May 4, 2001
Surviving Raoul


I knew who was going to win the million dollars last night.

I don't mean that I had a pretty good 'hunch' who was going to claim the prize, or that I saw the winner's name in my Fast Lane tea-leaves, or that I've got an *in* with the head honchos at CBS. I mean that I KNEW who was going to win ... thanks to an online pal who shall remain nameless (although his name might begin with a "Bottle" and end with a "Nekk").

This nameless online pal (who may or may not live in KANSAS ... which, we'd like to point out, is two hours ahead of those of us who live on the WEST COAST) sent out the following deathless missive to our little e-mail group at roughly 8:42 p.m. PDT last night:

P.S.: Hey!!! What's this bullshit with Tina winning the goddamn Survivor championship??? That ain't right. Colby won that damn thing fair and square. He and that pumped-up chick were the only two who could actually have survived in any place that was more than six blocks from the nearest Gap and Starbucks. And Rodger deserved some kind of prize just for being the only guy who wasn't dripping with narcissism. But Tina winning the whole thing??? Nuh-uh. I cry foul.

I'm going to the zoo right now, and punching out a kangaroo.

My immediate and anguished response:

Damn, Wichita!!!!!! You shoulda put a disclaimer on your last e-mail: it's only 8:30 p.m. over here in CALIFORNIA. They haven't even finished carving their fudking little totem poles yet. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Of course, my nameless online pal wrote back to apologize for his faux pas. ("What the hell were you doing online at 8:30?", I believe, were his exact words. And then he said that when I lampoon him on my website, as I surely will, I am to protect his identity by referring to him only as "Raoul, a midget albino from Fon-du-lac, Wisconsin."

But by then the damage had been done. Three months of devoted viewing, delicious anticipation, feverish speculation ... shot. Just like that.


I love Survivor. I really, really do. And I don't mind admitting it publicly, even though this is probably not going to be a popular opinion with 50% of you reading this. The interesting thing about the whole Survivor phenomenon, I've noticed, is that there is practically no middle ground, opinionwise: people either love the show ... or else they hate it. If they love it, they love it devotedly, feverishly, noisily, unabashedly ... and if they hate it, they think that all the people who love it are idiots. So I figure that half of you out there are thinking I'm an idiot, right about now.

(And that's OK. I love you anyway. Even though you're wrong, wrong, WRONG.)

This second season of Survivor, although not the ratings and commercial success of its predecessor, pulled me in, emotionally, much more than the first season did. There were more people for me to loathe   --  and more people for me to love  --  this time around. I was a Rodger & Elisabeth fan all the way ... I cheered when they finally gave Kimmy the boot ... I found that I liked that Mike person lots better when he was dropping face-first into bonfires than when he was hacking pigs to death. The people-dynamic was more interesting to me this season, too. The whole Colby-and-Jerri thing, for instance, was sort of like watching one of those PBS nature specials about insects killing and eating each other after sex: you're fascinated and repelled, at the same time. And who in the world could fail to feel uplifted by some of the genuinely human moments in the show this season? Rodger gallantly forfeiting himself for his friend Elisabeth ... the tribe rallying around burn-victim Mike, as he was being airlifted to the hospital after his accident ... Mad Dog unselfconsciously yanking her false teeth out of her mouth, before chowing down on a worm the size of a garden hose?

No lame-ass sitcom can compare, frankly.

"But it's nothing but editing!" you screech. Cleverly-orchestrated, carefully-selected scenes, spliced together as manipulatively as possible, in order to create a "reality" that may or may not have anything to do with actual REALITY.

And I would have to say Yes! YES! Exactly! That's EXACTLY what I like BEST about the show! I like the fact that they take selected bits and pieces of daily life: random events, dialogue, emotional outbursts, private moments ... deliberately playing up certain parts of the narrative for dramatic effect, while leaving out other parts entirely ... adding an occasional groovy flashback or reaction shot or voiceover commentary, on top of the action ... and eventually fashioning a compelling "story" out of the whole mess.

After all: it's the same thing I do here on *FootNotes.*

  • So did I bother watching the rest of last night's finale, even though I knew in advance who was going to win?  Of course I did. Just because you know the orgasm is on the way doesn't lessen the pleasure once it finally gets here, does it? Besides, there were plenty of other surprises. Who could have predicted, for instance, that Colby would turn suddenly, stoopidly chivalrous and toss away $900,000 for the sake of an alliance? Or that Jerri's final Tribal Council "interrogation" would turn out to be so wimpy and anticlimactic? (You, madame, are no Susan Hawk.) Or that Debb would break down and experience a major *Boo Hoo Moment* on national TV?

    On the other hand, there were some surprises that weren't quite as much fun. The whole "cheesy helicopter flying into the cheesy faux-Tribal Council set" thing, for one. I liked it a lot better when they announced the winner right on the spot: there was a better chance that someone was gonna beat somebody else up, right there in front of the cameras.

    And I don't know about you, but I think that some of those men actually looked better bearded and malnourished. (So did some of the women, come to think of it.)

  • Did I spill the beans to David?  Of course I didn't. He pretty much had it figured out, anyway.

  • Did I forsake my beloved Matt Lauer this morning in order to tune in to that *other* mornings news show and watch all of the day-after-the-finale "Survivor" hoo-haw? Yes. Although I wanted to reach right into my TV, grab that bloated gasbag Bryant Gumbel by the testicles and squeeeeeeze, as hard as I could, every goddamn time he referred to Tina as "Teenz."

  • Did I cry like a big stoopid baby when Jeff Probst and Mark What'sHisName handed Tina her million dollar check? Let's put it this way: I'm glad I opted for the waterproof Maybelline this morning.

  • Am I already counting down the days until Survivor Africa? As soon as the wedding is over,  the *Survivor Countdown Meter* goes up on the splash page.

  • Will I ever forgive my pal Bottlenekk Raoul for his unfortunate *premature evaluation?*  Sure. I've forgiven him already. (He ruined "Titanic" for me, too, a few years back.)

Have a great weekend, everybody. And remember: Outwit! Outplay! Outlast!

p.s. to everyone who has written: yes ... thank you ... i amaware of the "ÊÊÊÊÊ*ÊÊÊÊÊ*ÊÊÊÊÊ*ÊÊÊÊÊ*ÊÊÊÊÊ*ÊÊÊÊÊ*" problem. it's a file-transfer glitch: when the isp moved all of my files this week -- from the "old" non-groovy location to the groovy new domain-name location -- some special characters didn't *translate* correctly. (it especially doesn't seem to like "Ю僱êrvØ¡.")  i am slowly trying to correct the problem: bear with me. in the meantime, it's nice to know so many of you are paying attention to stuff like that.

p.p.s. these were KFOG-FM's 10-at-10/*Guilty Pleasures* for today: "Ballroom Blitz," "Tubthumping," "Dancing Queen," "Cherry Cherry," "Rubberband Man," "You Shook Me All Night Long," "Ma Belle Amie," "Billie Jean," "Walking on Sunshine," "Come on Eileen."  i am guilty of liking four songs on this list ... and hating the living fudk out of the rest of them. you guess which is which.

* * * * very special p.s. * * * * happy birthday to a son who has been the delight of my heart for fifteen years. i love you very much, kyle.

* * * * very special p.s. part two * * * * YO! KYLE! i've been trying to call and wish you a "happy birthday" all afternoon ... but some guy with a deep voice keeps answering your phone. would you tell him to go away and put my baby boy on the line? thankyouverymuch.

other kyle-related links:
one year ago: son #only
the backpack
fifteen years ago: only a boy would keep me waiting

throw a rock