Friday, September 26, 2008

Survivor, saving me from the winter blues


The music, the animals, the Probst. My life is complete again.

I don't know that I'm going to do complete recaps this season, or at least the recap formula isn't going to be my goal this time around. However, I love dishing about it, which probably often will mean talking about everything that happened, so who knows how this column will actually turn out. Basically I am just trying to give myself some cover if I feel lazy and don't want to be as thorough as I've sometimes been in the past. But don't get me wrong. I still think Survivor is the best show on TV. Ever. (What, you thought I was going to say "The Honeymooners"?)

New this season: actual interaction with the animals and scenery they show in the montages. Usually they get some wildlife photographer to go out and get all this great footage, but always at an undetermined distance away from the actual contestants, whom rarely see the whales or sharks or monkeys or waterfalls or whatever. But this time we start in an absolutely gorgeous green valley, which we revisit for the challenges, which I am stoked about. The valley is a nice change from the nondescript locations of previous shows. And one of the camps has a close encounter with some elephants in the dark, which is awesome, although the event gets overshadowed with some dude getting the slow death award by giving himself a nasty gash in the head that is bound to get infected. Unfortunately he is no Jonathan and I doubt I'm going to feel all that sad when he starts crying about how unfair it is that he has to leave in another episode or two.

So we had two episodes back to back, which was great. The first four episodes are usually a bit of a throwaway as we are just trying to get to know the players, and it is hard to get too worked up about who gets booted, unless it happens to be someone who is, you know, attractive. Cause then it is a bummer. Luckily that didn't happen this time. Almost. But not. Well, yet.

Immediately I'm intrigued by Crystal, who won an Olympic Gold relay medal in Athens, although sadly I don't actually remember her (and there is no doubt that I watched her race). If they'd gotten, say, Lauren Williams, who lost two Olympic relay medals by dropping the baton, I would have been so stoked. Still, this is a girl who should be fun, athletic, and who should know how to talk to the camera to make things fun. So imagine my surprise when she falls to pieces on the first challenge, and then blames her sneakers - that she picked out to bring with her - for being too heavy. Hmmm. Still, she has a fun personality and is very mom-pretty, so I'm still into her. But please, please, let there be a race that she can dominate cause that would be totally awesome.

Obviously I am totally loving Charlie and his boy-crush on Marcus, who reminds me terribly of Patrick Wilson. I also love, of course, that Marcus is cool enough to not be freaked out by it, and seems (so far) to be genuinely taking advantage of the bond to make a pretty real alliance with him. They pick two pretty girls to go with them, and talk about (but never actually approach) Boy Scout Bob to be their swing. Not only good strategy, but at this point in the game they all seem like the kind of people I'd love to see win. (As long as Corrine tones down the "I'm not here to make friends" nonsense. Save that stuff for later.) I loved when the boys were talking about how smart Corrine is, and the camera cuts to a shot of her talking to someone and nodding, as if she were saying "Yes, yes I am the smartest person here."

I guess I'm fine with them calling it "Exile Island" even when it is a little camp by a lake and not, technically, an island. I do like the twist of choosing shelter over the clue. Separates the men from the boys. I thought they were foolish for sending Nick Lachey I mean Dan to Exile, but it turned out to be a smart move as his team got a huge case of the paranoia and almost voted him out thinking he had the idol. The one team has lost every challenge so far, and I HATE blowout seasons, but if we have to go down that boring road, I'd rather they go out spectacularly, and so if they start voting out their strongest players that is fine with me. I can understand voting out the entirely unpleasant Michelle, who starting things out with a totally annoying chip on her shoulder and dug her own grave a little every time she opened her mouth. And I liked the old lady, but at this point in the game you have to go for strength. Sorry moms!

The jury is still out on the video nerd, who is both at times very appealing (seeming very athletic when he was climbing on the balls to untie the keys) and then gets dangerously close to Cook Islands Billy territory as he gets attention from a real live girl in Michelle. Also on Sugar, whom I like a lot (much like I also like 1940's inspired Kenley over at Project Runway), but it is yet unclear whether she really has the skills to be interesting on this kind of show or if she will just be follower Indian boring.

Medical side note: Gillian is a nurse, but yet was complaining about it being too dark for her to help the unpleasant wedding-video dude when he cut his head and is bleeding profusely all over his face. Um, maybe you can't heal it, but couldn't you at least put pressure on it? (Heh, it looked pretty cool though, I bet all the cameramen were like "No! Don't mess up my shot!") Also, medically speaking, why don't any of the residents at my hospital look like Marcus? Just asking.

Am I wrong, or is this the first season Jeff is wearing shorts?

Yeah, so maybe not a true recap, but I can't resist talking about it all. I was getting all depressed because it is getting cold outside, but at least I will have Survivor to warm my heart.


  1. Good point about the two-hour first episode. I agree so much - really all I ever take away from the first few is who I can't stand (like that crazy Bible lady from a couple seasons back or Courtney), while so many of them you feel like you never get to know (happened to some girl last season, but, not ironically, I can't remember her name). Perhaps I should rethink my stance on not liking the big casts (18 or 20) when you never really get to know the first 4 booted off anyhow.

    I too am glad you're doing these as well. They're fun, but kind of a hassle as well, as there's a pressure to get them out asap. I'm sure I'll keep it up, they just might not be as long as usual. Or maybe they will...I can't resist the traffic boosts...

  2. "I'm not green, but I could be," reads one. Others have similar messages printed on them, "My Bag", "Use Me and Re-use Me".

    Since the Chinese government issued its June 1 ban on free plastic bag handouts, retailers in China have found themselves in the midst of a "green" phenomenon.

    They're anxious to turn fashion-conscious customers into eco-aware shoppers.

    Under the new regulations, free plastic bags are banned and shopkeepers are required to charge shoppers for plastic bags. The prices vary, but range from 0.2 yuan ($0.03) to 1 yuan ($0.14) depending on the size of the bag.

    But, a plain bag is far from satisfactory for the China's fashion-conscious - and this mindset is pushing the country towards a "green revolution" in the closets.

    "It is cool to carry a simple colored eco bag to go with my Levi's jeans and sneakers," says 21-year-old Huang Min. "It is a direct way to contribute to environmental protection. And, it is a popular vision for saving the planet."

    The Beijing college student wears her new eco bag proudly on her shoulder. It is an important part of her outfit - and has a statement to make.

    Eco bags are increasingly being seen as fashionable as more and more celebrities appear on "green issue" magazine covers with the reusable bags matching their outfits.

    "Going green" appears to be a growing trend. Stars as big as Madonna have even dazzled "green-oriented" magazines. The artist was chosen to dazzle the cover of Vanity Fair's third annual May 2008 Green Issue.

    As environmental issues spill into the fashion world, the "green shopping bag" campaign seems to be a win-win solution for all those involved.

    Companies can adopt the bags as a brand-building tool. Consumers see it as an iconic statement against throwaway plastics - which have previously been given away in the billions annually. The "green movement" has been seeping on to fashion runways and marketing strategies - so why not on shopping bags and totes?

    Muji, a Japanese lifestyle store established nearly 30 years ago, launched its own version of "My Bag" when it opened its first Beijing store in Joy City this March. The simple yet stylish bags made from linen and cotton threads have sold well over the past few months in the capital, according to Muji staff. Initially, they sold bags ranging from 5 to 100 yuan, but now they only have bags priced from 24 to 100 yuan remaining.

    "People of different ages love the bags because they are light, simple and convenient," says one of the shop's workers Chen Weimi.

    "To reduce waste and conserve resources, we encourage our consumers to use 'My Bag'," says the store's manager Akita Toru.

    Other well-known international brands are also striving to set the eco trend in Beijing. Diesel, Marc Jacobs and DKNY have also released low-priced eco bags made of organic cotton.

    And, apart from the big international names, young designers based in Beijing are also working on the green bags.

    "Young people in China are aware of the environment and want to do what they can to protect it, especially when it is becoming a trend," says 30-year-old designer Peng Haofeng, from Yunnan province.

    Together, with two other friends, the three opened a green-themed store, Kidults, or Tong Huo in Chinese, last November on Dongsi Street. The company aims to promote the green fashion concept among the Beijing people.

    According to the store's marketing manager, Gou Chenglong, many people were unaware of the eco bag concept when the store first opened last year.

    "People, especially the older generation would not accept the idea because they didn't think about the simple green bag value that much. But, half a year later, more and more people here are becoming aware of the eco-bags or eco-fashion trend, especially when the government issued the ban on plastic bags at supermarkets in Beijing. It is a good start."

    With handmade pictures on them, the bags look trendy and self-expressive. The bags generally contain no dyes and are known for their creative trims and decorations made from wood or bamboo.

    "The price is normal and acceptable for students and office workers," says 26-year-old Zhou Fei, as she rifled through the bags at Kidults ranging from 15 yuan to 100 yuan. "I am a frequent buyer of green bags and T-shirts."

    "It would be fashionable to carry beautifully designed cloth bags rather than monotonous white plastic ones down the street."

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