Jeff goes to tally the votes, he tries to make pretend its not so obvious, pullling all the Shane votes first (maybe that is the first step in Jeff's plans to try to put some scare into Shance), but then even with the extra dramatic music and everything, Nick is still voted out, where he gives an inspirational closing statement. The short previews want us to beleive Terry gives away his top secret idol to someone else. I doubt they would divulge something that crucial to the game in a preview, so it probably means nothing.

Oh,and most changed player,Shane. When Shane was on the losing end he wanted out of the game in episode 2, then, after Bobby's ouster he wanted out of the alliance, and the rest of Casaya was abotu to swear on a stack of every holy book known to man that Shane is gone at the next opportunity. Well, now that Casaya holds a 6-4, now 6-3 upper hand, Shane is turning out to be the HEAD arogant jerk, and has basically unilaterally appointing hilself tribe chief (of Casaya only of course, forget those dang foreigners from La Mina), while pretenidn that Bruce is the leader. Both trbes are buttering up Bruce. COntrast to earlier when nobody wanted Bruce.

Oh, and Jeff commented at tribal council that 18 days were done, and everybody left is either jury or finalist. Day 18, after 7 episodes it should be day 21. I wonder what surprises lie in store. I don't think they could bring a evicted player back now that he has said everybody left is either jury or finalist.

Till next week!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Amazing Race - Episode 5

Weclome back, well the first 4 episode post is right next to this one, so you can refer to that one if you need to know what happened up to this point.

The episode starts in Germany with Eric and Jeremy getting their first clue:

Clue #23 - Route Info
Teams must fly to Palermo, Italy and once there catch a taxi to the opera house


Airport inrigue returns. While Eric and Jeremy arrived at the airport first, they were quickly discouraged at the site of a closed till the morning ticket counter, and decided to use their time (horse)playing with the airport's courtesy wheelchairs to realize that BJ and Tyler were using a public internet kiosk at the airport to secure reservations on the AlItalia flight, This proves to be important as BJ and Tyler hold the last pair of confirmed seats available on the flight, leaving Eric and Jeremy to wipe that smirk off their face and beg for standby,

Some teams started to think outside the box and asked about making multi-airline bookings, and found that there such a multi airline booking that could shave some time off of the arrival. There has been some debate as to weather or not Fran was rude to Lake and Michelle at the ticket counter, however I thinkthat the right to privacy when conducting business is a reasonable request, particularly when you you are competing. If Lake refused to honorFran's request, which I could easily see happening, well then Franwould have no choice but to be assertive which may come off as rude. Lake's line about "She's a doctor's wife se should know better", well then Lake hasn't been exposed to HIPPA where privacy in business conversations is king.

All this leads to a Lake meltdown, as they discover upon arrival in Rome that the other teams have bookings on a different flight than they do, and whats more the more advantageous flight is full. Who here wasn't surprised to see Lake throw a tantrum when life didn't go his way? One at the airport, teams had no trouble finding the opera house, which had

Clue #24 - Route Info
Take a marked car and drive to Castellamare De Golfo which is fortress in a quaint looking down.


Not much to report here other than we get another clip of a team who is stunned to find out the car they have been issued comes equipped with standard transmission. Again, if you sign up for this show, learning to drive stick is a must. Oh, we also get treated to more footage of Fran and Barry walking right past a clue box. Anyway once they arrive they get

Clue #25 - Detour
Foundry or Laundry

In Foundry teams must walk to a local foundry, once there, they must take a 110 pound church bell to a church located some distance away. They are allowed to use a small pickup-like vehicle to move the bell part of the way, but for some of the way the heavy bell must be carried, inlcuding up a bunch of stairs. Once they deliver the bell to the church, the priest will give them there next clue,

In Laundry, teams must search through several clothers lines strung between buidlings to find one of 16 garments (amongst over 2000) that have an Amazing Race flag label sewn into them. One they find a marked garment, they may exchange it with the laundry lady for their next clue.,

Notes: Not another Lucky Choice challenge. In this one, teams can either elect the grueling physical task of carrying the bell, where a strong team could finish quickly, or take there chances on a non-strenuous task that may or may not take a long time depending on the team's luck.

Most teams choose Laundry, no teams swap tasks, and the teams seem to have no trouble with the tasks they choose. Ray and John earn bonus points for single handedly hauling the bell up the stairs.

Either way they get:
Clue #26: Route Info
- Travel to anarcheological park in Segesta, Italy, once there park your car and hike along the trails to the Teatro (an ampitheatre) Warning Yield Ahead.

Again not much happened on the roads on the way to the park outside of the garden variety getting lost. Points of note: BJ and Tyler sounded keen on Yielding Eric and Jeremy but chose not to. The editing starts to make it look like BJ and Tyler are significantly ahead as we watch them pretty much demo the episode for us, then we watch everybody else.

Lake and Michelle arrive at the park, but get confused on the trails, and acutally find the pit stop location before the Road Block location so have to backtrack to the road block. This time Fran and Barry return Lake's request for a hint with "Can't help you!" Some say this is in retalliation for the motorcycle incident where Lake really did help to the amount that could be reasonably expected, so while it may be good game play to keep your oponent lost, it may come back to haunt them down the road. Bad karma maybe?

Speaking of Lake and Michelle - they choose to Yield the Twins (Team Double D). Pay attention as this is important as the twins sit out their 30 minute time out. You can tell the decision was 100% Lake as Michelle as much as admitted she didn't have a say in it.

Adjacent to the Yield point is
Clue #27 - Roadblock
"Whos good at piecing things together"
The challenge is basically to enter the theatre where parts of a "classical" (read:nude) statue are scattered about in a pile. They basically form a life size 3D jigsaw puzzle. Assemble the pieces to the archeologists satisfaction to get the next clue. Oh, and Phil lets us in on the booby trap: There are 2 extra parts, teams don't know this. I love when Phil lets us in on these little booby traps, then we can watch the teams suffer through them. Ever since "Now that you're familiar with Sangwe Village, make your way to Sangwe Museum" (Where teams could not wait to hop into their cars and drive for hours to find a little musem located within walking distance of the last pit stop)/ Mom didn't care for the extra pieces trick, but I loved it.

Most teams took the little extra surprise in stride, finished their statue and said "I guess there are extra pieces" as they showed it to the inspector and received their clues. The noteworthy exception would be Dave and Lori. (The geeks) Lori took the road block and just could not get her mind over the fact tht you don't have to use every piece that is provided. I think she said she had the statue right, and took it apart 3 times in attempt to figure out how to fit those last two parts into the puzzle. The shows producers congratulate themselves on mission accomplished.

Lake takes too much credit in saying that his anatomy courses really helped him on this very basic 3D jigsaw puzzle. It's all about Lake, you know, as Lake enters the realm of self-centered reality show players. Team D are second to last to the pitstop, where the delay cuases them to have to compete in the Roadblock head to head with Ray and Yolanda who actually arrived after them. They both finished the roadblock at about the same time, which for me is enough to build a case that if there was not a Yield, Team D would have easily checked in at the pitstop ahead of Ray and Yolanda, instead Ray and Yolanda were able to beat them in the footrace to the pitstop, despite the tension building moment of showing Ray and Yolanda checking a park guide map.

Oh and completing the puzzle gets them Clue #28
Clue #28 - Route Info
- Walk to Temo de Segesta which is another attraction within the same park, and in walking (or running distance) Warning: This is a Pit Stop.

First to check in were BJ and Tyler who won a digital photography package to include digital camera, computer, photo printer, and supplies.

Eric and Jeremy came in second, yes they make a typical Girl-mind comment about the local greeter, and when told they were in second place, reacted like they were at a funeral, or they had been eliminated. Phil even had to say "Come on guys, second place, can't you show a little enthusiasm" Add competetive to their list of traits. Phil, if you think there are sullen now, just wait!

One by one teams arrive:
1) BJ and Tyler
2) Eric and Jeremy
3) Johna and Monica
4) Fran and Barry
5) Lake and Michelle (Goes down on one knee to thank Michelle, maybe he does have good in him, Phil responds with a noble "Rise" like he was talking to a knight.
6) Dave and Lori

Which leaves a nailbiting footrace to the finish

7) Ray and Yolanda
8) Danni and Danielle

Dani and Danielle are eliminated for being in last place. Phil again comments about how this was the closest male/female relationship between two different teams in the history of the race, again almost confirming that some extra curricular activity was happening at the pitstops. As I said, if Eric and Jeremy were sullen before, wait till they find out their girls won't be waiting from them at the Pitstop Hotel. Then wait till they learn that Lake and Michelle were directly responsible for their elimination. Thats a big case of ill-will between teams right there.

So the Detour payed off in that Lake and Michelle were able to control which team got sent packing. I'm not sure Lake played that card out of strategy or out of the "I'm ahead, let me beat on chest and cause another team pain" mentality. It probably was a wise move as they had just seen how close they were to the pit stop, had a very limited number of teams behind them, and so it was a good move to try to save their own selves from elimination. Between the two though, I would think the better play would have been to Yield Ray and Yolanda as they appear to be the better (usually) of the bottom feeder teams, and Team D makes enough mistakes on their own that they would have probably been out real soon anyway.

Oh, and nothing good in the previews excpet tasks involving live raw seafood and possibly selling in a local market, oh, and the show moves to a new time slot: Wednesdas at 8pm.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Amazing Race - Episodes 1-4

Okay, I had inteded to do write ups for both Survivor and Amazing Race, my two favortie reality shows. But with March Madness and other things, I just haven't gotten to it, so I'll just put all 4 recaps in one mega post, mkay?

Amazing Race is a highly regarded reality show, due in part to the fact that we as viewers get a glimspe at the world from the comfort of our favorite easy chair, and because unlike other reality shows, teams are eliminated from Amazing Race objectively. It's quite simple, come into an elimination point in last place, and you get eliminated. There is no voting, no unilateral decisions by the shows host, no viewer polls, no quizes, just race standings at predetermined points along the race course.

Yes, race course, the Amazing Race is a race around the world, and despite the premise that teams are free to do whatever they want, be assured there is a defined race course, known only to the shows production staff. Teams are on a need-to-know basis and are informed in scavenger hunt style by way of clues in sealed envelopes at points known as 'route markers'.

To help the teams there are some speical route markers that allow teams to exhibit strategical thinking. Detours allow the teams a choice between two tasks, allowing tems to hopefully have one option that they feel they are better suited for. Roadblocks are tasks that only one member of a team may peform, and no team member may do more than 6 of them. Based only on vague clues, teams can use these to their advantage by trying to choose the team member best suited for the tasks. There are also a couple single use items, a Fast Forward pass when offered allows a team to bypass all other clues in that leg of the race and proceed directly to the pitstop. Only one team can use the fast forward pass, and each team can only use fast forward once the entire race. Yields allow a team to force another team to stop racing for a pre determined amount of time, like the fast forward you can only use the Power of Yield once per race, although you may be the vistim of the yield numerous times.

Additionly, not all Pit Stops are elimination points. When a team arrives at a Pit Stop they must take a mandatory 12 hour rest break, where they are allowed to eat, sleep and mingle with the other teams. If you come in to an elimination pit stop in last place you are out of the game, if you come into a non elimination pit stop in last place, you are still allive, but just barely, and you forfeir all cash you have accumulated, as well as all posessions except the clothes you are wearing and your passport. The kick you while your down, is the fact you don't get the stipend at the start of the next leg.


The race starts as usual,with Phil giing his opening speech from the top of a building, in this case the building is in Denver, Colorado. The last season of the Amazing Race as generally panned for having the unwieldy 4 person teams, and the fact the last season spent the vast majoirty of time in the United States of America. Well, in the previews, including the promo at the end of the last season, as well as in the introduction, Phil all but apologizes for last season and promises teams of TWO, and visits to more exotic places than ever before. We'll see, but next up on the agenda is the montage where we get introduced to this season's 11 two person teams.

Let's meet the teams:

1) Lake and Michelle - Married parents
2) Danielle and Dani - Team Double D, or Team Pink - friends.
3) BJ & Tyler - Best Friends - The "Hippies", well they act like hippies, but they are several years younger than me so they aren't authentic hippies.
4) Ray & Yolanda - this seasons Dating Couple - I wonder why couples think putting their relationship in a high stress situation is the best way to test compatibility.
5) John & Scott - Lifelong Friends - this seasons openly gay team
6) David & Lori - Another dating couple
7) Eic and Jeremy - more friends - Team Playboys
8) Fran and Barry - this seasons's senior couple - Married 40 years!
9) Lisa and Joni - Sisters - Team Glamazons
10) Joseph and Monica - yet another dating couple
11) Wanda and Desiree - this years parent/child team.

After team introductions we head to the race starting line, in this case Red Rock ampitheatre. Phil explains the rules, limited amounts of money that must cover everything except airline tickets. "The World is waiting for you! Race Hard, Travel safe! GO!"

As usual the first clue is placed on top of the teams luggage which is placed a short distance away, in this case they have to race up the ampitheatre stairs to the top to get their luggage. In the race, the teams seem to be allowed to bring whatever they can carry, so long as its not a travel aid on the forbidden list. Of course, the challenge is to broing enough to be prepared for any situation, but still light enough to be a quick agile team. After all the more you bring, the more weight you have to lug, It should be noted that if the team is headed for a particularly brutal environment, such as subzero artic like areas, the show will issue them cold weather gear for that leg, or if they go somewhere where local culture or laws require special items, they will be provided. For example the teams have been provided with the proper head coverings when visiting Islamic nations.

The first epsiode used to be the standard hour, but that was admittedly too short, then they bumped it up to 90 minutes which seemed just right, but I gess since primte time shows come in hour blocks these days, they felt the need to bump it up to a full 2 hour double episode, which just seems too long.

Anyway, the teams race to their bags and get Clue #1.

Clue #1 - Route Info
- Take a marked car located in the nearby parking lot
- Drive to the Denver airport and park in Pike's Peak remote parking
- Fly to San Paolo, Brazil using your choice of any of the three specified flights. Limited seats on each flight, first come first serve, no phone reservations.
- Once in San Paolo, make your way to the Hotel Unique.

Sometimes I wonder if there are clue boxes they don't show in between major points or if they really do issue such multi-faceted cluses. We do know that there is usually a detailed handout "Additional Info" that is inclosed with the brief clue. They usually only make mention of the "Additional Info" if it becomes an issue,

Notes from this task: The great editors show one team filling us in on the prohibition on making advance reservations for the flight, You must check in at the designated counter at the airport, which is only fair given the first come first serve nature of the tickets. Anyway no sooner do they read about not calling the airline for tickets, then we cut to Lake and Michelle who are parked at a gas station doing just that. Then, get this, a bit later they show Michelle reading the clue and reading about the prohibition on phone calls. Apparently we are to believe this is the first time she got to read the clue, as Alpha male Lake must have been in charge of the clue and unilaterally made the decision to call the airline. When Michelle challenged Lake on it,Lake sheeishly admitted he didn't read the entire clue, but channeling Jonathan, he declared "I suppose its PARTIALLY my fault" Partially? He read the clue,he pulled the car off the road, he made the phone call. I see bad news ahead. They make no further mention of it, so I can we just have to assume they called the airline back and cancelled out the illegal reservations.

Teams also try to get the Pike's Peak shuttle driver to pass by and not pick up other teams, but the drivers cared more about customer service and keeping their jobs then serving self-centered reality show contestants.

One by one teams arrived at the arlport, but as it would happen there were some flight delays so the flights did not arrive in the order the producers intended. They then make their way to the Hotel Unique. Its a hotel that is built to look like a boat. Let me be clear its an abstrat moden art interpretation of a boat, using sleek modern glass and steel construction. The clue, is waiting on the hotel roof. We also get out first glance at teams dealing with taxi drivers, and more importantly, the teams that thought they had a leg up because they learned Spanish, were dismayed to learn the nation speaks Portugese.

Clue #2: Route Info
- Make your way to the Viaduto Santa Efigenia - which is a major viaduct, or a bridge over a major roadway.

Notes: Not to much to report, other than teams are already starting to have the traffic meltdowns usually reserved for later in the race, oh and Fran and Barry make their presence known by being able to walk right past the clue box four times before they finally realize its the clue box. "They must have moved it here!" Yeah, sure, ya betcha.

Clue #3: DETOUR
Rotor Head or Motor Head

In Rotor Head - teams make their way to a small airpot where using just photos of local buildings, they must arrange a charter helicopter to that building. To arrange the charter flight, they must match the photo of the building they have with its mate in a thick confusing "flight catalog". There are three buildings to choose from, but the charter company can only take a limited number of teams to each buidling, and of course some are closer than others. Once at the building they must search a designated area of the buidling for their next clue, at which time they will be flown back to the airport and can continue on their way.

In Motor Head - teams go to what is presumably a garage, and must make a motorcycle out of an assortment of motorcycle parts. Teams will be able to see a finshed motorcycle as an exemplar. Once the teams cycle is able to be started, the mechanic will give them the next clue.

Notes: Okay this one award those that happen to posess the talent of being mechanically inclined. If you ae good around a workbench, and specifically putting engines together, you may excel at the bike task, if not there is the fallback task involving the helicopters. The main challenge of the copter task is finding the matching photo in the flight catalog, the rest is a cleverly inserted time penalty consisting of the round trip flight to the remote building, as it appeared that the clues were not well hidden in the building.

As I mentioned before, some teams were having major fits in their cabs dealing with the traffic, and John and Scott bailed their taxi without having a backup ride arranged. Will this cost them? Most teams thatstarted the motorcycle challenge quicking bailed that detour option and headed for the heliport. Lake and Michelle, okay mostly Lake was well adept and posessed the skills needed to make quick work of the motorcycle challenge. He is also to be commended for the good sportsmanship of letting Fran and Berry not only watch them build their bike, but Lake also offered to help Fran and Barry. Lake was thinking about building good karma, but he soon realized that Fran and arry would require more help then Lake could possibly be expected to give. "What's a spark plug?" "I don't know what a carbuerator is?" So I don't think Lake broke his promise to the old couple as much as he did what was reasonably expected before decideing its a lost cause. Fran and Barry wound up at the heliport. Some teams had more luck than others finding the buildings in the flight directory. This is the challenge they really, almost painfully stretched out to fill the 2 hour time slot.

After finishing either task, they received:
Clue #4 - Route Info
- Teams are to make their way to a storefront (warehouse) at a given address where they will participate in a local religious ceremony to recieve a good luck blessing.

Notes: Not much of said ceremony is shown, except for the shot that indicated live snakes were involved. This step is pretty much a non event, as there are no set hours, teams merely have to arrive at the facility, go inside, recieve their blessing, and their next clue.

Clue #5 - Route Info
- Teams are to head to a local World Cup class soccer stadium. Warning: This is a pit stop, and the last team may be eliminated.

Notes: Props to the greeter who was sure able to use his head as he juggled the soccer ball on his head most of the time.

Well, Eric and Jeremy came in first and won the leg prize of $10,000 each. John and Scott came in last and were eliminated. The rest of the race order isn't too important since you just know there is a bunch right around the corner, but here it is:

1. Eric and Jeremy
2. BJ andTyler
3. Wanda and Desiree
4. David and Lori (actually arrived third, but entered stadium through wrong gate, costing them time)
5. Lake and Michelle
6. Joseph and Monica
7. Ray and Yolando
8. Fran and Barry
9. Diane and Dianna
10. Lisa and Jonie
11. John and Scott


Starts off where Episode 1 ended, oddly enough.

Clue #6 - Route Info
- Teams make their way to an office building "Edificio Copan", once there hey will get their next clue on the roof of a shorter section of the building, in Section F if I remember correctly.
Not much to be saidhere, except the building does not open till 8AM,which gives all teams a chance to catch up and continue the race in one big happy dysfunctional family. Admit it, you know it would happen.

Clue #7 - ROAD BLOCK - "Whose ready for a fire drill"
In this road Block the selected team member must climb to the top of the Edificio Copan using the fire escape, one to the top they must rapell back down. They will then get the next clue.

Notes: The fire esacpes are spiral stairways, and there are three fire escapes. Teams are free to select any of the three fire escapes, and there is a rapelling station at the top of each one. Lines to rapel form at the top of the stairs and are first come first serve. Oh and Fran elects to take this roadblock, and we get a moment of her giving motherly encouragement to another team. This may be Fran's natural behavior, or it may be self motivated as Fran was behind her in line. The stairs up must have been grueling as even the maco men were slowly walking by the time they got to the top.

Clue #8 - Route Info
- Teams are to head tothe Tourist Terminal a the local bus station, there they will take a timed ticket for one of three charter busses to Brotas, of course there was a limit on the number of the teams allowed on each bus. One in Brotas teams will claim a car in the Brotas bus stations parking lot and the next clue will be on the car. Busses leave 1 hour apart.

Notes: One of the rules of the Amazing Race: If you can afford a taxi, use it. Lake and Michelle opted to use a city bus to get to the bus station instead of a taxi, then got off the city bus at the wrong terminal, causing them to waste major time, and wind up on the last bus to Brotas despite doing well at the Road Block,

One in Brotas, the cars turn out to be Volkswagen Bugs, the old kind, with stick shifts.

Clue #9 - DETOUR
Press it or Climb It

In Press It - teams head to a campsite where they will get a hands on lesson in manufacturing ethanol, an alternative fuel source used in a lot of cars in Brazil. Teams will be required to run 15 sticks of sugar cane through s hand crank sugar press to collect the liquid juice it produces, then they will take their sugar juice to a makeshift lab, pour their juice into a flask, then light a bunsen burner under it to ferment the sugar sap to produce ethanol, then get this, they will be required to pour the results into their cars gas tank. If you were hoping this would lead to a payoff down the road, let me dash those dreams right now.

After pproducing the ethanol and putting it in teir gas tank, they will recieve their next clue,

In Climb it, teams have to climb up a waterfall using mechanical ascenders andropes.

Notes: As you can see, Climb It is the physically demanding activity that a strong physical team can perform quickly, and Press It is the more methodical, less strenuous activity that takes a lot more time.

The Glamazon Women violated a big rule of the Amazing Race: Not being able to drive a manual transmission. Every seaosn racers are presented witha manual shift car at some point along the race, having at least one team mate be competent at driving stick is a must. I thnk this is what cost the Glamazons, as even after the one realized she could not drive stick, she did not get out of the driver seat, and wanted the other person to manipulate the gearshift FROM THE BACK SEAT! Smart, those two.

The previews showed Fran and Barry running into trouble on the mountain climb, but after one false start they didn't seem to have any trouble. Why they picked the purely physical option is beyond me, excpet they got frightened off the other detour because "We know nothing about making ethanol" Usually I would laugh that excuse off, but this is the team that got burned on having to build a motorcyle from parts.

Clue #10 - Route Info
- Head to Primavera De Serra (a coffee plantation) - Warning: This is a pit stop!

Notes: More inept driving by the Glamazons, and the misfortune of a dead battery by Fran and Barry. Fran and Barry were issued a replacement car, but as we learned last season, they get no time credit for their bad luck, Fran and Barry would have probably finished a lot better if it weren't for the car trouble. Oh, and all episode I was waiting for a team to open the back of the car to deposit their luggage and stare confusingly at the cars rear-mounted engine,

Fran and Barry and the Glamzons arrived well after the other teams, as nigt had fallen.

Bj and Tyler came in first this leg and won a Travelocity vacation to Tahiti as the leg price, and The Glamazon women were eliminated.

Your race standings:
1. BJ and Tyler
2. Eric and Jeremy
3. Joseph and Monica
4. Dave and Lori
5. Ray and Yolanda
6. Wanda and Desiree
7. Lake and Michelle
8. Deana and Diane
9. Fran and Barry
10. Lois and Jonie

Next week: Russia, Moscow, swimsuits!


Oddly enough it starts right where the last show ended.

Pit stop Note: It was strongly hinted at that Eric and Jeremy and Team DD participated in some extra curricular activites at pit stop, if you know what I mean,

Clue #11 - Route Info
- Teams head to a zipline in a non descript location, it was one of those "Exit the pitstop, head to this road, turn right, and pull off at a designated marker" Teams must traverse a zipline to recieve their next clue,

Okay, its time to start the episode off with bunching, the zipline task doesn't open till 8am, which allows most of the teams to bunch up, so there is a big main pack, who then depart the zip line one by one followed by the last few straggler teams.

Lake turns left when the clue said to turn right. They got lost, and you can safely bet he did not see this as his fault, even though he was driving. The zipline was a nice polite one at a time, wait your turn affair. Not really all that.

Clue #12 - Route Info
- Teeams must make their way back to the Brotas bus station where they will return their cars, and the charter buses will return them to the San Paolo airport to cath a flight to Moscow, once at Moscow they need to head to the Chaika Bassen, an outdoor swimming facility, and olympic training facility.

Notes: Only Fran and Barry were on the third bus, making me wonder if a special third bus had to be added after Fran and Barry had a poor finish in Leg 2 (due at least in part to their car breaking down) All in all the zipline, and charter busses were pointless, as all 9 teams were able to secure the exact same bookings to Moscow. It should also be noted that the bus dropped the teams off right in front of the Lufthansa ticket counter, and at least according to their agent they had the best flight available. Really, would he lie? That and the Amazing Race is not the game where you want to be the Lone Ranger, remember due to repeated bunching its not who comes in first, its not coming in last that is key. That is why they have had to up the stakes on the leg prizes. The crew had to know the flight schedules offered good odds all teams would fly together, so maybe the seperate charter busses were to create artificial anxiety amongst the teams.

Once in Moscow the teams head to Chaika Bassen which is indentitied as a former olympic swim training facility. It is not good when they introduce an event at an outdoor pool, and the host is seiously bundled up in his wnter finest.

Teams enter the Chaika Bassen and recieve their next clue.

Clue #13 - Road Block
"Who's ready to take a plunge"
In this roadblock, the slected team mate must have a HIGH dive off the higest diving board they have, in frigid weather into an nice cold pool, then they have to swin across the pool, then dive down and grab the next clue which is teathered to the bottom of the pool.

Notes: Amazing Race Rule: If you can't swim, and you are at a swim facility, and the hint mentions taking a plunge, don't volunteer for it. In more generic terms, if there are good odds that a roadblock is task that you have a serious phobia about or lack of skill in, don't volunteer for itif at all possible.

Add to the frigid cold temperatures, rather skimpy swimsuits, especially for the men. Most teams have no trouble with this one, excpet for Ray and Yolanda and Wanda and Desiree, both due to Yolanda and Wanda bengself professed non swimmers. Yolando pulls it off better than Wanda, who has an all out panic attack in the pool when she has trouble getting the clue off the bottom of the pool. At least the locals were supportive of both teams as they overcame their challenge. Oh, and Team Pink gets several demerits for leaving their race kit in the swim club locker room, forcing them to return and get it. So much for the benfit they were reciveing from being teamed up and sharing costs with Eric and Jeremy, then again we dont know what all else the may be sharing. Earlier this epsiode a couple teams had talked about the importance of always knowing wherre the race kit was, so you knew it would become an issue.

All in all, overcoming your fears and accomplishing new things are goals anybody can aspire to, but I would not make it a part of your race strategy. What with all teams on the same flight, and all team order really got shuffled around.

Clue #14 - Route Info
- Make your way to Novadevichey Monastery Cathedral (teams are reminded to not yell or run inside the monastery)

Notes: Bj and Tyler arrive first and take a rare quick time out to take in the beauty of the cathedral. At least one team gets confused when the exteiror of the cathedral doesn't fit their personal views on what a cathedral should look like, and coming off the great airplane bunch, several teams arrive at the cathedral within moments of each other.

Clue #15 - Detour
Scrub It or Scour It

In Scrub It teams take on the decidedly non-glamurous job of going to a trolly park and washing a Moscow trolley, inside and outside using purely manual means, I mean not even a hose, Once the trolley is clean to the inspectors satisfcation, they get their next clue.

In Scour it teams go to a theater where they have to search through 1,500 nesting dolls in serch on one that has a clue hidden inside of it. (I think 10 clues total). The clues are miniature clues, and will allow them to continue,

Notes: Okay this is the pure lucky draw detour. I am just glad it isn't a forced road block (Red coffee bean, clue in a haystack, the white cream filled chocolates, the locks, etc) used in earlier seasons,. In this season, teams can either accept the gamble at hand of trying to get lucky finding the right doll, or they can take the less glamurous task of washing a trolley. The brght side to the trolly task is it has a defined ending and you can control and see your progress. The scrub task is clearly intended as a way to bypass the pure luck task, but they have it setup to be a bad deal, you'd be better of trying your luck.

However,even though more than a few teams fully intended to wash trolleys, most of them wound up at the theater purely due to the fact that they just could not find the trolly park. Cab drivers proved to be useless at finding it, Another team used the time tested tactic of following the other teams cab, then has the gall to tell them they did not lead them to the detour they wanted. "Choose your own @#$%ing Detour next time then!"

The doll challenge is made wose both by the fact that teams are apprently required to put the nesting doll back togetheronce they search it, and the fact the theater haa arranged for a lively orchestra and dancers that are surely placed there just to grate on the teams nerves the longer they are stuck their searching,

We get some bad sportsmanship as one team does not want onther team to even see wihat the special miniature clue looks like, and Fran and Barry are quick to sing Woe is Me in despair as they are sure that they won't ever find the right doll. Well at least not as long as only Fran appears to be actively searching,and then not doing that thorough a job at it, Someone tell Barry he is alloud to participate here.

Teams who chose the dolls generally found their clue rather fast and were back out on the cource, teams that finally fond the trolleys appeared to arrive later at night, and had a long manual task ahead of them..

Clue #16 - Make you way to Red Square (St. Basil's Cathedral) to meet Phil at the mat.

The words "Meet Phil at the Mat" should raise a red flag that with only 5 minutes left, this is not going to bethe end of the leg. Sure enough we see what looks like a pit stop mat, but no official check in sign, no local greeter, nothing like that, Eric and Jeremy arrive first, and then not only do they find out they aren't getting rewarded with a prize for their efforts, they learn, yes the leg is not over, here is your next clue. Episode 3 then abruptly ends. "TO BE CONTINUED"


Episode 4 ends with reliving the Eric and Jeremy pit stop fake out a few times, then we see the other teams finish their detours. The previews had ominous things to say about Fran and Barry,so of course that meant they found their doll clue early on in this episode. The bus washing teams washed their buses, thinking they got a bit more work than they bargained for, then one by one we see each team head to the mat for thier very own personal fake out by Phil. The fake pit stop and double length leg usually appear much later in the series, but the effecct is still the same to enduce an extreme case of sleepiness and fatigue into the teams.

Of special not is seeing Phil's name in neon lights.

Clue #17 - Route Marker (handed to them by Phil at the fake pit stop)

- Head to the Mercedes Benz Test Track in Stuttgart, Germany. Teams must take a ride on the test track to receive their next clue.

Notes: Funny line "How do we get THERE? "Airport"

Eric and Jeremy parlay their good luck at the Doll Theatre and fake pit stop into getting on a Luftsahnsa flight mere seconds before it closes.

Two other teams were able to get on an Aeroloft flight: Lakeand Michelle headed there right after getting closed out of the first flight be seconds and were able to book. Then technical difficulties struck Aeroloft and their ticketing system went down. When their ticket office reopened only BJ and Tyler were able to get tickets before the flight closed.

Now, I would think that since the problem was caused directly by the airlines ticketing computers malfunctioning, and the other teams were at the airport in time, that Aeroloft would have a bit more compassion for the other teams, or just provide good customer service in trying to make right by everybody. On the other hand I realize airlines are systems, and that delay in Moscow may set up numours delays on other flights the next day. Also I am not familiar with airline regulations in Russia. They were trying to book an international flight, after all, and their may be some hard and fast rules about ticket sales must end a certain time before the scheduled departure time. It didn't seem fair, but then life and the Amazing Race are not known to be fair.

All other teams left on a flight early the next morning.

The three lead tems faced a bunch becuase the test track did not open till 8:30.

The test track task involved teams riding with a paid driver around the test track, so it was another time eater, and passive nn-event for the teams, although I am sure they had fun. At the end of their test drive, they are handed the next clue, and the keys to the car they just rode in. The Mercedes is with them or the duration of the leg.

Clue #18 - Route Info
Head to Ellbach Field

Ah, find an obscure field in the middle of nowhere. Even though most teams arrived at the test track together due to the airport bunch, the drive to Ellbach Field sorted out the map readers from the nonmap readers, and effectively reranked the teams based on road navigational ability.

Clue #19 - ROADBLOCK
Okay, in this roadblock the team member, (please don't laugh), has the arduous task of finding a Travelocity Gnome hidden in the field. The various potential hiding holes have gnomes hats or feet sticking out to cover them over, and team apparently have to replace the marker so the next team does not know what has already been searched. Wait, its another Lucky Draw roadblock, though by luck based detours, this one was rather easy, collect the Travelocity Roaming Gnome, and take him with you for the rest of the leg. Your next clue is taped to the gnome. Ain't product placement grand.

Teams generally had no problems with this simple roadblock once they found it, this was clearly the throw away roadblock to use on your weaker partner, which stuns me that many of the stronger players took it, Barry worried us with his "I'm only checking under feet" strategy, but lo and behold he found it right off. Desiree proved she too can have spells of defeatism, as she let the task intimidate her right into taking way to long to find a gnome. As Wanda pointed out Desireee did not appear to put much effort into the task, though tobe fair they arrived at the roadblock last, and thus only one gnome was left in the entire field. Again, she let the tak defeat her mentally.

Clue #20 - Take your gnome with you to the end of the leg, andhead to the Bavaria Film Studio.

Notes:Okay there are those that claim that these reality shows are really filmed 100% on soundstages here in the United States, andare fullyscripted and what not. Well the only soundstage reality show is Big Brother, and it makes no qualms about trying to hide the fact its in a house on a stage. Amazing Race snubs its nose at these people by arranging, a detour on a sound stage. There did not seem to beany interesting moments in transit between Roadblock Field and the film studio. Fran was able to shine on their map reading skills.

Clue #21 - Detour
Break it or Slap It

In Break It - teams have to break stunt wine bottles over each others head in hopes of finding one that has Prost! (Cheers!) written on the back of the label. Teams can't just go wild smashing bottles, they can only smash one bottle each time the Cuckoo pops out of a specially designed nearby cuckoo clock.

In slap It - teams have to learn and perform a cultually signifigant, and highly detailed dance, which involves a lot of slapping in just the right order. They must perform the dance to the satisfcation of the judges to receive their next clue.

Notes: Okay, Break It is yet another LUCKY CHANCE task, the third Lucky Chance task in a ROW. This one has the added pain of getting fake bottles smashed over your head, as well as the artificial slow pace of having to waitfor the cuckoo between bottles This time the alternative to the random chance is truly a viable option, ifyou are a quick learner anda good dnacer you may have the skills to take the faster dance option. Adding additional pain to the lucky chance task is when no teams are trying the dance task, the band and dancers march and dance around the tables of wine bottles. All in all the dance judges appeared to be lenient, and no team really had any difficulty at either detour, and maybe the funniest part of the task was they had to change into local costume.

Clue #22- Head to Siegestor- a peace momument in Munich Germany. ("InMunich there is a Hofbrauhaus!") Warning this is a pit stop,

Well, not much news for the drive between the film studio and the pit stop. Eric and Jereemy were able to retain the lead they had ever since the fake pit stop, and won the leg prize, a trip to Africa from Travelocity upon turning in their gnome. Unlike the last time when the gnomes were used to award a random bonus prize, this time the gnomes served no purpose other than product placement and to give the teams some unweildy object to lug around. Is their a gas station restroom key attached to it?

Eric and Jeremy got the ladies at the film studio to kiss them leavng large lipstick marks. Phil makes an innocent comment about their flirtatious behavior, to which they basically say "Yeah, we can't wait for this pit stop to start so we can _____ Team Pink. To which Phil gives a clear look that he is appalled and nauseated. Of Course E and J use the proper 'polite way' of stating their intentions.

BJ and Tyler mug for the camera by running to pit stop backwards (Phil will stop us, right?), and then calling the friendly local greeter "SANTA!!"

Wanda and Desiee were neck in neck with Team Pink in getting totally lost (as in driving in cirlces) on the way to Roadblock field, but Team Pink just nosed out Wanda And Desireee (much to Eric and jeremy's delight) to send Wanda and Desiree packing. The poor roadblock performance by Desiree could not have helped either. So yet, another parent/child team is doomed to failure.

Race standings:
1. Eric and Jeremy
2. BJ and Tyler
3. Lake and Michelle
4. Fran and Barry
5. Dave and Lori
6. Joseph and Monica
7. Ray and Yolana
8. Team Pink
9. Wanda and Desiree

Oh, and let me get it out of my system now - it looks like another LUCKY CHANCE task next leg, with teams serching though lines of clothing for their next clue. I liked when there was one lucky chance task per RACE just for variety, and to spice things up by providing a task no amount of skill can prepare you for, but 4 instances of lucky chance tasks in 3 episodes is a bit much,.

Till next time!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

"Deal, or No Deal!"

Well, I think the game show pendulum is swinging back the other way. The last few hit shows have been shows that stressed knowledge "Who Wants to be a Millionaire", "Jeopardy!", and now the next show that is at least being promoted as the next big thing harkens back to the pure luck shows like Card Sharks and Let's Make a Deal. In fact, it is essentially Let's Make a Deal for the new century.

It's a totally mindless game, that yet seems very compeling to watch at home despite how little actually happens. I wonder how much staying power this game will have.

The game essentially works like this:
The game starts with 26 briefcases each containing a differing amount of money from 1 million dollars, all the way down to 1 penny. As a contestant you start by choosing 1 briefcase, which is then brought over and put on your podium, clearly in your posession the whole time so as to avoid accusations of trickery going on. The idea is that you own whatever dollar amount is in your case, however nobody knows what that dollar amount is. The show even claims the host nor the banker know the amount in the contestants case.

We then try to determine what amount is in the contestant's case, not by opening that case, but having the contestant, of his own free will, choose 6 of the remaining 25 cases to be opened. The cases are opened and the ammounts are removed from a scoreboard of sorts. Here is where the game actually starts, based on the dollar amounts remaining on the board the mysterious "Banker" sitting in his skybox calls the host via telephone and offers the contestant a fixed dollar amount to purchase the contestants case. If, at any time, the contestant sells the case to the banker the game ends right there, the player is paid the negotiated ammount, and then the case is opened to see if the player made the best deal. If the player does not accept the offer the host will specify a number of cases that must be opened before the bank will call again.

To ensure there is no ambiguity in the players decision, the player must press a button to agree to the bank deal, said button is kept under a shieldbox, so two actions are required for the player to call off the deal, opening the cover, then pressing the button.

The cases to be opend goes down one each time, so if the deal is not taken, they must open 5 of the 19 cases remaining, then a deal will be made, if they don't deal out 4 of the 14 cases remaing must be opened, a deal is made, not taking the deal requires 3 of the 10 cases remainig must be opened, thena deal is made, thenpassing the deal, 2 of the 7 must be opend, then from that point they open one case at a time with a deal made between each case.

The whole idea of the game is knowing when to accept the banker offer. In theory the banker offer will always be lower than what the oddsmakers would say is the thoretcial value of the player case, but the player only gets to play the game once, so just like a casino, the show is in this for the long haul, butthe player needs to maximize short term profit, and with greed and dubious advice from the audience playing along most players can be counted on not to deal out at the best time.

Its an interesting show, and has a web version of the game on their Deal or No Deal site which will give you a better idea of how its played, and how it works,. But I'll tell you its a lot easier to keep hitting No Deal when there is no prize at stake.

Survivor - The Recap Show

Well, in a sort of honor to March Madness, CBS has put Survivor on a temporary hiatus for three weeks. To tide us over they did show the recap show. The recap show is like 1 hour of previouslies, and as such is usually low rated, and I heard a rumour Jeff himself isn't a big fan of them.

So I must admit I missed the first 15 minutes of it, and when I did tune in, there wasn't too much to be learned, oh we say the young girls karaoke the first couple nights, we saw more bickering on Casaya, we saw talk about the early water situation in Casaya, but not the resolution, One thing I noticed is that most of the billed "New Scenes:" were Casaya, I know I labeled La Mina "Camp Bland" but maybe they really ARE bland. Oh and they gave Bobby the usual lazy good for nothing eidt the show is used to giving certain individuals.

So as it stands the trbes are at 6-4 in Casaya (Camp Psychotic) favor. The previews are screaming that a merge is coming soon, which means that Camp Bland seems like it will be Pagonged out of existance without really creating a footnote for itself in Survivor history. I mean even if they attempt to vote of head tribemember Terry, and Terry pulls the idol, that would only get it back to 5 and 5, and the knowledge that Terry is vulnerable. If Terry is the immunity threat he appears to be they may go after the other La Mina members first.

This time is like halftime in basketball, time to analyze the players

La Mina (Tribe Bland)

Terry - Has secret Exile Immunity Idol up his sleeve. Seen as tribe leader which makes him eviction threat, but also seen as immunity challenge threat, which may help him shield the exile island idol, thus keeping him around. IF he does goo in the immunities, I see him going along way, perhaps as a tribe of one.

Nick - Who? So bland I have no comment

Austin - Another totally bland player

Sally - The boys thought they had her on the outside looking in. she may have what it takes to jump to Casaya, as long as she doesn't make her play too early like Shi-Ann did. Or she couldbe offered us as a sacrifice.

Casaya "Tribe Psychotic"

Shane - Mr. Psychotic himself, has done everything in his power to alientate himself from the tribe, yet still holds on. He's not seen as a leader so that may save him after a merge, but pre-merge he is in definite danger. Post merge he may still be in danger if La Mina can strike a deal to outst him. Or he may go final 2 to be the most hated player to put yourself next to in front of the jury,

Bruce - Wise old man, with dubious advice, not able to understand not having infallible authoirty, and can proove himself annoying. Worse than that, he is seen as a tribe leader, and doesn't have any secret powers and does not seem to be the immnity threat. The odds are against him, especially with internet rumours that he is the player who is medically evacuated from the game. If Survivor precedent follows that his rumoured evacuation will count as the next episodes dismissal, that would set the game back to 5 and5, and with Terry's iminuty idol at the next episode, La Mina could regain power, which could then be negated if Sally jumps tribes after being snubbed by the La Mina men. See how crazy and unpredictable this game can be???

Aras - another "Who is he" player

Dannielle - hohum

Courtney - Casaysatribe human punching bag. She takes verbal abuse, warranted or not, from every man in her tribe. She could also be for forming a girl power allinace.

Cire - Okay, we joked about her when she said she could not stand the outdoors, yet signed up for Survivor, but she has the mental game down. She knows how to play the interpersonal dynamics to directly cause as least one players ouster. Lately she has survived on the "act like you are with it, and make sure there is always someone more annoying than you are strategy" She got nervous when Casaya seemed to bond at the BBQ reward, butdon't worry Cire, as soon as conditions turn harsh again, the bickering will resume.

They even showed the preview for next week twice, and yes the prime angle they are covering is the medevac flight.

See you in two more weeks for the next episode.

Congratulations to the Musketeers on a fine season!

Before I begin, yes I do get the game results here at Coasterville. In this case the final score doesn't matter.

We may have lost the game against Gonzaga, but over the past two weeks, I have seen a team go from a prime candidate for no post season play, to an NCAA hopeful. A team that, let's face it, did not have the best February a team could hope to have, a team that lost one player to a season ending injury, another to dismissal for violating team rules, and a player with an injured hand. We had lost a good number of gaes in February and hope was running out. Then came the Atlantic 10 tournamnet that I wrote about a few posts back. We saw a team come from adversity and reinvent itself with the team with heart, the team with passion, the team that could go the distance 4 wins in 4 days to get the much coveted invite to the NCAA Tournamnet.

Thursday nights game against Gonzaga. I was not exactly pleased to learn we drew Gonzaga, I mean this was some real competition. A check on reveals this will be the highest rated team we have played all year.

The game started, and while we were down for the first coule minutes, surpisinglywe took the lead. A lead that would last through the first half and well into the second. Again I saw a team with the pure unbridled passion and heart come out and for 38 minutes of the game they managed to hold Gonzaga at bay, long enough I'm sure to give their coach, team, and fans a nice little scare. It's true the game could have easily turned out differently, but we can't change the past, so while we big goodbye to the NCAA touney and the 2005-2006 season, we leave the season on a bright shiney note. According to the press, 73 of our 75 points, and 198 of the available 200 minutes were played by underclassmen, which means, that we have a strong, passion driven team ready for the 2006-2007 season.

Where do I sign up for season tickets? When does the next season start?

Go Muskies! from one fan who is proud of your performance this year.

Monday, March 13, 2006

NCAA Selection Sunday

Well, what an, uhm, interesting show that was.

Truth be known, a week ago, I might have had marginal interest at best at watching the Selection Show, yeah it would be interesting to see how UC fared, but nothing to really draw my attention.

Then Xavier was able to overcome improbable odds to win 4 games in 4 days, taking with it their conference trophy and a little thing called an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament. Suffice to say, Sunday at 6PM, I had it tuned to CBS eagerly watching the proceedings,

Well, the good news is we're in, the bad news is we get to play Gonzaga in the first round. But the #14 seed is better than the #17 seed team. Speaking of which....

As the selection show proceeded I got a bit concerned when halfway through the bracket UC was still not invited to dance. True, I may be a true blue Muskie fan all the way, and it is also true that I work with some UC fans and it provides for some nice healthy trash-talking and grief giving. Truth be known, unless the game is XU-UC, I do like to support UC, I may not show it, but deep down, they are a home team, and its good to see the home teams win.

Then we were down to the final fourth of the bracket, and no word about UC, then the final 8, then the final 4, then the final 2, then, the last chance, then WOW, jaw drop. UC did not receive an invitation to the Big Dance. The first time THAT has happened since, oh 1991.

You know it was a shocker and a rob job, when the national broadcast personalities couldn't wait to say "I can't beleeive Cincinnati is not in this thing" I mean its one thing to hear Furman, and Cunnigham go ballistic over it, they are local personalities and so take the locak dagger in heart personally. To hear the more unbiased national reports remarking about it is noteworthy.

But,, its all subjective, and when you get down to a room full of sports geeks trying to pick and seed 65 teams subjectively, who knows what they are going to be basing those decisions on, since there doesn't seem to by any hard criteria. Its like taking a course in college, one month you turn in a major paper, and you recieve a less-than satisfying grade becuase "You did not provide enough factual information to support your claim", then the next month you get another less-than-satisfying grade becuase "you included too much detailed information, you need to be more brief in making your point" So it is here, "You need to play a harder schedule", so they join what is arguably one of the toughest conferences, play one of the top hardest schedules,manage to do alright with it, and are still left for dead come Selection Sunday, while schools whose names usually aren't associated with the NCAA tounry are in. So which is it,play a harder schedule and get more losses but against higher quality teams, or load up a cupcake schedule you can trounce all over, and post a near perfet record.

Boy, I am an XU grad and an XU fan and I just spent the majority of the post making the case for UC. What is wrong with me!!

I guess there just isn't that much to say about being #14 against #3 Gonzaga, except "GO MUSKIES!!!" You've shown more heart, passion and desire this past week, may it translate into being able to make a statement at the NCAA. The sports experts have already written us off for dead, lets make them eat crow.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Survivor Exile Island - Episode 6

Okay, now that I can calm down from this week in Basketball, lets return to Survivor shall we?

The previews for this week sure sounded interesting. They really pushed hard on Casaya wanting Shane gone, therefore Shane if safe. Then they went into a lot of "most shocking tribal council yet", "a descision that could save a player", and "A reward where the winning team gets to mess with the losing team"

Hmm, could be interesting.

We start with the previsoulies and the credits then we start with the usual sequence of events,

Since Casaya lost the last immunity challenge, lets check in on Casaya for the post tribal council reaction. We are treated to Shane going psycho and telling people we voted out the wrong person and going on and on about it. Shane doesn't get the fact that it isn't that the other tribe members don't want to talk about it, its that they would rather wait till morning, after all they just had a grueling immunity challenge followed by a grueling tribal council. Take a cooling off period dude. No such luck, Shane goes on and on, then in proof he is psycho, (caused by nicotine withdrawl perhaps, 3 packs a day down to zero can do that to a person), Shane loudly announces he wants out of the Alliance. Real bright move there, give the Alliance a clear easy target for the next Tribal Council,,yourself! As if that weren't enough he wants out of the whole "Swear on your son" promise he made earlier in the game. Oh, right, now is not the time to be all thical and moralistic. This is a game of lying, deceit, broken promises, and backstabbing. While I would not have let get the moral blackmail on me, don't sucumb to it. We continue into the next morning, and its more of the same, except this time peppered with vows to vote Shane off as soon as possible, Got that! Maybe this dysfunctional tribe can come together as a team to oust Shane, could be good for the tribe.

Over at La Mina, otherwise known as Camp Bland, its more of the usual ho-hum. Bad food situation, and Sally feeling like an outcase from the Boy's Club, with Sally, quite rightly so, saying that the guys are making a big mistake to outcast her. (forshadowing perhaps?) We get the big reveal that Dan was an astronaut. What is interesting about the reveal is that it is originally between Dan and Nick in the closest thing Survivor has to a sound proof office, a raft on the lake. It sounds all hush-hush and secreative, then in the next shot the whole tribe is talking about it. I don't know who let the cat out of the bag, but if you are concerned you have luggage that could hurt your chances in this game, and you have played the first third of the game trying to hide it, I'd say you should stick with your first hunch and keep it hidden until the reunion show.

Okay, time for, wait we are going back to Casaya?

Its more of the We Hate Shane Show, more complaining about Shane,more vowing to get rid of Shane, we got it the first time. The big news is not news but its that Ceri is reading this well, and sees that she can use this to her advantage in her grest 'fly under the radar strategy" of letting the tribe get worked us against someone else.

And its back to La Mina, for the opening of the Tree Mail. Its, groan, a giant skull puzzle piece, with some lousy poetry stating tha the challenge will test both strength and smarts. Just how many of these "Retreive the puzzle pieces, bring them back then solve the puzzle" type challenges can we have in a season, this is at least the third one this season, Then the big bomb shell, immunity is at stake. We end our La Mina visit with a recap of whats at stake, La Mina wins the tribes return to even strength 5-5, La Mina Loses, and they find themselves down 6-4, and then he makes the strong addition "and Sally goes home" A little bird tells me that Sally and Shane are safe this episode and that Camp Bland will soon be Pagonged, letting Camp Dysfunctional take over.

We head to the challenge, and we quickly learn that it will be for both reward and immunity combined.

Reward and Immunity Challenges #6
The Prize: An off-site BBQ for the winning tribe complete with all the fixins, in addition, in a sappy heartwarming moment, the winning tribe will donate a bunch of toys provided by CBS to a local children;s group, then share the BBQ with them. It's Survivor trying to make good on its promises to give back to the community while creating positive PR. Oh, and accordance with tradition, they get to send a member of the losing tribe to Exile Island. Oh, and they get Tribal Immunity, worth playing for?

Oh, and one last wrinkle, told before the challenge started, the person sent to Exile will NOT go to tribal council, so in effect they are giving a person indivdual immunity, that should shake up the idea of sending the tribe leader to Exile. Oh, and the exiled person will get to search for secret immunity idol that may or may not be there. (Of course, Terry, the producers, and the home viewers know its not there)

Okay, it is a retrive the puzzle pieces, then put the puzzle togheter challenge. This time they have to run through a course which ensures both tribes have to pass each other numerous times (almost identical to say the balance beams for the water tower challenge for example) at the opposite end of the course are 4 stations, each station has a puzzle piece held aloft. The tribe selects 3 members who have to run out one at a time, untie several knots to free the rope folding the puzzle piece in the air, bring it down, unclip it, and run the puzzle piece back to the start. This means one person has to run twice.

After all 4 peices are back, they have to be put into a spin puzzle, which means the obstacles between the pieces can rotate around increasing the nbumber of wrong possibilites. You have to figure out how to orient the posts before you can slide the pieces in,

The story is as usual this season, La Mina really kicked but in the physical job of getting the puzzle pieces, but then squandered the lead they had built up, and eventually lost to Casaya, who are the better puzzle solvers. La Mina even resorted to trying to sneak a peak \at Casayas, puzzle and Jeff called them out on it

The show goes on, we see Sally sent to exile island, we see her raise the flag on exile island to get the scroll which has a fresh Episode 6 clue. Too bad its a wild goose chase, we see Casaya celebrating their reward, and Shane gets a cigarette. So much for the detox. Over at La Mina Terry sells out Dan, and I suppose the big shock is that La Mina sits down and hases out tht Dan is the one to be voted out before Tribal Council starts, so then we end with an anticlimactic Tribal Council where Jeff even says "And your just going to fall on your sword?"

Oh, and next week we get the recap show on Wednesday, YAWN!, then they are taking the week after off, so the next new show isn't for THREE WEEKS. I guess CBS has their hands full with basketball as well.

In way of promo for that show they show an Aircare helicopter and post the question will someone have to be evacuated from the game for medical reasons. Who will it be, What Happened? How serious is it?, Will they be forced to resign from the game? Ah, what a cliffhanger to leave us for the next 21 days!!!!!

Xavier Wins Atlantic 10!!!


What a difference a week makes.

Last week at this time, we had just lost our final regular season game to UMass and had just come out of a rather dismal February. It seemed as if the season was quickly coming to an end, and se could look forward to the Not-In-Tournament Tournament. Then on Monday the Atlantic 10 tournamnet pairings were announced, and a quick scan of the card revealed that we were due to play UMass (the team we had just lost to) in the opening round.

It wasn't looking too optimistic, and we knew our only hopes of seeing the NCAA Tournament was to win 4 games in 4 nights, a feat thaat I beleive only WE have done, and then only once. (cue up "To dream the impossible dream" from Man of La Mancha)

Wednesday got off to a fine start, Crosstown rival UC had their conference opener at noon, and by 2PM I was listening to them go down by 1 point on a last second buzzer beater. (Sorry, had to slide that in there, uhm where was I?)

Then Wednesday evening came, and to make a long story short, we were able to defeat U-Mass , which meant that we earned the right to play Charlotte. (1 down, 3 to go)

Thursday night came, and it was a close one,no doubt about that, the folks who read my Survivor recaps are still waiting for Thursday's recap as college basketball took priority, and in a close finish, we defeated Charlotte (for the second time this season). Thursday was an interesting day at the A10 tournamnet, the top 4 seeded schools receive byes to Bye-Pass the opening round. This year all four of the top seeds bowed out on Thursday. The long and short of it, was we earned the right to play Fordham in the semifinals. As soon as we defeated Charlotte I decided that what with the tournament games being held in town at the US Bank Arena I needed to try togo see it, so a quick run to and I was in for semi final tickets. (2 down, 2 to go)

So Friday night, I make it down to the arena in time to catch the second half of the Temple-St. Joe game. We had traded wins with St. Joes one a piece during the main season, where we lost our one game with Temple. Hmm, thats a toss up over who wins, and I found its hard to get into a game when you don't have a strong interest either way. Then the real game came on Fordham-Xavier. I am afraid it wasn't quite the blowout that oddsmakers were expecting, in fact it was a bit close for comfort several times during the game. But we pulled ahead when it mattered and shut down the Rams. I will say the Fordham mascot is very personable, but have some respect for your team flag there buddy. So, upon hearing the box office is open, it is a mad dash to be 20 deep in line, but I secure final game tickets, without the ticketmaster service charges, even. Let's see this means its St. Joeseph's for the final game. (3 down, 1 to go)

Ah, its now Saturday, the rains are pouring down as we head to US Bank Arena. Time to settle in for what will be a grueling fight for the final. The game starts and XU is off to a big early lead, even though it is technically a neutral house, I can tell you a good portion of the 9,000+on hand were XU fans. But wait, dont get too comfy, after a quick played first 10 minutes with practically no foul calls, the game heads up and we are barely squeaking by at intermission,.

The second half starts, and remember how easy going the first half was, with little foul calls, well the second half is foul city. Unfortunately most of the fouls went in St.Joseph's favor, that and the fact that we couldn't seem to buy a bucket to save our lives and things were seriously not looking good in the second half. I think it was likt 10 minutes to go, and we were down by more than 10. I don't like the looks of this, but our players stepped up firing off several much needed treys in the final minutes of the game to get the score back within striking distance, then lets fast forward to the final 10 seconds of the game. It has been said the longest 10 seconds are the final 10 seconds of a highly contested basketball game. we were down by 1 with 5 seconds left, we draw the foul sending us to the foul line to shoot 2. 2 up and in, with no problem, to put us up 62-61 5 seconds left. Youy know with the big foul discrepency, I find it hard to beleive the folks over at the Hawks board are complaining about the officiating.

St. Joes gets the final posession, shot blocked, the horn sounds, the goal lights come on, and the celebration is starting then WAIT "THIS GAME IS NOT OVER, RETURN TO YOUR SEATS, I REPEAT THIS GAME IS NOT OVER" In one of those rules you only see enforced if it can effect the outcome of the game, the officials check video replay and rule that the ball was knocked out of bounds with 1.3 seconds on the clock. They reset the game clock to 1.3 seconds and the game continues. Well, we have the concience of mind to block the shot again, this time the clock expires and the celebration can officially begin! Yes, the team many left out for dead is heading to the NCAA with a guarantted berth. "The Hawk Just Died!"

After a celebration on the floor ("How many fans can you fit onto a basketball court?") , we have the MVP presentations, the trophy presentation, the ring presentations. Then comes the ceremonial cuttng down of the net. I don't think there was a dry eye in the house when the team hoisted injured Thornton up so that he could get the final snip of the net, holding onto the rim for stability.

Well, in just 2 hours from now, its Selection Sunday, time to see who our next oponnent will be.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

American Coaster Enthusiasts Winter SOAR at PKI

Wintertime in Ohio is a hard time for the coaster enthusiast. Parks are closed, and we have precious little face to face contact with our fellow coaster fans. For the past couple years, our ACE region has sponsored a winter get together where we would meet for dinner, hear some presentations, then head over to Wonderpark to ride Boa Squeeze.

This year we decided to shake things up a bit, as it turns out this year's winter SOAR event would take place at Paramount's Kings Island in the International Restaurant, sure that would mean no riding, but look at what you get in exchange, another visit to PKI.

It also happens that PKI is deep in the middle of a reconstruction project as they are transforming Hanna Barbera Land to Nickelodeon Universe. PKI upped the ante by including a construction and backstage tour into the activities.

So the date was set as Saturday February 25, 2006. Following the directions, I arrived at the park around 4:45 and entered the parking lot. (Free parking tonight) Soon i was walking past the unmanned security checkpoint, then past the unmanned turnstiles. I joined a group huddled under the front gate and then ducked into the foyer of the International Restaurant to pay the $8 event fee, get a nametag, and a door prize ticket. There was much mingling between friends until the event started around 5pm.

At 5pm, Maureen Kiser met us by Royal Fountain to start the days activities. She gave a warm welcome to Kings Island, then pointed out some housekeeping details. Only the restrooms nearthe front gate are open, so go now as there will be no facilities available during the tour. She also poionted out that they were laying fresh walkways in Nickelodeon Universe, so she gave the unusual request to walk through the dirt, not on the freshly laid concrete.

She started the day off by pointing out that the park logo at the head of Royal Fountain is missing the word Paramount, and that, not to worry, the sign would be restored by opening day when the park will open as Paramount's Kings Island. It was also pointed out that Royal Fountain is well on its way from being transformed back from an ice rink to a fountain. I noted the false floor was gone, as well as the outbuildings that had held the skate rental facilites. There is some Winterfest theming left to remove, but for the most part the area is starting to return to summer mode.

We then headed out, walking down the right hand side of International Street to the Eiffell Tower, then we turned right and headed to Nickelodeon Universe. Some portable fences block the path at just about the same place where the rainbow used to stand. It is also at this point the paved midway gives way to dirt.

There is a LOT of dirt in this area as it seems as if all the old walkways, flower beds and such have all been ripped up, and the earth returned to, well just earth. Wiping the slate clean as it were, to give the construction crews a fresh start. Just past Taxi Jam we could see a brand new midway being laid around Scooby Doo and the Haunted Castle, and a bit beyond that we could see that the Hanna Barbera Carousel is still standing.

The HB Carousel is destined to be rethemed as the Nick Go Round, and it lookes as if there were tarps wiating by the ride to soon recieve the HB figures. A bit further along, by Busytown Grill we could see a trench where they are working on infastructure for the area, electric, water, sewer etc. We stopped there for a few moments so that after we got over the inital shock of seein the area, we were assured it would open on time, and that infastructure was well on its way. She noted the area may look pretty baren now, but not to fear it will all be put back together by opening day.

I noted a water race game under rehab, then we walked around the Animation Station building (still in its Santa's Toyland theme), so that we could get a commanding view of, well, dirt.

In front of us we could see the water maze, and to the left things seem normal with Reptar and Atom Ant's Airways still standing, to the right in the former woodsy looking area that held Ghoster Coaster and a few small kids rides and attractions stood the biggest sandbox of all. I mean that area is just on big flat dirt bed.

Maureen pointed out that we know what the area looked like last season, we can see what it looks like today, now turn on your vivid imagination and imagine what is to come. We got the Nickelodeon Universe Tutorial.

Starting to our far left by the restroom building will be Phantom Flyers. She confirmed that it will be, as was rumoured, a Zamperla Kite Flyer ride. The Kite Flyer takes 24 at a time, lying face down on their stomachs in a circular motion while rising up and down, just like you were flying. I have not ridden the Zamperla version yet, but I have ridden the Dartron version, as recently as February 12 in fact...

Moving towards the right, Atom Ant will stay with a Nick retheme, then Reptar will stay pretty much the same, which leads us to the Water Maze. I might be one of a very few that were delighted to see a bulldozer parked next to the water maze during WinterFest. Shame the thing is still standing, It is to re rethemed as a Spongebob Squarepants attraction. Continuing our tour, will be Plankton's Plunge, which will be a child size drop tower ride. It will stand abot 25' tall, and offer a slower drop while bouncing up and down some. The area that was Nick Central will be a Spongebob Squarepants 'neighborhood', while the woodsy area anchored by Ghoster Coaster will be a Dora the Explorer themed neighborhood.

Speaking of the Dora the Explorer area, it seems that the kiddie train ride, Quick Draw's Railway well take on a Dora the Explorer theme, and will be flanked by two relocated rides. (The hampton umbrella car ride, and the kidde whip), anchoring the Dora neighborhood will be Avatar. This was confirmed to be a Zamperla Skater Coaster, which means its the longer model of the Skater that has the extra humpin the middle. Its eligility as a coaster is up for debate, but she did say the car would look like a giant skateboard and would spin as it went back and forth.

Maureen did confirm that 4 former rides would be removed and that she would be happy to discuss which ones those are after the tour. Looking up into the front area of Hanna Barbera land, it looks like the centerpiece of the biplanes ride is sitting where the kiddie tumble bug used to be.

She confirmed that Scooby Doo and the Haunted Castle would stay, but for legal reasons they can't conisder it to be part of Nick Universe, it may get its own themed area, or it may be melded in with International Street, at least on paper. Speaking of exisiting attractions, the Beastie is to be rethemed as the Fairly Odd coaster, and looking at the ride, one can tell that the trains have already been repainted and returned to the ride. One is lime green, the other is pink. Culling from her tour and all other resources, she told us about the back part of the area, in the front part of the area it looks like Taxi Jam is staying with a retheme, Yogi's Sky Tours is staying with a retheme, HB Carousel becomes Nick-Go-Round, Boulder Bumpers stay with a retheme, and Pixi and Dixies Swing Set is expected to stay with a retheme. Later on Maureen disclosed the 4 rides that would not be returning are Jetson's Orbiters (themed Herschell Helicopter ride), Boo Boo's Baggage Claim (Tumblebug), Baba Louie's Buggies (hand cars), and Scooby's Ghoster Coaster. If the kiddie swings stay where they are now, and the Blues Clues ride goes where the tumbebug was, and the kiddie car ride goes back by Avatar, that leaves a big wide open space unacounted for in the front of the area. Maureen did say that wider midways were part of the plan.

After showing us the footings for Avatar, and giving us some time to walk around and explore Nick Universe we headed around the water maze, and down the pathway to the picnic grove. I was excited as soon as we headed down the picnic grove path, becuase I suspected a tour of the picnic grove was in order, and that is where the park stores all kinds of interesting stuff for the winter.

Soon after passing Quickdraw's Railway and seeing the footings for what appears to be the new location for the kiddie whip, we could see the train engines from Quickdraws sitting just beyond the fence in the backstage area. We continued on into the picnic grove.

The first shelters seemed to hold the portable food carts, there was a sea of Dippin Dot's carts, a sea of Superpretzel carts, an area of all Lemon Chill carts etc. More interesting stuff was further back in the grove.

We soon came to a shelter that held the exhibts from Paramount Story as well as the Scrambler Tubs, then we came accross the parade floats for the WinterFest parade. Over in the next shelter were the Vortex cars, Shake Rattle And Roll cars. Accorss from that was a shelter with a Congo Falls boat, some rapids ride rafts, Reptar cars, kiddie whip cars, kiddie car ride cars, a stripped apart Yogi's Sky Tours vehicle and possibly more. Sitting back in a shelter off the beaten path were more Congo Falls boats, and heading back around to make the circle was a shelter with the Wild Thornberries logs, some water pumps, and a whole lot of trash cans.

Maureen gave us ample time to explore his winter storage area, and then we headed back to the park, We returned via the backstage areas. Heading backstage we could see the signage for Tomb Raider, Son of Beast cars, Adventure Express cars, Top Gun cars, the parking lot trams, etc.

We returned past the rides maintenance workshop. Maureen tried to explain how the park strips every ride down and does throrough inspections of each ride every off season, but I don't think many people were listening, as the photo safari through the parks storage yards had started.

A bit further was a bunch of Fearfest theming, and the WC Fields car from Paramount Story, then we walked back past the trains for Quickdraws. We paused for more Beastie shots, then we noted some PODS. Who knows what could be in those. The tour ended by pointing out some park office buidlings, like the administration buidling. By that time a lot of us who had misjudged the weather and the wind tunnel effect in this part of the park, we were eager to practically sprint to the warmth of the International Restuarant.

We entered the International Restuarant, where we could collect the days agenda, flyers for events at Holiday World, Cedar Point and Indiana Beach, as well as collect brochures for Holiday World, Indiana Beach, Knight's Action Park, and Lake Winnie. We selected our seats at table, and some took the time to get some unusual international street photos from the International Restuarant.

Next up on the schedule was dinner. An all you can eat buffet consisting of pizza, pop, chips, and fudge brownies was served. While we ate an interesting historical montage of local area park photos that was put together by Dave Jackson was shown on one of the walls. After his show a video supplied by Holiday World was shoen offering POV animation of Voyage.

After dinner came the presentations, first a presentation with a Powerpoint show from Wyandot Lake was given. Wyandot seems to take the fact they haven't added a major attraction in numerous years well, and they talked about the Sea Dragon coaster, which is celebrating its 50th aniversary. We were told some humerous stories about the park, and all in all the presentaion had a nice light comical touch to it. he also answered the question of "Is Wyandot Lake still relevant", to which they answer it is very much ahead of the curve of the new Six Flags leadership in moving towards family parks. Keith also held an auction of used Sea Dragon parts to benefit the ACE Preservation fund. $75 was raised for 2 Sea Dragon wheels and a chain dog.

The next presentattion was given by John Robinson who represents a local firm that specializes in advertising and promotional materials (brochures, postcards, souvenir videos, that kind of thing). He gave his presentation not about his services, but as a presentation to advertise his clients. He gave presentations on what is happening at Lake Winnie (a freefall ride going where Fly O Plane was, with fly O Plane being relocated elsewhere in the park, and it sounds like his Fly O Plane ride was quite like mine, in terms of being held upside down for quite some time), Indiana Beach, which is getting a new child friendly water play area as well as Splah Battle which sounds like a relaly neat interactive ride. John then gave away door prizes consiting of some of the promotional materials he has created for the parks, as well as some comp tickets to those parks.

Next was a "Day in the life of an amusement park worker" as Brian told numerous stories about the more memorable parts of his job as a rides manager. Everything from the scary, to the cute, to the gross and nasty, to the heartwarming.

Lastly Maureen Kaiser took the stage togive a presentation on PKI. Part of the presentation was recapping the Nick Universe project for those that didn't go on the tour, the constant stressing of April 14 as the opening day. The highligh of her presentation was her "Top Ten PKI Myths" - Stuff like, no the Beast isn't being moved to Carowinds, no Vortex is not sinking, no Son of Beast is not being removed, but don't count on it making opening day, no, Flight of Fear is not being removed, however the one in Kings Dominion will not operate this year, no, ourPhanton Flyers will not be the same as the ones at Carowinds. Sorry, Flyer fans but if you want tor ride Flyers, Carowinds is a very nice park. She told us that there would be a Hanna Barbera motion movie ride in the Action Theater, and Spongebob Squarepants 3D will stay for another season as well. She stated the park will move on even though Jeff Seibert has left. She did address the fact the park is up fopr sale, but no further news is avaiable.

She also had a Q&A session. She said that Winterfest would return this year, but she was not sure on pricing or if season passes will be accepted, season pass perks have not been finalized. The Beast walk back will continue at 9:30, though the proceudre is not yet finalized. She confirmed that the park will no longer open International Street at 9AM as standard procedure, instead the park is scheduled to open all at once at 10am this year. Right now the plan is for ACE walkback participants to enter through what used to be the season pass entrance. She also stated that they are leaving themselves the options of opening International Street early on an as-needed basis.

After Maureen's presentation she gave away some Coaster Con goodie bags to lucky door prize winners, as well as some other giveways.

Then Russ, our host, had some more giveaway items, like Holiday world media kits, and lift hill flags. I am destined to never win one of those, either through raffles or auctions. Cedar Point media kits and a Cedar Point flag was given away, and I think some other prizes as well. A motion was made to take up a collection to get a "We Miss You" and "Congrats on the new job" gift for Jeff Seibert, so a collection was taken up and scrapbook materials were made available for people to add a more personal touch.

We then took a break while people mingled, explored International Restaurant and caught up on what we have been up to in the off season. The session resumed with a meeting for those interesting in next years Coaster Con. I attended the Coaster Con meeting, but as that is a planning meeting for a future event, I will leave the details confidential at this point.

All in all a fantastic off season event. Many thanks to both ACE and PKI for having us.

Opening Day is April 14!!!!

As a bonus for reading this entire post, here is a link to my photo album from this event.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Survivor Exile Island - Episode 5

Well, here we are again. On Tuesday, CBS added a promo about a player who WANTS to go to Exile Island. Of course, that means it is a safe bet they aren't going.

The previews promised that life continues to deteriorate at LA Mina, and something BAD happens to Casaya' camp, and Bruce gets upset because someone invades his Zen Garden.

As has become the norm, we are treated to a long previously section, and I noted they have severly cut back the credits to allow for it. No more do they show the tribe mates names and faces.

And so we begin, by checking in on the Tribes.

We first go to immunity looser La Mina for a post tribal council reaction. They talk about how the vote changed at the last minute, and Sally is way to happy that she got to stay and Ruth Ann left instead. I mean I can see she is happy she lived to see a few more days, but she is still the 5th wheel in a 4 man alliance. We also see some camp life as the lug back water in the jerry cans they won, and making commens on its skankiness.

But never mind La Mina, they seem perfectly normal next to Casaya. Over at Casaya, Bruce spends quality time building a Zen garden. I can see wanting a touch of home, or a place to get in touch with whatever spiritual customs you follow, but doing it while the rest of the tribe is working on camp essentials may not have been the best timing. Worse is when you return from taking care of your own needs, and immediately start to bark orders at the others. Aras doesn't take too kindly to it, and the two get into a very ugly shouting match. Aras realizes he is fighting a battle that isn't worth it, but since he already went all in, so to speak they fight it out unttil just before time to go to the reward challenge. At this point, we hear, I think its Aras HOPE to be exiled. Bad exhange all around, Bruce comes off as bossy and arogant, and Aras comes off as trying to shirk work.

But in order to get to Exile Island, you have to lose the rewad challenge, and so its back to challenge beach.

Reward Challenge #5
Prize: Food, glorious Food! - Both tribes have indicated they aren't eating well, so here is the seasons first big food reward. The winner will recieve rice, beans, some large fish, spices, cooking oil, and wine. Jeff is feeling generous so he announced the losing tribe won't go away empty handed as they will get to take home either the bag of rice or the bag of beans, their chouce. The food comes at the price of losing a tribe mate to Exile Island.

Speakking of food, its a food relay. Each tribe must choose one retriever. The retrievers will swim out to a boat moored out in the water, once at the boat they will retrieve a food item and bring it back to shore. Then it gets intesting. The other tribe members have to stand on spots and pass the food item from one to another by tossing it. (who said not to play with your food!) The last person has to toss the food item into the proper box. It gets even better, the first item is the bag of rice,the second item is the bag of beans, items 3-8 are whole fish. Before a fish can be tossed in the box, the last personin the relay must use a big knife to chop off the fish's head and tail. The first tribe to get all the items in the proper boxes takes ALL the food except for the rice or beans the other tribe takes, plus a basket with the spices, oils, and wine.

A couple othe rules of note, a tribe may tag out and swap player positions between runs, also if an item of food hits the ground, the last person to succesfully recieve it has to grab the item, take it back to their spot, and try the pass again.

And they are off, and it looks like an early lead for La Mina, then it looks better for Casays. Bruce may no many things, but not how to chop fish, as he puts on a fish chopping performance sure to get PETA involved. They tag out and put Bobby on fish chopping duties, which is a wise move. In the end it comes down to another close finish but Casaya managed to just edge out La Mina. Casaya gets the Food Package, La Mina opts to take the bag of beans, and Casaya elects to send La Mina's Terry back into Exile.

Something tells me the self procaimed tribe leaders are going to get used to Exile.

Andits time for our second look at tribal life:

First we show Casaya, you note Casaya just won a huge food reward and therefore should be in high spirits. Well thats not the only thing up high, the rain waters have left them a nice huge swamp in the middle of their camp. The shelter looks damaged, the fire is out, and all the wood is wet. No starting a fire there, so no cooking a big meal today, and they didn't win a freezer or a fridge for all that fish, (Don't laugh, a tribe has won a refrigerator complete with some kind of generator in a past season) The guys who wanted to use the outhouse to store the firewood to keep it dry are probably smirking to themselves righ about now. Anyway we leave Casaya just as they have decided that since cooked fish is out of the question, how bout the Survivor Sushi Raw Bar. Ciri doesn't exaclt seem comfortable with the idea of Sushi, but the others chow down on it,

We head over to La Mina,which unlike Casaya seems high and dry. Almost as if La Mina got the better end of that deal. They cook their beans, and the thought of rationing them is totally lost on the tribe. LA Mina has a bean pig out, and much footage details how their digestive systems revolted, and how they could not sleep and how they made way too many trips to the latrine. "at both ends" Too much information. They dont seem to miss Terry at all.

We get a bonus - we retrun to Casaya, where we find Bruce and Bobby holed up inside the outhouse forming an "Outhouse Alliance" and freely hitting the tribes bottle of wine. We turn to the next morning, and the not so happy tribe wakes up dreading having to rebuild what was lost to the swamp. They were releaved the swamp did not enter the shelter during the night. It is then that they find Bob and Bruce to be missing. One of them decides to check the outhouse and finds both the men, and the EMPTY bottle of wine. I don't need to state in great detail the reaction when Courtney realized Bruce and Bob took it upon themselves to drink the tribes entire wine supply during the night.

Well actually, only Courtney seems pissed about it. Ciri is still playing under the radar, which given the drama and ill will in this camp is actually a GREAT strategy, Ciri might go far with it. Shame and Aras don't as much as chime in about it, and when Bob is confronted, he seems to be more happy that he is upsetting Courtney than remoresful for his selfish act. In fact the way the guys in the tribe respond, they are happy to see Courtney upset. This is a very dysfunctional tribe, socially.

Oh, and we almost forgot about Terriy out on Exile Island. Well we know, and Terry knows the idol is already safe in Terrys hands, so he doesn't have to spend time with that, and instead gets a fire going, sources some food, drinsk some water. (Hey I saw a canteen and a cooking pot, to the provisions of Exile Island improve throught the game). He seems concerned for hsi tribe, which is more than I can say the tribe feels about him. All in all he takes it as a vacation, he thinks he is petty secure in the tribe, he has the idol, so Exile, make that "Welcome to the VIP Island" We see La Mina recieve the immunity challenge coffin, I mean tree mail, and we hear them practically give up already, we can take this to mean they win, particularly with the foucs on the tensions over at Casaya.

And so we head to the immunity challenge. The immunity challenge is another take on the standard "Retrieve scattered puzzle pieces, put puzzle together" variety. In this case each tribe is given a boat. Using the boat they must explore the water for 4 sunken coffins. At each coffin they have to dive down and untie 4 knots that are holding the lid of the coffin shut, once they get the coffin open they will find a puzzle piece made out of skulls. They have to untie the puzzle piece from the coffin and put it in the boat. Repeat for all 4 coffins, then return to shore. They then have to run thr 4 puzzle pieces up the beach and place them on a mat. Once the pieces are on the mat, they can pick them pack up and use them to form 3d skull pyramid. Its a classic brain teaser, and has been played before on Survivor using round spheres instead of skulls. There is one piece missing, a single gold skull that is waiting for them at the puzzle solving station. Build the pyramid except then finish it by placing the gold skull on top to win immunity,.

It is very important that La Mina win this as they are already down 2 tribe members, and Jeff makes a snarky comment to that effect. There really isn't much to say about the challenge, La Mina got off to an early lead, and never looked back, sending Casaya to tribal council.

We visit with Casays, and first we see the tribe mates agree that Bob has to go, as he will be a immunity threat after the merge, plus he stole the wine. The focus then turns to Bruce, and we see the segment of Courtney deciding Bruces Zen garden is the pefect place for yoga and exercise. We see this offens Bruce, but Bruce holds it in. We know Courtney is the tribe outcast.

But then a movement goes through to boot Bruce instead. They decide that Bruce really isnt a big benefit around camp, and he too was involved in the wine theft. We even go so far as a "I swear on my son that we will take you instead of Bruce" deaql that lasts about 2 minutes, hen the focus is back on Bobbie.

Andits off to tribal council. As Bruce has never been to a tribal council, Jeff makes him get a torch and we see the 10 second version of the torch lighting "Fire represents life" speech.

We get into Tribal council, and they make no bones, Courtney makes SURE Jeff knows about the wine inciident, and pretty much all of tribal is spend trying to sooth over distrust and find unity. Bruce can't get out of the teacher-pupil mindset, Ciri still won't take sides.

It's Time to Vote

During the voting, we are not surprised to see votes for Bruce and Bobbie, but that vote for Courtney came out of left field,

"One the votes are reaf the decision is final"

Courtney's vote is read first, and the look on her face is priceless with shock. Bruce, Bobbie, then another surprise Arras gets a vote. But then we get another Bruce and another Bobibie, hen one last Bobbie to seal the deal. As Bobbie has never been exiled, we know his ticket is punched and his torch is snuffed.

Jeff makes a comment about how clearly his was a tribe in disaray, and perhaps tonights tribal council has hekped bring unity to camp. You can head back to camp, good night.

In clsoing confessional Bobbie continues the trend of "Well, I am glad to be away from those jerks anyay" line of responses.

Previews: La Mina STILL is having food issues, the girls of Casaya want Shane GONE, the ribed go to a challenge and a TWIST occurs that may save somebody from impending doom. (Tribe Swap perhaps?), and a Tribal Counil like you never saw before, with a graphic of a torch being snuffed with a skull. Does this mean Terry has to pull out his idol, or has the game taken yet another twist?