A Dimm View of Life

Location: Illinois, United States

Monday, October 23, 2006

Survivor: Cook Islands Wk 6

When last we saw the fifteen mighty heroes, Cristina was being dissed at tribal council. During the preview, we heard that two would be voted off this week.

Anyone with any sense would know it was “goodbye” to Cristina and Cao Boi.

There was only one challenge this week. It probably took five minutes to come up with this one. “Okay. Here’s what we do. One person holds a tree. Two people pull them off. Good?”

People who enjoy watching women mud wrestle would enjoy this challenge.

Then we got to see a tribe eat their reward “feast” in front of the other tribe. This would be more interesting if we didn’t already know that both teams are pretty well fed. Even the winning tribe was eating before going to tribal council for their legs of lamb. Both sides have been catching fish and octopus. No one is starving. They just want something different.

The only thing interesting about this week’s show was Cao Boi’s gambit. His idea was to smoke out the immunity idol. It was a good idea, but somehow he forgot that Yul went to Exile Island too. I guess he thought that if Yul found it, he would tell.

If Yul had gone along with Cao Boi’s plan, then it would have been obvious to everyone that he had the idol. There was no way Yul and Becky were going to throw in with Cao Boi.

So now Jessica, aka “Flicka”, is the odd person out. She had been Cao Boi’s only friend and had voted for Jonathon according to plan. The rest of the team will likely remember when then need to vote another member out.

So the scoreboard is now Caucasian – 5; Asian – 4 (my prediction is gone); African-American – 3; Latino – 1.

Let’s hope for something more exciting to happen next week.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Survivor: Cook Islands Wk 5

I’m a little faster on the draw this time. Last week I complained that J.P. didn’t learn anything from previous editions of “Survivor”.

Apparently his male counterparts learned something from his departure.

Did you see how quickly these fellows moved after J.P. was gone. They were fishing and cooking and working on the shelter. They got they message that you couldn’t “take a break” and “survive”.

All in all, the season is a bit of a snoozer. We had great expectations for the racial groupings of the early episodes, but it did not truly matter. There is only one crazy person from the original group of twenty. That would be the Vietnamese player Cao Boi.

Cao Boi is not that much different from last season’s token Asian. He talks a lot and has a different view of life. What is different is that last season’s Bruce had the respect of his fellow tribe members. He was the only person not to be voted off (he became ill during the show). Bruce was tough.

Cao Boi may also be tough, but he talks so much his toughness doesn’t show the the oddness.

Outside of Cao Boi, there aren’t many “characters” on this edition.

This leads me to the council choices of Stephannie or Cristina and how they chose Stephannie to go. Cristina falls into a popular choice of “vote out the annoying one”. She’s a police officer, which makes her just a rung or so above lawyers as someone to admire.

Let’s face it. We respect lawyers. We respect police officers. They work hard and have achieved a lot. We just don’t want to spend thirty-nine days on an island with either one.

Yet, for the second week in a row, Stephannie has “joked” about going home. Last week she asked her tribe to vote her off and then recanted. This week she vocally wished she could go home for “mashed potatoes”.

You ask enough times and the team will give you what you want. It ranks up there with calling yourself an “idiot”. You tell enough people you are an “idiot” and eventually, people believe. Stephannie may have just been saying out loud what everyone was feeling, but she said it out loud.

So here is the score: Two African-Americans have gone home. Three Latinos have gone home. The Caucasian and Asian-Americans are intact.

Remember, I believe the Asian-Americans could all go to the final five. Next week one member from each tribe is leaving. It may throw my prediction in peril, but it may not. Let’s see.


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Where is Alexander Dimm?

That’s a good question. I’ve been looking for him myself lately.

This blog was never intended to be a “Survivor” blog. Trust me, TV programs aren’t the only thing worth writing about these days.

There have been several writing projects with which I have been involved outside of the blog. They have been taking most of my time.

Summer is over. Winter is coming. Life gets busy.

Still, there will always be time to write. I’ll be back soon with thoughts on podcasting and life in general.

Thank you for your patience!


Survivor: Cook Islands Wk 4

Being a week behind on these posts is aggravating. There has been a lot going on, but let’s see if I can’t get caught up.

There are a lot of reasons why people watch television, but if you break it down, there are two basic reasons: 1) education; and 2) entertainment.

Some programs are pure education such as the nightly news. If you want to know what is going on in the world you can watch network news or cable news channels. Just be aware of the politics behind any and all of these organizations. You may do better watching "C-SPAN".

Then there are also outlets such as “The Discovery Channel” and “The History Channel”. There are PBS programs like “Wall Street Week” and “Nova”. There are a lot of programs on television where you can learn about many things.

Other programs are pure entertainment, such as “America’s Got Talent” and “Dancing with the Stars”. Cable channels such as “E!” and "Fox News" are nothing but entertainment reaching for a specific niche audience. That is fine if that is what you want.

Then there are programs that blur the line. “Jeopardy” and other game shows do that. Talk shows, such as “Oprah Winfrey” and “Dr. Phil” have plenty of information, but are also considered entertainment.

Finally, there are the reality shows. Jeff Probst, when defending the racial element of this season’s “Survivor”, referred to the gambit as a further “social experiment”. This makes Probst appear to be a mad scientist and the players on the show, and in another way, the audience, are his “white mice”.

When we watch, we tell ourselves that we are learning about people and they way they react in various situations.

All this leads me to one conclusion: We aren’t learning anything from “Survivor”.

My scientific assumption is that anyone who would volunteer to appear on the program must have watched some of the show by this time. If that were the case, we wouldn’t see J.P. failing miserably last week.

Think back to earlier editions of the series. What do people say when considering voting people off, especially in these early stages of the season? “They don’t work hard.” “They are too strong and will beat us later on.” “They try to run things and are annoying.” Strike three, J.P.

Consider that J.P. didn’t work very hard during his time on the island. Consider that J.P. was obviously one of the stronger members lost out on the Cook Islands. Consider that he sat in camp and directed others on how to keep the fire running.

If he did watch previous editions of the show, all I can figure is that he wanted to go home more than Stephanie.

The other significant moment of the episode was the “Booby Nest Incident”. One tribe was walking through the jungle looking for food when they spotted a nest with a bird sitting in it. Cao Boi had the idea they could eat and egg or two. So what does he do? He shoos the bird away and tips over the nest! Brilliant! I do that all the time at the grocery store. If I want eggs, I tip the carton over into the cart.

Weren't their wild chickens on the island? Couldn't they find nests on the ground?

What really bothers me is that none of the other team members were telling him “don’t do that”. They were rooting him on until a baby bird fell from the nest. Then they get to look like great humanitarians by returning the baby bird and the nest to the tree.

So, what did we learn from this week’s "Survivor"? That non-professional actors who volunteer to be on television are stupid in general.

Then again, maybe the people who write about them aren’t that smart either.


Sunday, October 01, 2006

Survivor: Cook Islands Wk 3

Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune is an excellent writer and blogger. She blogs a column entitled "The Watcher" which discusses television programming. She writes from a fan's perspective, but also adds a certain insight that is valuable to her readers.

Recently, she wrote about the third week of this year's Survivor. In her article she states "We got played, America."

She goes on to say, "People had a lot of opinions about how the experiment would go down, and whether it was an act of desperation from a network that likes to project an image of steady, nonchalant success."

I am disappointed with Ms. Ryan's violent reaction, and the reaction of others, regarding such a minor episode.

Let's recount what has happened: A) We all know that "Survivor" is going downhill. They jumped the shark with "Survivor - All Stars" and it won't be long before the series is either totally gone, or clinging to life on either E! or Spike TV.

B) Survivor has done gambits before, including pitting men against women and last years weird "Younger Men, Older Men, Younger Women, Older Women" set up at the start of the season. If you remember that set up, it wasn't too many weeks before there was a merge.

C) Survivor is a series that can't exist doing the same thing year after year, so Jeff Probst and company surprised the world by playing the race card. Okay, maybe they didn't surprise the world. Maybe they only surprised the "stuffy". By "stuffy" I mean those people who flinch at anything that gives the appearance of being politically incorrect. Advertisers began pulling advertising without viewing the program at all, because they don't want to appear on the wrong side of a racially charged issue.

What people don't think about is that Survivor has been mostly caucasian through the first twelve or so editions of the program. Has an African-American won a million? Has an Asian-American? Wouldn't you love to see that happen?

D) The program begins. It isn't that facinating. It isn't embarrassing. It doesn't seem that different from other editions of Survivor. If we don't learn anything from this experiment, let's consider that for a moment. It wasn't that different. What does that tell us? That people are not that different. Minor difference in race and culture make us a wee bit different, but we all work the same way. We all get hungry. We all get tired. Some work hard. Others need a break. Some people talk to much. Some people like tatoos. Some are in great shape. Others are out of shape. What we have learned is that everyone is different and everyone has similar needs.

E) Which brings us to Thursday. Ryan is smart enough to know that the whole program is shot completely before it begins to air. Therefore, the network didn't buckle under pressure. The show has been criticised for not including more minorities. The producers did an interesting thing: Instead have having a mostly minority edition, or an all minority edition, they created a "social experiment". It was a bold attempt to avoid further criticism while including more minorities in the program.

F) Failure. The announcement was supposed to increase interest in the program and maybe even a pat on the back for attempting such an experiment. Instead, people have tuned out in favor of a program called "Ugly Betty".

Ryan complains that she felt cheated, using the words of Sex Pistol's Johnny Rotten. What Ryan and others forget is that Survivor is a TV show. It is not a government program. It is not about fairness and doctrine. It's about entertainment.

Remember a couple years back when there were only two tribes? One tribe lost every week until there was only one member left. They left that one member at her tribe's campsite by themselves before they decided to merge. That was a surprise.

This time they surprised us with an early merge. It wasn't a cheat. It wasn't an attempt an "act of despiration". It was a program attempting to entertain.

Can they help it if they are running low on ideas?

By the way, someone we barely saw was voted off by one of the two remaining tribes. I'll be watching to see what happens next week.