Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Give a Day, Get a Disney Day

I have to say, I am a big fan of Disney's latest big promotion. It's called "Give a Day, Get a Disney Day" and it means that simply by volunteering your time to a charitable organization, you get a free day at a Disney Park. And, if you don't think you'll be making it to Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort this year, you can also have that ticket donated to a charity that will use it to bring kids who might not otherwise get to experience the magic of a Disney Park.

To promote this, they have teamed up with the Muppets. If you want more information on the "Give a Day, Get a Disney Day" program, just go to... well... why don't I let these guys tell you about it?

What are you waiting for? Click it, already!

Labels: ,

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Survivor 19 - Samoa

Was it just me, or was this season one of the most enjoyable ones in recent memory? Russel Hantz made for great television, and was a joy to watch. The setting was beautiful, the challenges interesting, and two contestants were removed for medical reasons.

For anyone who doesn't watch, Russel Hantz was defeated at the final tribal council by Natalie White. Their styles couldn't have been more different. Russel was brash, and always looking ahead to how to make it to the end of the game. Natalie was quiet and more focused on getting to know people.

Jeff Probst, the host of the show, says that Russel was robbed by a bitter jury. Stephen Fishbach, a former contestant himself, tells Probst that he is wrong on his strategy blog.

And I agree with Fishman. Russel points out that the sign for Survivor says "Outwit, Outplay Outlast." That there is no "Out-Socialize" on there. And the fact that even after he lost (weeks after he lost, it seems) he still feels that way shows why he lost. Part of Survivor is the social game. It has been since Richard Hatch won the first season. Let me say that again - social game. One "plays" a game. Russel interpreted "Outplay" as referring to the part of the game he valued. He doesn't see the value of the social game at all.The value of the social game this season was about $1,000,000.

Russel was an amazing player. In fact, I'd go so far as to call him masterful. He found hidden immunity idols with no hints - twice. He played one of those immunity idols at the exact right time when his butt was on the line. He certainly never hurt his own team by actions within a challenge. In many ways, he may have been the best player ever.

He thought outside the box. On the first day, he burned one of his tribe-mates' socks. He dumped out canteens of water, after drinking his fill. He put his own tribe down into the dumps so he could pick them up and take on the role of savior. And it mostly worked. He likes to claim that every vote out was who he wanted voted out. That is not specifically true. He backed down to Jaison on the Ben vote. And there were other times where he announced early who he wanted out next, but circumstances forced him to change. He showd the necessary flexibility. He was good.

But he also wore the hidden immunity idol openly to the last two tribal councils where it could be used, and showed his arrogance by not using it at the last possible opportunity. In front of the jury. At the final tribal council, he made no attempt to mollify the jury, some of whom he had lied to an betrayed, and instead expected them to vote for him based on his skillful game play. And this is where his game fell apart.

Natalie on the other hand actually bonded with the members of the Galu tribe when the merge happened. She almost was ostracized from her own alliance because when it came time to pick teams for a challenge, she picked one of the former Galu members over he own Foa Foa brethren. (By the way, she got his vote at the final tribal council.)

She also was actually, as far as I could tell from the episode, the orchastrator of one of the single most important move of the game. When the two tribes merged, Galu had 8 members, and Foa Foa had 4. If Galu were playing intelligently, they would have split their vote 4 each for any two of those Foa Foa members. Assuming the Foa Foas all vote the same, we have a tie - possibly a three-way tie or - and this is key - if one of the Foa Foa members has and plays the immunity idol, you still have a two-way tie. Now, it is a re-vote. Having decided so before hand, the tribe now all puts their votes down for the person the really want out, or the person who does not have the immunity idol. That play is only possible because of having twice the numbers of the Foa Foa tribe. Instead, they vote out one of their own, Erik, partly at the urging of Natalie, and partly because they all feel secure with the advantage in numbers.

This triggered the next most important moves - one of the Galu members who didn't get along with most of the tribe (Shambo) wasn't in on the switch of vote to one of their own. Several times in later shows, when old Galu members tried to entice her back to voting with them, rather than following Russell, Shambo replied "There is no tribe loyalty. There is no Galu. That ended with Erik." (I'm paraphrasing, but that is the gist.) So, this girl Natalie, who has been accused of doing nothing all game, actually was one of the movers and shakers behind the move that got Foa Foa 5 votes instead of 4.

Even so, it is now 6 against 5. At the next tribal council, Russell has attracted all of the fire, particularly since he is now clearly the ring leader of the Foa Foa group. Once the votes have gone down, he plays his immunity idol. Bam! 5-5. Next, the two tribes vote to a tie, and in the re-vote, instead of having to face a 1-in-8 chance of not being there the next day, John from Galu changes his vote and now, the former Foa Foas have a 5-4 voting advantage. But Russell had told John that if he helped them get rid of a Galu, he would give up a Foa Foa. He had no intention of doing so, and John was next to go.

From there, it was just a numbers game until one of the Galu members made a run of immunity challenge wins, forcing Russell, Natalie and their ally Mick to vote out one of their own, and Jaison was gone. At the last immunity challenge, Russel came up big, and made sure it was only the Foa Foas in the final tribal council - but not before telling Brett (the last remaining Galu) that if Russell won immunity, he would take Brett to the end because Brett was such a good person.

So, in the course of securing his place in the final three, Russel lied to John's face, turned on Shambo, lied to Brett's face and told both Mick and Jaison that they were safe when they had to vote out one of the Foa Foa's, only to vote Jaison out. This is what Russel felt was "outplay." Lying in the faces of people who got to decide if you won a million dollars.

At the end of the day, his social game came back to bite him. Natalie won 7-2, and earned the title of Sole Survivor. Russel and his fans, of which there are many, feel he was robbed. Those folks don't see that survivor is a multi-layered game - backstabbing is part of it, winning challenges is part of it, and finding hidden immunity idols is part of it. Russel exceeded at two of those parts of the game, and pulled out an immunity win when he needed it most, to get rid of Brett. But he was, and still is, ignorant of the part of the game that happens at the end. The way you make the jury members feel about being voted out is as important if not more so as the other parts of the game. Russel expected them all to bow to his greatness, while Natalie expected them all to react like human beings.

Let's see - a driving force in the biggest single move of the game (if Galu had followed the plan I laid out earlier, even Russel's immunity idol wouldn't have helped the next time - one of the Foa Foas were going home again), and a consummate social game. Sounds to me like she made all the right moves, and deserves to be called Sole Survivor.

Labels: , ,