Tag Archives: Survivor

Steel Wool and The Phil Sheppard Show

19 Feb

Last week the premier episode of Survivor: Redemption Island aired, and boy was it good.

Within the first fifteen minutes I knew it was going to be a great season. And not because Boston Rob and Russell Hantz (that sneaky little troll) were back, or because of this season’s Redemption Island twist: if you’re voted off you live alone on an isolated island until the next person is voted off, then you battle for a spot back in the game. I’m hoping for something reminiscent of Captain Kirk and the Gorn. YouTube – Kirk vs Gorn.

No, this season is a guaranteed winner because of the contestants.

For example, after splitting into tribes, Mike (the cute marine: YouTube – Survivor S22 – Meet Mike Chiesl) was helping Ralph (the huge farmer and token southern oaf: YouTube – Survivor S22 – Meet Ralph Kiser) build a shelter. It was hot and Ralph had taken his shirt off, leaving him bare-chested in his overalls. But “bare-chested” isn’t exactly right, because under that serviceable denim shirt was another shirt, made completely of hair.

“Your superhero name is Steel Wool,” Mike said, nodding with the special admiration that only another guy could have for such a robust display of man-fur. “You have the most impressive man-sweater I’ve ever seen.”

And Mike was right. Best one ever. Plus, you could just see this Iraq war veteran spending time in the dusty barracks, handing out the perfect nick name. I want one.

But that was just the beginning. From there Survivor morphed into what I like to think of as “The Phil Sheppard Show.” There’s always the moron who meets his tribe members and decides to be assertive; to impress them with his leadership skills and to take charge. He bosses people around, corrects people he just met and generally assumes control. Or so he thinks. This season it was Phil Sheppard, the self-proclaimed “former federal agent.” YouTube – Survivor S22 – Meet Phillip Sheppard.

After dropping the privileged information of his former special agent status on his tribe (for a grand total of four times during the first show), he also let them know that he was an expert in analyzing people’s behavior. Hmmm…

And that would’ve been plenty. Really. I would’ve been very satisfied with just that.  But “Phil Sheppard and Company,” as he began to refer to himself in the third person plural, was just getting started.

Sheppard spent the whole show wandering around the camp, shouting at fellow tribe members like he was a grouchy old school mistress. “Excuse me! Excuse me!” he said, over and over. “Answer my question! Answer me! I don’t need two people talking at once.” Then, when they didn’t obey, “We’re done with this conversation for now.”

And just for extra sprinkles, he did it all in the worst pair of faded fuschia underwear I’ve ever seen. I mean these things were priceless; sagging and out of shape (like him), and gapping in all the wrong places. Dangerous places. I know everyone on Survivor runs around in their underwear, and not everyone is in great shape. I get it. But why not boxers? Why faded, gaping fuschia briefs? I want to believe it’s some kind of awesome calculated irony, that his whole character has been written and not found among the masses. But I just don’t.

The premier episode ended, as always, with Tribal Council. And Phil Sheppard and Company didn’t disappoint. He interrupted Francesca to run his mouth about secret plans, called out the girl who’d been stupid enough to show him the secret immunity idol she’d found (Kristina), all while managing to mispronounce Francesca’s name three different ways. My favorite was Fransquesqua, like she was some kind of Indian princess. But no worries, he’s being treated for dry mouth. That’s why he was having trouble with her name. Just ask him, he’ll tell you.

It was a great hour of entertainment, with the best quote of the night going to Ralph, aka Steel Wool. “We ain’t never had a dumb ass win the million. Maybe it’s my turn.” Maybe so, Mr. Wool, maybe so.

Seriously, this is reality tv at it’s best. The producers of Survivor may have thought the two veterans and Redemption Island would shake things up enough to keep viewers coming back, but I’ll be tuning in for Phil Sheppard and Company. No doubt about it.

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Say What?

28 Apr

No one likes getting older. I’ve yet to meet a woman who can’t wait to turn 40, or someone whose skin tingles with a warm, fuzzy feeling when it’s finally time to make that colonoscopy appointment.  (“This afternoon, on a very special Leave it to Beaver…”)

But it happens to all of us. Whether you’re easing into your 30’s, slowly realizing that your body can’t handle hot wings, curly fries and a six pack of Milwaukee’s Best three times a week, or you’re passing into your 40’s and find yourself waking up slack-jawed with drool oozing down the side of your face at 9:30 pm most nights, blinking at your kid as you fumble for the remote, it happens.

And sometimes, even if you do come to grips with all of those adjustments that your aging body is throwing your way year after year, your fun new failings can have strange effects on others.

For example, my gradual hearing loss is a constant source of frustration for my daughter. It’s hard for her when she’s talking to me. Poor thing. Sometimes she has to stop shouting from upstairs, come all the way into the same room as me and actually turn off the music that hangs around her, thumping and blaring like a raging storm cloud of rock and pop.

And even then, if she’s not looking at me, there are times when I honestly still can’t hear what she’s saying.

All of this has led her to believe that I am faking.

At first I was offended. Who would lie about something like that? Then I was hurt. Have I failed as a mother? What kind of person does she think I am? What other stuff does she think I am lying about?  And then I was angry. How dare she?  Are you kidding me? Grounded for life!  But mostly, I was just confusedWhy would I do that? It didn’t make any sense.

This battle has raged on, sporadically, for almost a year. Sometimes it ends in laughter, sometimes, well…not so much. It usually depends on the tone of her accusation.

But something occurred to me today; a lightbulb blinked on, answering that nagging question of why.

She thinks I’m faking it to make her life miserable.

Of course.  It makes perfect sense.  Because last year, just after her 13th birthday, a little man inside her head reached up and flipped the switch that controls her ability to reason.  And then this evil little troll (to me he looks like Russell on Survivor) took an eraser and, looking back over his humped shoulders, laughed just before he wiped all of her common sense from the chalkboard in her brain.  And now, there is nothing in there but iPhone apps and the Smashing Pumpkins.

If you could look in her head, I swear you’d see me spending my days huddled in a dark corner at home, laughing as I concocted new ways to make her life miserable.

Sometimes I forget.

So from now on, when she accuses me of faking, I will take it as a compliment.  After all, anyone who would literally fake hearing loss to annoy and agitate their teenage daughter is taking it to a completely new level. Who knew I had so much game? It’s actually genius.

And I’m really sorry, but you’ll have to excuse me now. I have to get back to work; there’s a dark corner with my name on it.