About michebel

MicheBel has worked as an entertainment journalist and podcasting pioneer (MicheBelz Hollywood and Whispered Pearls). She has been paid for theatre criticism and won the American College Theatre Festival Critics' Competition (regional edition). You can find her now exclusively online.

A Fugue of Sex and Love Addiction: Shame

I waited, as I read some of the reviews of Shame. I watched all of the major reviewers sort of dance around trying to figure out if they got what was going on, what this movie was really about. Watched for the two words: Sex addiction.

Sadly, I saw them nowhere.


But this movie is to Sex Addiction what Days of Wine and Roses is to alcoholism. Ever wanted to know the sordid details behind a sex addict’s mind? Here you go. The lies, the hidden pornography, the near-constant masturbation. The near destruction of one’s own life, while being in complete denial about it. All here.

What (also) isn’t talked about is how his (Michael Fassbender, as our protagonist) sister (Carey Mulligan) suffers from a concurrent love addiction. She bounds into his life from who knows where, and opens up a door on his behavior. Make no mistake, they are cut from the same cloth.

They are both from New Jersey. Brother dear now lives in NY. When sister arrives, she has somehow booked a singing gig at a club. She does a gut-wrenching version of “New York, New York” that also makes her otherwise unfeeling brother tear up.

It’s also interesting to me that the first time you see both of them completely naked, it’s not in a sexual way. He, because he’s taking a piss. She, because she’s in the shower.

Also, to director Steve McQueen’s immense credit (which also other reviewers seem to have missed), it’s incredibly hard to show all the sordidness of a sex addict’s life, and not make it seem sexy. He does this partly through the script, and partly through excellent camera work and editing.

Sex addiction, for those not savvy to it, makes every person a potential sex object. The sex addict is skilled, like a sexual viper, always able to conquer their prey. But it’s a nameless faceless game. Know as little about someone as possible. Give away as little of yourself as possible.

So when the phone starts ringing early on, I was puzzled. Not like a sex addict to give out their phone number. Of course, it turns out to be his sister.

Later, he meets someone and goes on an actual date. She asks him how long his longest relationship was, “Four months,” he says.

Being present is also a very difficult thing for any addict, but especially a sex addict. So when he asks his date what time period, past or future, she’d like to live in, she responds: “Right now.” He’s completely perplexed. But she is, indeed, very connected, very present, very in touch with her emotions.

You see this in another way. You’ve seen his addictive sex in many ways. But when he beds this gorgeous emotionally connected black woman, she touches his face, lovingly. He can’t go on. He knows nothing of this kind of sex.

But, his sex addiction fuse having been lit, it has to be finished. You see him, moments later, with someone that he picked up from somewhere. Doesn’t matter. It’s another drug, and he’s scored.

The purging that he does after that experience is equivalent to what anyone has to do when they get sober. Alcoholics pour their drink down the sink, drug addicts destroy their paraphernalia, sex addicts throw away all the morass of their secret stashes. Yes, even their computers.

He has his emotions opened up now. He has a big blowout fight with his sister. It’s quite compellingly shot from behind as they sit on a couch. Sex addict vs. love addict, mano a mano. It’s brutal, and painful.

He caps his words with a night of sex bingeing that gets quite ugly.

And, in the morning, he is sobbing on the beach. Someone on Twitter said, “Oh big deal, so he cries on the beach.” They missed the whole point. It IS a big deal that he was sobbing on the beach. The way for a sex addict to heal (or any addict) is to actually feel their feelings. And yes, that usually does initially involve a lot of crying.

I was hoping that it would all end with Brandon getting into recovery. But that’s probably too pat and predictable an ending.

The way it actually ended was with one of his sex toys on the train, a married woman who constantly flirts with him. Once he ran out of the train, following her and lost her. This time, she starts flirting, and he remains seated, not taking the bait.

I looked behind his head. In the shot, is a poster for a place called “The River NYC.” Not exactly a recovery place, but its website said this: “Our goal is to create a warm and welcoming space where we can develop a genuine spirituality.” Yep. Sounds like recovery to me. All you have to do is look around, and find it.

A much better ending.

ADDENDUM: Roger Ebert mentions it in his review.


Once Upon a Time Is Magical

I spent the past weekend catching up with some of my many TiVo’d shows. (2 Broke Girls, Homeland and this one, Once Upon a Time).

When I was five years old, I took some of my favorite fairy tales and rewrote them. My mom thought it was weird. I knew in that moment, I was meant to be a writer.

I think of that when I watch this reworking of many fairy tales, with a twist. “All of our favorite” fairy tale characters are here: Snow White, Cinderella, Rumplestiltskin, the evil Queen, heck, even Jiminy Cricket. (I didn’t think Disney characters counted as “fairy tale characters,” but I digress.

The premise is this: The fairy tale characters have been transported to modern times, and they no longer remember who they are/were. Their “happy endings” have been stolen (I know the feeling!), and they need one particular woman to get them back. A shaky premise perhaps.

Why it succeeds as a TV show is this: Ginnifer Goodwin as the role she was born to play, Snow White; and Lana Parrilla as the Evil Queen. Throw in a dash of the evil Robert Carlyle as Rumplestilskin/Mr. Gold and you have ratings gold.

Well, also why it’s succeeding is because you have people who worked on Lost (producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis) and a writer from Buffy, the Vampire Slayer (one of the best shows ever on TV) (and that would be Jane Espenson) working on it. (And why have no females directed any of these episodes? Boggles the mind.

Ginnifer Goodwin is always wonderful to watch, and evil Lana Parrilla has never been better. They really make these fairy tale characters come to life. Robert Carlyle chews off huge hunks of that scenery, but is fun to watch.

The first few episodes (including the wondrous “Snow Falls”) are quite amusing. By the Cinderella storyline (“The Price of Gold”), they were kinda losing me. Cinderella was pretty boring compared to Goodwin and Parrilla. Plus, Snow White’s beloved is named Prince Charming, and there’s quite a bit of wonderful banter back and forth about that. Then Cinderella’s story comes up, and isn’t her Prince also named Charming? They kinda don’t even give the guy a name, other than “Thomas.” Um, ok.

So, they are using the bits of fairy tales we know and kind of fabricating whatever they need to flesh out their own stories. With the whole Snow White/Evil Queen thing, it’s working quite well. Cinderella kinda failed.

I mean, as fairy tales go, Cinderella is at least as big a deal as Snow White (most little girls would say moreso), and we don’t even get to see her pumpkin carriage. We go from her sweeping to her having a nice dress on, and then POOF! She’s married. And then with child.

So, if they are going to rush through the big fairy tales like this (although I didn’t mind, cause the actress was dreadful), what’s left for further seasons? In fact, Snow White’s child (Jennifer Morrison, not quite up to the acting talents of Parrilla or Goodwin) is back in town, and she’s on the mystery. So once she solves it, which could be by the end of the season, then what?

Quite unclear. Doesn’t really seem anywhere for them to go after that.

But in the best episode so far, “Snow Falls,” we discover how Snow White and Prince Charming met (and wouldn’t you know it? He’s married/engaged to someone else. (Depending on which of the time frames you are in.) Although in both of them, it’s quite clear that he’s really in love with Snow White.

Did you know Prince Charming’s real name? It’s James. The banter between them is charming, not inspid.

I really liked the show, I just hope that they get back to the Snow White/evil Queen dynamic as often as possible. That is what is truly magical here.

Moneyball: Way too on the money

Do you love a good baseball movie? Does thinking about Field of Dreams or Bull Durham just get you all wistful? Or The National? Yeah, me too. Moneyball is none of those.

Or were you stunned and amazed by Russell Crowe’s mathematical brilliance in Beautiful Mind? Well, me, not so much.

But this movie is kind of a combination of those two. If you’re going for a rousing baseball movie, you’d best stay home. Ditto if the sight of math (especially math on a screen) starts putting you into heaves.

I just don’t know what to make of this movie. There are so many reasons I wanted to like it.

For instance, I attended with my friend who (GASP!) had never even HEARD of Aaron Sorkin, much less cottoned to his patented “walk and talks.” Sorkin, though, is the second credited writer on this. After Steven Zaillian. Now, if one has a discussion of the top ten living screenwriters today, it’s pretty assured that both of those names would be on the list.

Still, the script pretty much left me cold.

Part of it was the script (or lack of it), part of it was the ham-fisted direction by Bennett Miller. You can just read the page in your mind: “and he tears up, hearing his little girl’s voice. He decides to stay.” CUT TO: Tears in his eyes.

No joke. The final (supposed to be poignant shot, I guess) was a close-up of tears in Brad Pitt’s eyes. I wanted to barf.

And you would think that with eight (and counting) little brats of his own, that he’d be able to convey this fatherliness that warrants the end tear-up. I musta missed it.

Also, while his team is out there, struggling it out, Brad Pitt’s character is anywhere but on the field or watching. He’s working out, he’s in his office, he’s driving, far away. Why? Well, if you rustle your popcorn at the wrong time you’ll miss it, but his little tyke at one point says, “You’re not gonna jinx it, go back.”

From this, I guess, that you are supposed to glean that he’s afraid of jinxing his own team. That’s why he stays away. And, to hammer that point home, he returns when they have an 11-point lead. The other teams starts scoring. It ends up tied.

Do we cut to the drama on the field? No, been there, done that. Instead, we get Pitt, agonizing in the locker room about whether or not he’s jinxing them. Yikes.

Maudlin crap like that.

So, the direction was dreadful. But let’s get back to the story.

Now, if it’s a good baseball movie, it should be understandable by anyone who watches it, whatever their level of baseball knowledge.

And I love baseball. I wouldn’t claim to be intimate with all its arcana, though.

The premise here is that MLB had gotten too full of its britches, offering million-dollar contracts to people who really didn’t deserve them. And that some Yale dude had figured out a mathematical way to know who deserved to be hired and who didn’t. Based on how often they got on base. Mathematically.

Jonah Hill does the best with this that he can. Coach Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who still wants to coach baseball his way, adds some fire to a nothing role.

But to me, in the end, baseball is really about those guys out there on the bases. Not the money men counting out their worth in back rooms. This movie dealt far too much with those guys. Did this new way of “counting” change baseball? Apparently so.

Do we care? No matter how many close-uped tears you shoot, the answer is still no.

Young Adult Is Infinitely Missable

The central problem for why “Young Adult” is so terrible is that its protagonist is loathesome.

I dunno. Maybe it’s just me, but I no longer find someone drinking too much, acting out when drunk, or acting out when seriously love-addicted, to be a funny thing. I cannot root for this person, other than to root that they seriously find rehab soon.

Our lead, Mavis Gary, is hell-bent on her own destruction, chasing down her “true love,” who is happily married and just had a child. She plans to steal him away. This never goes well, nor is it a viable plot premise anymore, I would argue.

(I found Julia Roberts similarly reprehensible in “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” though her guy was not quite married yet in that one. No matter, same conniving horribleness at hand.)

So, beautiful statuesque Charlize Theron (who does give this part the old college try) drinks way too much. In real life, if someone drank as much as she did, she would not be in any semblance of shape, certainly would not have the flawless skin that she has (no matter how many facials she received; the movie shows us no less than three times that she gets manis and pedis and spends a lot of time with her hair and face). No, in fact a woman who drinks like this would be already developing that bulbous red nose thing that many full-blown alcoholics get.

But then, this is a romantic comedy right, with the guy who’s not the guy she’s chasing whom she’s supposed to fall in love with. And SPOILER they don’t. She spends most of her time bending his ear about her totally-in denial love addiction plan. He tells her she’s crazy and needs therapy (true!). After making a complete fool of herself later, she consents to sloppy last-stand sex with him, and leaves him and his sister (“Take me with you!” she demands; Mavis doesn’t, with the cold line, “No, you’re good here.” Here being their vapid small town.)

Just a loathesome person from start to finish, who learns nothing along the way.

Other actors: Patrick Wilson as the “true love” is wonderful. Elizabeth Reaser (what is with her as “the other woman”? Between this and “The Good Wife,” sheesh), but she’s also wonderful as the man’s wife.

Even Patton Oswalt, getting more and more juicy roles in cinema, is quite the charmer.

I loved “Juno.” Normally, I like Diablo Cody. Didn’t like this. Normally, I like Jason Reitman, the director. Didn’t like this.

(Although the nihilistic end of the world Kendra-Kardashian double bill on her TV screens was a wonderful touch.)

This movie is really best avoided. Unlike you like loud mouthy desperate out of control love-addicted alcoholics. Then, you might find this a laugh riot. Me, I like to like my protagonists.

Or, you might wanna really punish yourself. Go see this on a double feature with that sex addiction movie, Shame. Fun times!

Who should be the new Oscar host?

So, who should we have hosting the Oscars this year? Hurry, people, time’s a wasting…
Eddie Murphy’s out (*sob*). Totally joking. I can’t stand Eddie Murphy, and he would’ve made a terrible host. In fact, all ego-maniacs need not apply, so sit down Will Smith.

It really and truly should be a comedian of some flavor, because it needs to be someone who will keep on with the funny when people are staring at him/her blankly.

It should be someone who knows Hollywood and isn’t too fanlike about it (Rosie O’Donnell can sit down). But someone who is also sufficiently deferential to it. (David Letterman can sit WAY down and take both Uma and Oprah with him.)

It should be someone who can sing and dance, so the old standbys come to mind: Hugh Jackman (busy with that Les Miz movie), Neil Patrick Harris (busy with his TV show). Billy Crystal has just done it too much. He also needs to sit down.

Someone who thinks quickly on their feet, preferably someone comfortable with improve or standup, cause stuff happens at the Oscars that you just have to be prepared for, and willing to go off script for. (Steve Martin can sit WAY down.)

While we’re at it, forget the youngsters (especially after the “talking too freely” that got Brett Ratner bounced, we have to have some older dude or dudette who isn’t going to let the wrong thing slip. Who knows the meaning of politically correct, yet is savvy enough to know who to take jabs at (and who NOT TO). Please sit Ricky Gervais down and shut him the hell up. And while you’re at it, take that drink out of his hand.

So, in short, someone who’s polite, savvy about Hollywood, works hard enough to step in to this madness quickly, someone who can sing and dance or at least tell a good joke.
My own personal short list would be this: Craig Ferguson or Jimmy Fallon (though, this being ABC, probably not likely), Dan Finnerman (from “the Dan Band”)—he would rock it!, Marc Maron, Chris Hardwick, Jay Mohr.

Women? There aren’t too many choices there. Kathy Griffin comes to mind, but she has the sassy mouth that got Ratner bounced. You know who would be a fantastic female Oscar host? Loni Love! She would rock that Kodak. And you know she looks great in some gowns.

Or maybe Ricki Lake, after she wins Dancing with the Stars, to promote her new talk show? Nah. Loni Love would be better.

Those would be my final choices: either Dan Finnerman or Loni Love.

Boy, would those be some fun Oscars. Enough with the overpriced, full of themselves celebs and young people who haven’t got a clue. These two have been around the block a time or two.

Another wacky, but perfect choice? Ross Matthews. You know he respects the Oscars enough. It may even compensate for his youth and inexperience. He’d be a great choice.

What say you?

Let them eat cake: the Kardashian trainwreck

We already know that the world is changing in a big way. People are marching in the streets against the excesses of greedy corrupt politicians and Wall Street types.

But let me explain a bit more the world as I see it. On the one hand, we have strong fervent intellectuals who care about each other and the environment (Michael Moore, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Angela Davis, Marianne Williamson are among those who’ve spoken at one #OccupyAmerica protest or another.). On the other side, you can pick any antagonist: the Koch Brothers; Herman Cain, bought by the Kochs; any of the Wall Street bankers who should be in jail right now; Dick Cheney, war criminal; any of countless others.

For this article, however, I choose to focus on the travesty that is Kim Kardashian. If ever there were a Marie Antoinette among the sorry lot, she is ours.

On the one side, we have people starving because they can’t find work, living on the streets because their homes have been foreclosed, unemployment’s run out and the Republicans won’t give us any more. Many millions of you can fill in this blank. It’s too sad and depressing.

But, on the other side, we have the family Kardashian, most notably Kim, who is arguably the prettiest. One might be comfortable admiring her for her beauty if only she remained quiet and didn’t wreak such havoc on our senses.

Remember back when “reality TV” started? And I mean back in the days when it wasn’t scripted, when what was happening was really real? (Only Survivor still remains so.) For the others, we have some writers somewhere coming up with grand scenarios for our viewing pleasures, to distract us from the travesties at home. The worst, the absolute worst of these (yes, in many ways even worse than the Jersey Shore nonsense and those “Housewives”) is the Kardashian clan.

I’m not sure exactly HOW MANY shows they have on E!, but if it’s even more than one, that’s too many. They just always seem to be on the channel when I skim around. Living a life of boredom and idle richness. Getting mad at a boyfriend because he playfully pushes her in the lake when she is wearing $35,000 earrings. Mindless things like that. Supposed to, I suppose, make us jealous. In fact, it makes me as sick as those Housewives do (not that I watch either, but they do cross my consciousness FAR too much).

I suppose a Kardashian show or eight would be bad enough (and it is). But the worst, the trainwreck of which I speak that makes me want to throw up as I type this is the wedding.

Mind you, the rest of the country (if I may speak for all of you here) is pretty much living frugally, scrimping, saving, trying desperately to make ends meet. We are all about authenticity. We seek transparency in our social media and government. We speak truth to each other, cause brother, that’s all we’ve got left these days.

In the Kardashian world, it’s all made-up nonsense (well, except the part about her liking the black boys). She was (that would be Kim) was flabbergasted that people who meet her on the street “actually believe” that the stories being pumped at us by E! are thought to be true. Well, yes, cause that’s the way WE live. In our own truth.

Miss Kardashian and company, who became famous solely because their father got murderer OJ an acquital, well, and maybe because she has a nice butt, live in the Land of Denial. Everything is fake. Her nails, her scenarios and, as it turns out, her boyfriends and husbands.

Now, for those blissfully living in other countries, and missing all this Americana, let me school you. The tabloid-trash TV channel E! saw that Prince marries a commoner thing happening in England, and decided it wanted that for its very self. Cause after all, according to them (I’m so not making this up, “The Kardashians are our country’s royalty.”) Really? In what universe? Say “the Kennedys” and you could have a discussion. But “the Kardashians”? HARDLY.

Mind you, again, this is a country where people are desperate for jobs, where they know the existence of every soup kitchen just so they can get some food.

The Kardashians were gifted extravagances in the vicinity of $17MILLION + for their wedding. Kim’s wedding to some jamoke. SEVENTEEN MILLION DOLLARS and counting. (Counting because her dress was gifted, her shoes were gifted, etc.) The $17M was just for the WEDDING ITSELF.

It was a lavish spectacle of hype, which I was so sickened by, I scrupulously avoided it like the plague. But I couldn’t help being bombarded by E!’s nonstop hype-o-rama of it. Two weeks before: Here Comes the Kardashian Wedding! Only on E!
Every day: “Bet you can’t wait, the Kardashian Wedding! America’s Royalty” and blah and blah and blah some more…

The TWO DAY SPECIAL was hyped nearly every hour. TWO DAYS to broadcast this monstrousity in its entirety. This lovefest. This joining of two fame whores in splashy E! garish union. Cameras everywhere. Other fame whores in attendance, or E! stalwarts.

Chelsea Handler, who is one of the few decent things on E!, did not attend. A member of her regular troupe of players did. Cause really, who are Kim Kardashian’s actual friends? People that E! pays work just fine.

The whole wedding got me pretty steamed. Or nauseated, depending on the day.

The after-examination as E!’s other stalwart, Joan Rivers, dished the gowns of people in attendance. Oh, did I mention? Kim had THREE. THREE wedding gowns. One for the ceremony, one for the reception. I don’t even know what the other one was for. For the hop into the limo to head to the honeymoon? Who knows? Who cares? I wish I didn’t know these stupid facts. (You can imagine how ever-pervasive this nonsense had to be: I was studiously avoiding all mention of this crap, and still I gleaned bits here and there of data about it.)

But now, 73 days later, 73 days and $17M squandered later, this marriage made in TV heaven is no more. The divorce papers are on their way. And that makes me even angrier.

I was thinking of that other reality show (the only real one left), Survivor, which this season has the evil Russell Hantz’s nephew, Brandon, fighting out between Good and Evil. In interview, he said he was “trying to reclaim his family’s good name.”

Tonight, the day after the divorce announcement, the “good Kardashian”, brother Rob was hoofing out his angst on Dancing with the Stars. He didn’t say it, but he’s doing the only thing possible to “redeem his family’s good name.” Showing the benefits of actual hard work. (As his boorish, ill-mannered sisters heckle and jeer from the sidelines, there’s Rob, who feels like he doesn’t fit in with his family.) All I can say to you, Rob, is: Good thing. They make me want to throw up.

I sincerely cannot even look at any of them anymore. Please God, make them go away.

Arrogant Maks takes aim at stodgy Len: DWTS

First, it’s a dance show based on the premise that professional dancers can make complete non-pros look good. People who’ve never before danced are all of a sudden doing dance counts in their heads and rumbaing with the best of ’em. All well and good.

They’ve got fabulous costumes and makeup (and an amazing new set this season). Lots of lights and sparkle make them look good. What they do seem to be lacking this season is some kind of director.

One who, for example, will tell the boisterous, raucous crowd, YES, even those Kardashians, to shut the hell up, because the judges and the opinion of the judges is what’s most important (at least until the public votes, anyway). Who the hell made these Kardashians so darned important? Their brother is dancing, and you see them, front row, talking back to the judges, hogging camera time. Get over it.

Same kind of beside the point nonsense went on last season when mama Palin was there to watch her daughter Bristol go WAY WAY WAY further in that competition than she ever should have. Pathetic and sad, and happily there was a public outcry that still hasn’t died down.

But, for better or for worse, and despite the screaming obnoxious throngs, we are now down to the last seven contestants. Among them, one I consider to be one of the worst (even before last night), soccer player Hope Solo.

I saw her dance last night, but I have to admit, I think she is so dreadful I was consciously trying not to watch her. Plus, I find Maks to be really sexy, so it’s easy to watch him instead.

The judges, in commenting, said it was “one of her worst dances.” Len, in his comments, noted that it was better that she’s not wearing heels, as they seem to throw off her dancing. In Len’s defense, I think this is a valid comment. She doesn’t seem at all comfortable with the “girly” part of this dancing thing.

Maks, before the judging even finished, went off on poor Len. Maks was pissed that the judges worry about something so superficial as a heel. He stormed off moments later to his on-camera interview and said, “It’s MY SHOW!”

Really? When did it become Maks’ show? Len’s been there since the beginning, too, has he not? Did I miss something? Or is it just Maks’ overwhelming arrogance?

Also in defense of Len, these contestants are, by and large, terrible. They are not dancers. The professionals try to dance circles around them, to not let the public know that they are really terrible, but they are. (Except for nearly professional dancer Nicole Scherzinger a couple of seasons ago, who rightly won the trophy. She was a joy to watch.)

And Len, by this point, must run out of things to say that don’t crush these people completely, yet accurately point out their mistakes. Hope Solo deserved (and got) bad scores for this dance. I sincerely hope that she is voted out tomorrow night. Between her bad dancing and Maks’ arrogance, they both need to sit this one out, and let some of the actually good and respectful dancers come to the forefront.

Maks should take a cue from Derek Hough. He’s been there “since the beginning too.” As far as I know, it’s “his show” too, in fact moreso than Maks, since he’s won more Mirror Ball Trophies from his dancing/choreography. You don’t see him getting all arrogant and in Len’s face about judging marks. They just try harder next week.

For that matter (although I’m currently rooting for David Arquette), I hope that Ricki Lake wins this season. She is working her butt off, and Derek is providing truly inspired choreography (something only Derek Hough and Mark Ballas seem to be able to do on this show). THEIR choreography lifts even the worst dancers into realms they could only dream of, if the “celebrity” is capable of doing it. Who knows? Maks could have fantastic choreography, that Hope isn’t even capable of carrying out. (I did really like Maks’s season with Erin Andrews. That dancing was truly inspired. And his season with Kirstie Alley was pretty fun, too. Can’t always have great partners, Maks.)

In any case, I thought Len and Maks’ little spat was really unprofessional and out of line. They need to stop and get back to the dancing.


Podcast Reviews

I listen to a large amount of podcasts. From the beginning. I decided that I wanted to have my reviews for them posted on my page. So I’m going to do a bunch of them here, and update them as I listen.


OK, I’ve been watching Diggnation from the beginning, but I just started doing the reviews at 171. Sigh.

171. Hummer Kevin and Alex explore more Michelob beers. Do chicks dig leather couches? (This chick says yes.) Alex: “Being bent over one of these things? I don’t know.” This is a best-of-the-year Diggnation.

172. Live from London: Alex Proposes! “The Tuna Pocket.” So many people! Alex proposed, but off camera. Awww. Hippie Glen chugs a beer. Sheep chase Kevin, and Scoble takes pictures. How to pay down your credit card debt. Really incredible footage from the Dead Space game. “If you invested $1000 a year ago, you’d have (average) $21. If you bought $1000 in beer, and took the cans back for recycling money, you’d have $241.00.” Wow.

173. Shot Through the Glass Virgin in London offers a taxi/limo service on motorcycles. Looks very cool. They also have a tour of Virgin in London. Very cool conference rooms. Kevin and Alex have a bizarre idea for an iPhone app for your cat. Really awesome site: www.macrumors.com. Click on the Buyer’s Guide, to see when the latest one was released, and when the next one might come out. Fabulous info! Kevin and Alex have a difference of opinion about Krispy Kreme (Alex is right). All about eyebrow threading and Rachel Ray. Rachel Ray and corn. Oh my! Alex: “Pound away, my friend, just don’t get caught on tape doing it.” Kevin is cancelling his cable, and just doing Netflix and Hulu. RE: Internet fame Kevin: “Everybody’s got to have their own little thing.” Prager’s Borg bear. Kevin: “You’d have to be blazing hot in order for me to do that.” Fabulous footage of driving around London. More on the wonderful Virgin offices. The candy dispenser! Kevin (in the “Love” room): “I guarantee people have thrown down in this room.” The poster of Virgin history is phenomenal.

174. Alex’s Halloween Arachnophobia Um… Kevin and Alex are wearing hats. Cutbacks at Revision 3. Kevin has a new MacBook (unrelated). It’s beautiful. Even Alex likes it. Alex: “Do you think aliens exist?” Kevin: “Sure. To rule them out would be foolish.” Hippie Glenn: “I’ve met ’em.” By this point in the show, these hats make them look hot. Time Warner vs. ATT Uverse. Alex is a bit afraid of spiders. “Pragerpedia.” Watch how red Alex gets when he accidentally says a bad word in the GoDaddy ad. hehe

175. No Shoes First time Kevin and Alex wear no shoes on the podcast (Alex barefoot, Kevin with socks). Kevin thinks that Star Wars MMORPGs shouldn’t focus on killing, but on working things out mentally (since that’s what Jedis do). “You wanna have the Jedis that are meditating, and expanding their mind with tea,” Alex. “It’s not about leveling up by killing things,” Kevin. They don’t know who won the presidential election yet. Kevin does’t wanna group with people. He wants to be a “lone wolf.” Kevin is astonished that the US Army thinks “Twitter is a terrorist tool.” Kevin is astonished that among the people to fear, the US Army adds “vegetarians.” Kevin’s pretty drunk. Hippie Glen messes with the audio, cause he’s a radical vegetarian. Kevin enlightens the Army about “voice-changing technology.” Alex and Kevin talk about whether or not the government is behind the times. They applaud DARPA and some other agencies that are ahead of the times. “I’m not a terrorist, just because we have followers.” They want to go back to Japan. Alex: “I’m gonna kill you, eat your face, and then snowboard.” (About being a vampire at Mammouth.) Kevin and Alex discuss whether or not AIDS would affect vampires. “They’re not even alive!” says Alex. “Blood transfusions are no joke,” Kevin. Whether or not a leather couch would be good for sex. “This is the best email we’ve ever got,” Alex. “It’s gonna be good. Who cares if you get a little sweaty and sticky?” Kevin.


BEST SHOWS (early variety)
1. The Pat O’Brien Phone Sex Tapes
2. Jeff the Jerkoff
3. Customer Service
4. Show No. 1

WORST SHOWS (don’t listen)
1. Marriage and Hookers
2. Scams & Horrors
3. Bartleby the Scrivener

22. Mitch Hedberg, Hippies and the Pope I was just thinking how swoony (and in love) Chemda sounds when talking about Keith in this ep. Then, the next one…

23. Pay Your Fuckin Tab Keith takes another girl on a date (which he says isn’t a date, but he pays for the movie and dinner. And he takes her to see Sin City.). Did anyone tell Chemda about how much SEX is in this movie? He keeps saying that “she wouldn’t have liked it,” but I’d be PISSED if my boyfriend took some other girl to this movie… Hm. I think this ep is the beginning of the end (of their relationship, anyway). And, I think this girl blew him, and he’s lying about it. Also, how Keith & Chemda met. Some other crap about people not paying a tab. Further crap about Michael Jackson. All the car crashes by Keith and Chemda’s. Keith: “It’s always worth it to punch someone.” K & C don’t get excited about going to see Jane Fonda and Bloc Party, since they are missing Greg Giraldo and Bruce Willis. Chemda thinks they put the pretty people in front at talk shows. Keith thinks Terri Hatcher is hot, cause “she’s skinny.” Also thinks Rene Russo is hot. Keith gets kicked out of The Late Show with David Letterman. “That’s why I want to be famous, and be on Letterman.” Some Greg Giraldo comedy. FOUR STARS and major gaping mouth action

24. I’ll Find You, John Petrie Peter Jennings is dying. More on Terry Schiavo. The Michael Jackson trial. Keith gets irate about someone stealing some of his stuff. About how drug addicts love to talk about others, say Keith and Chemda about people they lived with. Bums who sell “camcorders.” Keith: “Remember crack is fucking awesome.” THREE STARS

25. The Relationship Hour Keith and Chemda see Farrah Fawcett at the Late Late Show with David Letterman. Keith: “[Farrah Fawcett and Anna Nicole] should have a crazy-off. My money’s on Farrah Fawcett.” Black albinos. How Chemda hit on Keith. They both hated their first kiss. And had sex on their first date. Chemda: “That’s a big thing with Keith. Do not be cunty to the waiter.” Chemda: “There’s a lot of Ews in this one, and I don’t like it.” K & C talk about getting married. THREE STARS

26. Oy to the Vey Crank calls. Useless for other people. Boring as crap. In-depth Jewishness. Keith’s dad is a bad tipper. Keith’s dad’s jobs. Hasidic Jews leave their hats on in strip clubs. Lameness. Some more anti-Jewness. ONE STAR

27. Then Stop Acting Like Your Stereotype Keith gets hateful email about the last racist show. Chemda defends her Jewishness “coming from love.” This week’s racist group to mock? “Indians.” (Dot Indians) Keith does a party for Indians. They are a bit reserved. Chemda has tooth problems. TWO STARS

28. How to Get Pregnant Chemda’s ordeals at the gyno and the dentist. Clown agent rondelle. Getting pregnant from basketball player’s blowjob sperm. Tricks to get pregnant. KATG’s problems with audio. THREE STARS

(I’ll go back and write up my reviews for the early shows at some point.)

1. Paget Brewster. Great interview out of the gate. Wise, funny, so watchable. She talks about how she and Jon Hamm used to be “pilot killers.” FOUR STARS
1. part 2. Elon Motors guy.
2. part 1.
2. part 2.
3. part 1.
3. part 2.
4. part 1.
4. part 2.
5. part 1.
5. part 2.
6. part 1.
6. part 2.

7. part 1. Matthew Perry. Need we say more? This was one of the best KPCS podcasts ever. FOUR STARS
7. part 2. more Matthew Perry. He’s awesome. FOUR STARS
8. part 1. Curt Smith. From Tears for Fears. He wrote a song for Kevin’s show. TWO STARS
8. part 2. Felicia Day. She is wonderful. She talks about Dr. Horrible, and how she made The Guild herself. FOUR STARS
9. part 1. ??
9. part 2. Josh Malina. TWO STARS
10. part 1. Adam Carolla. TWO STARS
10. part 2. Dana Carvey. Fun stuff. Kevin and Dana knew each other back in the day, starting out in standup comedy. A treasure trove of memories. Carvey seems to have difficulty talking about himself. FOUR STARS
11. part 1. Nia Vardalos. How she got “Big Fat Greek Weddng” made. Possibly the best Larry King Game ever. THREE STARS
11. part 2. Ileana Douglas. Much more entertaining than I thought it would be. She knows/knew a lot of people. On making “Action.” THREE STARS
12. Dan Finnerty. He explains “The Dan Show,” and what it’s like to be married to Kathy Najimy. THREE STARS
13. Kevin Smith. Can this man talk? Um, YES, he can. I unsubscribed from “Smodcast” and “Hollywood Babble On” after watching (er, suffering through) this podcast. ZERO STARS
14. Mike Binder. About the movies he’s made, being a director, his new restaurant. THREE STARS
15. Nick Swardson. Eh. He works with Adam Sandler, and does comedy. TWO STARS
16. Jason Lee. Hear all about how Jason used to be a skateboarder before he started acting. Through the whole interview, he never seems really sure why he’s there. TWO STARS
17. Craig Bierko. Bierko gets all hot and sweaty. Talks about his Broadway chops, and how he never really understood what the hell David E. Kelley was having him say on Boston Legal. THREE STARS
18. Rob Huebel and Paul Scheer. I found this extremely annoying as an episode, but people who like their comedy, or people who salivate over improvers finishing each other’s sentences will salivate over this ep. ZERO STARS
19, part 1. Samm Levine. The guest was supposed to be a director, but since Inglorious Basterds just opened, Samm is a convenient choice, and the first ever repeat guest. ONE STAR (for the lame masturbatory vibe)
19, part 2. Steve Agee. Yawn. Steve is BIG. Kevin is not. Fun topic of convo. Not. NO STARS
20. Hank Azaria. They talk poker. They talk voiceover acting. They talk Huff. Good good stuff here. FOUR STARS
21. Seth McFarlane. McFarlane talks about going to the Rhode Island School of Design, working for Disney, and how the mega show Family Guy was saved by the fans. FOUR STARS
22. Rob Corddry. About being a writer on the Daily Show. TWO STARS
23. Michael Gladis and Rich Sommer (from Mad Men). Jon Hamm is not the only hottie from this show. They talk about the early days, the “unicorn” dilemma, how Michael had to audition again after his contract had been signed. And how great it is to work on this show. FOUR STARS
24, part 1. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. Stick to comedians, Kev. Wow, does this slow down to molasses! Singers, not his specialty. Struggling with success. What it’s like to win an Oscar. How Glen met Van Morrison. Singing at Eunice Kennedy’s funeral. No mention of: “Are you a couple? Are you not? What’s up with that?” TWO STARS
24, part 2. Jane Campion. Her intro to Cannes. On her filmmaking process. Kevin and Jane on the joy of writing. Jane: “Everybody is extraordinary.” The power of discovering Keats and Fanny’s love letters. “Who wants to tell stories about poets?” Finding the right actors for a role. Shockingly, she likes Bruno and Borat. THREE STARS
25. Kevin Nealon. Nealon’s been wiretapped. Starting as a bartender at comedy clubs. If Kevin Nealon did impressions, he’d do John Malkovich and John Lithgow. How he got the SNL gig. The madness of SNL. His standup special. His book. Blah blah. Nealon about being on Twitter: “I’m always kidding around.” RE autoasphyxiation: “If someone broke into my house, and was strangling me anyway, I might try it.” TWO STARS
26. Lisa Loeb. Kev likes Zombieland. Lisa is with child. She has a Camp Lisa CD. All about Liz and Lisa. Kids stuff. The national anthem vs. “God Bless America.” Pretty boring. Get some Fage yogurt. Pollak: “We’re foodies too.” The intro of “Oprah, Miley, Demi.” Please make it go away. Explaining her recipe Tweets, and how to find them. Talking about how fun it is to sit home and watch TV was the highlight of this ep. You get the idea. Explaining what cale is. You’re rushing to watch this now, aren’t you? Worst outfit ever. (Did anyone tell her it’s a black background?) Keep hearing someone whispering in the background. They must be bored too. She’s making a line of glasses. Cat cafes in Japan. ONE STAR
27, part 1. Eddie Izzard. Kevin loves Canada. Sammy flips off fans. Please stop these guests from wearing black!! Rewatching Chaplin “in the venue it was designed for.” Does comedy age? The Edinburgh Festival as a career path. How “Stomp” influenced him. Going from being a street performer to a stand-up situation. “Your confidence keeps building. Eventually the material catches up with your confidence.” Ancien Regime vs. meritocracy. “Study the Battle of Austerlitz, if you want a comedy career.” How getting NY to buy into a “straight transvestite” would help the whole rest of the country cave to his brilliance. Eric Idle about Izzard: “You’re doing the stand-up version of Python.” How standup is more respected in Britain. How Brits, Mexicans and aliens would all be classified as “aliens” by the US government. A health-care discussion. “How hard did you have to fight to get rid of slavery?” On being a transvestite. On doing international standup and learning the languages. Whether God exists. Dissecting Hitler’s rise. Going from drama to comedy. TV vs. stand-up. On Jack Nicholson’s progress as an actor. “Thinks like an American.” “In the 1700s, I would’ve been on that boat.” Whether or not we landed on the moon. Doing marathons. About Ricky Gervais and Steve Martin. About ending war, starting with the E.U. Seeing the crew in drag. My eyes!!! FOUR STARS

88. Drobotized Leo, Scott, Alex and Andy discuss the technology of the Drobo, how people don’t recognize how powerful the Drobo is. “You’re buying a rack for $500.” Movin to the cloud.

1. Tom Lennon. Annoying only because all the nerds keep butting in. ONE STAR cause it’s the first show.

2. Drew Carey. Drew talks about his secret life in Second Life. FOUR STARS

3. Adam Carolla. Adam really really really doesn’t like Sid and Marty Kroft. He really doesn’t. THREE STARS

4. Rob Huebel. Eh. TWO STARS

5. Jon Hamm. Hear one of the sexiest men on the planet swear like a banshee. Then Jon does too. 😉 FOUR STARS

6. Joel McHale. Drop into the time machine 50 years, when Chris and Joel are still doing versions of the Soup (Web and straight-up). TWO STARS

7. Andy Richter. This was taped pretty much right after the Conan debacle, before the new show started. Bitter? Him bitter? Oh, and you learn why Hispanics like Morrissey (according to Richter). Dissecting Lady Gaga. Nose fucking with Andy Richter. How fetishes begin. Richter: “I don’t need a hairbrush in my ass.” Hardwick: “Kubrickian sex club where people are nose fucking each other.” Fat stories from the set of “Arrested Development.” How Andy and Conan first met. TWO STARS

WTF with Marc Maron

1. Jeff Ross
2. Jim Earl/Matt
3. Patton Oswalt
4. David Feldman
5. John Oliver/
6. David Cross
7. Nick Griffin
8. Caroline Rhea
9. Jim Gaffigan
10. Sam Lipsyte
11. Todd Barry/
12. Nick Kroll
13. Jerry Stahl/
14. Steve Agee/
15. LIVE
16. Eugene Mirm…
17. Listener Email
18. Al Madrigal
19. Jack Boulwa
20. Zach Galifanakis
21. New Mexico…
22. Doug Stanhope
23. Wyatt Cenac
24. LIVE at UCB
25. Janeane Garafolo
26. Jen Kirkman
27. Jon Benjamin
28. Eddie Brill/
29. Andy Kindler
30. Kyle Kinane
31. Steve Ranna
32. Todd Glass/
33. Sarah Silverman
34. Dana DeArmond
35. Dave Pullano
36. Howard Kremer
37. Bill Burr
38. Matt Braugher
39. Chelsea Peretti
40. Dave Attell
41. Jimmy Pardo
42. Seattle Roadtrip
43. Antonia Cran…
44. John Caparulo
45. Matt Walsh/
46. W. Kamau Bell/
47. Margaret Cho
48. Brendon Small
49. Kumail Nanji
50. LIVE: Ladies Night from UCB
51. Glenn Wool
52. James Wolcott
53. All-Star Super…
54. Vegas/Ron…
55. Rob Delaney
56. Scotland/Do…
57. Jon Dore/Gr…
58. El Chupacabra/
59. Robert Hawkins
60. Bob Odenkirk
61. Dave Hill
62. Myq Kaplan/
63. Jim Short/
64. Road Trip with Eddie
65. Scott Aukerman
66. Brendon Burns
67. Robin Williams
68. Steven Pearl
69. LIVE in Portland
70. Dave Anthony
71. David Wain/
72. Maria Bamford
73. Jim Norton
74. Tracy McMilan
75. Carlos Mencia**
76. Willie Barcen…
77. Moshe Kash…
78. Dylan Brody
79. Ben Stiller
80. Ireland
81. Tig Notaro
82. The Sklar Brothers
83. Jim Jeffries
84. Marga Gomez
85. Dane Cook/
86. Bring the Rock
87. Daniel Handler
88. Nick Swardson
89. Andy Richter
90. Joe Wagner/
91. Matt Besser/
92. Paul Provenza
93. Dana Gould
94. Mike Birbiglia*
95. Patrice O’Neal
96. Judah Friedlander
97. Moshe Kasher
98. Stewart Lee
99. London
100. Episode 100
101. Natasha Legero…
102. Jimmy Pardo
103. Judd Apatow, part 1**
104. Judd Apatow, part 2**
105. Thomas Lennon
106. Whitney Cummings
107. Patton Oswalt
108. Jesse Thorn
109. Bob Saget

You can get previous episodes if you get his iTunes app and buy them (sorta). You can also buy live eps at his store. I like the live eps WAY less, for the record. But for those who want COMEDY from a comedy podcast, these are the way to go.

110. LIVE David Cross, Michael Showalter, et al. Eh.

Remembrance: Robert Schimmel and Greg Giraldo So sad, but so poignant. A remembrance by a friend. Beautifully done. FOUR STARS

111. Louis CK, part 1. Louis talks about his early days, and gets emotional at the birth of his daughter. Poignant and real. A keeper. FOUR STARS

112. Louis CK, part 2. Friends talk, friends make up, friends vow to keep in touch. And Louis CK talks about his current projects. And the reason he writes, edits, acts, directs them. FOUR STARS

113. Ray Romano and Mike Royce. The interesting thing to me about this ep is what you can do on cable that you can’t do on network TV. How gambling is a current in Romano’s life that is now reflected in his Men of a Certain Age character. THREE STARS

114. Jonathan Ames Novelist who talks about some Spaulding Gray revelations. Wrestling with a Mangina. The most emotionally detached guest so far. Ames: “I wanna hide. I don’t wanna put myself out there anymore.” He writes for Bored to Death. Ames: “We’re middle class clowns with the luxury of trying to figure their brains out.” Ames: “I tend to be more oral.” God bless the men who love cunnilingus. Some boxing stuff. Ames: “That is our job. To make people laugh, to feel a little less alone.” Some talk about Bored to Death. Ames: “People don’t really pay attention too much to other people.” TWO STARS

115. LIVE at the Vancouver Comedy Fest. Racist comedy. Oh fun. A deep discussion of the “N” word. Giving someone pudding. Unrated.

116. Sarah Silverman Marc is in Dallas. He marvels at the “Texas fat.” “Death of a Salesman” according to Maron. The plethora of Christian radio in Texas. He ponders what George W. Bush is doing right now. Maybe dropping by? There are pineapples on the comforter. Talking with Sarah Silverman from her Beverly Hills apartment. “I’m not for everyone.” On doing commercials. “I’m hated more than loved.” They look at her book, that Marc is in. How Sarah’s dad looks a lot like some of her boyfriends. “Fuck the comedian until you get funny.” Whether or not she was the defining moment in Dave Atell’s career. About her show cancellation. Sarah’s rabbi sister. Sarah’s never been to Israel. “I’d rather watch Law and Order at home.” About whether or not they want to have kids. “Get kids at the shelter. There’s way more kids at the shelter than dogs.” About letting a joke evolve over a year. “Book people are buffoons, just like Hollywood.” “Remember when we had a band? Me, you, Todd and Louie? For like a day?” TWO STARS

117. Ira Glass Originally scheduled to be a doctor, Ira Glass found NPR and radio. Yet, he marvels at Marc’s ability to be emotionally honest on the mic, as much as Marc marvels at Ira’s “singular voice.” Marc talks about how talking into a mic allows one to be more honest than on a stand-up stage. MM: “A lot of my struggles (on mic) is me becoming a better person. It’s an experiment in humility.” Ira: “A story is always an answer to the question, ‘How should I live my life?’ …And that’s the structure of the podcast.” MM: “By my natural intensity, (I frighten people).” Ira: “Some stories are not inherently interesting.” Marc’s “This American Life” story. Ira: “Most radio stories work best, if where they lead you to is some thought you have about the world.” On being self-involved. MM: “When we are talking to another individual, if we are listening, we are not self-involved.” FOUR STARS


Survivor Has Found God… and Social Media

When people talk these days about reality TV, the images of Snooki making out with a girl (both drunk), or loud housewives screaming at each other in restaurants probably come to mind. But quietly, oh so quietly, the show that started it all is taking this whole concept in another direction.

Let’s for a minute revisit the old direction. Survivor started out eons ago now, with conniving, back-stabbing Richard Hatch winning its first season (you remember him, he later ended up in jail for tax evasion). Throughout its seasons, it has pretty much been thus, too. Lying, cheating, backstabbing, blindsiding people who trust you. That’s how you win.

But its strength, right from that very first episode, has been in listening. In letting people do what they do, and letting things happen. That first outburst by Sue at Tribal Council still gives me chills if I think about it. People are funny, and people will surprise you.

That is really what has kept Survivor at the top of its game all these years, and is, frankly, why Jeff Probst keeps scooping up those Emmys every year (well-deserved). They let people do their thing and they capture it on camera.

But something really significant happened last season. While there had been many backstabbing moments captured on film, this was different. These last couple of seasons of Survivor have added a new wrinkle called Redemption Island. Where you aren’t voted out immediately, you kind of go to a holding area, to fight one last battle for your survival.

The brilliant thing about this new thing is that the Survivors who get sent there are pretty much removed from all the pre-planned and produced hoopla going on with the others. They are pretty much on their own, for days or weeks sometimes.

Matt was the contestant who changed the path of Survivor. You see, Matt believed in God. Strongly. And you’d see him on Redemption Island, getting spiritual, connecting with God, then winning all these challenges. Survivor producers may not have originally planned it that way, but it turned out to be great TV.

Sometimes competitors would get to hang out for a bit, before they had to do battle. Such a thing happened with Matt and an opponent from the opposite team. They were on opposing teams on Survivor, but in the team of religion, they were on the same side. They shared Bible verses with each other, and prayed before their battle.

And here was the moment, as stunning a Survivor moment as that first outburst by Sue when she described Richard as a rat. One competitor on Redemption Island lost. Matt was left behind to fight another later. As the competitor left, he turned and gave his Bible to Matt. “You need it more than me right now,” he said. It was stunning, heart-wrenching. Poignant. Real.

Ratings gold.

And also, brought up a whole new question, one which had been bounced around, in some contestants here or there through the seasons, but usually played down. What if there was a different kind of Survivor? What if you picked people who had a very strong faith, of whatever kind? People who might play Survivor with integrity instead of the old, played-out backstabbing mold? What if you quietly, but surely, looked at the various contestants to see how they make it through their days? What types of prayers do they share? When do they call on God, and how?

And most importantly, is the structure of Survivor such that you cannot win without cheating, lying and back-stabbing? It is, after all these seasons, a thrilling question. A compelling spin on an old game.

We are two episodes into this new season of Survivor: South Pacific. Another recent new wrinkle: contestants from past seasons are brought back. Last season, two “villains” returned: Rob Mariano (who ended up winning) and Russell Hantz (possibly the most hated and evil manipulative player ever). This season, a new direction. The two brought back were known for their spirituality.

Cheerful loving Ozzy, and “Coach,” who was primarily known for meditating and doing yoga on the beach. Right out of the gate, both are molding their teams, not through sneaky manipulation (lying to this one or that), but by trying to function through integrity. Being truthful to their tribemates.

In a really bizarre wrinkle (it’s almost like a parallel-universe Survivor), evil Russell Hantz’s nephew is on the show. Except, he’s the exact opposite. He quotes Bible verse, and gets so troubled when he tells a lie that he has to blurt out the truth, sometimes at very inopportune moments. He is physically struggling with lust in Ep. 2. He endeavors to get the object of his lust booted out, since “I’m a married man. I can’t have her around.” It’s fascinating.

There are hints that in the next episode, he’s struggling with the good and bad sides of his nature.

And it’s not just these three. Ozzy, whom contestant Dawn had called “Bob Marley” just a bit earlier for his free spirit, calms Dawn down when she freaks out a bit, after realizing the tough conditions of actual Survivor. Jeff Probst (whom I take for a very spiritual man himself) always says that Survivor will “kick your ass.” Sometimes it takes awhile to see this, as contestants get emaciated and pass out, or quit. Sometimes it shows up right away.

Dawn, whom I love, cause I can relate to her so much, seems very tightly wound. Very much in control in her normal life. Suddenly in an out-of-control situation. You can imagine. But there, in a deeply spiritual moment, Ozzy the veteran, stops what he’s doing, to counsel Dawn. Tells her (what is obvious to us) that she’s “got what it takes.” (I think she’s got what it takes to win, too.)

And really, the truth of Survivor always has been that you have to push yourself to limits you didn’t know you could get through. There was a moment last season, where two tough talking chickies pulled all sorts of shenanigans, but one week of solid rain brought them to their knees. They both quit.

Since then, new rules have been put into place about the whole quitting thing. It was a Survivor disgrace. To say nothing of the thievery and pushing down people with one leg. It got very nasty. Maybe this is a karmic way for Survivor to get its good mojo back.

Other cast members have their own methods of religion or connection with the Universe. One calls upon her Native American roots, and prays to their gods. Another, a gay policeman, talks about how now he “has nothing to lose.” Each, in their own way, seems to be on a spiritual quest of some kind.

Of course, TV is about conflict, so amidst all these do-gooders, you have to have some evil. We have a poker playing pot seller (medical), a scheming selfish shrewish woman (who’s already been voted out), and maybe a couple of others. But it really looks like this season, the good guys are going to win. Or at least those connected to God. You really should watch.


In other Survivor news, host Jeff Probst continues to push the envelope with social media. Last season, he simultaneously Tweeted to first the East Coast, then the West Coast, as each’s episode aired. It was wonderful. So far this time, he is only Tweeting for one show, but he’s also adding an element called “Tout,” where he can post video segments (answering fan questions during the commercials). It is the most effective use of social media from any show I’ve seen on TV. Great way to get the fans involved–and watching in real time.

All great reasons to tune in to Survivor: South Pacific. It’s going to be a good season, God told me so.