Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Rob Collapses, James Rampages, Steph Goes Home

You know how they always say Survivor is a lot harder than it looks?

This past week - well, it looked hard. Really rough. So rough that I don't think I'd wish that upon anyone.

For one thing, it's been raining a lot, and they're complaining about it. A lot.

Then we had poor Boston Rob, trying so hard to be nice to his tribemates, trying so hard to bite his tongue and not rip their heads off. He's stuck with a bunch of bozos who don't seem to care that they're getting soaked every night, so he's basically been trying to rebuild their shelter, every day, by himself. You could see his morale withering. This is a tough guy who's done this twice before, who knows what struggles, both physical and mental, are involved with Survivor. Never once had we seen Rob crack under the pressure.

Until now. Mumbling something about needing more water, Rob stumbled off into the bushes and collapsed. While the cameraman filmed on, Jerri came across him and tried to revive him. He croaked out feebly, "Get help." Jerri ran to get the medical team while the cameraman filmed on. (Seriously - what would it take for one of them to put down the camera?!)

It was one of the scarier moments I've witnessed on Survivor. Boston Rob's eyes kind of had this glazed look. He struggled to sit up, and was having trouble responding to Probst and the medical staff. They offered him a bottle of water, and he couldn't even get it to his mouth, water spilling everywhere. Probst looked seriously concerned, but the doctors assured him it looked worse than it was; that Rob likely had a flu and just needed rest and water.

In the aftermath, Rob - big, strong, tough Rob - broke down and shed a few tears, commenting on how the game was getting the best of him. But in true Boston Rob fashion, he got to his feet, cracked his famous mischievious grin, and claimed he wasn't quitting.

May I just say...PHEW!!! If he'd been med-evac'd out, this season would have lost one of its biggest characters. I mean, a day after he collapsed, he was leading the Villains to another win over the dysfunctional Heroes, even holding up one of those massive blocks for their puzzle staircase on his back, pretty much all on his own. You might love Rob, you might hate Rob - but in that moment, you had to admire Rob.

So the Villains carry on their victorious ways while the Heroes continue to flounder. It got really bad this week in their camp, as alliance lines were becoming clear and people were scrambling to get the last few stragglers - Cirie and Candice - on their side.

At the challenge - a combined luxury and immunity competition - they agreed to allow JT to lead them and listen to him, as he had competed in this event in his season of Survivor. However, their egos got the best of them, and a few people tried to speak up during the competition. Once again, their big lead in the physical portion dwindled as the mental side of putting the puzzle together got them all bogged down and confused. James began accusing Stephenie of not listening, and several times angrily told her to shut up and listen.

Steph knew this was bad news, as she already had Rupert against her. Following their failure at the challenge, James blew up at camp, ordering them that they had to listen at challenges and forget about talking. "One voice, y'all! One voice!" But his "y'all" was clearly directed at Steph, and she, along with her alliance of Colby and Tom, felt severely threatened.

Tribal council was an all-out brawl, with James and Steph going toe-to-toe, and eventually both Colby and Tom jumped in to defend their alliance member. At the end of the day, though, their efforts to sway Cirie and Candice to their side were fruitless, and Steph was voted out, leaving the two 'good guys' of the tribe in a rather precarious position.

Tensions are high. Attitudes are outta control. Alliance lines have been drawn. And as far as I can tell, war has been declared.

If you'd told me that was what would happen to the Heroes after a week in Samoa, I would've laughed.

Should make for yet another interesting episode this week!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Blog Hits the Big-Time

Survivor re-cap is coming folks, but in the meantime...check out something pretty cool in my world...

My blog was quoted on Dustin Bentall's website! Wicked awesome! Check it out at

I still have my Dustin Bentall Outfit CDs in steady rotation in the Rav; in fact, I've listened more to them and Kendel Carson's album than my Blue Rodeo stuff since the concert. What a great night that was...

Special thanks to Meagan and Sarah for giving me the heads-up that my blog had made it to Dustin's webpage. I love it!! :)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Way-Late Survivor Recap

I had big plans for my Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains Episode 1 recap. I was going to take notes and everything. It was going to be the best blog ever.

But then, I ended up watching it in bed at 10 PM last Thursday night, after the Sens game was over, so I decided to forgo the note-taking and just lock all the details I wanted to talk about in my steel-trap of a mind, then blog about it on Friday.

Friday came and went, and I completely forgot. I remembered on Monday, but by then Blue Rodeo happened, and I've kind of been caught up in them and Dustin Bentall and Kendel Carson ever since.

So Episode 2 goes tonight, and you're just getting my recap today. And it's like swiss cheese - full of holes, 'cause I forget half of what I wanted to talk about!

One thing I do remember clearly: Colby's hotness. The boy's still got it. He's ideal. He's perfect. He's everything I've ever dreamed about it a man. He's amazing.

That being said, in the first luxury challenge, which they sprang on the Heroes and Villains moments after being marooned on the beach by army choppers, Colby was owned. By Coach, no less. It was a tough pill to swallow. The challenge saw two members of each tribe going against each other in one of the most physically demanding games Survivor contestants have ever played. They had to scour a section of sand to find a buried bag, then race back to their mat with it. There were no rules. The other team could do anything to stop you once you had that bag in your possession.

There were some intense battles. Steph dislocated her shoulder and had to have it popped back in by medical staff. Rupert broke his toe. Villain Sandra (who I detest) even un-hooked Sugar's bathing suit top during their melee in an attempt to stop her. She should've known that Sugar wouldn't be stopped by such a petty trick - she grabbed the bag, raced to the mat, everything hanging out, then turned and flipped Sandra the bird - with both hands. I'm not a Sugar fan, but I loved that moment.

But my poor Colby. He managed to get his hands on the bag, but no help from his teammate Tom was available, as Russell had Tom literally turned into a pretzel. That left Colby and Coach to duke it out over the bag. Colby never let it go, but somehow, Coach managed to drag him all the way to his mat. I have to admit, even if Colby won't - it was a little embarassing.

Now, I missed Tyson's season so I was unfamiliar with him going into the game, but after hearing his comments about Colby and Coach's battle, I now know why he's a Villain. And I developed an instant hate for the man. He said he could imagine how Colby felt after Coach rode him to the wrong mat - that he had lost all his masculinity, and that he should just become a woman. God, I hate Tyson. Making his comments even more ridiculous was the fact that the guy strutted around in a skin-tight leopard-print bathing suit. EW. And he's calling Colby a woman???

Overall, I found the entire episode very entertaining. It's such an awesome mixture of past contestants - so many big personalities, so many strategies - and it's only just begun!

And the first showmance brewing? Would you believe - Jerri and Coach? My, how the girl has changed directions from her first season in the Outback, when she hunted Colby, clearly desperate for him. Now, 10 years later, she's got sparks flying with Coach - who, in my opinion, is the complete opposite of Colby, in both looks and attitude. Strangely enough, I think Jerri and Coach might be just perfect for each other. And maybe he'll distract her away from her vendetta against Colby, which apparently she's still got on her mind.

Someone else wanted to get some lovin' in Samoa, and that was Sugar, who set her sights on the ever-goregeous Colbster. Could I blame the girl? Absolutely not. However, after a night of chasing Colby around their shelter, Sugar didn't take the hint. Colby was avoiding her at all costs. She'd snuggle up against him, and he'd move. She'd find him, and cuddle up again. He'd move. Colby eventually ended up leaving the shelter to sit by the fire, and guess who joined him? Seriously, though, no matter how pathetic and desperate it looked, I had to smile - Lord knows if I was out there, I'd be doing the same damn thing. ;)

The Heroes came strong out of the gate and won that first challenge, receiving flint to start a fire. They hit their beach confident and ready to work - they all pitched in, getting their shelter built, a fire started, and they even caught a bunch of chickens. As expected, the Heroes were off to a great start.

But as it turns out, it wasn't so terrible to be a Villain. Sure, they spent more time scheming and plotting instead of working on shelter, but they managed to get fire going thanks to Boston Rob's persistence, and after losing the luxury challenge, they went into the immunity challenge with something to prove.

The Heroes jumped out to a big early lead, paddling their boat together as if they'd been doing it their whole lives. They got out to their flame and brought it back to the beach long before the Villains. However, then they had to complete a puzzle, in which they got completely bogged down. The Villains caught up, and thanks, once again, to Boston Rob's calm under pressure, he and Sandra were able to get the puzzle done and the Villains blew by the Heroes to win immunity.

Are the Villains right? Are there too many big egos on the Heroes' side for them to do any damage as a team? They could be right, but I think there are some pretty big egos on the bad guys' side as well. Boston Rob? Russell? Coach? Sandra? Jerri? Tyson? These people are pure evil and I think it's only a matter of time before they self-destruct.

It will also be intersting to see how much of a role past relationships will play in the game. They're already starting to touch on it a bit - Stephenie and Tom have played together before, Cirie and Amanda have played together before, James and Parvati have played together before, Jerri and Colby have played together before... these past relationships are bound to have an affect on the game.

At the end of the day, it was Sugar who was the first to go. She annoyed Colby, she cried when they lost the challenge, and several members of her tribe felt she wasn't mentally prepared for this go-round, so they said good-bye...and as Colby said, with all the different personalities out there, she won't be missed.

Looking forward to tonight - in previews, they show Boston Rob collapsing and the medical team being brought it. I don't think this has any bearing on Rob staying in the game at this point. I think he'll be fine, and that someone else will be going home tonight. If I had my wish, someone like Tyson would go. Or Russell. Or...oh, hell, there's too many bad guys out there. I want them all to go! Please, let it be a Villain tonight!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Magical Canadian Night

I hate Valentine's Day...loathe it, detest it, want to abolish it.

For that reason, I always try to plan something for that day to take my mind off the fact that all the happy couples of the world are all making googly eyes at each other and being all lovey-dovey.

This year, when news broke that Blue Rodeo was playing Scotiabank Place on V-day, I quickly rallied the troops and snapped up floor seats in the pre-sale. I've been a fan of BR for a long time, but had never seen them live, and I thought, what better time to check them out?

Turns out, it was a very, VERY good plan! I didn't even care that the place was filled with hand-holding couples (and many of them middle-aged). I completely blocked them out; totally ignored them.

One of the best parts of the whole night happened before Blue Rodeo even took the stage. Their opening band, The Dustin Bentall Outfit, a folky-rock-country group from Vancouver, were amazing. I was so completely impressed - it is one of my greatest joys to discover new music, and it's even better when it's Canadian. Dustin is the son of legendary Canadian singer/songwriter Barney Bentall (didn't know that til I Googled him this morning!), and as far as I can tell, it won't be long before he's taking the Canadian music scene by storm himself. Their set was such a pleasant surprise, with my personal favourites being "Emmy-Lou" and "Such a Shame". We made sure to stop by Gate 1 to pick up their CDs (Street With No Lights and Six Shooter), as well as the CD of their guest fiddle player and vocalist, Kendle Carson (Alright Dynamite), who's song "Baby Lie Down" was beautiful.

(PS - Yeah. Dustin's hot.)

Already, the night was going well, so there was no way Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor could let me down. Thankfully, I had studied up on their new 2-disc album, All the Things We Left Behind, so I was prepared for the new material, of which much of their set was made up. Highlights for me were "Never Look Back", "One More Night", "One Light Left in Heaven", "All the Things We Left Behind", "Candice", and the hauntingly beautiful "Gossip". Surrounded by people who looked like they were old enough to be our parents, you would expect that it would be a fairly tame, polite crowd - which, for the most part, it was - however, it was after "Gossip" that this tall man with greying hair in the row in front of us shouted, "Play something more lively!" Had he not just heard the beauty of the music; the sad and bittersweet lyrics? I literally wanted to slap him (but I refrained from doing so...)

I heard several people on the way out grumbling that they didn't play enough older songs, but as far as I was concerned, they played almost all of the fan favourites, including "Cynthia", "Heart Like Mine", "Head Over Heels", "Rain On Me", "Rose-Coloured Glasses" and "Trust Yourself". Of course, it wouldn't be a Blue Rodeo show without "5 Days in May", and it was absolutely epic .

It wasn't until they played "Hasn't Hit Me Yet" (right near the end of their set) that the crowd finally came to their feet, singing loudly when Greg Keelor turned the mic out to the fans and let us sing the first verse and chorus entirely on our own. They closed things out with another fan favourite (but certainly not my favourite), "Diamond Mine".

The encore was unbelievable. "Til I'm Myself Again" kicked it off, keeping the crowd on its feet and dancing in our seats. I was positively thrilled when Cuddy swung into "Try" next - the very first BR song I fell in love with, and still my favourite to this day.

And what better way to end the show than with "Lost Together"? BR invited Dustin Bentall and his Outfit back on-stage to join them, and it was amazing. So many voices, so many guitars... Keelor began the song, as usual, but then gave way to Dustin for the second verse, and band member and vocalist Wayne Petti performed the third. It was then that I realized I wished the song could go on forever.

What an awesome live band; what an awesome show. I've always been a Cuddy fan - (that seems to be a game BR fans play - which camp are you in? Cuddy or Keelor?) - but I came away from the show with a deeper appreciation for Greg Keelor as well, especially when the two unique voices harmonize. It's enough to send shivers up and down your spine, it's so perfect.
There was only one thing that could make this magical Canadian night even more wonderful - and that was news out of Vancouver where the 2010 Winter Olympics are currently underway that Canadian Alexandre Bilodeau had won us our first gold medal on home soil in the Men's moguls.

It was a golden night, indeed.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Kick-Off to Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains

I haven't been this excited about Survivor in a really long time.

In fact, I haven't even really watched the show for the past two or three seasons. But tonight, it's the special 20th edition kicking off with past Survivor contestants being split into two camps - the Heroes vs. the Villains.

It's going to be an interesting season, for sure!

But before I go any further, I'd like to give special thanks to Survivor creator Mark Burnett for bringing back my beloved Colby once again. This season will be Colby's third. Imagine, it's been ten years since I first adored the man, when he outwitted, outplayed, and almost outlasted in the second season, Survivor: The Outback. He made what's now known as the classic good-guy move, after winning 5 straight individual immunity challenges, by choosing to take Tina with him to the finals instead of the unpopular Keith. It was a choice that cost Colby the $1 Million prize.

He returned for the All-Stars season, but he was the 5th sent packing, not even making the jury. Colby recently stated that his head wasn't in the game that time; that he was coerced into going by Jeff Probst, and went reluctantly. This time, though, he's there to see if he can still play with the big boys.

And let me tell you, with the familiar faces coming back, he's going to have his hands full.

The Heroes are:

Colby Donaldson
Rupert Boneham
Jessica "Sugar" Kiper
James "JT" Thomas Jr.
Tom Westman
Stephenie LaGrossa
Cirie Fields
Amanda Kimmel
James Clement
Candice Woodcock

The Villains are:

Rob Mariano
Russell Hantz
Courtney Yates
Randy Bailey
Tyson Apostol
Benjamin "Coach" Wade
Sandra Diaz-Twine
Parvati Shallow
Danielle DiLorenzo
Jerri Manthey

So many strong players from past seasons - how would one even approach this game? What strategy is the best to take? There are professed liars, deviants, some of the most cunning players to ever take on Survivor. Four of them are past winners - JT, Sandra, Tom, and Parvati. Many others made it to the finals. Most of them had strategies that took them far in the game - sometimes, more than once, as for a few of them, this is their third kick at the can.

Who am I looking forward to seeing (aside from Colby, of course)?

Boston Rob is a former favourite of mine; he's leaving behind his wife (and former All-Stars winner, who he came runner-up to) Amber and their new baby to take on the game again. Rob keeps saying if their smart, they'll get rid of him quick - rumours on Survivor sites are that they do just that.

James Clement, the big, soft-spoken, sexy gravedigger is also making his third attempt at Survivor. The first time around, he was the man behind one of the biggest gaffes in show history when he was voted out while holding not one, but two unused hidden immunity idols. In the Fans vs. Favourites season, he was forced to leave early due to injury. James is just so hot, he's gotta stick around for awhile...

Rupert Boneham, of course, is a huge favourite for Survivor fans. Everybody loves Rupert. It will be interesting to see how he fares out against some of the heavyweights of the game.

Stephenie LaGrossa is another one back for her third attempt. Steph is heralded as the only Survivor who ever had to live alone. Her pathetic tribe couldn't win a challenge to save their souls, and it was whittled down until it was just her and Bobby Jon left. Meeting face-to-face in a fire-building challenge, Stephenie overcame the odds and beat out Bobby Jon. She spent a whole night alone in Palau before being merged in with the other tribe. She's one of the strongest females to ever play the game, and I'm looking forward to seeing how she does this time around.

And of course, Jerri Manthey...One of the first Survivor Villains to ever emerge. She is Colby's biggest nemesis. Jilted by him in the Outback, she came back in the All-Stars round with revenge on her mind. She was one of the main factors in his early departure. I'm hoping this time she will leave Colby alone - surely the girl must have bigger fish to fry by now? Interstingly enough, Jerri is one that I didn't think would return. She was so hurt by the boos and jeers at the All-Stars Reunion that she stomped off the set in tears. Has she grown thicker skin since then? 'Cause sweetie, you're still no fan favourite!!
Ironically enough, in the pool Stacy set up for a group of us, Jerri was randomly chosen as my player. MINE. How unfair is that?! I've hated Jerri Manthey from Day 1. I prayed that I would get Colby, but I end up with his arch-enemy. Agh!!!
Regardless of the fact that I'm supposed to cheer for Jerri, I know that won't be how it goes. I'll be rooting for Colby, no matter what.

I just can't wait for this thing to get rolling!!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Red-Hot Sens Roll On...

Before Saturday night, the Ottawa Senators were on an 11-game winning streak. As the wins accumulated, I debated blogging about them, but I was afraid I would jinx the streak.

Turns out, I didn't need to worry. The only ones capable of jinxing the team-record win streak were their provincial enemies in blue & white.

That 5-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs literally left me feeling ill. How could we have defeated the likes of New Jersey, Pittsburgh, and Vancouver during that formidable run of W's, then go so soft against the basement dwelling Blue team?

In any case - I refuse to dwell on that loss.

Because last night, the Sens shook it off, and got right back to business. They took on the Calgary Flames on home ice, and came from behind twice to eventually win it 3-2. They looked more like the streaking, amazing Sens that held that 11-game winning streak, instead of the floundering, bumbling idiots that failed to even get a goal against the lowly Leafs. It was almost like that sorry excuse for a game never happened.

They restored my faith in them. Under Cory Clouston's guidance, they have come together and returned to the upper ranks of the NHL's standings, after several seasons of failure and terrible luck.
Last night, goals came from Alex Kovalev, Jarkko Ruutu, and Jason Spezza (with the winner), and if Jonathan Cheechoo had scored on any of his 20-odd amazing chances in his 500th career game, the score could have been higher. Also, the Sens received the big stops once again from Brian Elliott, who, despite a blip on Saturday night, has really stepped into the role of #1 netminder in the nation's capital.

If there's one thing I've noticed about this team during this streak (Saturday night's game notwithstanding), is their ability to stay calm when things go wrong, and go right back to work on the next shift. They battle hard, and when they're down a goal or two, it's not the end of the world. With this Senators team, that doesn't mean things are over. (Five was a little much to come back from, but honestly, up until the third period, I wasn't ruling them out...)

Many wonderful little stories have developed since Christmas. Captain Daniel Alfredsson, returning from injury, sparked the team to life and made his presence felt as the streak began. Spezza, also returning from injury, has had eight goals and 2 assists in eight games (the only game he was held pointless since his return was vs. the Leafs). As it turns out, the healthy Ottawa Senators are a force to be reckoned with.

The only team currently better than the Sens? The Washington Capitals, who currently hold a 14-game winning streak. And guess who the Sens face tomorrow night?

It should make for an interesting battle, and it's always fun to watch Alexander Ovechkin. And I have high hopes that the new winning streak will continue, and that the Caps' streak will end.