I Blogged Myself

Why do you always come here? I guess we'll never know. It's like a kind of torture, To read this blog, y'know.

Welcome to the most sensational, inspirational, celebrational, Muppetational blog since Kermit left just a little bit of the swamp in his pants.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

From Zemiro To Zero

I received an email yesterday, purportedly from Julia Zemiro. I presume she is either referring to this post or this post, although she could really be talking about any of my Thank God You're Here (TGYH) posts. Maybe she's talking about all of them, in a general sense.

If it even was Julia herself (and not some blog reader amusing themselves - which is equally likely), then this is an interesting development in the history of I Blogged Myself. It's the first time that a celebrity being discussed on these pages has 'Googled' themselves (or been directed here by someone else) and read my words about them. At least, it's the first time that it's happened that I'm aware of.

Here is the email in its entirety. I will not include the email address in case it's real (a courtesy I would extend to anyone who emailed me, whether they were being positive or negative).

Hi there,

You know it's weird reading people's opinion on your work. Blogs afford the opportunity for anyone to be an expert critic And write what they like.

Those who can do, and those who can't ... Write blogs.

Julia Zemiro

It certainly doesn't read like a prank email, but I suppose this could be anybody. The interesting thing about it is that I've re-read my original posts that featured her two appearances on the show, and they really weren't that bad at all. I thought I was pretty fair in my assessment of the job she did - including highlighting her funnier lines and ending with an overall compliment on the work she did. So why would she be miffed with me?

Well, the idea with which she finished the email sums it up. The old "tall poppy syndrome".

Julia, if you're reading this (and if the email was genuinely from you), I'm sorry if what I wrote offended you in any way. I'm not retracting my summary of the shows in question, but it certainly wasn't my intention to offend you or even speak badly of you. In fact, I don't think that I did. I trust your motivation for emailing me is more than the fact that I somehow hit a raw nerve in regards to your skills and ability, because I know that you're a seasoned performer and would clearly be way above being bothered by the view of some low-level fool and the thoughts he publishes on his blog. It would appear instead that you're upset about my ability to exercise free speech concerning the television shows I watch. Surely we don't need to get into an argument over such basic rights?

Perhaps you're actually more indignant about the way I spoke of other people on the show, rather than what I said about yourself. Someone like Tom Gleisner or any of the others involved with TGYH. Perhaps you take exception to my rant and rave over Judith Lucy, or the it-wasn't-but-it-could-end-up-in-an-argument-about-it-if-someone-thought-it-was sexual generalisation my wife brought up. If any of these are the case, all I can say is you've got to read my comments in context, as any reader of my blog would do, and see the development of the Judith Lucy gags throughout the season's summaries, and that my 'harsh' assessments of the performances were brought into line by some of my readers and I amended my style accordingly. As for the Tommy G judging comments, no one disagrees with me about that. Not even in the 'real' media. And I have stated how much I enjoy his off-camera work, too, to counter-balance it. I do not 'slam' people unreservedly.

Let's face it; my blog is a very little fish in a massively large pond. It only attracts 100 to 120 hits per day, and I suspect that's just the same 20 or so people checking back five or six times each. So don't worry yourself with the idea that my words are being spread far and wide. I don't get the daily hits Ms Fits gets, for example, which I conservatively estimate to be in the hundreds of thousands.

I don't try to be one of those bloggers who 'go off their nut' about people and intentionally incite anger by slamming reputations without rhyme or reason. There are plenty of those kind of bloggers out there, but I choose to speak honestly and - above all - fairly. (My little joke in regards to Judith Lucy being the exception, but I have also addressed the reason for this in the past couple of weeks.)

If I was going to hack on things for the sake of tearing them down indiscriminately, you'd know about it. It would be a very different kind of blog, a much nastier type of summary on the show, and no one would be spared. But I'm not like that.

It seems to me that for someone in your profession it's better to be spoken about in negative terms than not be spoken about at all (to paraphrase Oscar Wilde). And I don't even agree that I was speaking about you 'in negative terms'.

As for your implication that I can't do it myself, I'll let that one slide. You don't know who I am and what I am able to do, and I won't bring this whole situation down any further by listing my credentials in response to your baited remark. Again, some of the comments (written by people who actually know me) throughout my TGYH posts will attest that perhaps I am capable. But your point is probably a specific reference to the level of success one must have reached in order to appear on TGYH itself, and naturally I tip my hat to you on this one.

I haven't hid the fact that I'm unemployed at the moment, so maybe you're just trying to stick the boot in. If so, and you perceive that I have insulted you in any way, then I can't begrudge you that. I hope it made you feel better.

Again, if I inadvertently insulted you, then that surprises me. However, I apologise for any offense caused.

But I stand by my words.

And I would suggest that if what I wrote was enough to upset you, perhaps you need to work on thickening your skin.

Also, I have explained only last week how I feel the writers of the show aren't doing the female guest stars any favours, giving them the weaker of the scenarios they dream up, because it's easier for a group of men to create a lively, exciting 'cowboy' or 'spaceman' scene than it is for the same group of men to create an interesting, amusing and challenging scene for a woman to perform. I even said that the women are looking less interesting than perhaps is fair to them, so if you'd read all my TGYH summaries, you'd know that I don't hold anything against you, Fifi, Tanya or Robyn personally. And I'm not sure how I'll feel about Kate when she appears in the series finale next week. I've never been a fan of hers.

Sadly, my respect for you has gone down a few notches after receiving this email. Not because I'm offended by it, but because I think it's a pretty dumb idea to send it as a 'response' to someone's blog. Was it meant to embarrass me? Get me angry? Shame me into removing the posts? It doesn't seem like it could serve any purpose other than letting off steam if I caused you any hurt. My summaries were hardly an 'attack'.

Of course, it's just as likely that the email didn't come from the real Julia Zemiro, so let's not necessary attach the above words to her, in case that's an unfair stigma that you'll carry around in your minds in relation to her forever more. We wouldn't want that.

Additionally, if this was the real Julia Zemiro who emailed me insulting bloggers as a whole, that seems to be a pretty silly way to address so many millions of Internet users (and potential fans) across the country and the globe. Like it or not, blogs are very much the way of the future. Those who haven't come on board yet are just staving off the inevitable. All areas of business have embraced them as part of our natural development, with the general exception of the entertainment industry. Why? Maybe because they view blogs as a potential loss in revenue (in much the same way that radio, cinema and theatrical companies despised the advent of television, although none of them had anything to worry about), and maybe they haven't properly grasped its value and incredible growth-rate. With so many people starting up blogs every day, wouldn't bloggers as a 'people group' be a poor one to target for an across-the-board insult? And shouldn't the entertainment industry stop trying to bad-mouth what it doesn't understand and perhaps endeavour to learn from the world of blogs and maybe even look at ways to utilise the concept for their own gain (and - at the very least - survival)?

Just a thought.

(Incidentally, the aforementioned Ms Fits is one such entertainment personality who has fully embraced the blogging community and is using it to her advantage - whether that was her initial intention or not (and I happen to know that it wasn't). She enjoys herself, and that's all that matters. For others in the entertainment industry who are doing the same, check out all the links I've listed under 'Celebrity Bloggers' on the right.)


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Pregnant Brain

I'm going to blame the below slip-up on Wifey's pregnant brain, even though the mistake was entirely mine. (That's alright, isn't it? Can the father-to-be suffer from 'pregnant brain'? I certainly need some kind of excuse to save face after what follows.)

Last Friday was Ms Fits' 30th birthday.

Here's the comment I left on her blog at 3:55pm:

BEVIS said...

Happy 30th birthday, Ms Fits! (I tried sending you an SMS but maybe you have a new number? Or it might go through later. It could just be the crappy reception where I live.)

Sounds simple enough, doesn't it. Sweet, even. What a nice guy I am to have written her a text message, even if my phone was being stupid and letting me down in the actual 'sending' department.

But there's one more thing you need to know.

I. Don't. Have. Ms. Fits'. Mobile. Phone. Number.

I was trying to send an SMS to her home phone.

The fact that it took me from around 10am Friday 'til roughly 2pm Monday to realise that I'd been trying to get my phone to tell me the text message was 'successfully sent' to a home phone line will not be discussed here.

I can't explain why I thought I had her mobile number, but Ms Fits (bless her heart) didn't bother to reply to my question about her 'new number' and embarrass me ("Um, I've never given you my mobile number, you jerk"). Anyway, my futile attempt to achieve the impossible just to somehow get my all-important birthday greeting across to her is the important point here.

Or something.

Let's just please not focus on what is definitely the most stupid thing I've done all year.

The moment when realisation crystalised itself in my mind is very clear in my memory. Foolishness and clarity swept through me at the same time. It makes for a very strange sensation, let me assure you.

When ET said to phone home, he didn't specify which number we should use.


Monday, May 29, 2006

Truth, Lies & A Witchhunt On Videotape

Okay, so he's out of the House now. All you Michael-detractors can smile to yourselves and strut around the place like you're ruler of the world.

I ain't gettin' into it.

For my money, he was placed in an impossible position to be BB's lap dog, and then not afforded the protection he'd need in such a volatile position. In short, he was robbed. I've already gone into my views on this in some detail, so I won't repeat myself here.

But what about his less-than-impressed attitude in his Eviction show? Well, I'd have been 100% the same if it'd been me (and you all know what a great guy I am). When someone like Gretel Killeen is interviewing you, and being nice to you most of the time, but then snapping at you and being unpredictable with her pleasantries and nastiness without warning, it's not surprising that Michael felt he was being backed into a corner and under attack. He obviously already feels that this is how he was treated from the get-go with the Insider thing, so being voted out by the public is clearly going to be a not-so-subtle indication that people are hating you out in the real world.

He felt badly-done-by, and despite the nice, encouraging things Gretel said to him (and some of them were very nice, I wholeheartedly agree), she undid the good of them by having an occasional dig at him and arguing with him about his methods and choices as the Insider (BB has a whole host of 'advisors' before he makes any decisions; the Housemates can't even write down a game plan to sort it all out in front of them - they can only go with what they think is best in their [extremely stressed] minds and [fatigued and weary] bodies, and make their decisions without consultation of any sort with anyone else), so yes - he got defensive and shrank back into his shell. I'm not surprised. I felt bad for him, and watching the BB Top 10 Questions was like watching a car crash in slow motion. Gretel only made matters worse (and more confusing to Michael) by complimenting him, telling him that miming the autocue wasn't funny (who said he was trying to be? The guy just got released from a House where he spent six weeks with the same stupid people, give him a break!), and then snarling at him that patting her on the back wasn't helping as he tried to laugh it off. Then she complimented him again immediately afterwards! Way to make him feel at ease! No wonder he ended up so shy to communicate with you, you cruel and spiteful witch.

Yes, strong words. But he was the only person in six years of the show (where absolutely everyone claims beforehand that they're going to "mix things up and cause some trouble" in the House, who actually came through and did it. Despite BB always claiming to be including real troublemakers and sh*t-stirrers in there, how is the show's first genuinely interesting prankster treated? His contentment to do what no one before him has had the gonads to try was basically abused and thrown back in his face. The show is going to be far weaker as a result of Michael's departure.

The only good thing that I can gleam from him being voted out is that the trend of the girls being evicted has been broken (and it really needed to be).

Yes, Michael annoyed the Housemates. But that's what was so great about him being in there with them all, in such close proximity! Let them go crazy! Yes, he even annoyed much of the public. But only those too short-sighted or stupid to see what he was doing by being the 'self-imposed' Insider in there. The producers of the show were lapping it up - the entire Thursday and Friday night Daily Shows were made up of his toothbrush- and cutlery-stealing antics, and the fall-out from that. The producers were loving it! They probably became jealous that he'd managed to do what all their own crappy mindgames could not do (try as they might) - and that is to get the Housemates to argue and accuse each other while the real new Insider remained undetected.

Michael was the best thing for the show in 2006. Now that he's gone, are we meant to be excited on a daily basis to see just what Jamie and Katie have been up to? ("Oooh! I wonder if they kissed in the spa again today! Or maybe he was so devoted to her that she got upset with him?") How about if Jade is doing a great job as the new Insider? ("Oooh! I wonder if she had to sing again all day! What a great whole week's worth of secret tasks that was!") I wonder if Dino will say something offensive and demeaning to women? I wonder if Camilla will get into an argument over nothing and end up in tears about how everyone else treats her? I wonder if Krystal will say something stupid, take a compliment as an insult, stand around looking confused and vacant, apply enough make-up for a week's worth of "Les Girls" performances, make a move on a disinterested Gaelan, and then giggle for a while?

Quite seriously, if Wifey wasn't strangely addicted to BB06 as part of her pregnancy cravings (yes, really), and I hadn't already started this 'mini-series' of posts on my blog about each eviction, I'd happily not watch another episode of the show from here on. Not in an immature 'protest' about Michael being voted out, but because it really is going to be so boring now that I couldn't care any less about it than I do now. It simply isn't possible.

I think I initially had more to say about this, but the fire has gone out in me now. I just can't be stuffed. So Michael's gone. Fair enough. I expected it, actually (based on the popular groundswell against him in the blogger community alone). I just think it was so massively the wrong decision for the public to make (ably assisted by the bad press he continued to receive from all of the shows hosts except for Mike Goldman), that I'm feeling really unenthused about the whole thing now.

For me, this decision is on par with the Logans beating Tim for the winner of BB05.


Sunday, May 28, 2006

Nice Guys ...

... Spoiler Alert! ... Spoiler Alert! ...

If you haven't yet seen (and you intend to see) episode 11 of The Amazing Race Series 9 (TAR 9), do not read any further!


The last TAR 9 episode we saw here in Australia ended with the DEC, or Deceptively Older Couple (AKA Fran & Barry, "The Franberries"), being eliminated. The pit stop was located at the Fremantle Sailing Club, near Perth in Western Australia.

For the record, this was the order in which the teams reached Phil on the mat last episode, and the order in which they started this leg of the race:

1. BFG - Buff Frat Guys ["The Frats"] (Eric & Jeremy)
2. DWC - Dating WASP Couple ["Team MoJo"] (Joseph & Monica)
3. FHG - Freaky Hippy Guys ["The Hippies"] (BJ & Tyler)
4. TBC - Token Black Couple ["No Alternate Nickname"] (Ray & Yolanda)

Note: If you're already ahead of this point in the series, please refrain from giving any spoilers in your comments. Thank you.

As always, I'll provide my thoughts on each team in this episode, listing them in the order in which they arrived at the pit stop (hence the 'Spoiler Alert!').


1. Token Black Couple (TBC) - these guys did very well to come out of last place and take the lead at the end (although, really, this episode - almost more than any other - had very little to do with skill and a lot to do with pure chance). But let's not take anything away from them arriving in first place. The prize they got for doing so (a year-long lease of a Mercedes-Benz ... each ... was a freakin' good prize, even though it's not theirs to keep), so I can totally understand Ray's uncontrollable grinning at the end, there. Speaking of Ray, he had a moment of mock-nastiness in this episode when all teams were on their way to the Crocodile Farm, saying that the crocs would have a tough time eating Barbie doll plastic and find themselves choking (referring to DWC's Monica). They had good fortune at the didgeridoo task, finding the right Aborigine fairly soon after arriving, and getting out of there equally quickly. The fact that Team MoJo didn't pass them on the way in and clearly didn't arrive while they were still there (because there were no other cars in the carpark) shows just how far ahead the TBC had sped. Remember, the DWC were delayed by an hour and still managed to stumble across the FHG and the BFG (this shows not only that the TBC were ages ahead of everyone else, but that the 'wet' detour was the wrong one to pick). All-in-all, this episode was largely about the other three teams, so for two episodes in a row, I find myself with very little to say about the TBC (apart from 'congratulations').

2. Buff Frat Guys (BFG) - things started to take on a very different look for these next three teams this week. First of all, the mind games started coming out, and the dirty tricks weren't far behind. Once this happened, no one could trust anyone else, and paranoia mixed with panic, anxiety and frustration make for some high-level arguments and unforgiving (and sometimes unfounded) resentments that just cannot be resolved. Although most of this was between the DWC and the FHG, the BFG seemed to start it all off by canceling the TBC's and FHG's taxis. In a brilliant stroke of karma, the BFG's taxi didn't show up either (adding a whole new level to the word 'karma' that more witty bloggers may have turned into a clever pun on the taxi car/karma thing). Additionally, although not part of Eric & Jeremy's plan, their lack of a taxi shone the light of blame directly onto the only team whose taxi did turn up; the DWC. And from here on in, the FHG and the DWC (in particular) were at war. But we'll come to them later. What I found amusing was Eric calling the taxi company and canceling the other teams' taxis. Although I don't want these guys to beat either of those teams, it was a brilliant move, strategically. Unfair? Sure. Cruel? Absolutely. But a stroke of pure genius? Without a doubt. A good idea to bear in mind for teams playing this game in the future would be to have a couple of 'fake names' that they don't let the other teams hear at any point, for the calling of taxis. And then try to cancel other teams' taxis that are booked under their real names. A great ploy that can easily work to one team's advantage if they know how to play it and choose to do so at the best time. You're not going to make any friends by doing it, but that's not why you're there anyway. The funniest thing these guys said this week was when the teams were talking about being embarrassed by their partners and Eric said, "I don't let Jeremy out of the house". The stupidest thing they said this week was when the teams were about to wade into the crocodile pools and Jeremy said, "I hope those things don't bite". They bite, dude. The scariest thing they said this week was when Eric and Ray were in the planes ready to skydive and Jeremy and Yolanda were waiting for them on the ground. Jeremy turned to Yolanda and said, "If you were single, you'd be in trouble". You could see that she was thinking, "How do I take that? As a compliment? Or as a creepy 'stalker-style' threat?" As usual, when it came down to the final footrace, both of these buff boys managed to reach Phil on the mat first (out of the three teams scrambling to beat each other there). That'd be right! Thankfully, their lead on the two teams who are behind them next week will be minimal. I'm just glad they weren't the first team to the pit stop.

3. Dating WASP Couple (DWC) - okay, my opinion of these two has taken a severe dive this week. I don't know where to begin. Let's start at the very beginning, for I hear 'tis a very good place to start. They accused the FHG of being deceitful and using trickery throughout the game, when in fact the opposite is true. I'm not going to defend all the mind games the FHG were playing (the Eric & Monica one being especially undeniable as a mind game), but I will say that I feel the Hippies have done nothing worse than (or even equal to) the ploys played by the DWC and the BFG. It is certainly true that when Monica in particular accused BJ and Tyler of being deceitful, she highlighted her own gross hypocritical nature and made herself look stupid and grasping at straws. It would appear that she doesn't know what the word 'deceitful' means. The animosity between the FHG and Team MoJo has been bubbling away beneath the surface for a few episodes now, and when the Hippies told the DWC that if they didn't leave them any money they'd be 'Yielded', they sowed the seed of panic in Monica and Joseph's minds which has been allowed to grow into full-blown disgust. Monica in particular verbalises this by calling the Hippies 'sleazeballs' - an accusation which is completely groundless and shows how jaded her opinion is as a result of the veiled threat of being Yielded they received from the boys. The idea that she and Joseph are now the closest to the real sleazeballs on the race - the BFG - only adds to their cluelessness. (I think Monica may be on something.) Things were only made worse between the DWC and the other teams by the complete coincidence of the BFG's taxi not turning up, because then it appeared to the other teams that Team MoJo were the sole culprits behind the taxis' cancellations. When BJ and Tyler began their 'Eric & Monica' rumour charade in the line at the airport, Joseph gave BJ the most evil silent death stare I think I've ever see. The editors knew it, too - they had the music stop and it was eerily silent while Joseph glared at him and shook his head as if to indicate, "Don't go there. Or you'll wake up with a decapitated Tyler's head in your bed one morning." It was kinda spooky. I got a great laugh out of the moment when the Aussie airline check-in guy asked Team MoJo what it was worth to him for the other teams not to find out about the flight the DWC was catching ... and when Monica offered a kiss (to which Joseph happily agreed, the disgusting pimp), the look of complete disinterest on the Aussie's face was priceless! You may think you're "all that", Monica, but not everyone agrees! Take that, blonde babe ego! I hope that made her rethink herself a bit. (By the way, did you notice the T-shirt she was wearing? It said "I ♥ Spinning". I wonder if she meant this.) When the teams arrived at the Crocodile Farm late at night and were talking to each other through the windows of Team MoJo's car, Tyler was again weaving his 'Eric & Monica' magic. Eric even went along with it playfully/sarcastically (at least he shrugged it off and didn't let it bother him). Meanwhile, Joseph and Monica just got angrier. Joseph's high school mentality reporting of his feeling to Monica later was utterly pathetic: "I can't stand BJ and Tyler. It's like, dude, ... shut up." Is it, dude? Is that what it's like? Is it like 'shut up'? Then the two lovebirds started arguing again (I think this was while they were at or in the crocodile pool, but my notes don't clarify this and their arguments are all starting to blend in to one in my mind's eye - oh, no, wait - it was after the Hippies Yielded them as promised), and Monica again complained in her usual style, "It's not fair!". I'm sure they were just about to Yield the Hippies, so I don't see what's so unfair about it. Perhaps that the DWC was too slow and stupid not to race from their car to the Yield mat as quickly as BJ and Tyler did it? Yeah, that's unfair. Deal. And about the Yield - good work, guys! Anyway, moving on - was anyone else highly amused at Team MoJo's continued arguing for the majority of the hour they were waiting, therefore missing the fact that the hourglass had run out because of their non-stop bickering and blaming of each other? It was a great moment, and one that I wish had gone longer. The cameraman even brought the camera right in close to show the empty hourglass, but they didn't get it for a few more seconds! That just summed them up right there, for my money. Idiotic and selfish and always angrily blaming others without paying attention. That being said, I must give full credit to Monica for doing all the really scary roadblocks. Not only did she do the bungee jump the other week, but she was eager as anything to do the skydive this time. I'd like to think I'm being fair in these reviews (they're more like recaps or opinionated summaries than reviews, though, really - aren't they), so although I have clear biases and favourites and teams that offend me with their disgusting attitudes and behaviors, I'd like to think that I still credit bravery and humour wherever it may lie. After all, I've credited the BFG with at least one hilarious line per episode (with only one exception), even though they're the sort of people I loath seeing prosper. And in the case of the DWC, Monica seems to have more balls than Joseph (except when it comes to keeping it together when they're not doing well or are tackling an emotionally demanding or draining task ... then she falls apart and starts crying/wailing/complaining, which is the sort of behaviour that - understandably - drives Joseph nuts and gets him even angrier and intolerant with her). I'm not sure what point in the race it was, but it was after the skydive and either before or during the didgeridoo task, but Monica was the person this week to whinge about them being doomed to fail: "This is probably going to be it for us." Uplifting talk! You know, we could probably invent a TAR drinking game. It'd be fun! Every time someone on the race says something along the lines of how they're going to be last, now ... or that they'll be eliminated for sure as a result of their current set-back ... or moans about how they're the last team for sure this time ... we knock back a shot of something. It happens all the time, at least once a week, and would probably result in a lot of drunkenness across Australia on Thursday nights. Anyway, once the DWC reached the didgeridoo task, and found the native Australian who was supposed to teach them how to use the instrument, I noticed (at the time, not in hindsight when they reached Phil on the mat!) that they failed to follow the instructions given to them. The native showed Joseph how to use the didgeridoo properly, but then Joseph proceeded to show Monica what to do. In fact, she never looked at the Aborigine once! Not even when he gave her the thumbs-up! She was looking to Joseph for all information on what to do, and the native sat there politely waiting for her to look his way so he could show her the 'pursing' motion she had to make with her lips. In my opinion, that should have given them a fifteen-minute (or even one-minute would have been enough!) time penalty for failing to follow the instructions. However, I imagine the show's producers would counter with the notion that if the team fails to complete the task properly, they will not receive the next clue from the 'supervisor'. If the native Australian was happy enough to give them the next clue, then the producers aren't going to interfere with that decision (I'm sure that's what they'd say if it was taken to them in protest). The same thing happened with the dancing task in Germany; the dancing instructor was very lenient with the teams' version of the shoe-slapping lederhosen dance. But wouldn't it have been wonderful (considering how things turned out for the last three teams as they reach Phil at the pit stop in this leg) if Joseph and Monica were informed that due to not obeying the instructions correctly, they were actually the last team and lost all of their money and possessions! Oh well, beggars can't be Hippies. Or they can, as it turns out. Twice. But getting back to the DWC ... as they left the didgeridoo task, they managed to meet up with the BFG and FHG on the road. Joseph really showed his immense immaturity here by 'flipping the bird' to BJ and Tyler in the car in front of them. That was twenty kinds of inappropriate childishness. I hope he was embarrassed about his behaviour when he saw it back later (although I doubt it very much). When all three teams arrived at the pit stop together, the race to the mat was probably the best one I've ever seen on the show (possibly second only to charming brothers Brian and Greg's frenzied footrace across the desert plain in season 7 against the slightly distasteful Ray and Deana, after the brothers' jeep had overturned - but that wasn't three teams all racing each other). Once the teams had sorted themselves out on the mat, Monica turns to the Hippies and sneered at them (showing her level of maturity) and taunted, "You Yielded us and we beat you!" How delightfully spiteful. Would the Hippies have spoken this way to Team MoJo (even Team MoJo) if they'd arrived a millisecond before them? Not on your life. Then as Monica whined to Phil about "the other teams" playing a nasty game, twisting the truth to suit her complaint about BJ and Tyler, I found myself getting really angry for the boys. Who's been saying disgustingly nasty things about whom? Don't be such a hypocritical cow, woman. These two are utterly repugnant. I hope they're eliminated this coming week (although it never works out how I want it to!). That being said, I'm aware that no team is working with "all the information" we're lucky enough to get by being privy to each team's discussions and actions. But still, Team MoJo and the Frats have outstayed their welcome in this race.

4. Freaky Hippy Guys (FHG): SAFE! - I wasn't too worried during the dramatic last-minute-dash to Phil at the pit stop because I knew that even if these guys came last (which they did, courtesy of BJ's failed attempt to climb over rocks in his bare feet to reach the wharf sooner than Monica), they weren't going to be eliminated. I don't know why the producers continue to leave one non-elimination round until the four last teams are competing. Everyone knows the finale has only three teams left, so even Monica could have worked out that this was going to be the last non-elimination round. (Ouch - and I credited her a while back for being smarter than the average blonde! Sorry about that.) I also knew that the Hippies could bounce back from such a set-back because they proved it last time (asking for money brought them more than double what the other teams had been given!). And in Australia, everyone's going to love them.* When they called ahead at the Swan Bells to order a taxi, I thought they were doing a very wise thing. I don't know why they let on to the other teams about what they were doing, though, because I think that was a grave mistake (as shown by what occurred). Thankfully, one of the 'airport equalisers' in this episode was the airport itself (the others being the Swan Bells and Crocodylus Park), so all teams were able to catch up to each other before anyone had bought any plane tickets. Tyler's idea to bring mind games into play concerning Eric and Monica seemed amusing to watch and harmless enough at first, but it clearly led to bigger problems for them when it cemented for the DWC what they had mistakenly believed up until that point; that the Hippies were nasty guys playing a vindictive game and being sleazy. It still didn't prove the sleazy thing, but the other ideas were unfortunately thought to be 'proven', causing the rift between the two teams to grow exponentially.** The FHG's run from their car to the Yield was genius. They did the smartest thing they could have done at this point. Beating Joseph & Monica to the Yield just made the moment even more perfect, but there's no way choosing not to Yield would have been a wiser way to play that. As they ran through the field of 'magnetic' termite mounds, their jocular spirit re-emerged as they joked about not touching the mounds or the termites would eat all the wood in their bodies, such as Tyler's peg leg. It's just unfortunate that no one but the TBC seemed to know where they were going to find Lake Bennett Wilderness Resort, the pit stop for this leg of the race. It meant the other three teams ended up on each other's tails, and created the hurricane of panic that entertained us so in the show's dying moments. The problem for these guys now is that they have no money, no possessions, and BJ has no shoes. I doubt any team (even if the DEC were still in it at this point) would be leaving them any money this time, considering they've already had one second-chance at the game, and the result of the next leg determines who's in the final dash for the finish line and the one million dollar prize money. It's gonna be a tough ask for the Hippies to crawl their way back from last place on this one, but the good news is they only have a minute's gap between them and the team in front of them (instead of an hour or two). This is actually a pretty good development and consequence of the close finish in this episode. It means that the next leg will start out with the TBC out in front, but the other three teams all pretty-much neck and neck until they reach that leg's 'airport equaliser' (which will probably be the airport itself, seeing as they've been in Australia for so long already). I just hope the boys are able to raise enough money to get BJ some shoes and themselves to the airport, where they can hopefully walk up and down the aisle in the flight and raise enough money to buy a small island (like they did last time). I just hope they focus enough to get back in the game and avoid this last elimination!

* Of course, I'm kidding about everyone loving them. We might love them on TV, but those guys ferreting around asking for money when one of them doesn't have any shoes and they have strong American accents and they look the way they do? I think most Australians will steer well clear of them. I don't like their chances of getting much money out of any Aussies they encounter. And in the 'outback', how many Aussies is that going to be? They could very well be doomed, here. I hope I'm wrong, though.

** Well, okay ... "a bit more".


Last week's tips:

First Team: FHG (Wrong - so very wrong)
Last Team: DWC (Wrong - so close, though!) (I was right about them having a really bad leg, though ... the Yield and grumpiness were testimony to that.)
Yield? Yes Correct!
Fast Forward? No Correct!
Elimination Week? No Correct!
Biggest Argument: DWC Correct!
Smartest Team: FHG Correct! (Even though they came in last, I'm going to give it to them because of their dash to the Yield and their choice of team to Yield. Other near-winners of this award were the TBC for staying out of the furor and of course coming in first, and even the BFG for canceling the other teams' taxis)


Next week's tips:

First Team: BFG (Who are we kidding? It's a cert.)
Last Team: TBC (I reckon/desperately hope that the DWC will either be eliminated, or come in third instead of the TBC.)
Yield? No (Obviously - they've had both Yields now.)
Fast Forward? Yes (Looks like I tipped these the right way around last week.)
Elimination Week? Yes (We already know this, but I got it right last week so I'm entitled to this 'freebie' this week.)
Biggest Argument: DWC (That's a no-brainer because they're no-brainers!)
Smartest Team: FHG (Again, they need to be to come back from last place and having no money or possessions - or shoes!)
Two-Parter? Yes (I reckon Channel 7 will split the inevitable two-hour finale across two weeks, just like they did the two-hour premiere. If that's true, we won't know for sure if the long-suspected rumour of TAR: 'The Family Edition' starting up when this series finishes is true or not for another week.)


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Thank The Lord For Your Presence # 8

Last night saw the eighth episode of Thank God You're Here (TGYH).

I was a little surprised to see Angus Sampson back for a fifth appearance. Don't get me wrong; I think he's good an' all, but I'd enjoy the concept a lot more if they were to juggle the victims contestants around a bit more and have them on for a total of perhaps three appearances per season. But maybe it's harder to come by willing celebrities who are available at the scheduled times or something, so fair enough.

Joining Angus this week were TGYH 'veteran' (of the past two weeks) Josh Lawson, and new-comers Hamish Blake (on the left of the picture) and Tanya Bulmer. Tanya was one female comedian I hadn't previously considered, but when she ran through her improv experience with host Shane Bourne at the top of the show, I was very impressed and glad they'd managed to 'book her in'. I've liked Hamish since he and his regular sparring partner Andy Lee (on the right of the picture) hosted the short-lived weekly comedy programme in the style of a tonight show on Channel Seven in 2004 creatively called Hamish & Andy ... featuring a pre-Deal or No Deal comedian Andrew O'Keefe. Unfortunately for the boys, their show didn't exactly take off, lasting just four episodes. But I've found both Blake and Lee quite amusing whenever I've seen them on anything since.

There is no doubt in my mind, though, that Josh Lawson was the stand-out performance of the night this week. Coming from (apparently) not knowing that his gun was a 'six-shooter' until Shane mentioned it seconds before he walked through the blue door, and becoming a western-cliché-regurgitating legend for the duration of his scene, he easily provided the most hilarious lines of the night. His kisses with actress Nicola Parry, his descriptions of the oft-misunderstood 'Wee Willy Wiley' tribe of Indians ("They're not so Willy, and they're kinda wee, but man, are they wiley!"), the names he came up with for his archnemisis and Maggie May (whose actual name, it turned out, was Trixie ... so he then called her Trixie-Maggie-May-Belle), and my favourite of them all; his insult to the nasty cowboy who had insulted him:

Cowboy: "You're about as yella as fresh-cut corn in the midday sun."
Josh: "Oh yeah?
Cowboy: "Yeah."
Josh: "Well you're about as mauve as the eyelashes on a pritty lil' Chinese girl."

Brilliant. He was also very funny with his 'fast talking' which ended the scene, and although his input into the group scene at the tail-end of the night (with the superhero theme) wasn't very much at all, his expertly-underplayed comment to judge Tom Gleisner: "I'm surprised you haven't heard of me" was a perfect moment. I haven't seen too much of Josh Lawson in the past (and what I've seen has featured him in dramatic roles), but I'm looking forward to seeing a lot more of him in the future. I hope his role in Boytown is a comical one, and that he lands a lot more comic roles after appearing in TGYH.

Angus' scene in this episode was largely forgettable, as the CEO of a corrupt pie-making company being asked by his investors why they should continue to support him. He still had an occasional amusing comment such as saying that 'Ozzie Pies' were made in New Zealand, and when asked about the box saying 'Thailand', explaining that it's a little-known fact that there's a town on the north of the south island of NZ by that name. He was very game to eat one of the pies on display (who knew how old or questionable they were!), and his deciphering of the 'coded motto' of the company on the wall behind the investors was pure gold.

Tanya's first appearance on the show had her dressing up in a bridal gown, and making a joint speech with her new husband at their wedding reception. She showed her skill at improvising when he mentioned that she especially wanted to thank ... and she immediately came out with a rambling long list of girls' names. Turning on her two bridesmaids (once she found out they were her sisters) and clearly favouring one over the other was highly amusing, especially when she kept referring back to it. The talk of her third sister not being there due to "the car accident", and then her missing aunt being remembered as "the driver of the car" were risque but very well done. I don't think it was the funniest scene of the night by a long shot, but I certainly don't think that was Tanya's fault at all. It seems somehow that the creators of the show have trouble coming up with good situations for the female contestants. Is anybody else noticing that? I'm not saying the female contestants are to blame, because obviously that can't be the case every week. I think it might be that the boys who are sitting down thinking up the ideas for the scenes each week may struggle a bit when it comes to working out a good one for the female guest. But I digress. Tanya was very good and demonstrated her ability to ad lib with lightning speed, particularly when the groom said she chose not to put the words "love, honour and obey" in her vows, but rather ... "love, honour and eBay", she finished immediately.

Hamish Blake had his solo scene last, and came out dressed in an outfit that he perfectly described as "Bono the Vampire Slayer". Realising he was some kind of rock legend (which was helped along by Shane's spoily-question, "Are you ready to rock?"), Hamish entered the same late night TV show set we'd seen earlier in the series when Angus was a TV chef who appeared on the set with an entirely silent Natalie Bassingthwaighte from Neighbours. As there were two 'guest' chairs set up and both were empty, I assumed someone famous would be making a surprise entry during the scene ... and I was right. After being questioned about his duet with Kate Ceberano on his latest "billion-selling" album, Hamish was forced to welcome Kate to the stage so they could sing their duet live - which seconds earlier Hamish had made the mistake of titling "Pussycats and Angels". Once he stopped groping the singer in a prolonged embrace, and after he'd started the song without allowing her to sing the first line so he was forced to rhyme his second line to it, he eventually caught on to the idea and did a pretty impressive job of having the song make sense, rhyme, and stick (somewhat) to the theme of pussycats and angels. A tough scene, but one he handled fairly well.

As I mentioned, the group scene at the end was four superheroes being called to headquarters to discuss the threat of a meteor that had been discovered hurtling towards Earth. Apart from a couple of tiny moments (such as suggesting a "rope and pulley system" for moving Earth out of the meteor's path), Tanya and Josh seemed almost to disappear in this scene, as a lot of time was spent on Angus (either on his prop speaking piece which made it difficult to hear him, or his apparent incapacitation that actor Daniel Cordeaux had to overcome to get him back into the scene by 'healing him' with his mind and commanding him to stand up). Hamish also had some quality screen time during this scene; mostly as he called his mate 'Geoff' to see about moving Earth out of harm's way ("I know a guy"), and speaking into the laser contraption strapped to his wrist. When the 'bad guy' appeared on the large screen behind them, Josh claimed that the voice was Geoff, and that Hamish had left his wrist communication device 'on speakerphone'.

Most notable in this episode was that there were only two (instead of the regular three or four) pre-recorded bits. The one where the contestants had to make announcements (which hadn't been provided in full, leaving the contestants to be creative with how each one was supposed to finish) at the sports stadium wasn't very good, but the one where the contestant was the deputy or acting headmaster showing a prospective family around their school was highly amusing. The young girl in this bit, who also played the daughter in the pre-recorded pet shop bit a few weeks ago, was credited under a different surname this time, but I believe she is somehow related to Nicola Parry (presumably her daughter or niece).

While we're on the topic of the ensemble cast members, I must say that I think very highly of the extremely-talented Parry and Cordeaux, as well as Ed Kavalee and Heidi Arena. The others (such as Simon Dowling, Andrew Bayly, Jason Geary, Rebekah Foord and so on) are by no means any less impressive, but have simply not appeared in as many episodes. The skill it takes to keep a straight face while the contestant comes up with often ludicrous answers to the questions being put to them, as well as remembering all their own lines and gently (and sometimes not-so-gently) steering the scene in the direction in which it needs to be going -- and quickly -- is so much work, they all deserve more credit than they probably receive. I hope the audiences who are lucky enough to watch the live tapings at least get to show their appreciation to the ensemble cast after the taping has concluded, because apart from Shane mentioning Nicola Parry by name (although he mentioned her only as 'Nikki') after Josh's kissing scene with her, they don't get any of the attention. Obviously I understand why this is the case (the contestant is the celebrity we're meant to be focussing on), but the others all do such a remarkable and tough job that I wanted to credit them here briefly. As an aside, if you look at this page, where I grabbed Daniel and Nicola's photos, you'll see that both of them have acted before with both Andrew O'Keefe and Josh Lawson! Makes you wonder ...

So anyway, here are the main four, with no disrespect intended to the many other highly-talented individuals who make up the ensemble cast:

Nicola Parry

Daniel Cordeaux

Heidi Arena

Ed Kavalee

Sorry some of those photos are a bit poxy. They're not the easiest people to source pics of. And please pardon the poor grammar in the previous sentence.

With "only two episodes left until the season finale" (does that mean inclusive?), things are looking good that Judith Lucy won't be appearing on the show at all.

... Thank the Lord she's not gonna be there.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Relationships Are An Icky A Tricky Thing

(With thanks to Spankk, who sent me this this cute story on email ... sorry guys, it's a girly one today.)

While on holiday in Kenya and walking through the bush, a man came across an elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seems distressed, so the man approached it very carefully. He got down on one knee and inspected the bottom of the elephant's foot only to find a large thorn deeply embedded.

Carefully - and as gently as he could - he removed the thorn, and the elephant gingerly put its foot down. The elephant turned to face the man and with a rather stern look on its face, stared at him. For a good ten minutes the man stood frozen - thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant turned and walked away.

For years afterwards, the man often remembered and pondered the events of that day ...

Then one day, the man was walking through the zoo with his son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the elephants turned and walked over to where they were standing at the rail. It stared at the man, and he couldn't help wondering if this was the same elephant. The man climbed tentatively over the railing and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder.

Suddenly the elephant wrapped its trunk around one of the man's legs and swung him wildly back and forth along the railing, instantly killing him.

So ... probably not the same elephant, then.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Age Before Beauty

... Spoiler Alert! ... Spoiler Alert! ...

If you haven't yet seen (and you intend to see) episode 10 of The Amazing Race Series 9 (TAR 9), do not read any further!


The last TAR 9 episode we saw here in Australia ended with the FHG, or Freaky Hippy Guys (AKA BJ & Tyler), being the last team to reach the pit stop but the first team this series to be saved by a non-elimination round. The pit stop was located at Jabreen Castle in Oman.

For the record, this was the order in which the teams reached Phil on the mat last episode, and the order in which they started this leg of the race:

1. DEC – Deceptively-Elderly Couple [“The Franberries”] (Fran & Barry)
2. DWC – Dating WASP Couple [“Team MoJo”] (Joseph & Monica)
3. TBC – Token Black Couple [“No Alternate Nickname”] (Ray & Yolanda)
4. BFG – Buff Frat Guys [“The Frats”] (Eric & Jeremy)
5. FHG – Freaky Hippy Guys [“The Hippies”] (BJ & Tyler)

Note: If you're already ahead of this point in the series, please refrain from giving any spoilers in your comments. Thank you.

As always, I’ll provide my thoughts on each team in this episode, listing them in the order in which they arrived at the pit stop (hence the 'Spoiler Alert!').


1. Buff Frat Guys (BFG) - what a surprise; they regained their lead. There’s nothing much to say about them, really, except that it pains me to have to admit that (as they’ve done in most legs of this race) they played a good game. They may be obnoxious, arrogant and crude, but their charm (if you can call it that) stems from their good-natured (if a little offensive) humour as they enjoy themselves whipping butt. For the most part. True, sometimes they get miffed at coming second and so on, but generally they’re having a ball and don’t mind at all that they’re lording it over the other teams. Their one amusing comment this week was when Jeremy, frustrated with not being able to find the entrance to the tunnels at Fremantle Prison, finally reached them and asked, “Who put this tunnel here?” It was just an amusing question to mock-demand of someone. When they chose to leave no money for the FHG at the start of the leg, and explained it in these words: “It’s like trying to get into a girl’s pants – ya know; lie, cheat, steal … ya know, whatever it takes” they showed what motivated them and where their level of thinking lies. Good on them. I hope they get everything they want out of life. I sure hope they don’t find it extremely shallow and unfulfilling afterwards. (Oh, one more thing: When Jeremy tried to impersonate ‘Crocodile Hunter’ Steve Irwin by saying “Aw, Crikey!”, he highlighted his own ignorance of other accents by imitating Irwin in a pronounced Scottish drawl. Pfft. Idiot.)

2. Dating WASP Couple (DWC) - Joseph forgot to take his happy pills today … and Monica took too many bitchy pills. I don’t know what it is about these two. I seem to fluctuate on them from liking them to loathing them. Their attitude this time was certainly disgraceful (and I hope embarrassing to them when they saw the episode later). They left no money for the FHG (but that’s fair enough in a race like this, as I’ve explained before), and apparently they heard the that FHG were going to ‘Yield’ them, so they were understandably fearful of and bitter about that (although deciding to “act like we’re giving them a dollar” would hardly have helped relations between the two teams – perhaps generosity would have changed the boys’ minds?). It was all about Team MoJo’s own survival, but the claims they later made about the FHG seemed completely unfounded, such as Monica’s statement that The Hippies are sleazeballs. Excuse me? Surely you’re thinking of the BFG, one of whom (in the first episode) watched you running from your car in front of them and said you were a hottie, while the other one agreed by saying he’d “hit that”? I think Monica was talking out of anger and fear that The Hippies were going to get ahead of them and indeed Yield them, so I can partly excuse their behaviour and comments as the panicked overreactions of a pair of scaredy-cats. But they’d also need to admit that some of their reactions were too much and needed to be retracted, before I’d sit down with them for a meal. Anyway, the more enjoyable moments of the ever-disintegrating DWC included Joseph absolutely losing it when they got lost on the bikes (that’s why you should leave him, Monica – one day you may be fearful of your life), and Monica’s extremely unhelpful insistence to stop diving for the crayfish so she can Make Her Point ™ that she’s “allowed to be scared of him”, thankyouverymuch! It only angered him further (and it would me, too) that she was choosing that moment to argue with him on the semantics of whether or not he was satisfactorily acknowledging her ‘right’ to be scared of touching the crayfish. Not helpful, woman! I was actually surprised at how level-headed he remained throughout this exchange, particularly in light of his earlier explosion on the bike, but perhaps he realised that getting angrier would only prevent her from diving again to get the damn crayfish. Or maybe his earlier outburst was weighing on his mind by this stage. Whatever the reason, I’m sure he was glad when she finally decided to ‘table’ her debate and dove to fetch the stupid thing. Of course, she had to get in one more “I absolutely hate this” before doing so. If you haven’t noticed the trend, she “absolutely hates” everything. Except, strangely, the bungee-jump. That surprises me, but it’s almost the only task or challenge that I haven’t noticed her saying she “absolutely hates”. They weren’t Yielded (because there was no Yield on this leg), but I’d have liked them to come further down the pack than second. I guess it was good that they had to suffer the indignity of coming so close to first (and winning the holiday that The Frats won; even though The Frats have won more than their fair share of holidays so far on the race!).

3. Freaky Hippy Guys (FHG) - I was very relieved to see Tyler locate his clue in the tunnels beneath the prison before Yolanda and Fran overtook him. I was desperate for The Hippies not to come in last this week, but would have preferred either of the two teams ahead of them at this point to have come last, rather than either of the two teams behind them. For a team that started the leg with no money or possessions, these two guys managed to do better for themselves than any other team in the same position throughout the history of the race by earning in excess of $300 US, not counting the money some of the other teams donated to them, or the free petrol, food and supplies their generous hitchhiker friend bought for them! In fact, they had almost three times the amount of cash the other teams had been given at the start of the leg! There can be no doubt that they did very well for themselves in their potentially desperate situation. I was so proud! Although Tyler’s Australian accent was also a little off, it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as Jeremy’s, and instead of saying “Put another shrimp on the barbie” like most Americans do, I was suitably impressed to hear him say the correct “Put another prawn on the barbie”!* It was good to see BJ back to his usually ‘spirited’ self this week, after having a pretty rough trot in the last episode. I hope they continue to climb back up the ladder next week.

* If you’re unaware, we don’t have ‘shrimp’ in Australia – we call them prawns. The ‘shrimp’ slogan was created for an American audience, so they’d understand what was being said, but it kinda irritates Aussies because it in no way represents us, although the number of Americans who think it does is astounding. Well done to Tyler, then, for having enough world knowledge to know the distinction – and to ‘translate’ it into the correct terminology when he found out they were heading to Australia.

4. Token Black Couple (TBC) - at least I was wrong about them perhaps still being angry with each other in this leg (left over from the previous episode). It was good to see them being so much more civil with each other again. I’m sure a bit more sleep and a chance to talk away from the cameras was all they needed. I actually thought they were pretty invisible in this episode, and barely registered at all. They left some money for the FHG, which of course they didn’t have to do, and that’s the only thing I wrote about them in my notes while watching the episode! They truly flew under the radar this week. On another matter, these guys are now the only-remaining team without an alternate nickname in the list that appears each week right at the top of the post. ‘The Blacks’ just didn’t seem appropriate. Any suggestions you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

5. Deceptively-Elderly Couple (DEC): ELIMINATED! - oh well, it was bound to happen sometime. I think The Franberries (the correct pronunciation is ‘The Franbrees’) are now equal with the record-setting older team from series 7 (amusingly named Meredith and Gretchen) who, as I’ve mentioned previously, were the most successful ‘older couple’ the show has ever seen. Actually, they might have gone one leg further than The Franberries, now that I think about it. But my point is still valid: They raced an amazing race (pun intended). Considering their age, they managed to keep up with the other, younger and more physically fit teams on the race, even beating six of these teams to the pit stop on seven separate occasions, allowing them to remain well-and-truly in the race. They bungee-jumped, learnt to dance, dug for food, sold fish in a marketplace, ran around on foot, used a map when driving in a car, and generally picked each other up when they were weak. I think the epitomised the true nature of what marriage should be like – especially in the golden years. When the going gets tough, the tough complain a little (because it is their way), but then get going regardless. Because they’re not going to be told by these young whipper-snappers that they’re not up to it. Moments of excellence this week included when they were checking in to The Pleasure Dome (!), and Barry said, “This race has ruined our sex life, I’ll tell you that!”, and also when they generously left the FHG $20 of their own money (I hope BJ and Tyler paid them back!). Fran was the only one smart enough to ask a local about the traffic jam, and being told the King is coming is certainly something you’ve got to respect in a country like Oman. What an experience! I’m very glad that The Franberries managed to come first in the previous leg, thereby finally winning a holiday to Rome that they can enjoy after the race is finished. They did remarkably well, and although I wish they were still in it (at the expense of the BFG or the DWC, preferably), perhaps it’s better that they went out when they did. The ad for this week’s episode showed the teams skydiving from a plane, and I don’t know how they’d cope attempting that. Let’s have a moment’s silence for The Franberries (for Pomgirl’s benefit), if you don’t mind.


Last week's tips:

First Team: FHG (Wrong – when will I learn?)
Last Team: DEC Correct!
Yield? No Correct!
Fast Forward? No Correct!
Elimination Week? Yes Correct!
Biggest Argument: TBC (Wrong – where they even in this episode?)
Smartest Team: FHG Correct! (The $300, the hitchhiker, making up so much lost ground, etc.)


Next week's tips:

First Team: FHG (I ain’t learnin’ nothin’ yet!)
Last Team: DWC (I foresee a bad week for them ahead. Or it could be the TBC.)
Yield? Yes
Fast Forward? No
Elimination Week? No
Biggest Argument: DWC (I gotta say someone!)
Smartest Team: FHG (I think they’ll continue their rise and maybe put themselves into a great position for the remainder of the race)


By my calculations, there are either three or four episodes of this season left to be screened down here. This coming week, where the teams race through the Australian Outback (and possibly also spend some time on the east coast), which will undoubtedly end in the second-and-final non-elimination of the race. Then another leg, which will eliminate the fourth-last team, and then the finale (which may be split over two weeks for suspense-purposes) with the final three teams racing for the million-dollar prize money. I’m expecting the BFG will be in the finale, and I’m really hoping the FHG will be, too. It wouldn’t surprise me if the DWC were the third team of this trifector, although I’d much prefer it to be the TBC (which is why I tried to put a pox on Team Mojo’s chances above).

This means that while this coming week is basically guaranteed to be a non-elimination round (I’d be extremely surprised if it wasn’t), we still have one Yield and one Fast Forward to go as well. I took a stab (above) at the Yield being in this week and the Fast Forward in the next week, although I can see an argument on why that particular situation could be the other way around, as well. While it might be weird or ‘unfair’ for a Team to Fast Forward into a spot in the finale, it would be equally unfair for a team to be Yielded from making it to the final three. So either way, it might seem unfair. I don’t think they’d put both things in the one episode, though, so I’m simply taking a stab at it.

There were two ‘airport equalisers’ in this episode; the airport itself (I just knew the FHG were going to board the plane in time, by the way, because they hadn’t yet shown us the map graphic of the other teams flying over the world as they do whenever a flight has boarded everyone it’s going to) and the Fremantle ferry. The tunnels were almost an airport equaliser as well, but not quite.

Oh yes … and one other thing ... I WAS RIGHT!! (About predicting Perth as the Australian city they'd be visiting. I actually originally guessed it back here. I'm pretty clever.)

You didn’t think I’d let the opportunity to boast about my own brilliance pass me by, did you?



Monday, May 22, 2006

Game Over, Mole

Well, it's official. 'The Frankston Feral' is out of the House.

I don't really get it. Anna was more entertaining than most of the people in the House at the moment. Her role as one of the Revenge Room hags was instrumental to the first few weeks of the show, and her later clashes with Karen, Krystal and Camilla (as well as her apparent lack-of-interest in John and Gaelan) provided much of the material we watched each night on The Daily Show.

With Anna out of the House, we're probably going to find ourselves becoming more and more bored by the antics (or lack thereof) of the remaining Housemates. I bet the BB programmers and editors freaked out when they heard Anna was evicted! Now we're going to be subjected to even more footage of Jamie/Katie cuddling and Dino/women bitchin'.

It's a very silly bunch of thirteen-year-old girls who send through the votes on this show. The could have taken out vain, insipid Krystal or yawn, nothing Ashley (not even BB remembers his name!), but instead they took out one of the few people who actually create some memorable moments and amusing tension (amusing for us, at least). The voters have got to keep in mind that even if the person is irritating to watch, that makes them entertaining, because they're even more irritating to their fellow Housemates - who are all stuck with them, creating heaps of angst and great moments for TV - and thereby we find ourselves with an interesting show to watch.

It was interesting to note that I was right (again) about the prizes escalating as we move through the weeks. In addition to the $2,000 cash and two mobile phones from 3 that Karen, Elise and Tilli won, Anna took home a motor scooter (cool!) and an African holiday. That's quite a step up from the other prizes! I wonder if the runner-up prize is going to be a whole lot better to win than whatever will remain of the major prize? (Probably!)

The other item of note is that out of the three options we were given to select the new Insider (David, Claire and Jade), the silly viewing-and-voting public (see above) selected Jade. I would have preferred David to be the Insider. Partly because he was basically chomping at the bit to have a go at it just the other night, but also because he'd be the last person anyone else would suspect. And it might give him some extra insight into what Michael was going through for those three weeks. If I was one of the original Housemates, and stuff started going wrong, things started going missing, etc, just after Mikey was revealed as the Insider and three new Intruders had entered the House, the Intruders would be the first ones I'd suspect of being behind it! As far as I'd be aware, one or more of the Intruders could have come in to the House with the express purpose of causing trouble! So I don't feel Jade's the best option for Insider # 2. (I don't think we were provided with the best options to choose from, though.) Will Jade be crap as the Insider? Only time will tell. (Possibly not much time at all.)

This series is on a fast-track to becoming just as boring and dull as the previous years have been. Ho-hum.

Intruder Jade:
Will she be a better Insider than Michael?
Will she cause trouble? Do we even care?
And what's with those freaky eyes, anyway?

So that's it. Anna's out. She got more prizes. Jade's the new Insider. She finds out later today. People are dumb. Details at eleven.


Saturday, May 20, 2006

Thank The Lord For Your Presence # 7

Last Wednesday night saw the seventh episode of Thank God You're Here (TGYH).

Frank Woodley, Fifi Box and Josh Lawson returned, while Bob Franklin celebrated his first appearance on the show by taking out the prize for the best performer of the night (it was either going to be him or Josh; both Fifi and Frank have won the award before).

Josh, whose first appearance on the show was only last week, performed his scene first. He was a special guest dog trainer (a self-professed 'Dog Whisperer', which I found highly amusing given my own long-time claim of being the 'Cat Whisperer'), and he was quick off the mark with a couple of great calls: 'Let me just start by saying, "Ruff-ruff!"' and his limp-wristed handshake, meant to signify a paw.

When he knelt in front of the dog that licked his face, and then was asked later how to stop her licking her private parts, his answer (directed at the dog) was brilliant ("Oh, ... you licked me with that tongue!"). I enjoyed his performance very much, and hope to see a lot more of him in the future.

Fifi was up next and I thought she did much better than her previous two attempts on the show. Although she did next-to-nothing of note in the group scene as Amish people who've fallen by the way-side (her one great line in that scene being when she suggested that her punishment be that she doesn't "come to these meetings anymore"), I felt that her solo scene as the Minister for Planning at a local Council's unveiling of a new needle exchange centre was only slightly less brilliant than her first appearance as a self-help guru selling specialised gym equipment on a telemarketing ad. Some of her answers to the questions posed to her this week by angry local residents fell flat, but others seemed inspired and very funny. She did well, but I think four appearances is more than enough for Fifi (or anyone else, really). I'm just glad that her Amish costume has been-and-gone, seeing as she referred to it on the radio the other week (I mentioned it at the time), which means I know of no expected fifth appearance by her. There are other female comedians out there who'd do a great job on this show - Fifi, Robyn and Julia aren't the only ones! What about Jean Kittson, Gina Riley, Jane Turner, Magda Szubanski, Corinne Grant or Marg Downey? There are loads more they could get in, and most of those I just mentioned have ties with the creators of this show (or at the very least with the network), so it wouldn't even be a stretch!

(Judith Lucy doesn't count, though. I think I'd even prefer to see Elle McFeast, Effie and Dame Edna Everage on the show than Judith Lucy. Actually, that might be a cool idea - let's really test the mettle of these creative types by making Libby Gorr, Mary Coustas and Barry Humphries - the alter egos of the above three characters, respectively - enter a scene and find out who they are and what they're meant to be doing as they go along ... but make them have to react as their character! That'd be much harder.)

Okay, moving on. Next off the bat was Jimeoin's good buddy, Bob Franklin. Despite him seeming to take quite a while to come up with a response to most challenges put to him, and some of these seeming weak when he finally delivered them, Wifey and I enjoyed his performance the most. He was the leader of a revolutionary army, meeting with his men to discuss the following morning's attack. His three-point mantra was one of the highlights of the night ("All men are? ... expecting too much; The price of freedom is? ... something we can all afford, if we put our minds to it - yes? It's better to die? ... than to just get by, really, isn't it."), and when confirming that they wouldn't be attacking the palace "because that's what they'll be expecting", and being asked what they will attack, his dismissive, "Oh, we'll find something, don't you worry about that!" had us laughing long and hard. His typical slow, drawn-out style of humour made it simply magical to watch him answering the questions and fielding the comments being put to him in that scene.

Frank Woodley came on last, and found himself being interviewed on television to advertise (and answer his critics about) his self-run retirement village. He threw in lots of gags about it being a disastrous place as much as he tried (half-heartedly) to defend its reputation from his apparent detractors. He was naturally very amusing, and had some very clever answers, including his new 'stack them in shelves' approach to bedding. We especially loved his answer when asked if he had any professional carers on staff, pointing to a new finger on his other hand as he said each word: "Well, look ... professional, responsible, high-class, educated nurses ... are really expensive, so I just do it all myself."

The group scene was the aforementioned Amish scene, where our four trusty victims contestants entered to find themselves being called in front of the community's elders to explain their recently-discovered sins. Each had to come up with their own punishment, and in addition to Fifi's answer of not coming to any more of these meetings, Bob also said that he hates sitting down quietly and being left alone, so that became his punishment. They all had a lot of fun and were very enjoyable to watch.

Is anyone out there watching this show and not enjoying it? Feel free to say so; it'd be interesting to hear your reasons. I won't attack you, I promise!

I watched the episode on tape again, and it really is the best way to watch it. Even though it meant I hadn't watched it until a couple of days later, the plus-side was that I again got to fast forward through the idiotic Dad's-humour lame-arse gags of Tom Gleisner's judging. Such a pointless aspect to the show.

Just before I go, let me leave you with four good reasons why I don't want Judith Lucy to appear on this show at any stage:

I rest my case.

Seriously, watching Judith again with Wifey's insight as to her lookalike-ness to Sir Les Patterson, I was enlightened enough during this interview between Rove McManus and Judith Lucy last week to notice how much she is a dead ringer for Dame Edna Everage, only nowhere near as funny. Yes, Judith Lucy is a man in drag! I've finally worked out what it is about the woman that so disturbs me. Her mannerisms, her way of talking, her facial expressions, her jaw and mouth work ... they're all from Barry Humphries' alter egos.

The teeth are from a dead wino, though.*

* Ouch! Now even I think that was too harsh.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Fingers Crossed

I applied for a job today. I'm not confident that I'll get it, but I'd love to.

It was my first real job application in all the time I've been off work. That's almost three months to the day, in human years.

I've been a little off-form recently, and I know it.

I guess I'm asking for hopes and prayers and crossed fingers and best wishes and a pox on the houses of my fellow applicants from you all.

That's not too much to ask, is it?

I'll get to my TGYH and TAR 9 reviews tomorrow and over the weekend. Today it's all about putting myself out there again. Big step for me, baby steps for ordinary people.

I need to go have a lie-down now.

(I have issues.)


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Rant & Rave (& Theorise)

(I'm very sorry to all you international or otherwise non-Big Brother fans out there who clearly aren't interested in my posts on this subject, but I promise I'll get back to other matters tomorrow.)


I'm so angry with the show's producers at the moment.

As stated in Monday's post, I feel quite strongly that if the Housemates are all meant to be there with an equal chance at winning, putting one Housemate's chances ahead of or behind the others' is - simply put - unfair. It's against the spirit of the game, and in a show where Big Brother fines and punishes Housemates for being 'unsportsmanlike', this is extremely hypocritical behaviour to say the least.

Michael entered the House and had two days as himself; ever since he's had the unenviable task of being Big Brother's 'lackey' (the term 'Insider' hasn't really been an apt one, IMHO, as it's not like he's been in BB's good graces or anything - unless he passed BB's missions, which were not easy and therefore meant he was nothing like an 'insider' at all). The 'decision' he was faced with was a ludicrous one. To agree to being the Insider or be evicted immediately. Yes, strictly speaking he was given a 'choice', but after five months of prepping for the show and hoping to do well, being evicted after three days because of the 'offer' being put to him is not really a choice at all. Some of the other Housemates, now having learnt of Michael's secret role for the past three weeks, are angry with Michael and saying that he did have a choice, but that's not a fair thing to put on him either. Of course he didn't.

So being emotionally-blackmailed into accepting the role of The Insider was bad enough (sure, I know BB's options were limited to basically threatening Michael with eviction if he didn't accept the role ... because he couldn't say no and then return to the House knowing what BB had asked of him ... and having BB enlist someone else while Michael had that knowledge - I get that). But to make matters worse, BB had Michael complete tasks that weren't 'insider' tasks at all. BB doesn't need an insider anyway; he has mics and cameras everywhere. He doesn't need a spy, he needed a mole, and that's what Michael was. (I think 'Insider' is a misnomer.) So Michael had to spoil everything for the other Housemates so tension could arise and people would get upset.

Then, as discussed previously, for his efforts (which I know weren't too subtle or brilliant, but that's not his fault either), the Housemates started to question how annoying he was being, and Gretel, Ryan and Bree began to 'pay him out' on their respective shows. To be fair, Gretel has since changed her tune (probably under instruction - it will be interesting to see if Bree and Ryan are similarly sympathetic and give the company line on Friday night), but even Rove has been more scathing of Michael than any other Housemate on Rove Live. How is that helpful?

So now, through no real fault of his own, Michael has entered the House hoping to be universally loved and maybe win the money, but due to factors outside his control he has become a national joke, with resentment and frustration leveled at him from Housemates and even the show's hosts. The public then absorbed all this information (consciously or subconsciously) and when he finds himself up for eviction next Monday (as he invariably will each week, now, I'm sure), they will be suitably irritated by his earlier behaviour, and/or bored with his apparent 'uselessness' now that he is no longer the Insider, to vote him out.

The whole notion and method of revealing him as the Insider last night was atrociously handled from the very start. What a frickin' stupid way to do it. Don't come on screen afterwards, Gretel, and pretend it went down much worse than you'd ever expected. Of course it was going to be an absolute mess! There was no doubt in my mind (or in anyone's mind who has mentioned it to me) that it was going to be anything other than a massive eruption of anger at (and trouble for) Michael.

Wifey and I were as angry as hell when we were watching the show last night. Not enough air-time was given to the fall-out that followed the Insider revelation (which almost makes me believe that they hadn't actually anticipated how badly it would go down - but what are they, dumb?), and throwing the Intruders in was completely uninteresting. We wanted to see if Michael had a chance to clear his name and put his case across to the angry, upset and shell-shocked Housemates about his situation, before it was overshadowed by the Intruders arriving. It also meant that the really upset Housemates had a good excuse to avoid Michael, which would allow their resentment towards him cement itself in their minds, where it would be almost impossible for him to counteract it later, whenever he finally got a chance to talk to those individuals. And whether you're a grudge-holder or not, once someone has perceivingly 'wronged' you (and let's not forget that they're all thinking they've been publicly humiliated all across the nation with this one), then it's very difficult to entirely reverse or erase those basic feelings of betrayal.

So instead of revealing Michael's Insider role in a way that would exonerate him to (or even amuse) the other Housemates, the producers decided it would be a great idea to further alienate him from the rest of the House by being even more unfair to him and his chances of winning the game than they already had.

I was actually seething with anger as I watched it.

Was it good television? I don't think so. As I said, I had no interest in the Intruders (I may have if they'd gone into the House on a different night), and I was too angry with the people who arranged the way it unfolded to enjoy it. Sure, it was controversial, but that didn't make it enjoyable to watch. And the controversy was with the cruelty and stupidity of the people behind the scenes; not with the Housemates themselves (the ones we're there to watch).

And to add insult to injury (injury that was directly attributable to BB's actions), when we had the live cross to the Big Brother House during Rove Live, he kept making anti-Michael comments (and worse). Gretel even had to try to lessen the damage ("Oh, come on, now"), but with people laughing like it's the way everyone else thinks, he and the other hosts who've done it are only making the easily-swayed public (who succumb to peer pressure and vote the way other people vote ... and let's face it, that's how most teenagers think, and they're the voters) feel that that's the way they should cast their vote. And we have another unfair 'ganging-up' on Michael.

I think the instigation of a new Insider in tonight's show will be a step in the right direction (in that it might help to take some of the heat off Michael), but it's certainly not going to be enough to undo the trouble it's caused him. I hope he's exempt from nomination somehow (at least for this coming week, while it's all still very raw for his fellow Housemates), but I doubt that'll happen. Hopefully he has the chance to bring everyone over to his side before Monday's nominations.

But that just leaves us with one question: What's going on here?? (Check out the listing marked "23:10". Very interesting ... It would appear that all of Michael's secrets may not yet be known, after all ...


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

When Celebrities Attack (Over The Phone)

I've just spent the most immature hour laughing myself to tears on this site.

If you're unfamiliar with what's going on there, people with far too much time on their hands (hmm, sounds like a certain unemployed blogger I know) have grabbed a whole heap of soundbytes from movies or celebrities (Howard Stern's radio show, Dr Phil's TV show, etc), and then uploaded them to their computer, ready to play at the press of a button.

Then they call someone up (although sometimes they're 'shock jocks' on a radio station themselves, and have unsuspecting callers waiting on the line unaware that they're about to be fooled), and then they trick the person who answers the phone into thinking they're talking to these celebrities, etc - simply by clicking the mouse of their computer on one phrase at a time to create a (mostly disjointed) conversation with the hapless victim over the phone.

It is clearly a skill if the prankster can be quick (so the various soundbytes seem to flow naturally without a pause each time as the caller tries to find the best response to the victim's last question or comment), but there are some really talented pranksters out there and some of the downloads on the site are flat-out hilarious.

I must warn you, some of the calls featured are a little 'blue', so if you're offended by that kind of material, steer clear of the Howard Stern ones in particular.

Yeah, I'm pretty immature at times, and this sort of phone call prank makes me laugh so hard I think I'm going to collapse from a lack of breath. Some of them, anyway.

If this kind of humour amuses you, give them a go. Maybe don't play them at work (you never know when something unsuitable might be said), but it's fantastic to hear how some people are duped into answering back to the recorded messages.

I haven't listened to them all, but every one I heard had at least some form of swearing in it (even the one of Homer Simpson, courtesy of the AA call centre woman he's rung up to taunt about his drunkeness - but it was fairly mild), so I'm by no means 'vouching' for any or all of the clips. (Update: The Jack Nicholson ones are surprisingly free of any swearing.)

Putting the swearing and 'blue' topics aside, though, the humour had me in stitches.

Not just anyone can bring themselves to ring someone up and 'prank call' them. It takes a certain kind of person to do that. Sure, a menace - but a gutsy menace at that. So when you add in the very restrictive parameters of the prankster only being able to use certain pre-determined soundbytes to do all the talking for them, that makes them a talented gutsy menace.

And I say it's better to let them sit at home doing this kind of thing than go out into the world (where they might meet chicks and eventually procreate).


Monday, May 15, 2006

What A Stupid Mother

I'm sorry, but the Big Brother Eviction show last night did nothing but further highlight the density that is Karen Forscutt.

She completely didn't understand a word host Gretel was saying as Ms Killeen ran through the EVICT and SAVE options on the voting (how vague did she look?!). She didn't comprehend the point Gretel was trying to make about (the majority of) Michael's odd behaviour being due to his role as The Insider (after Gretel told her the news about this, Karen still said "he was all up-and-down" and she didn't like him; no concept of the fact that this was due to what Gretel had just told her*). And the vacant stare continued as she answered every other question Gretel put to her. (The throwaway comment from Gretel that many of the Housemates look in the mirror all the time seemed to be lost on Karen, who was one of the worst offenders of this behaviour.)

She was in it for the money and prizes. Well, I hope she's happy with the measly $2,000 and two mobile phones. And the pair of fluffy slippers. Cos that's all she's gettin'.

BTW, I think it's great that even Gretel feels the prizes this year are too stingy. She's adding to them herself, possibly out of sympathy or guilt. Anything she can find lying around in her dressing room gets brought on stage and given to the evicted Housemate. Last week it was a couple of pieces of fruit, this week it was her slippers. Maybe next week it'll be a hair extension or some make-up (because, let's face it, at this rate it's going to be another female who gets evicted).

So tomorrow night three Intruders are going in to the House. Two on the Big Brother show, and the third on Rove Live (what a shameless cross-promotion!). We didn't learn much about them on last night's show, but by getting out there and investigating the matter fully**, I can reveal to you all that the Intruders' names are Rob (the gay hairdresser from Sydney - a perfect match for David I don't think!), Danielle and Jade. They seemed pretty tame in their little video introductions (all hot air and nothing too interesting about them), but hopefully they prove me wrong.

The Three Intruders.
From left: Danielle, Rob and Jade.

Also on tomorrow night's show, Michael will be unmasked to the House as The Insider. I guess this is because the Intruders already know about his role as saboteur and it wouldn't have stayed a secret, but I must say: I'm not impressed, BB. First off, the guy was put-upon by having this role thrust on him; he didn't ask for it and it clearly changed the way he looked at and played the game. Then he has to do all these crazy things that only cause friction inside the House. This would all be alright if the hosts of the BB shows were more supportive of him! On many occasions in these past three weeks, Gretel Killeen, Bree Amer and Ryan 'Fitzy' Fitzgerald have bagged him out publicly. Yes, I agree that Michael's attempts at skull-duggery and detective work leave a lot to be desired. But he never claimed he was a subtle crafty kind of guy, so attacking him for the crime of being less-than-brilliant at these tasks isn't fair at all. But when these three hosts (Mike Goldman has been his only supporter) turn on him, the sheeplike public do as well, and before you know it, someone who entered the House to play it a certain way had the odds stacked up against him from the start, which effectively sentenced him to a public beating and early eviction. Now revealing him to the other Housemates (especially after his little 'Reuben' stunt, which I actually thought was the smartest way he could have played it, although he went a little too far with some aspects of his story ... some of his Housemates are going to be very unimpressed when they find out the truth) is going to seal his doom once and for all, whether he gets a week's immunity from eviction or not.

The show will also be a lot less fun from now on without his Insider antics to keep us entertained. Will they come up with something else to hold our interest? I hope so, for their sake. Because so far, I think they've botched up quite a lot of stuff this year.

And this from someone who considers themself a fan!

Tune in tonight to see if Michael gets eight other Housemates to nominate him or not. I hope he does; if he doesn't and gets nominated, the public will probably vote him out once his secret is revealed on Tuesday (because he won't seem as interesting anymore, only irritating), and I'd like to see him stick around for a while longer so he can start to be himself.

If it turns out he's exactly the same, or even more of a tool, then by all means: get rid of him. But let's give him the same chance everyone else in there has already had to win us over, yeah?

PS - Happy Mother's Day to Karen. And to my Mum, whose 'European Vacation' is ending in a couple of days. Safe travels to you and Dad, and we look forward to hearing all about your trip when you get home. xx

* Although, to be fair, the show's producers stuffed this up in a major way by not showing the clip as part of the show like they did last week for Tilli and Elise. Instead, they put it up as they came back from an ad, and Karen missed most of it and wasn't filled in properly by Gretel afterwards. Plus, we didn't get to see her face as she learned that Michael had been upset about the revelation of Karen & Krystal's pre-existing relationship because he'd been under instruction to uncover the ruse or be up for nomination himself. None of these contributing factors were made clear to her, and of all people, her reaction was one I would have loved to have seen. I felt very robbed.

** Okay, so I read it on Wiki.*** I also learnt that both Ashley and John's real first names are Michael! No wonder BB gets the two of them confused! Neither of them are using their real names!

*** Hmm, I also just noticed that their details are up on the official BB website. So much for keeping the mystery alive until their official entry into the House, guys!