Friday, September 21, 2007


I just finished watching the first episode of Survivor China and I'm not one to complain but... well okay, I AM one to complain, so I will.

We were only seconds into the episode when I started making a list of things to complain about. Can somebody please teach Jeff Probst that there are 5 vowels, (sometimes y), in the English language? What does he have against the letter U? "Oltimate challenge", "Oltra modern Shanghai", "ancient colture". During the last Survivor I thought that maybe Skoal chewing tobacco had paid him to call Skull Island "Skoal" Island, but I guess not.

And already we're starting with the ever-present mysticism and reverence inexplicably attached to all things Chinese. Probst called it one of the oldest countries in the world and commented on the ancient culture, (or "colture"), that dates back 5000 years. Maybe this is where all the wide-eyed awe comes from. Folks there has been no material evidence found to prove that the Huangdi, Yao, Shun, Yu or Xia dynasties ever existed. That would shave about 1400 years off this 5000 year claim. And we're just taking the Chinese at their word on the other 3600.

Given the facts that a) Chinese people are the ones proudly telling everyone about their 5000 year old culture and they just might have a bias, b) they are well known for being superstitious, and c) deception is not only regarded as allowable, but actually described as a MORAL in China, you would think people might have a bit more healthy skepticism about this. Jeff Probst actually gave both teams The Art of War by Sun Tzu which is one of the places where deception, (lying), is promoted as a moral. I'm not saying lying won't help in Survivor but geez they're sure getting punk'd by the Chinese. Pei Gei, (who I will call), P.G., (cuz I can't spell it the other way), was even crying for Buddha's sake!

"This is not a religious ceremony", says Probst, "the people of this land want you to feel welcome." So they force you to go into a hot, sweaty temple loaded with idols where you bow to them and pray in very specific style for a long time. Boy THAT must have made about the same impression of WELCOME as, hmmmm, I don't know, the Great Wall? And by the way, somebody used the moral of deception on Probst. That WAS a religious ceremony and I don't blame Leslie for getting the hell out of there. And I kinda liked Courtney for showing a bit of backbone there and talking about the monks as "dudes" who probably aren't able to fly through trees a la Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon or any Kung Fu movie.

In fact Courtney was the person I liked the best in episode one. Talking about her own private hell full of Sunday School teachers and flight attendants. And how they are all so faux upbeat and ersatz positive about everything. I may have misjudged her calling her a lame-o. * You can see my "Survivor Sandwiches" post where I made my early predictions if you scroll down a bit. But in my defence, she WAS one of the ones I felt most unsure about. At first I was going to write that I liked her artistic nature. But I'll admit, that's one wrong for me so far.

My early fave was PG and she was sucked in by the transcendency of China. But she quit smoking, studied, worked out and after all her efforts her team was loafing around and exchanging dance moves when they should have been building a shelter. Then after an unsheltered night in the cold rain they lost the challenge. I can understand her bawling for a second time. Unfortunately she was soothed by Dave's embrace and false platitudes. I wasn't wrong about him. He's a scoundrel. "I did not want to step into this position. At all." he lied about being cast as a leader. Another person he is already working is Ashley when she was sick telling her she won't be on the block then turned around and hoisted her up onto it. Voted for her too. After THAT I was almost glad she didn't get booted first.

I still want to see Ashley make an early exit. Even though she posed for Playboy, those balloons she is sporting are, strangely and for the first time, making me actually GLAD for the Survivor smudgers. But that's not the reason. She's just not an average person. A WWE star is about the last person who should be on REALITY TV. However, she scored points with her comment about PG barking out orders and taking a position of authority. "If you're gonna do that, you shouldn't be crying after challenges." she said. That was cool.

And speaking of boobs, Jaimie has already brought them into play. "I'm not wearing a bra!" she says. That was all she needed to do to survive this week. But she went ahead and added the briliant survival tactic of, "Anyone wanna find stuff with me?" I think I made THAT call right.

And staying with boobs, Sheria stood out for that reason. They might be a handicap in some challenges for her and her team. I think she's trying to be invisible though. So far.

It was Ashley who told Chicken to stop being negative and start being proactive. I'm with Courtney on this one. Stop the bubble-headed cheerleading. Being proactive is solving problems through action. But you can't solve them if you don't first identify them. That's what Chicken was doing. PG and Chicken were the only two who had the sense to think about survival and I have a feeling PG is next off the Fighting Tigers. It's strange that they both wanted the same thing but ended up not liking each other. I do agree with PG though that Chicken was a little too chicken. He should have stopped being a baby and started building a shelter. But as I predicted, he didn't want it badly enough. And I don't think he liked his tribe. I don't blame him that much. I think he woulda liked James, Amanda, Courtney, Denise, Leslie, but they're all on the other tribe.

I might have been wrong about lunch lady Denise being tough. Am I wrong or was she missing her family and crying BEFORE they even got to the location? That might be a new record.

John Robert says one of his strengths is reading players. If anyone has read Sun Tzu's book before, it's this guy. The art of deception is huge in poker. Getting people to believe you actually know what they're thinking, (not actually knowing what they're thinking), is how they get into people's heads and win at poker. But what was it that made him think Todd was NOT a flight attendant? I wonder if he's "read" that Todd is gay yet. Maybe I was wrong about him and he WON'T be a mental threat. But he won't help physically.

Eric and Amanda have been invisible. Probably according to their plans.

Finally, how bout that grave digger? He beat Frosty at the wall climbing! That was impressive. He reminds me of the Green Mile prisoner. Simple and harmless cuz a mountain of a man like that doesn't need to be mean. I sure hope he breathes some flies down Aaron or Dave's throat to get them to shut up.

Aaron and Dave. The fearless "leaders". These guys are the western practitioners of the Chinese moral of deception. Basically, all this eastern mysticism amounts to is a very common effect we get from psychology in the west: it doesn't matter if what you say is the wildest, most outlandish lie you can imagine. If people believe it, you now have a very powerful placebo effect going for you. There's a reason every Chinese movie ever made includes characters with superhuman abilities: they believe that shit! You should hear the fairy tales told in the Chinese media about "The Party"! And IF this powerful belief could be used for good, where's the harm? This is why it can be called a "moral". Sun Tzu called it a "moral" because if a battle can be won by deception alone then the leader has saved soldiers' lives and the lie was a moral one. A white lie.

We'll see how well Aaron and Dave can spin shit into shinola as the leaders. The placebo effect, (or the moral of deception), doesn't work if the leader isn't believed. I have a feeling these guys are gonna crash and burn. We'll see.

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