Friday, March 30, 2007

Episode 7: Rocky Gets Knocked Out

I surmise I am not the only person grateful that Rocky's shtick wore too thin with the gang at Ravu. I don't know that I have ever seen a player with such a poor sense of the relational aspect of this game as the megalo-Bostonian did. I don't doubt that he was being himself- that he was not well suited to subtlety was apparent from the start. At least he was consistent... But to treat everyone as you would a lifelong friend come adopted brother out of Southie and berate everyone that moved as if you were recovering from a street war and due to fight another in minutes? Perhaps the most incongruous statement in recent Survivor history was when Rocky dressed Anthony down in tribal council for having no social skills, and then informing Anthony that he acted like a little girl and he needed to "take off his skirt a little."

Perhaps these shortcomings would have been overlooked had Rocky actually been a factor in challenges. Reminiscent of Adam last season, Rocky didn't even do anything to win even ONE challenge. He was a total O-fer, no wins, all losses, and losses he was highly unimpressive in. You can't be a mouthpiece non-stop and not deliver the goods, and Rocky was all talk (negative, insulting, sexist, macho, self-absorbed) and no action.

Lisi managed to navigate the debacle at the shuffle fairly well, though it helps to have someone like Rocky grating on everyone's nerves at all times to accomplish rebuilding your image. She did manage not to be bossy and condescending, something she was often enough at Moto to motivate Alex to consider the value of continued alliance with. I will be interested long term to see if she can survive if Ravu loses again. Dreamz has not forgotten his treatment by the old Moto, and in Mookie, Dreamz has someone who is playing the game with his eyes open.

Gotta say that Earl and Yao Man's strategy to combine for the immunity idol gives the game a new wrinkle, though it's readily apparent that Yao Man will need to play it long before Earl does. It will be interesting to see if Earl can unearth the discontent that Cassandra felt in the old Moto and leverage that to gain the swing vote if the new Moto heads to tribal soon.

The new Moto continues to impress. Clearly nowhere close to the new Ravu in physical prowess, the tribe makes up for in glue, teamwork and guts. Had to love the silenced look on Mookie's face when Yao Man made the reward challenge too close for comfort- Yao Man is a competitor, and resourceful. The ability of Moto to think a couple steps ahead may be the difference in getting to the merge ahead in numbers. Only Alex and Edgardo are really scheming for Ravu, and it will take something big for Dreamz and Mookie to break the three now.

Good challenges this week as well- loved the skull bashing immunity challenge. Did you laugh as hard as Lori and I did when Michelle went head over heels off the platform while shouting directions? Awful, I know, but it was classic slapstick...

I wonder if we're not in for a wrinkle next week. With the way this season started so slow and the tribes still so close, I have a hunch that the merge might come sooner rather than later and make the immunity idol that much more important and critical earlier in the game.

I also suspect that the merged tribe will reside at Ravu beach. I'll be disappointed to see the merge-makers living it up in luxury- it's Survivor. Let's see who can go the distance, carry their weight at a camp where nothing comes easy and still keep their wits about them.

Who's next? If it's Ravu, don't be surprised to see Mookie walk at the hands of the ex-Moto crew. If it's Moto, I hope Earl and Yao Man do the smart thing and make Boo the target with the immunity idol in play...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Episode 6: The Whiner and the Jerk

OK. Thankfully, the tribes got shuffled. This was shaping up as the most lopsided season in Survivor history. Analysis of the team selections you say? For now the new Moto looks great because they won the first challenge, but at the time of the picking you had to wonder what Boo was thinking taking Michelle instead of Rocky. With Edgardo, Mookie and Alex staring from the Ravu mat, representing three of the most powerful physical players in a game where strength has dictated victory, you pick the smallest girl in the game? Michelle picks Cassandra next, and the new Ravu gets Dreamz AND Rocky.

While I think team chemistry will be better with Moto, the ex-Moto members of Ravu will not be sitting back at camp whining about how hard it is like Rocky and the Ravu Tear Droppers did. They already showed they could get food, and they showed that they will be competitive in challenges, which the old Ravu rarely was. The new Ravu won't be content to me an emaciate, emotionally beaten group.

The big question is how much of a factor is the luxury camp now for the new and much less physically competitive Moto? Does it even the field? Time will tell.

I have to say that I was praying for a second glass bottle to emerge for the new Ravu when they lost the challenge- I wanted desperately for them to need to get rid of Anthony AND Rocky.

Anthony was unbelievably timid and passive, and his constant sighing and anxiety monologues were wearing. You don't go to play Survivor with a mindset to be everyone's whipping boy or anyone's easy to pick on nerd/geek/dweeb (as he described himself). To do so is to walk around an easy target and a sure thing to get whacked early, and that's what happened.

There have been lots of players who have demonstrated emotional depth coupled with incredible guts. You can be sensitive and tough, but Anthony showed up convinced that he could only be one or the other and let past experiences dictate that it was going to be sensitive. It's a shame, because I think he could have won a lot of respect by at least holding some boundaries and being clear about things. He tried at tribal, but it was too late for him.

Rocky is an obtuse and self-righteous megalomaniac. He's not able to look in the mirror. His rant, while containing some good tips for Anthony, wandered way too far into buffoon territory (like Donald Trump has in standing up to Rosie O'Donnell- make your point- you don't need to assassinate people while you're at it. Outbullying the bully isn't right or going to win you points with anyone, except the meathead crowd.) Calling him effeminate, saying that he should take his skirt off- WOW. Anthony missed a golden opportunity to ask Rocky how many challenges he had won single handedly yet. Rocky has been a big a disappointment as anyone on Ravu for all his he-man braggadocio, and should be the last to point out weak gamesmanship relative to competition.

He's not even remotely playing the game beyond a physical competition standpoint, and the only way I can see him lasting longer in the game is if the new Ravu goes on a streak and makes it intact to the merge, or if someone wise, like Alex and Edgardo, realize that Rocky is a perfect take along and throw away alliance member at the jury stage. Everyone would understand getting rid of the guy because he's just so arrogant and abrasive, and no one would bother listening to him rant at a final tribal because everything that comes out of his mouth is a sexist, macho caricature of men on steroids and too much beer.

I don't think anyone can stomach carrying him that far in the game though, and they would have to carry him, because he's not someone who scares anyone in straight up physical competition.

One thing I would like to say about tribal council- Probst is losing his ability to point out flaws in games equitably. Piling onto Anthony and letting Rocky's rant, which CLEARLY made everyone in the tribe kick the dirt and cover their eyes, go without challenge was awful. I like that he used to point-counterpoint with clashes at council, giving to each opponent equally, but far too often over the last few seasons he seems to be happy to shape the game so that loudmouths stay around and make big stink (Adam vs. Jonathan last season comes to mind- Jonathan got it from everyone, including Probst, where Adam, save for one immunity win, was as competitive as a coconut husk). I don't like that he is becoming a bigger factor in the flow of the game- there was value in interjecting some objectivity into tribal council discussions, but it's shifted to making one player squint under the glare of the spotlight.

Finally, how dippy did Lisi look in pouting over not being chosen and getting sent to exile? Any player I have ever seen cop to giving quitting and going home serious consideration has never recovered in the game (remember nurse Stephanie last season?). She, like Rocky, is abrasive an know-it-all, and has yet to demonstrate any subtlety to her game, with her faith for victory firmly based on her impression that she and Stacey could she-pout and manipulate their ex-Moto male alliance members to do whatever she wanted. Now that she has left the impression that she could care less about the game and would be better off at home, don't be surprised to see her take the long walk without a torch very shortly.

I have to give Dreamz props for being able to do more than just hype and gripe. Where Rocky just assumes everyone will worship at his shrine, Dreamz gets that relationships are built and alliances earned and developed cooperatively. At one point I questioned if he would be able to reign in some of his extrovert tendencies to be able to navigate the finer points of the game, but he is impressing recently. He's also a guy who won't be afraid to make big moves to shake the game- he knows who he's there to play for, and that gives him a focus not many others seem to be showing right now.

Glad to see the game shifted. That was close- this season was one more boring week away from being banished to my exile island of shows not worth watching. Here's hoping the new Moto stays undefeated one more week and we get to see Rocky either dance for his dinner or go phony-Boston apey after getting blindsided by the rest of the Ravu men...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

working through it...

One of my biggest wrestlings in life is with the call I have felt to ministry without the call to full-time ministry. I have always identified with the model of the Apostles who went about building the church yet having a marketplace trade or skill they regularly used and practiced.

Though I was never able to articulate it, I was always perturbed with the unspoken statement at youth camps, retreats and conventions that the really anointed or gifted people were destined to go to bible college and be pastors. The only youth you saw on the stage or esteemed by leaders were those who were clearly on the track to attending bible college. It was like if you weren't like them, you didn't matter as much and that you intrinsically had less to offer in building Jesus' church.

This same feeling hits me when I see how little space there is within the church to hear and learn from people whose calling isn't to full time ministry yet have a clear anointing and impact on the church, especially within their local church community. I admit that I shake my head whenever I look at brochures or publicity for church conferences and see that the only voices and perspectives represented are paid clergy.

My Dad is a minister, and being a minister is the only thing I have ever seen him do in terms of vocation in my life. I have a profound respect for those that give their lives in full-time service, so the issue isn't that clergy don't really have something valuable to say, because they clearly do.

What I fight with is that it seems the only voices Christianity is willing to provide air time to are paid clergy. We spend all of our time hearing from the temple and next to none hearing from those building the church in the market. Check the list of speakers at your favourite conference next time and see if there are any lay people or anyone who isn't the pastor of some large church or highly visible ministry.

It leaves me in a position wondering where the room is in ministry for lay people who have a calling to speak to the church, and whose lives and testimonies are lined with riches bestowed by God to be a blessing and source of wealth to the body.

One of my Dad's peeves is how little esteem there is in the public eye for clergy people- they often rank with used car salesmen or politicians in polls when it comes to trustworthiness. I wonder, though, if we haven't created such an insular culture within the church that we have developed a worship of pastors and devalued the voice and lives of laypeople to the place that the body has forgotten to hear the voice of lay leaders and tuned out the only other voice it hears- the clergy.

One of the other consequences of the way we overburden clergy and underburden lay leaders is that clergy burn out far too often and experience much harder falls when they do fall morally or otherwise. Does Jimmy Swaggart's fall from grace do as much damage if the load of leading, shepherding and teaching within that congregation is shared according to the principal of the priesthood of all believers?

This paradigm has also contributed to the delinquency and non-engagement of the rank and file believer. Because the expectations on clergy are so steep and they do so much more than they should be and the expectations on believers who should be growing and maturing and shouldering a much more significant responsibility for the work of the church are so lax, we have generations of believers who are used to doing nothing other than showing up to be entertained on Sundays.

So, what I am seeking? Speaking engagements? A TV ministry? Not at all. Nor am I suggesting that we devalue the role of clergy- we do that at our peril. Somehow there has to come a shift within the church where clergy shift the focus of running the work of the church to empowering believers to carry out their reasonable service with the giftings and talents God has entrusted them with.

I really believe that the western church will not realize the growth and potential it has in our culture until this dynamic tension comes back into calibration. Until that time, losing clergy in churches will have a far more devastating effect than it should and legions of overfed and underengaged believers will languish in immaturity and inaction.

I am believing for a time when conferences in a city or a region will feature homegrown leaders whose life message will carry weight every bit as significant as the most known international church leader, a time where pastors can be relieved of the burden of having to make the whole church move and grow and believers at all stages of growth can mature knowing that they are critical partners in building the church and accomplishing Jesus' dream on earth and that they will find every opportunity to use their God given talents and abilities to maximum fruitfulness to contribute to a kingdom that knows no end.

I believe it's coming, and I will continue to serve and do my part in my local church in partnership with my pastor and fellow believers. I will look for opportunities to use the things God has put in my life and take up my responsbility and call so that no one else carries a weight that God intends for me to shoulder and steward. I'll be at my place on the wall until the gap is closed and the breach repaired. Looking forward to visiting your spot when it's all done...

Loads of love from Halifax...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Homework Complete

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

This week's homework asked us to create a clip or sequence (I did both) and use and modify at least one LiveType template, to save the titles created and import the LiveType project files into the Final Cut Pro sequence for use instead of rendering out each title individually.

This project uses three different NTSC titling templates from LiveType. All fonts were changed, with some resized.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

March Break! Hooray!

Today is the first day of March break here in the Halifax Regional School Board. I kicked mine off with an extended Saturday morning snooze with my wife, Lori, the most fabulous woman on the face of the planet.

Next on the agenda was some online jigsaw puzzling with Jonah (found some VERY cool jigsaws of trains, which he is particularly jazzed about) before we ate some breakfast and dined with Lois, who was ravishing in her white terry sleeper and smelled like a million wearing her pink Johnson's baby lotion.

Jonah and I played a rowdy game of troll under the blanket (read: wrestling with lots of noise and tickling while pretending to be trolls...), and made bacon and eggs for the family. He's quite a chef. I used to worry that he would be keen to explore the laws of thermal dynamics being so close to the stove, but he's a tremendous listener when I show him how to stir things and where not to put our hands so we don't get burned. I like our chances in a scrambled egg making combination against any duo in the world....

I have some homework to do for my film class this afternoon, and we have a date to enjoy some tourtiere Lac St. Jean courtesy with my folks courtesy of our friends from Lennoxville, the Cheals, this evening.

I am looking forward to a visit with my sister in Summerside for a couple of days to get out of town and spend some time with her. Rumor has it that there is a large John Deere dealership not too far from her house, so a visit of the showroom is a very real possibility for Jonah and I....

Other than that, I'm hoping to sleep in once (ok, maybe twice), catch a movie and spend some time in the editing suite at JP2MI doing some Final Cut Pro tutorials. Mostly, I'm just excited to be at home with my wife and kids and enjoy every minute.

How do you March break at your house? If you've had yours already, hope it was awesome. If you haven't, hope you've planned for some R&R and quality time with the ones you love.

No Survivor next week, so depending on what happens, I might have some neat pics to share instead.

Gotta figure out how to get this blog on track and give it some form and rhythm so it's not so boom or bust. Any ideas the blog gallery has about resources to help build a better blog would be appreciated.

Check you all later.

Friday, March 09, 2007


Somebody please wake me when this season gets interesting. Ravu is awash in loser-vibes- they are possible the very worst tribe in all of Survivor history. They don't do anything well- physically they can't compete, and mentally they are about as shadow cast on a wall 50 feet away from a candle.

I thought maybe there might be some compelling moments what with the faceoff between Dreamz and Rocky being included in the upcoming hilites last week, but even that was a total wash.

I thought Adam was a total flub last season, but at least he won one challenge. Ravu just isn't even in the game.

HOPEFULLY with the scenes from the next episode including a tribe shake up things will get moving and we'll see some real action in the game. Watching so far has been like watching grist go through the mill as far as excitement goes.

That said, I think Alex and Edgardo are the two brightest minds in the game to date. The Moto woman-twins are just obnoxious, and I have never seen a tribe so arrogant follow a plan through its execution (see the demise of the 5 women vs. Chris a few seasons back- they had it in the bag, and then they got paranoid and forget about the man in the game...). Not that I believe in karma, but the law of sowing and reaping is immutable- those two rude and exclusionary women will pay the price for mistreating Dreamz and Cassandra AND for ignoring Alex' counsel that it was far too early in the game to act like it was all over.

Can't wait for the merge. If it doesn't get interesting soon, I might have to watch the hypefest known as Grey's Anatomy instead. yikes....

Friday, March 02, 2007

Episode 4: Breaking the Cardinal Rule

Stunned. That's what I am about Moto's decision to forego immunity and keep the fatcat luxury digs over keeping the hammer and forcing Ravu to jettison yet another member.

Mark my words- this is HUGE shift in the momentum of the game, because despite being undefeated, Moto stands equal with Ravu now. Moto needs to look over its shoulder and see that the difference between winning and losing the last challenge was one or two fortuitous key selections on Michelle's part for Ravu.

With Gary gone and Lilliana, clearly the most physical woman for Moto, ousted bitterly and secretively, Moto is about to enter the next phase of the game a divided tribe. Whoever didn't know about Lilliana going will be on the warpath to break up the five who did at first chance, and don't think that Alex won't be looking for reasons to harpoon members of his alliance given their awful decision making in getting rid of her.

I have never seen a tribe OPT to vote someone out and live to tell about it in all the years of watching this game. In the team section of this game, numbers are everything, and you NEVER let up- you mow through the competition and keep the hammer so that when you hit the merge you have the luxury of sticking to the stragglers or wooing people desperate for some safety in numbers.

Ravu isn't losing because they're hungry- they're losing because their team is weak. Rocky is one rant from going supernova, and you saw the beginnings of his exit in the way Earl talked about Anthony being a good guy and wondering how he could keep him around. Ravu won't tolerate Rocky's sanctimonious speeches about mailing it in if he continues to be hard on every and deliver next to nothing in challenges.

For Moto not to see how close they are to putting the nail in Ravu's coffin so that they can sleep in a nice bed is folly, and now they are out Gary (who would have been simple to vote off at any time because he posed no physical threat at all and showed no drive to navigate the interpersonal politics that are part of the game) and stuck with Cassandra (who is mainly a candidate to sit out one of every two challenges so long as there was a numbers advantage) and Lisi, who will drive the team to distraction with her controlling tendencies with an explosion about what bothers her (because just about everything does, if you listen to her asides).

If I am Ravu, I am totally re-energized by the shift in the game. Our tribe barely lost the last challenge, which is reason for optimism, because only two challenges ago, we were getting HAMMERED every time we competeced.

All you have to do is look at last season and the way that Aitu, small and badly outnumbered, found some unity and cohesion and stuck it to Raro, dominating the rest the way to a final three of all Aitu members.

Momentum is key- if Ravu can steal a win and send Moto reeling, this game could look very different in two weeks.

On another note, you have to love the message in a bottle. Twice it has been the catalyst for huge shifts in the momentum of the game. For Raro, it cost them TWO members. For Moto, it cost them one and brought things back to even. Nice touch by the show's planners to add wrinkles season after season. I can tell you this- given the detriment the bottle has been to the two tribes that have won it in challenges so far, I might be tempted to tank a challenge where winning meant getting it.... (Then again, that would be the season the bottle gives the winning tribe the right to vote off someone from the opposing tribe instead of the tribe voting off one of its own. Are you reading this Probst? You can have that one for free....)

Looking forward to the Rocky vs. Dreamz tilt next week. Have to admit I'm hoping the cheerleading coach hands it to the former Bostonian Balboa wanna be. I'm a little weary of the whiny bartender...