Category Archives: Pop Culture

Crystal Bowersox Marrying Brian Walker

Crystal Bowersox may have stayed a bridesmaid on American Idol, but her time is coming soon.

The folk-pop singer from Toledo, Ohio, is engaged to fellow musician Brian Walker and the couple are planning to tie the knot next month, E! News confirmed Friday.

Read more: Crystel Bowersox, Crystal Bowersox Wedding, American Idol, Crystel Bowersox Brian Walker, Brian Walker, Entertainment News

Steven C. Hayes, Ph.D.: Watching Porn: The Problem That Must Not Be Named

It’s ironic, but it is hard to have an adult conversation about sex. In some areas, topics are so taboo that you risk your reputation even to raise them.

I’ll give you one. There are lots of folks whose lives are disrupted by the manner or amount of time they spend watching porn.

Hey. Quick. Before you close your ears, hear me out.

I’m not saying that I think porn watching of X amount (or even XXX amount) is too much. I have no numeric scale of that kind to provide and if you watch porn and feel comfortable about it, that is fine with me. Really. I’m not trying to mix my role as a psychologist with that of the morality police. I’m just saying that in some people’s lives, viewing pornography can occur in a way or in an amount that has serious costs — according to them. People may spend so much time viewing porn that other important things are put to the side. They may be obsessed with disturbing images and alternate between viewing and self-loathing. They may allow their viewing patterns to become a barrier between themselves and their partners or may risk their financial security by viewing pornography while on the job.

It is not as though we are unaware of this inconvenient truth, despite its political incorrectness in the mainstream culture. Recent research suggests that about 17 percent of individuals who view porn on the Internet meet criteria for sexual compulsivity. That translates to a lot of people, given that about 12 percent of all the Internet traffic is porn and nearly 90 percent of the young male population (about 30 percent of the young female population) view pornography at least occasionally. Unfortunately, this issue is so tricky politically that clinical researchers almost run the other way rather than address it.

Through August 2010 not a single controlled treatment study had ever been published on the “problem that must not be named.” The federal government is no better: they have never funded even one treatment study focused on this problem and have told researchers not even to try to get the funds for such research through normal scientific funding channels. That pattern of avoidance protects psychologists or bureaucrats fearful of getting their fingers caught in this cultural wringer all right, but it leaves people struggling with the issue without methods that are tested and known to be helpful.

Part of the problem may also be that the area is so counterintuitive that psychologists simply do not know what to do. Utah State University psychologist Michael Twohig (open disclosure: a former student of mine) and his students have recently discovered that there is an ironic process in problematic viewing. Struggling with urges to view leads to more viewing and more psychological problems. In other words, the normal ways we know to reduce things in our lives (avoid or deliberately change what you do not want) has the exact opposite effect than what was intended.

We have seen that pattern before in areas such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Here is the recipe. Take an urge or an odd thought; mix thoroughly with negative emotions, sensations or images; then fold in a heaping helping of suppression and avoidance (pushing out of mind, engaging in ritualistic undoing). Voila. Obsessive stew.

Every time you check to see if your suppression worked — well, it didn’t. You just thought of it. Again. More negative emotions. More attempts to control. More checking to see if it went away. More struggling.

Obsessive stew.

Treatment researchers have recently found ways to break the self-amplifying pattern of urge suppression and urge indulgence in OCD, and in OCD spectrum disorders such as hair pulling or skin picking, by using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (“ACT” is said as a word, not initials). Several controlled studies (mostly by Twohig or by University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee psychologist Doug Woods and their students) have found positive effects for ACT by teaching people to walk in the exact opposite direction than that suggested by the problem-solving organ between our ears. Instead of controlling urges, ACT teaches acceptance and mindful awareness of them. Instead of self-loathing and criticism, ACT teaches self-compassion. Instead of avoidance, ACT instigates approaching ones’ values.

This is counterintuitive. Suppressive avoidance is what the mind knows how to do. A highly religious young man struggling with pornography viewing is likely to criticize himself horribly, and then try to eliminate the urge and suppress all thoughts about it. It almost looks as though that is the moral thing to do, but instead this research suggests that it is a route toward more struggle, more suffering and ironically, toward more obsessive viewing.

It has to be said: it is also bad theology. Even Christ was tempted, after all. Simply having a thought or feeling a temptation is not yet sinful in the world’s major religious philosophies. Sins require an act of the will. A normal problem-solving mode of mind can’t quite get that distinction.

The first controlled study ever done on how to address problematic Internet pornography viewing was published in the September 2010 issue of the well-respected clinical research journal, Behavior Therapy. Twohig and co-author Jess Crosby applied eight sessions of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to problematic viewing. As participants learned to accept the urge, to watch it rise and fall mindfully, to embrace themselves in a kinder and less judgmental way, and to pivot toward valued actions, something remarkable happened. Viewing became far less frequent, but what was remarkable was how that happened. People softened. Religious obsessions went down but positive commitments went up. Obsessive thinking was relieved and with it worry that unbidden thoughts alone cause harm. People became more accepting of their emotions and less entangled with their thoughts. And they were more able to act in accord with their values as a positive goal, carrying difficult thoughts and feelings with them in a more compassionate way.

It seems that both sides of the culture debate have a little piece of that success. Maybe it is time to have an adult conversation about the problem that must not be named.

(PS. There are a number of popular books that can help teach these ACT skills, such as Russ Harris’s “Happiness Trap” or my own “Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life.”)

Read more: Sex, Pornography, Pornography Problem, Porn Addiction, Pornography Addiction, Porn, Living News

Tallulah Morehead: Survivor 21: Infants vs Senior Citizens : Not About Yve

It began with Jeff Probst’s voice telling us: “This is Nicaragua: remote, mysterious, dangerous.” He left out poverty-ridden (second-poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, barely beating out Haiti), oppressed, run by a powerful Marxist leader highly hostile to the United States, who is currently trying to circumvent his own country’s constitution in order to gain himself another, illegal, term in office. And Jeff also failed to mention a recent United States State Department report on terrorism which accused Nicaragua of having a corrupt and highly politicized judiciary that could be taken advantage of by terrorists, and said it had expanded ties with Iran. Yes, CBS, let’s help Daniel Ortega’s tourism woes.

In point of fact, locals have been happy for the Survivor shoot, because they employ all the local police force on the set, and that leaves the local cops no time to engage in their usual daily activities of pulling over innocent drivers and demanding bribes not to arrest them on trumped-up charges.

I can see why little things like these might slip CBS’s mind in the excitement over a new Survivor. Mark Burnett, Survivor‘s increasingly morally-appalling producer, has shown repeatedly in the past that he has no moral qualms whatever about whom he will work with, producing a TV show with the revolting Donald Trump (as far away as you can get politically from a communist like Nicaragua’s President Ortega), and, in a fit of hypocrisy of truly Olympic proportions, produced a series on the wildlife and wilderness lands of Alaska starring that environmental rapist and media-whore-deluxe, Sarah Palin. It must have been a difficult task for Burnett to find someone even more disgusting than Trump and Palin to work with, but he went below the bottom of the barrel, and found ex-Sandinistan Daniel Ortega.

CBS’s stated reasons for choosing to shoot in this gorgeous pesthole was “the country’s natural beauty and the high level of support from the government.” Yes, why not just bribe a communist governmental leader who hates America and has ties to Iran, if it gets you a “high level of support” from a man like Daniel Ortega? Morals? This is TV!

But man, them volcanoes are scenic.

We’re always hearing about people wanting a “Celebrity Survivor,” forgetting just what sort of celebrities this grueling ordeal of a game show would attract. Folks, Meryl Streep, Zac Efron, Matt Damon, Simon Cowell, Al Pacino, and Nicole Kidman are not going to go on “Celebrity Survivor” These folks get paid a million dollars in a single day, and without eating bugs, starving themselves (Well, Nicole’s career involves starving herself, but that’s voluntary.), sleeping outdoors, or any sort of discomfort whatever. They have people to be uncomfortable for them.

But there is one type of celebrity who sometimes itches to play Survivor, and that’s aging once-weres from the world of sports, who need to prove that they’re only 20 when they’re actually 80. And we got one of these this year: Jimmy Johnson, whom the publicity materials tell me, is a famous football coach, and coached some team to two what are called “Superbowl wins,” which I’m told is a big deal to people to whom football is a big deal.

To be 100% honest, I’d never heard of this man before, never set eyes on him before, nor heard his name before, nor was I in any way aware he existed until I started to see publicity materials about this edition of Survivor. I accept that he is very famous to people to whom people like that are very famous, but I’d be a lot more excited if it were someone I’d ever heard of before. But of course, the type of celebrities I like are usually smart enough to stay off of Survivor.

So, what is a 67 year old man (Yes, that’s right, just three years from 70!) trying to prove by going on Survivor for a few weeks? (Because no way will an elderly celebrity make it to the end.) Obviously, he’s out to “prove” that he’s really only 27. People whose lives are all about games you can’t still play after your early-to-mid 30s are always so public and physical in their forms of severe denial.

Oh well, let’s hope he’s pleasant company. Most coaches I’ve known were insufferable. (Think Brendon on this past summer’s Big Brother, who was a swimming coach. And then there was last season’s Ex-Coach Wade, aka Voldepussy, one of the most-insufferable contestants this show ever put on the air.) However, Mr. Johnson has grasped that being a bossy leader-coach can get you tossed out quickly, so he’s adopted an advisory role rather than a full-out coaching role. That’s good.

Because, just as Big Brother attracts delusional losers, so Survivor attracts Type-A personalities, future heart attacks on legs, along with those who think they are like that. (We’ll get to “Wendy”.) If you look through their CBS online bios, almost all of them list “lazy people” among their pet peeves. How is someone else’s “laziness” your business, unless you’re their coach, that is?

You know my pet peeve? People who vote for Republicans. I’d prefer one lazy liberal to ten all-out-athletic douchebags who, as Survivor contestant Dan Lembo put it for himself in his CBS online bio, considers Ronald Reagan his “Personal Hero”. Well, Dan is 63. It’s not like he’s going to win. Or even survive.

They sent the Survivors off on a trek, divided into two groups they mistakenly thought would be their tribes. We were allowed to share their snap judgements on each other, just as I’m sharing my snap judgements on them with you here.

Jimmy Tarantino, not to be confused with Jimmy Johnson, or Quentin Tarantino I hope, is a 48 year old fisherman who easily looks 60. Said he of Dan Lembo, based solely on looking at him as he walked: “I notice an older gentleman, looks like a Mafia boss, and he looks like he wants to boss people around.”

Jimmy T should listen to Lembo’s recorded words in his CBS online bio. He sounds like a Mafia boss: “My nickname is Mr. Connected…” Hello? “Connected” is a longtime euphemism for “mob ties.” “… and I can help many people out throughout New York City, and throughout probably – ah – the country, but in Miami and New York City. And I have numerous people who come to me during the year [When else? Outside the year?], for many different reasons, and I’m always there for them, and I’ve ‘helped out’ plenty of people.”

And someday, and that day may never come, Don Lembo may ask a favor of you. Did I say “Don Lembo”? I meant Dan Lembo, of course. How could I make such an error? “Personal hero: Ronald Reagan.”

23 year old Alina said of Marty Piombo: “There’s an old gray-haired guy that’s just pissing me off already. He seems like the kind of guy who’s going to step into the leadership position.”

What was Marty doing that pissed off Alina? He was being not-young. That’s all. Marty is 48, a “technology executive,” whatever that is, and amazingly hot for his age. I would do him in a second. (Marty, I mean it. Call me.) All you fans of Tom Westmore, who found him so attractive (as he was his first time on Survivor, not the pitiful wreck who crashed and burned last season) are going to love Marty. (Marty is the same age as Jimmy T, yet looks more than a decade younger.)

And who is Alina? Well, in her CBS online bio she says: “Everyone expects that I’m just going to end up being an actress or a model, or something useless. I’m going to prove something different.” She is a 23 year old art student at Cal State University, Fullerton. Well, I’m glad she’s not studying anything useless. (I’m an actress myself, and I can be put to more uses than Alina can, especially if Marty asks nicely.)

Kelly Bruno wants to keep the fact that her right leg is a prosthetic from just below the knee on down a secret. (Kelly is “Kelly Bruno” to distinguish her from “Kelly Shinn.” I think Kelly Bruno should be the one named Kelly Shinn, since she only has one shin, and thus the singular last name would suit her. What? You don’t think she wants equal treatment with the rest?) To keep that secret, she’ll have to wear the world’s only long-legged bikini, or one hip boot.

She’s worried that she’ll get voted out because people will think she’ll be a liability at physical challenges. Nonsense, my dear. They’ll vote you out because no one in their right mind, or even a Survivor contestant (Because, let’s face it, you have to be a touch insane to go on this show. It’s the “Torture Me More” show.), will want a one-legged person sitting next to them at the end, winning with sympathy votes. Who won the very first edition of Big Brother? The army vet with one leg. Kelly is toast as soon as her “secret” comes out, that is to say, the first time someone with eyes looks at her. (Well, it is a bit like a man with two heads wearing a hood over one head because he wants to keep his having two heads a secret.)

There is a dark-haired lad, the only hairy chest in this edition, a 30 year old guy named Sash Lonahan, of impenetrable ethnic origin. Sash gives his profession as a “luxury real estate broker in Harlem.” Isn’t that a bit like selling beachfront property in Kansas, or bikinis in Iran? If you can afford to buy what Sash calls “the largest and most-expensive Penthouses” in Harlem, then you could afford to buy a large and expensive penthouse in Mid-town Manhattan, or Beverly Hills, or London, or Paris. Why would you choose to live in Harlem when you can afford better?

Sash lists being “one of the youngest brokers ever on Wall Street” as his “Claim to Fame” in his CBS online bio. Wouldn’t you want to keep that sort of shame quiet? That’s one of those claims to fame designed to make people hate you, especially in 2010. You know those blood-sucking parasites that destroyed our economy? Well, I’m one of them! Hooray for me! To make matters worse, he answered “Which Survivor contestant are you most like?” with: “Tyson, because I have some great one-liners and because I’m awesome.” Tyson the Mormon Moron was an idiot one should shun, not emulate, and any person who tells you he is “awesome,” isn’t.

Anyway, Sash showed up on the beach for his first day on Survivor wearing slacks, a button-down shirt, and a tie! They were soaking-wet rags by the first commercial break. What a tool.

Reward Challenge: They were sent off to find a “Medallion of Power” for their tribe. Oooh. What is this? Super Mario Brothers? They were given no clues beyond the vague information that it was over thataway a fair piece. They went charging off into a lagoon, Sash’s nice clothes getting ruined pretty much at once.

27 year old Hispanic beauty Brenda found the “Medallion of Power,” which wasn’t so much hidden, as they had decided at the last minute to take down the searchlights on it, and the big sign saying: “Medallion of Power in this tree!” I half expected Russell Hantz to be sitting there holding it, saying, “I not only found it first with no clues, but I’m not even playing, and I beat all you bozos.”As challenges go, all this had going for it was seeing Sash wading across the pond in waist-deep water, wearing his dorky tie.

After the challenge, Jeff Probst dropped this season’s big bomb: the tribes were to be decided by age. Yes, it’s Ageist Survivor! Oh joy. I’m so looking forward to Survivor 22 next spring, when it will be blondes against brunettes. Or better still, Hot Folks vs Trolls.

Everyone forty or over was in one tribe, and everyone 30 or younger was in the other tribe. There was no one between the ages of 30 and 41. At 30, Sash and Shannon were the oldest members of the one tribe, and at 41, a woman named Yve (Pronounced “Eve,” and that’s all about Yve for this week) was the youngest member of the other tribe. Talk about age discrimination! No wonder Russell Hantz isn’t doing his third consecutive Survivor; Russell is 34. No “Prime-of-Lifers” allowed in this edition of Ageist Survivor.

“I’m young at heart” yelled the Superbowl Guy, while his 67 year old heart struggled not to burst at the exertion. Here his only real reason to go on the show is to prove that he’s still actually young when he isn’t, and the show goes and segregates him into the AARP tribe. What are they trying to do to him? Force him to face Reality? “I don’t want any of the ‘old people’ with me,” he said of his tribemates, every one of whom is younger than he is, some by more than 20 years.

A gorgeous 24 year old man with magnificent, giant pecs with very large nipples (not that I noticed) named Chase (what an odd name to give your nipples), who gives his profession as “Pro Race Car Jackman,” whatever the hell that means (I know what a Hugh Jackman is: a slice of Heaven on Earth who can order you to “shut up and bend over!”with a divinely sexy Australian accent, but what the heck is a pro race car jackman?), said: “The Antiques have the best coach you could ask for.” The Antiques? That’s terribly insulting, particularly coming from someone as he expressed his admiration of a man with experience and The Wisdom of Age. So I’m using it for the Senior Citizens’ tribe name. Yes, I know Jeff said they were called “Espada,” but I’m sure that just means “Geezer” or “Sun Dried” or “Mortuary Fodder,” or something of that nature. I’m going with “The Antiques.”

And the other tribe, whom Jeff called “La Flor,” I’m calling “The Fetuses.” After all, having never studied Spanish (my gardener speaks English, and my housekeeper is black, so I haven’t needed it.), I’m certain that “La Flor” just means “The Floor,” which is what I hope The Antiques wipe up with the Fetuses. Yes, I’m rooting for The Antiques. What did you expect? I’m 113.

Superbowl Guy had no idea how to wear a Survivor buff. Has he never watched the show before? Because only every contestant that has ever played it in any of it’s previous 20 seasons wore buffs at all times. If he hasn’t watched it before, then he has no idea how much torture he’s putting his geriatric body through. Plus, Mr. Macho Football Guy was worried about getting buff-hair. Ladies please! Butch up.

Since Fetus Brenda won “The Medallion of Power” (I expect to hear a fanfare played on French horns each time I type the phrase “The Medallion of Power”.), it went to The Fetus Tribe, but Jeff offered them one of those devil’s choices. They could keep it, or take a chest full of fishing gear, and flint to make fire. Whichever they didn’t keep, the chest or “The Medallion of Power” [Fanfare!], the other would go to the other tribe.

Superbowl Guy was hoping for the chest of fishing gear and a flint, which I think was wise, but then, Superbowl Guy may never have played Super Mario Brothers, and may not realize what it’s like to be cornered in a cavern by a dragon with your all Medallions of Power [Fanfare!] used up. (“Decide, children,” we heard one of the old ladies say. Made me laugh.) In any event, the fetuses weren’t born yesterday (Tomorrow? Maybe.), and they took the chest, and gave up The Medallion of Power [Fanfare!] to The Antiques.

Shannon weighed in on the debate: “I figured the old people needed the Medallion of Power [Fanfare!] more than we do. I mean, I don’t wanna underestimate the old people, but I don’t think they’ll be able to handle some challenges. There’s no reason why we should lose to them,” he said, underestimating the senior citizens. In any event, why would he give them The Medallion of Power [Fanfare!] if he thought they needed it more? Is he playing for them?

Let’s talk about Shannon Elkins. First off, he’s not a girl, despite his name. At 30, he’s tied with Sash for oldest member of The Fetuses, so he may receive a few “the old guy” remarks from some of his decade-younger cradlemates. I really hope he turns out to be likeable. He is beautiful, with rich black curly hair, the bluest Azure eyes you ever saw, huge pecs, and nipples the size of silver dollars. He’s a “Pest Control Company Owner,” which is to say, an exterminator, a Dalek for bugs. (I imagine him walking through homes he’s fumigating, rattling out: “Ex-ter-min-ate! Ex-ter-min-ate!” as he spritzes poison about.)

His dad deserted the Elkins Family when he was five, so he vowed to be a good dad when the time came, which was about 20 minutes later, as he’d apparently not bothered to pay attention in birth control class, and got his girlfriend knocked up when he was just 19. Determined not to be a deadbeat like his dad, Shannon has now, at 30, been married for 11 years, and is raising three kids. Poor guy screwed himself out of his 20s altogether by not spending 50 cents on a condom. No wonder he came on the show. Eating bugs, enduring hardships, surviving on Survivor, must seem well worth it if it gets him away from small children and the baby machine for a month. Like I said, I really he hope he isn’t a jerk. I want to like him, but I’m still burned by Lane on Big Brother and his 8-Second Game. However, clearly Life has been more serious for Dadless Dad Shannon Elkins than for born-rich Lane “Let’s-Get-Drunk-and-Shoot-Stuff” Elenberg.

Most of The Antique Tribe knew who Superbowl Guy was. He worried that they might be “Philadelphia Eagle fans, or Washington Redskin fans.” First off, it doesn’t occur to him that there are some of us who do not give a rat’s ass about football at all. Secondly, assuming that “Philadelphia Eagle” and “Washington Redskins” refer to football teams, I have to ask: professional sports still allows a major team to have a racist name like “Redskins”? Hello? That’s tremendously offensive.

Holly is a swimming coach in South Dakota. Another coach! Shoot me now! So there are more than just three days a year in South Dakota when the pools aren’t frozen over? A whole week? In her CBS online bio, she said her husband’s ranch is in “North Central South Dakota.” Huh? Is that North Dakota or South Dakota? I don’t really need it quite that specific. If she’d just said “near the middle of the state,” I would already know more than I need to. I’m not about to yell at her: “You call that ‘North Central South Dakota’? Bah! That’s, at best, Northeastern Midwestern-South Dakota, or at the very worst, North-North-Eastern East-Central West Dakota.” Lady, the minute you said “South Dakota” you were pretty much off of my map. Can you see Canada from your house? No? Then who cares if it’s North-East-Central Dakota, or South-Eastern-West North Dakota? It’s the Dakotas. No one goes there.

Anyway, Poor Holly got suckered into an instant alliance about 10 minutes into the game, by Wendy. She sort of shook hands, and suddenly, before she knew it, she and Wendy were The Brigade. She will regret this very, very soon.

Ah Wendy, a professional “goat herder.” It’s like Heidi is on the team, looking, though not sounding, all grown up. She’s such a case I wish she were on the show longer. Wendy’s husband, a loyal and supportive man, told her she would be the first voted off. Clearly he was wishing he could vote her out of his life. He was also correct. He’s married to her; he knows what hell living with her is.

She’s a self-confessed chatterbox, but she decided to lay low about her chattering, so she didn’t get voted out first. We’ll see how that works for her. She’s 48, just like Marty and Jimmy T., though she looks easily 20 years younger than Jimmy T. (So does my long-dead father, who died at 70), and listening to her talk, you’d think she was 40 years younger than Marty.

In Wendy’s CBS online bio she wrote that her “claim to fame” was “Reaching the Lieutenant Colonel rank in the Army.” I would think that should come under “Proudest Accomplishment.” Becoming a “Lt. Colonel” won’t make you famous, but it is certainly an accomplishment of which to be proud, especially if you’ve achieved it despite being a bit of a scatterbrain. Asked which previous Survivor she most resembled, she adamantly replied: “No one, especially not the other female military contestant, Shambo. We just have different personalities.” Well I have to give some respect to anyone who wishes it made clear that she’s nothing like Shambles. On the other hand, Shambles stayed on the show a whole lot longer than Wendy manages.

But it is in the area of self-deluding that she really excells. Remember I said that Survivor attracts Type-A personalities, and people who think they’re like that, but aren’t. Meet Wendy: “I have leadership skills.” Sure she does. Here, she explained it a bit more in her CBS online bio: “I’m also good at strawteegee- ah – strategy, and thinking, and against the other team and such…” She can’t even organize a sentence, but she thinks she’s good at strawteegee.

(I was amused in her online bio, when she told her dad she was going into the army – which she decided to do after seeing the movie Private Benjamin, which she must have identified with heavily – he was furious: “He said ‘they could have paid for your college. Why didn’t you go a long time ago?'” Certainly how I’d react if I had a daughter entering the army during a time of war, when she could be killed on the other side of the planet, fighting to get The Bush Family more oil.)

Anyway, she latched onto Holly, who agreed to be in an alliance with her to the end, anything, just to get away from her unhurt.

And then there was Jane. Jane is a 56 year old dog trainer. Jane, who looks and sounds older than she is, has the full name Jane Bright, and she is. She went and learned how to make fire without flint before she came on the show. She practiced. It’s almost like she took being on Survivor seriously. They had no flint on The Antique Tribe, but they had one thing you’ll always find around senior citizens: glasses. Using a lens and the Sun, Jane made fire. Take that, young ‘uns! We like Jane. She may have a lot of mouth, but she’s not all mouth. Hey Superbowl Guy, did you think to learn how to make fire before you came?

(And Marty, shirtless, watching the fire-making, was adding to the heat by displaying a body any of the younger men would have been proud to have at 28, let alone 48. Marty, call me. I’ll do you.)

Over at The Fetus Tribe, Sash was running his mouth for us: “This game, that’s old guys vs young guys, we know we’re going to be able to dominate.” Well first off Sash, you’ve just erased from existence the ten women playing. And how many Superbowls have you won again, Sash? You might want to count them up before you get too set in how you’re going to “dominate.”

Then we met Jud Burza. Remember the song “Poor Jud is Dead” in Oklahoma? (If you don’t, go watch some classic musicals. Seriously. Everyone should know the score to Oklahoma.) Add the word “brain” before “dead” in that title, and it’s a song about our Jud. “As soon we was all thirty and under, it was like these are my people.” Jud darling, that meant age 30 and under, not IQ 30 and under, so these, like, are not your people.

Jud is 21, except when he speaks, when he becomes 2. He’s a surfer. He’s the quintessential surfer. Long blonde hair, probably attractive to some, though not to me, no brain. Asked for three words that described him in his CBS online bio, he said: “intelligent, sexy, and goofy.” It was a question about him, and he only got one word right. Okay, I’ll give him one and half points, since some would find him sexy, if he lost the power of speech.

Asked why he wanted to go on Survivor, Jud said: “camping on a tropical island with a bunch of cute girls sounds like the best vacation ever.” Has he never watched the show either? “The Best Vacation Ever” does not include eating rats, starving, grueling physical conditions, sleeping outside on a bamboo floor if you’re lucky, and you made the floor yourself, being plotted against constantly, and painful and even dangerous contests. “The Best Vacation Ever” involves indoor plumbing, nice beds, gourmet food caught and prepared by someone else, and anyone nearby that is at all like Jud is on staff, and can be sent away, or just told to perform his task silently. I’ll make all the noise, thank you.

After he nailed his own foot, and fell victim to a crab pincer, everyone on The Fetus Tribe caught on that Jud is an idiot, and began calling him a “dumb blonde.” Shortly thereafter he was renamed “Fabio,” and the tribe refused to allow anyone to answer to the name Jud. He must be Fabio. This is a bit insulting to the real Fabio, who, though no Einstein, is certainly not as stupid as Jud, and far better looking. “Dude, he’s just retarded,” said Shannon of “Fabio,” winning points with everyone who takes a cavalier attitude towards the learning-impaired. (I want to like Shannon, but the “retarded” remark is his Strike One.)

“Dude, I don’t care what they call me. I’m gonna win the million dollars,” said “Fabio.” I’m going right out on a first-episode limb here and say, under no conceivable circumstances will this idiot win the million.

Shannon and Chase immediately bonded, probably over having four of the biggest boobs in Nicaragua. Watching them walk side-by-side was Major Mammaries on Parade! Really. Their tits are huge! They’re like male versions of Boobiac, except Shannon isn’t an idiot, and those giant puppies are probably real.

And I don’t want to say that their shorts were tight, or that they’re really-well endowed, but CBS saw fit to pixilate their crotches in a shot of them, pants fully on, just walking along. Those bulges must have been so detailed, you could tell you if they were circumcised or not. (And Chase’s pixilation blur extended almost all the way to his right knee! Me wanna see unblurred footage! I got very distracted.)

But Chase isn’t the sharpest razor blade on the airliner: “You and I are definitely gonna be the strongest, as far as strength-wise.” But perhaps not the smartest, as far as brainwise? (No matter how many times I rewound this sequence, it remained very hard for me to pay much attention to what they were saying. Their pecs, butts, and pixilated blurs were so loud!)

Shannon and Chase formed a stud alliance, the stated purpose of which was to see to it that a girl didn’t win this time around. Said Shannon: “I don’t wanna see another girl win … It’s important that we don’t let these girls take over. We already get owned in marriage; pretty soon we’ll have a woman president…” How awful. “… but I mean a guy needs to sac-up, and we need to win this.” He certainly sounds like someone who has been mired in marriage since about ten minutes after high school graduation. All across America, millions of women looked at Shannon and fell in love, then heard this rampantly misogynistic speech, and fell back out of love again. Strike Two.

It didn’t occur to Kelly B. that when you have no ankles and you kneel down, anyone can see that there’s nothing there but a metal rod. Time to come out of the closet and ‘fess up to being a unidexter. So much for that secret. Didn’t make it one whole day. “I knew it!” shouted one of the men, who did not know it. Fabio asked her how she told it to move. It’s metal and plastic, you idiot, you can’t “tell it” anything.

And yup, no one wants to face that sympathy vote at Final Tribal Council. She’s toast.

We got to watch her take it off, for all the stump fetishists in the audience (and any limb-deprived person out there can tell you that I’m not inventing stump fetishists.), and went to a commercial while showing the prosthetic leg leaning against a log all by itself, when everyone was out for a swim. All I could think was that if Russell Hantz were playing, that would be the last time anyone ever saw that false leg. (Oh, he would too!)

Just to further prove that he’s a match for any 25 year old, Superbowl Guy was retching and being sick first day out. Jimmy T. thought he could be faking it, but why would you fake being sick? You’d just be getting yourself voted out quicker. Does Jimmy T. think you win Superbowls by goldbricking?

Next morning, Superbowl Guy was bitching about how awful it was, no sleep, sick. “I have watched every second of Survivor. I never imagined anywhere close that it was this difficult.” So when he saw a big bull of a man like Black Russell in season 19 fall over and almost die, when he watched people fall apart, watched every player than was ever on it shed weight like Little Dougie sheds dandruff, when he saw players shiver through monsoons with a few palm fronds spread on some bamboo for “shelter,” when he saw player after player get taken out for medical reasons, it never occurred to him that it was genuinely horrible? How can a man so smart be so stupid?

(Wait! He’s “watched every second of Survivor“? And yet he had no idea how to wear a Survivor buff? He wasn’t watching very closely. Did he think it was on radio, and he only listened to it? We have TV now, old timer, so you can see it too.)

Brenda over on The Fetus Tribe was star struck by Superbowl Guy. She said she knew who he was because “I used to cheer for Dolphins.” I’ve cheered the performances of dolphins and porpoises myself at Sea World and the old Marineland. Marine mammals are great. What’s that got to do with recognizing Superbowl Guy?

This past summer, three idiots and one smart guy formed an alliance called “The Brigade” on Big Brother. Although they turned on and voted out their only intelligent member, they dominated the game, and ended up comprising the whole of the Final Three. How did they manage that? By keeping it secret! Until the last week, no one in the house knew of its existence except its members.

Gorgeous Chase must have missed this (perhaps because he was in Nicaragua shooting this series), because the concept of keeping your alliances secret was lost on him. On Day 2, he blabbed his guy alliance with Shannon to Brenda.

The problem for Shannon will be that Chase is 24, not married, didn’t forget the birth control and trap himself into a marriage at 19, sapping away his soul because he never got to be a young man who was free, and consequently, he doesn’t hate all women just yet (He’s young. Most men don’t start really loathing all women until their 40s. But most men don’t get trapped into marriage at 19. And most of those that do, have sense enough to get divorced when they realize how totally they’ve screwed up their lives.), and so the vote-out-all-the-women, make-sure-a-man-wins mantra of Shannon isn’t Chase’s motto. He could even, conceivably some day, vote to evict Shannon over Brenda. We’re still in episode one, and the first alliance already has cracks.

On the other hand, Brenda – ew. “I’m kinda used to having guys do what I say.” That one sentence, revealing her as a manipulator of men who gets by on her looks, is a tremendous turn-off. Want to make me hate you on a TV show ladies? Brag about how you can get men to do anything you want because you’re cute. Her job is given as “Paddleboard Company Owner,” which I take to mean, she works in a tiny shop renting paddle boards to people on a beach or at a lake. Yes, she’s a “company owner”; she’s the Donald Trump of Paddleboards. Anyway, she’s got Chase’s number: “He’s a really nice guy, but he’s clueless.” She knew telling her that was a dumb move, even if Chase didn’t.

Alina, whom I already hate (see her remarks re: Marty above), and Brenda B. found a hidden immunity idol clue. There were so many complaints over the last two seasons that the Hidden Immunity Idol clues were too easy, and that the idols were hidden in places like Russell’s pillowcase or Russell’s pants, so this time the clue, instead of a bit of rhymed doggerel the meaning of which was simplicity itself, they gave them a rhombus which I would mock Alina and Brenda B. for failing to understand at all, except I’ve had a clear look at the clue online, and I can’t make sense of it either. “I never realized how hard these are,” moaned Alina. That’s because they weren’t this hard before.

Alina was pissed that Brenda was with her when they found the clue, as it forces them into an alliance (since they at least understood to keep it secret. Don’t tell Chase!), when she wants Brenda and her vote-magnet false-leg out of the contest the sooner the better.

Immunity Challenge: Superbowl Guy: “Everybody in the world needs motivation, and I think I can help motivate this team.” What’s my motivation for needing motivation?

There’s a real coach for you. He thinks that people who have motivated themselves to get this gig, to beat out the thousands of other applicants for the handful of positions on the show, who each and every one of whom is aware of a million dollars worth of motivation, for some reason, need his help to “get motivated” to do what they are already motivated to do.

This man thinks that a locker room talking to is what they need, or they’d never go out with the will to win. Hey Superbowl Guy, shut up. This is exactly what you should not be doing! It’s exactly what you said you knew better than to do. Stop “coaching”. All you’re motivating these people to do is to get rid of you sooner. Did your coaching get them to win the challenge? No. All the locker room cliches in the world aren’t going to help a bunch of old ladies stumped by a jigsaw puzzle suddenly figure out how to solve the puzzle. This team could go out and lose it without your speech. And think of this, Superbowl Guy, 50% of all the locker room motivational speeches ever given in this world fail! Games aren’t won by coaches babbling locker room cliches. They’re made by players beating the other team, while you sat on that rather large behind of yours, yelling stuff at them that they had to shut out and ignore in order to get anything accomplished.

And there’s this, since Superbowl Guy is already a millionaire, he doesn’t seem to realize that, to people who are not millionaires, a million dollars is, all by itself, more motivation than can be conjured up by every locker room clichefest from all-time being all lumped together. Money talks. Coaches blather.

Superbowl Guy made his silly speech about how no jury would ever give him a million dollars, so he’s just here to help them, plus they should keep him to the end, because no jury would give him a million dollars.

Honey, I’m from California. I know about juries and celebrities. They can’t help but find in favor of stars. In court, all celebrities are innocent even if proven guilty. That OJ Simpson jury would have gladly handed OJ a million dollars as they were busy wrongfully-acquitting him of the two murders he committed.

Most of The Antique Tribe understood that Superbowl Guy’s pitch was bull crap. He’s not there to help them anymore than they are there to help him. He thinks his soap is selling. It isn’t.

And as far as helping them goes, hey [SPOILER ALERT], they lost the challenge. “As long as we’re psyched up for it, and we know what we gotta do, we’ll kick their ass.” Apart from the fact that “ass” should be plural in that sentence, there’s this other factor: he was wrong. The Fetus Team beat them, and without motivational blather. They just went in and did it.

“I just got a pep talk from Jimmy Johnson” cheered Tyrone, a tremendously hot, black fire captain of 42, with enormous chocolate pecs, who could easily tempt me to set my house on fire if only he would come and personally give me mouth-to-mouth, whether I need it or not! (For a team of supposed geriatrics, The Antiques have two hot men I’d love to be sandwiched between. Honey, I am sooo motivated!). A short time later, Tyrone was able to cheer: “I was just led on to defeat by Jimmy Johnson,” though he neglected to say that.

The challenge involved holding up bamboo troughs, and channeling buckets of water poured into them into a big barrel, to lower puzzle pieces for one of their infamous, boring Survivor jigsaw puzzles. Clearly they are going to keep putting jigsaw puzzles on the show, even though they make for BORING viewing, and I’m going to keep on complaining about them. I liked the bucket and troughs portion though.

The Medallion of Power [Fanfare!] could be used here for an advantage. The Antique Tribe could get one bucket full of water already in their barrel. This would give them more puzzle-solving time, which they would end up desperately needing.

But then, The Medallion of Power [Fanfare!] would go to the other team to use in the next challenge. They decided not to use it. Said Jimmy T.: “Let’s make a statement, and hold on to it.” They made a statement all right: “We’re losers.”

Bad Decision! Who is coaching these losers? It was an Immunity challenge! Those are the important ones. That extra bucket of water might have made the difference. They might have won had they played The Medallion of Power [Fanfare!]. Plus, then the Fetus Tribe would then get it for a Reward Challenge, which is far less important. They could set up a rotation that kept it coming back to them for Immunity Challenges. But someone (Superbowl Guy?) didn’t think it through, being more convinced that locker room cliches were what they needed.

The Fetus Tribe arrived doing a cheer-walk. I’m assuming that ex-cheerleader Brenda came up with this idea. I know it was one of the women, because bitter, overly-married, woman-hating Shannon didn’t participate in it. I doubt it played any role in their beating The Antiques this challenge, but it made for a fun, snappy entrance. And it did make them look like more of a team.

“We know what we have to do,” said Superbowl Guy. Too bad your puzzle-solvers didn’t know how to do what you had to do. Actually, since Jeff hadn’t explained the challenge to them yet, they did not what they had to do, so Superbowl Guy’s statement was a flat-out lie. All they knew then was “We have to win,” and they didn’t even do that.

The fun part of the challenge, with the water and the troughs, was pretty close. The Fetus Tribe finished first, but only by a few seconds. The Medallion of Power [Fanfare!] would have given The Antiques a significant lead. But the boring part of the challenge, the puzzle, was a rout, as the four old ladies “solving” the puzzle were hopeless. The Fetus Tribe won Immunity, and The Antiques were headed to Tribal Council.

Asked if she would have used The Medallion of Power [Fanfare!], Brenda said she would, adding: “When you’re doing it right now, why are you thinking about tomorrow, the next day, when you’re playing right now?” it’s called strategizing, Brenda. The game right now may be one you think you can win without the advantage, but tomorrow’s game will come. That’s kids for you. They never think about tomorrow until it gets here, when it’s too late.

“Weed out the weakest” was the mantra for the Antiques. I’ll give Superbowl Guy this, he listed himself among the top two weakest players. He also listed Wendy, although what she did that was so weak was lost on me. Now a player who wasted everyone’s time with locker room cliches, when what was needed was someone to tell the old ladies how to solve a jigsaw puzzle, seems to me like the person to lose.

Frankly, the Antiques all knew that Superbowl Guy, ridiculously too old for Survivor, and full of himself as regards “motivation,” was who needed to go. But they were too star struck to vote out Superbowl Guy yet, so they turned on Wendy, who had done nothing I could see to earn an ouster. This is why you don’t want Superbowl Guy in The Final Two, a star-struck jury vote.

Jimmy T. is also too old to play, not because he’s 48, a healthy 48 year old can play Survivor without problems. But when a guy is 48 and looks 60, there may be a reason. “I can’t even think clearly right now. I’m junked from the trauma of the challenge. I need to sleep. I’m 48 years old. This place already knocked me down, and it’s only day three.” This sounds to me like “I’m not in condition to do this. I should go home.”

So now Holly wants to send Wendy home. Why? Because Superbowl Guy told her he thought she should. Let’s toss that alliance she didn’t want anyway away, and Holly was busily talking the rest of the tribe into voting out Wendy.

43 year old Jill, who looks like a butch lesbian, but who is a mother, so she may not be what she appears, and is an ER doctor, said: “Why don’t we go around a circle, and just honestly say who you’d rather [evict], Is that fair?” Is that fair? Is it fair for everyone to have a say? Is it fair to say that I want a better ER doctor when injured than someone who feels the need to ask such a pointless, stupid question?

So they went around, and no one said anything. Marty at least told us that he wasn’t buying Superbowl Guy’s “No jury will give me a million dollars” nonsense. I’m definitely liking Marty.

Tribal Council: there’s seldom much to discuss at a first Tribal council. People have barely learned each other’s names, let alone developed hatreds and resentments. What’s to dish?

Jane truly knows how to play. Despite looking like she’s the oldest person there (though she’s 11 years younger than Superbowl Guy), and being one of the women who utterly failed to solve the puzzle, no one is talking about getting rid of her. She made fire without flint, and she told Jeff Probst that she learned to do so after reading an article of his in which he expressed surprise that anyone would come to play Survivor without first learning to make fire, which was as smooth and efficient a piece of butt-smooching as ever I’ve seen.

Jimmy T. learned that, unlike in his work as a fisherman, where he’s “a leader,” here they have famous leaders, like Superbowl Guy. Jimmy T. felt like he had been king frog in a small pond, although that small pond he leads in is called The Atlantic Ocean, and as ponds go, it’s the second-largest on earth. Pit the Atlantic Ocean against all Superbowl teams combined, The Atlantic is still going to win. It’s an ocean. It’s unbelievably mighty.

Superbowl Guy: “Let me make it clear; I’m not The Boss.” Apparently all the rock star treatment was making Superbowl Guy think he was being mistaken for Bruce Springsteen. Too bad. Springsteen I’ve heard of. But while Bruce is no springsteen chicken himself anymore (he turns 61 next Thursday), he still could hardly be mistaken for the overweight geezer which is Superbowl Guy. Some people still want to shag Springsteen. I wouldn’t turn him out of doors on a cold night.

Holly feels like she’s in trouble at Council because she’s breaking her word, and betraying her short-lived alliance. That might be why Wendy would be miffed by her, but it hardly makes Holly a target tonight.

Then Jeff started asking Wendy questions. Now I truly believe that, up until this moment, there was a fairly even chance that Superbowl Guy might have gone home first. But Wendy warned us she was a chatterbox, and when asked direct questions by Jeff, the damn broke, and she blabbed and blathered her way into fulfilling her husband’s prophecy.

Wendy accused the tribe of not caring about her because no one asked her age. Who asks women their ages? Especially older women. That’s what the internet is for. For the record, she’s 48, just like Jimmy T. and Marty.

“Maybe I’ll start tooting my horn,” said Wendy, as though she was going to speak to any of these people again before the reunion show in December. In fact, that alone might have been the threat that got her voted out.

But she was just getting rolling. Out poured the verbiage. Wendy is one of those people who never says anything in two words that can be oversaid with 50 words. I’d transcribe the speech that bubbled out of her, but it would be tedious to listen to, tedious to type, and tedious to read, and it boiled down to “I talk a lot.” She basically annoyed the Superbowl-Guy-votes all over to her. She did say: “I didn’t want to come in and talk, talk, talk, talk, and drive people crazy, because people don’t like people who talk all the time.” True. So be quiet now, Wendy. Wendy, stop talking. Wendy, shut the hell up.

But she hadn’t really even begun to amaze me yet. Not until Jeff Probst said: “All right, it is time to vote. Jane, you’re up.”

Wendy: “Can I say one thing?” Please remember that Tribal Councils are much, much longer than what we see on TV. They typically last an hour. But if a contestant wants to open her big mouth and make her own situation worse, Jeff will always dole out all the rope they need to hang themselves.

Jeff (not hiding his annoyance): “Wendy, you had something else you wanted to say?”

Wendy: “I would also like to tell the group, I think there’s a lot that I can bring: my strength, my leadership…” Her leadership? Shut up, Wendy. “I can be very friendly, very honest, very funny…” Very long-winded? Shut up, Wendy. “Fun to be with, strong willed, strong physically. People like to be my friend. People like to be with me…” No one present at the Council likes being with you, not even Jeff. Honestly, Wendy, for your own sake, shut up. “… They trust me all the time. Trust is important. And I don’t have any blisters on my feet, and that’s an asset, that will help. Just a little thing I point out. I think that’s about it.”

Jeff: “I just wanted to make sure you got everything off your chest.” For once, I don’t think he meant her blouse. Remember, she said she just wanted to say “one thing”. But thank Heaven she got the blisters comment in.

Superbowl Guy was saved by a long-winded goat herder, who might have survived the council if she’d kept her big mouth closed. I can picture her, lying out on a hillside by moonlight, chattering away to her goats, while they bleat to each other in goat language: “You butt her off the cliff.” “Me? You do it!” “I tried, but she talked so much, I lost the will to butt.” “Let’s all attack her together, and gore her to death on our horns.” All the goats in unison: “Deal!”

And that’s what the other Antiques did, voting her out unanimously, except, of course, for her own vote for Yve, whom she misspelled as “Eve,” a woman of whom we saw zilch in this opening episode. This episode was “Not About Yve.”

Jeff, as he sent The Antiques home, said: “One good thing about coming to Tribal Council; you will leave here with fire,” and he tossed a flint to them. I do wish Jane had stood up and said: “Hey Bozo, we arrived with fire! We don’ need no stinkin’ flints!”

I’ll be back next week on Thursday with more Survivor, until then, cheers darlings.

To read more of Tallulah Morehead, go to The Morehead, the Merrier, or buy her book, My Lush Life.

Read more: Mark Burnett, Reality TV, Survivor Episode Recap, Survivor, Superbowl, Survivor 21 Episode 1, Jimmy Johnson, Survivor-Recap, Daleks, Cbs, Nicaragua, Big Brother 12, Russell Hantz, Comedy and Humor, Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Survivor 21, Daniel Ortega, Comedy, Big Brother, Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Johnson Survivor, Entertainment News

Christina Patterson: If Bigger Breasts Are the Answer, What’s the Question?

I’m a big fan of plastic surgery. Without it, I think I might feel like a freak. While Voltaire made excellent mileage out of a woman with one buttock, I don’t think it would be much fun to be her, or, as I would be without plastic surgery, a woman with just one breast. You could, I suppose, stuff your bra with something round and squashy, but I prefer not to. I prefer to put on a bikini and look relatively normal. I think most of us prefer to look relatively normal.

Operations are, however, horrible. They’re painful and unpleasant. The body isn’t designed to be whacked with great doses of anaesthetic, and then sliced and diced and stitched. It does its best to deal with it, but it takes its toll. I’ve had four operations in the past seven years, and I’m extremely grateful for anaesthetics that work and surgeons who know what they’re doing. I wouldn’t be alive without them. I’m extremely grateful, too, for the plastic surgeon who chopped off half my stomach (though all my friends were offering theirs) and put it in the space just vacated by a breast. But I can’t begin to understand how anyone with healthy breasts, or buttocks, or thighs, can take them anywhere near a surgeon’s knife for reasons other than medical necessity.

More and more people are. More and more people are, presumably, standing on the escalators on the Tube, thinking “I must get my roots done” or “nice dress, wonder where she got it” and then, seeing one of those posters of a young woman with a pleasant cleavage, and the slogan “Get Ready for Summer” next to the words “Harley Medical Group”, thinking “I knew there was something I’d forgotten!” and tapping a number into an iPhone. Or maybe they’re nipping out for lunch and grabbing a sandwich and a double macchiato and the cashier’s saying, “Would you like some implants with that?”, and they’re saying, “Oh, go on, then,” and next thing you know they’re lying on a trolley in a green robe staring at a very big needle.

Maybe some of them do find that larger breasts, or thinner thighs, or a flatter stomach, bring them fame, fortune and tearful interviews with Piers Morgan, or whatever it is they’re looking for. But the quest, it seems, is undertaken at some risk. According to a new report by the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death, a great deal of cosmetic surgery in this country is being carried out by surgeons with little experience or training, in ill-equipped operating theatres, in hospitals that have no consultant or anaesthetist on duty for emergencies, and which offer no psychological assessment or “cooling off” period. Four out of five cosmetic surgery firms were found to be “inadequate”, which suggests that patients have a greater chance of ending up on Great Plastic Surgery Disasters, or whatever the latest TV freak show is called, than bagging a pop star or a footballer.

It’s dreadful, of course, that there’s a whole area of medicine (or pseudo-medicine, or anti-medicine) that isn’t properly regulated, and which allows vain, insecure and possibly just not very bright people to subject their bodies to the equivalent of cowboy builders without apparently understanding that a body isn’t quite as replaceable as a kitchen. But what’s much more alarming is the mass growth of an industry that’s not only dangerous but largely unnecessary. It’s one thing to want to look relatively normal. If you look like the elephant man, or have breasts the size of boulders, then the quality of your life probably will be enhanced by some deft nips and tucks. But if you’re flat as a pancake, get a Wonderbra. If you’re paunchy, eat fewer pies. Take it from me, it’s a lot less hassle.

When I was 13, I was obsessed with how I looked. I’d dream about clothes, weigh myself daily and spend hours in the bathroom. Like most teenagers, I grew out of it. It’s a very big world, and one’s own appearance is a very boring part of it. Increasingly, however, I feel as though I live in a country stuck in eternal adolescence. It’s a country where women are, more than ever — more, even, than in Jane Austen’s marriage markets — judged by their looks, and where women over 40 apparently crack a TV screen. It’s a country where heels and hemlines are soaring in line with women’s desperation, and one where the top career choice for many girls is to be an appendage with an acronym.

In the past five years, demand for cosmetic surgery has more than doubled. According to other studies, not mentioned this week, women who have undergone breast augmentation surgery are more likely to commit suicide than those who haven’t. We are not talking happily ever after. And we won’t be, while women, and presumably some men, think that the complexities of the universe amount to a question whose answer is bigger breasts.

This week, Lady Gaga wore a dress made out of raw meat. I don’t know her music. I don’t know anything about her, really, except that her appearance looks, in this case literally, like bloody hard work. But I do know a post-modern joke when I see one, and I know when it both is and isn’t funny.

Read more: Plastic Surgery, Breast Enhancement, Lady GaGa, Living News

Jon Voight Brags About His Grandkids

“Shiloh, oh boy, she’s a smart one, but she’s four years old, you can never tell what she does, her face lights up,” the Coming Home Best Actor Oscar winner, 71, told reporters at FOX’s Fall Eco-Casino Party at L.A.’s Boa Restaurant this week.

“They’re all smart,” says Voight. “Z’s smart, they’re all smart I’ll tell you. Maddox, Pax, Z … I gotta get all their names, because you can’t cheat and I’m not going to. Maddox, Pax, Zahara, Shiloh, Knox and Vivienne, they’re all very smart kids, beautiful too.”

Read more: Angelina Jolie Jon Voight, Vivienne Marcheline Jolie Pitt, Knox Leon Jolie Pitt, Maddox Jolie-Pitt, Celebrity Kids, Angelina Jolie, Pax Jolie-Pitt, Zahara Jolie-Pitt, Jon Voight, Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, Entertainment News

New ‘American Idol’ Judges Set, To Be Revealed Wednesday

LOS ANGELES — Fox says the new “American Idol” panel of judges is set – but the network is keeping mum on who has been picked until next week.

The network said Thursday that the panel for season 10 has been confirmed and will be announced in Inglewood, Calif., next Wednesday. Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez are the front-runners.

Read more: Reality TV, American Idol Judge, Television, American Idol, Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler, Entertainment News

Mark Coggins: Chasing Lotta


In my late twenties, I waged a bitter struggle for the affections of a belly dancer named Lotta. This “battle of Lotta” cost more time, money and self-respect than any crusade for companionship from the opposite sex I’ve undertaken before or since. Reflecting on it now with my 53-year old brain–and my 53-year old libido–it’s hard to characterize the battle as anything other than a pointless, idiotic conflict. I’d like to reach back to 1987, grab hold of my younger self and demand, “What were you thinking?”

I’d like to do that, but it would pretty much be an act. I know what I was thinking. I was thinking that I was lonely and rudderless after my divorce, that Lotta was more sexually alluring than any woman I’d ever been with, and that she was a complete kick in the pants–spontaneous, adventurous and sometimes just plan crazy. The fact that she was a part-time belly dancer–doing gigs at Middle Eastern restaurants and performing “belly grams” for birthday parties while I held her boom box–didn’t hurt. Everyone wants to be with a celebrity.

And that was exactly the problem. I met Lotta while waiting for my divorce to be finalized and since I was still married–she often reminded me–I couldn’t expect an exclusive arrangement. As a consequence, I had a number of rivals during the battle, the most persistent and formidable of which was (unfortunately) another guy named Mark. Mark II, as I will call him, was younger and better looking than me, but (if you will trust my judgment on the matter) did not test quite as high in the IQ department. He worked as a shoe salesman, which paid less than my job as a computer programmer, but did give him access to discounted women’s footwear. And Lotta loved her footwear.

I first became aware of Mark II at one of Lotta’s performances at a Greek restaurant when he “happened” to be in the audience. After Lotta had changed out of her gold-spangled belly dancing outfit (the construction of which had been underwritten by me) and returned to our table, Mark II came up to tell her what a swell performance she had given. Lotta gave him a smile that probably warmed a lot more than his heart. After he mooned off, I asked who he was.

“Oh, just some guy I met at church,” said Lotta.

The next time I ran into Mark II–or, more accurately, he ran into me–was when I was over at Lotta’s house for Sunday dinner. Dinner at Lotta’s house was usually something to be avoided. It wasn’t so much that Lotta was a bad cook, it was that she was so incredibly cheap. She spent a good two hours every Sunday morning clipping coupons, which meant that the side dishes–or even the main courses–were always some sort of crazy, ersatz packaged item that the supermarkets or one of the big food companies was pushing. Think potted meat or clam jerky. Another manifestation of Lotta’s cheapness was her insistence on buying fruits and vegetables that the supermarket had discounted because they were nearly (or, in many cases, already) past their prime. I choked down more overripe zucchini than I care to recall–and I don’t even like fresh zucchini.

But Lotta’s pièce de cheapness was her insistence on saving the aluminum wrappers from margarine cubes. These were hoarded so that they could be slapped onto chickens and turkeys like so many sections of aluminum siding in order that the tiny bit of residual margarine would soak into the skin of the unfortunate (cut-rate) fowl during the roasting process.

In any event, on this particular evening I had not managed to avoid dinner at Lotta’s. She was in the living room setting the table with her best china, and because the dinner was intended to be “special” (or as special as it could be where the repast included a side of clam jerky), I was in her bedroom doing my best to look presentable. At the particular point in time that Mark II came up to stick his mug in Lotta’s front-facing bedroom window (unbeknownst to me), looking presentable for dinner involved ironing my chinos while standing pants-less in my shirttail and boxer shorts.

Apparently it was news to Mark II that my relationship with Lotta was such that I might stand in her bedroom in my boxer shorts, and shortly thereafter I heard the doorbell ring, and once the door was opened, a great deal of yelling. The yelling increased in volume as the proximity of the yellers grew nearer and nearer to the (closed) bedroom door. I struggled to pull on my pants to fend off the attack I was sure was coming, but just when I expected the bedroom door to be flung open, the yelling stopped and I heard steps retreating down the hallway. The front door opened and closed again, and I rushed to the window in time to see Mark II flipping me off as he went down the sidewalk to his car.

Once I returned to the living room, I naturally asked Lotta what the hell was going on. She tried to play it cool. She said Mark II had assumed their relationship was more serious than it was and didn’t understand that she was seeing other people.

“Are you sleeping with him?” I snapped.

“Of course not,” she said. “Now relax and have some clam jerky. The roast chicken will be ready in a minute.”

Having fought the battle of Lotta long enough by this point not to accept her explanation at face value, I decided a little independent verification was in order. Later that evening, I asked innocently when we were getting together again, and by carefully shifting her responses about when she was free over the next week, determined that her cover story for Thursday evening (“girl’s night out”) seemed the weakest. Sure enough, as I sat across the street from Lotta’s house in my car reading Bret Easton Ellis’ “Less Than Zero” by flashlight that Thursday evening, Mark II pulled up and bopped inside.

If reading Ellis’ dispiriting book by a wavering yellow light in a freezing car wasn’t depressing enough on its own, I made sure to get the full measure of ego-nullification by staying past the time that all the other lights in the house except the bedroom went off, past the time that beacon went off–and I presumed the sex began–and well into the early morning. I briefly considered letting the air out of Mark II’s tires before I left at around 3 a.m., but couldn’t quite bring myself to stoop that low.

I was too embarrassed to admit that I had staked out her house, but eventually I confronted Lotta about Mark II, citing evidence I had obtained through less craven means. When I laid the accusation out on the table, she just shrugged, and said, “What do you expect? You’re married.”

And so I was–for another few months anyway. Somehow I made peace with the situation and life continued, Lotta now doing little or nothing to conceal her relationship with Mark II from me. At one point, she went so far as to ask for advice.

“You know your nose hair?”

“Yeah?” I said.

“How do you–you know–trim it?”

“Why are you asking?”

“Mark’s nose hair is sticking out all over the place. I want him to cut it back, but he says he doesn’t know how.”

I should have told her I used a Zippo lighter like a flamethrower to burn it out. Instead I mumbled, “Tell him to get a pair of nail scissors at the drug store. Those work fine.”

Surprisingly, the trend of talking about Mark II’s shortcomings continued–and even accelerated. First, Lotta mentioned that she thought that Mark’s neck was too long and scrawny. Later, she said she thought he wasn’t very mature and he had a dead-end job. I began to think the tide of the battle might be turning my way–although there still seemed to be plenty of new shoes from Mark II’s so-called dead-end job in Lotta’s closet.

I went on the offensive by funding a trip to a bed and breakfast in the Napa Valley and the acquisition of several new dresses. Lotta was too cheap to buy nice things for herself (and if the truth were known, her taste wasn’t very good), so the dresses had a double-impact: they were both nicer and more stylish than anything she would have bought for herself. When an ex-boyfriend told her she looked the best she ever had while wearing one of them, she was extremely pleased and I thought I had turned the corner.

It was about that time that her parents came to town. I joined them for lunch–which seemed to go well–and Lotta said she was going to take the rest of the day to show them around the area. She invited me over to dinner the evening after they flew home to Iowa, and for once, I had a pleasant meal at her house: I insisted on ordering pizza and paired it with a six pack of my favorite beer. Lotta told funny stories about her dad working on her car and playing handyman, and things seemed more relaxed between us than they had in a while.

Until I got up to go to the bathroom.

After taking the opportunity to inspect my nose hair–to which I now paid an inordinate amount of attention–I realized that I had a “bat in the cave” and went hunting for a tissue to aid in its extraction. I opened the cabinet under the sink, and rather than locating a box of Kleenex, found Lotta’s diaphragm sitting out to dry on top of its little plastic dish.

Lotta had told me that her parents had been over for dinner the previous evening and then had returned to the hotel where they were staying. It now dawned on me that there had been another guest at dinner–and this guest hadn’t gone to any hotel to spend the night. He’d spent it in Lotta’s two-hundred gallon water bed.

I snatched up the diaphragm and carried it back to the kitchen table, where I tossed it onto Lotta’s plate, right on top of the greasy pepperoni. “What’s this doing out?” I demanded.

Lotta tried countering with the “how dare you paw through my stuff” argument, but I wasn’t having any. Eventually it came out that Mark II had been there, and when I accused her of using her parents as a sounding board to help her pick between us–first showing me off at lunch followed by him at dinner–she pretty much copped to the charge.

I got up to storm out of the house, but she wheedled and pleaded and managed to talk me into staying. I guessed that maybe her parents had thought I was the better catch, even though I’d been given the less desirable spot in the dog show. Now she was working a little harder to keep me on the leash.

After cleaning the greasy diaphragm and entombing the leftover pizza in Tupperware like organs preserved for transplant, we retired to the den to watch a rerun of The A-Team in almost complete silence. Then we took ourselves off to bed, where (for once) I resisted Lotta’s attempt to use sexual favors to assuage my righteous anger.

“Look,” she said. “I’ll wear the lamb slippers again if you want. Baa-baa!”

“No, damn it. The sheep thing is not going to make up for this. And besides, I’ll bet you got those slippers from him, didn’t you?”

Lotta just shrugged and returned the woolly, two-toed slippers to the closet. She dropped off to sleep almost immediately, but I tossed and turned for hours, unable to shake the conviction that she was turning me and Mark II into a couple of emasculated drones for her hive. Finally, at about two in the morning, I decided I was leaving. The only problem with that idea was that Lotta had given me a ride to her house. My car was still in the parking lot at work.

But, having made the decision, I wasn’t going to let this deter me. My close friend Terry lived about two miles away, and I thought the air and the exercise would be a good way to clear my head. How Terry and his wife Mary would feel about me presenting myself on their doorstep in the middle of the night didn’t figure in my calculations.

Now your true reconstituted man, anxious to throw off the chains of drone-dom, would have shaken Lotta awake, boldly pronounced that he was leaving, and then marched out of the house in a testosterone cloud. What I did instead was slip out of the covers, dress quietly in the dark and sneak out the door with my garment bag. I even felt guilty about leaving Lotta’s front door unlocked–but only slightly.

The walk to Terry’s was a straight shot down a major road that was completely deserted. Now that that die was cast, and I was marching inexorably towards the hoped-for sanctuary of Terry’s abode, it finally occurred to me to worry about the reception I would get. What if he wasn’t home? What if he didn’t answer the door? What if he called the cops?

None of those things happened. I tapped quietly on the door, whispering, “Hey, Terry, it’s me,” until the porch light came on. I heard the safety chain being taken off and then the door yawned open. Terry stood in his pajamas, gripping a baseball bat in one hand while rubbing tousled hair with the other. “What the f—, Coggins?” he asked (reasonably enough I had to admit).

I explained that I had come from Lotta’s, and no sooner was her name out of my mouth, than he said, “Okay, okay. You can take the hide-a-bed.” You see, Terry had heard a story or two about Lotta by that point.

It developed that Terry and Mary had also had a fight earlier in the evening and he had been sleeping on the hide-a-bed when I knocked on the door. I was now doing the important service of reuniting him with his wife. A further irony was that my ex-wife and I had given Terry and Mary the hide-a-bed when we moved from our old house. I was being reunited with it–at least for what was left of the evening.

I steered clear of Lotta for the next few weeks, feeling virtuous and remasculated. She emailed me once asking about some stuff I’d left at her house, but she didn’t make any serious attempt to get us back together, nor did she ever ask exactly what happened the night of my disappearance from her bedroom. I guess there wasn’t much ambiguity about the message I had sent.

Then, around eight in the morning one Saturday, I got a tearful call from her. She’d been arrested the night before for drunk driving and had spent the night in jail. She was all torn up, she said, and would I come over and spend some time with her? I told her I was sorry, but no. We were done.

I hung up the phone–and immediately felt I’d been too harsh. The circumstances of the arrest sounded arbitrary and miserable: she’d abandoned her Pontiac Fiero on the side of the road when she decided on her own she was too drunk to drive, but was arrested when she came back to get something from it and an officer happened by. She’d been handcuffed and spent the night with other drunks until she was allowed to make a phone call to a girlfriend to post bail.

I decided it wouldn’t be the crime of the century to go see her. I wasn’t getting back with her, I was just going to comfort her for old time’s sake. I swung by the supermarket on the way to pick up her favorite–Haagen-Dazs ice cream bars–and then drove to her house.

As I came up the sidewalk, I saw through the kitchen window that someone was sitting at the kitchen table. The someone didn’t have his shirt on, and as I looked at him from the back, I realized that Lotta was right: Mark II’s neck was long and scrawny.

I dropped the Haagen-Dazs bars on the welcome mat and hot footed it back to my car. I drove to the nearest pay phone to call Lotta to tell she could find them there, and furthermore, exactly what I thought about her having Mark II come over after she had called me.

“But you said you weren’t coming–” was all she managed before I slammed down the phone.
I’d like to tell you that that was the last day I spoke to Lotta–that I never had anything to do with her again. I’d like to tell you that, but I’d be lying. My addiction continued in fits and starts–as addictions will–for another three years over two different continents. (Lotta took a temporary job in Germany, where I traveled several times to visit her.)

When she came home, I agreed to meet her in a bar in Palo Alto and there I told her once and for all that we done, finitio, finished. It took her a while to grasp that the worm had had turned. But when she did, her face dropped and she stormed out of the restaurant, leaving her Kahlua and Cream (and the bar bill) behind.

The bar has long since closed, but the building now houses a popular Asian restaurant. My (new) wife and I eat there occasionally, and whenever we come in, I glance involuntarily at corner by the door where I had that final conversation. I didn’t meet my wife until years and years later, but I know we’d never be together if the battle of Lotta hadn’t ended at that spot.

Maybe they should put up a plaque.

(Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt. CC 2.0 licensing.)

Read more: Drunk Driving, Stalking, Love Triangle, Singles, Divorce, Belly Dancing, Comedy, Sex, Dating, Relationships, Living News

Tallulah Morehead: Big Brother 12 : “One of My Good Dogs,” The 8-Second Man

This was an odd week, as the penultimate week always is. We had a live eviction on Wednesday, then a second live show without an eviction on Thursday. Just one more column, I keep telling myself, and I’ll never have to see or hear or discuss Boobiac ever again.

Sunday: Britney never had a chance at this Decorate-Your-Xmas-Tree challenge. I’ll give her this, she passed the ever-lame Penguin.

Poor Beast. He had to emcee the HOH contest, which meant using big words like “ornament,” and “breaks,” and “supercalifragilisticexpialadocous.” “Christmas ornaments! I hate that word!” said the Beast, unable to count to two.

Bitchney: “I’ve been called a ‘ball-buster’ before, but who knew that I was actually that good at it?” What’s your fiancé’s name again, darling? And the name of every boy you’ve ever dated? And every waiter who has ever had to take your order?

Hayden credits 22 years of experience decorating Christmas trees for his runaway lead, though it took him two tries at the mathematical poser: 24 – 2 = ? to get the answer right. So, is he telling us that for 22 years, he was never allowed near a Christmas ornament nor tree except through chicken wire? It seems an odd condition to lay down, but perhaps his parents knew best. After all, some Christmas music is actually that dreaded Classical Music, aka “Hayden’s Bane”! What if Handel’s Messiah came on without warning, and Hayden suffered a seizure that sent him spiraling out of control into the family Christmas Tree? Then, that chicken wire might be all that could save Christmas!

Hayden’s years of experience at stuffing his fingers through the wire mesh of his various cages paid off, and he became the Head of Household. He asked us: “When I busted into this joint, did you ever think I would make it this far?” No, Hayden, I didn’t. If I had, I might have taken my own life then and there.

Having become aware that perhaps there are not “500 dead presidents with my name on them,” as The Penguin announced back in episode one, he now has to figure a way to spin reality where he can still be the winner, even though he’s going to lose.

“I’m just happy just to be part of de Brigade. I’m happy to even come up with de name … Boom! Boom! Bra-Gade. When Hayden wins, dat’s like me winnin’!” Ironically, it’s also him losing! “We’re de Brigade. I started dis ting from de beginning. I’m de mastermind of de whole Brigade!” Actually Mr. Mensa was the mastermind of The Brigade. That’s why they got rid of him. They didn’t dare compete with someone smart.

Speaking of being a Mastermind, here’s a tidbit The Penguin said to Bitchney this week, heard on the live feeds and told back to me, sadly not used on CBS. It seems (prepare for a shock!) that both Bitchney and The Penguin have ambitions to become actors. What are the odds? The Penguin asked Bitchney: “What kind of actor are you going to be, a methodist?”

He’s a mastermind!

Bitchney was now channeling her inner-Ragan, and having a teary self-pity party, though she at least understood that it was an immature reaction.

Hayden is not the only houseguest facing the horrors of complex higher mathematics. Said The Beast: “There’s no word that could describe how excited I am, ’cause I’m in The Final Four. I have one out of – what is it? – Three chances? Or four? I get them mixed up. Like, do I count myself? ‘Cause I can beat myself, so do I count myself?” He can beat himself, and has, as many a You Tube visitor has seen him do in the shower. But should he count himself? It’s not an easy answer. A number representing him would probably be an imaginary number, so I say, no, don’t count him.

Luxury Competition: $10,000 will buy you some luxury. The Beast is almost showering at the idea: “A chance to win ten grand? You know how many cases of beer I can buy with that? Plus Muscle Milk? Oh my gosh. This is Heaven.” No wonder I’m not religious.

This game was just a pimped-up version of hide-and-seek, with coins instead of people. At some point in the past The Penguin may have played this, so he knew he had it smoked. “The Meow Meow doesn’t get his name for nothin’. Hide-and-Seek is my game. Let’s do it.”

All the houseguests picked good hiding places. The Penguin hid his behind some huge metal wall-sculpture that will remain in place until the house is demolished. Hayden put his into an unopened cereal box. The Beast hid his in the trash. Bitchney combined the Hayden and Beast approaches, and hid hers in a cereal box in the trash. Hayden later did her the favor of hiding it more for her by taking the garbage outside, and dumping it in the bin.

The Penguin found Hayden’s coin.

Poor Beast, he said that the contest was so long “It’s like waiting for the ending of one of the Harry Potter movies. It’s forever!” Does he mean the wait for the next movie, or the wait once the movie starts, for it to end? I suppose it wouldn’t occur to him to just read the books, like every other ten year old in the world has.

Bitchney found The Penguin’s coin and eliminated him. So much for it being “The Meow-Meow’s Game.”

Then Bitchney found The Beast’s coin, and won the $10,000. The Penguin was pissed, and indulged in a little Diary Room sour graping: “Okay, Britney, you won. Good for you. Now you got ten Gs, another target on your back. You just won a vacation to the Jury House. See ya!” And this differed from her situation before the challenge how? Oh yes. She has the $10,000 that The Beast just lost. She was already fated to the Jury House unless she wins the next POV. But then, I’m sure The Penguin will win the next POV challenge. If this be madness, yet there’s Methodism in it.

CBS used five minutes of national air time to show us Hayden, The Penguin, and Bitchney having an energetic pillow fight.

Hayden finally proposed to The Penguin turning on The Beast, and keeping Bitchney. It had to come, though I never saw the reason being that he might be too smart for them. I’m not saying The Beast isn’t smarter than Hayden and The Penguin, I’m just saying that those would be the only two people on earth he might be smarter than.

Nominations: Bitchney and The Beast were nominated. Showmance #3 is on the block. Hayden loves everybody there.

Wednesday: This was a special, live eviction show.

Bitchney’s plan is to win POV. Good plan. The Beast’s plan is for Bitchney to win POV. Brave warrior, oh Texan one. The Beast has let more of his true self show this week. It made me pine for the days when he kept his mouth closed, and I could pretend there was a nice dumb guy in there, instead of the uncivilized creature who has emerged. Trust me. We will be discussing The Beast’s “8-Second Game” before we are done.

The Wisdom of Hayden Moss: Hayden to The Beast: “I hope me, you, and Enzo can get in the Final Three, because then that means that we got a good shot to get in The Final Two.” There is no arguing with this pointless statement.

Lazing back on a well-padded chaise lounge, by a swimming pool and a Jacuzzi, well fed and well-wined, mellowed-out, in loose, comfy clothes, outside his air-conditioned home, while enjoying the very-warm summer evening, The Penguin said: “I feel like a Spartan goin’ to war tamarraw.” I have seldom witnessed anything more Spartan in my life. I see my Facebook chum and future ex-husband Gerard Butler screaming to the gods: “We are Sparta! Tonight we dine in STUDIO CITY!!!!!!

The Beast told Hayden and The Penguin he wanted to go in and take a shower, but he didn’t want to leave them alone to plot behind his back. The Beast should stop mentioning the shower altogether. Whenever he says he wants to take a shower now, it makes all America giggle, like Beavis and Butthead hearing the word “teabag.”

Bitchney tried brokering a save-her-butt deal with Hayden, to take her off the block, by playing numbers games with him to make it sound like he’d beat her in the final round. She told Hayden that The Penguin would win unanimously. What a horrible thought. Could a jury reward such terrible game play over Hayden, who has at least won three HOHs? Or was Bitchney just snowing The Frizzied One?

Said Bitchney of The Penguin: “Enzo played a very different game than everybody, but he played an immaculate game.”

He did play “a very different game” than the other players. They were playing Big Brother; he was playing Big Loser. It was like they were playing Scrabble (a stretch for most of them, I know), and The Penguin was playing 52 Pick-Up.

And what is playing “an immaculate game”? Is she planning to tell her fiancé that The Beast’s Love Cub was immaculately conceived?

Power of Veto Competition: A vital competition, since the winner decides who goes home and who stays into the Final Three.

Movie Marquee asked simple and not-so-simple questions about the housemates, and the players had to choose two-faced posters (perfect for these two-faced players) to line up for answers. Perfectly good quiz, and Bitchney has a real shot at it.

Except that rather than adopt a policy of get-the-first-one-absolutely-right, slide in answer, and move on, she decided to get all the answers before sliding in any posters. Plus she had no sense of urgency, and went at it like an afternoon’s crafts project, setting out all her materials, organizing her tools, doing everything but spreading out newspapers on her workspace. The result: She had no answers at all slid in when Hayden rang in for the win. The Penguin did better than she did, and he got five-out-of-seven answers wrong!

But The Beast was the most-pathetic. He doesn’t retain memories like a fully-evolved homo sapian. His family are planning to use home videos to reintroduce themselves to him when he comes back to Texas next week. They know that to The Beast there is tomorrow, today, yesterday, and “Ago”. And “Ago” is just a gray blankness. So he figured out the answers to exactly none of the questions. He is lucky to remember who he himself is.

By his own testimony, The Beast got into an argument with his own brain. I don’t know which horse to back in that race!

The Beast: “My brain is mixin’ me up! My brain is backstabbin’ me! My brain is throwin’ this. It’s throwin’ it for me! I’m thinkin’, I know that answer; my brain’s sayin’: ‘No, you don’t.’ I’m thinkin’, yes I do.”

I’m thinking his brain is right. He should stop arguing with it and try listening to it. It can’t be more wrong all the time than he is.

Lord of Delusions: Bitchney: “Even though I didn’t win the Power of Veto, I still feel like I have a really good chance of staying in the house, because I’m really close with both Hayden and Lane, and I don’t think that Enzo realizes that he could still end up being the person who goes home this week.” Aren’t they adorable when they’re that deluded? How has she never come up against a boy’s club before? Has she never heard of “bros before hos,” the motto, both in gameplay and in Life, of The Brigade? Bitchney is about to get a very jarring awakening.

The Brigade, flush with victory in their winnowing down the house to just themselves without anyone ever learning of their existence, decided to come out to Bitchney. I can’t think why they feel compelled to do this. It’s not like it’s gonna be a vote-winner with them. (That anything might lose you jury votes is not a concept that ever sinks into The Penguin: “Hello. My name is Enzo. I engineered your blindside eviction. I hope I have your vote.”)

What it is is this: The Penguin has won almost nothing all season, except a lovely flat-screen 3-D TV. So The Brigade’s victory, must be his personal victory, and He Who Created The Brigade From The Dust, and Lo, It Was Good, must brag about it to someone, and Bitchney is the only person he can brag to about it.

So the whole point of telling Bitchney was really just so The Penguin could preen. The Beast would have preferred drowning himself, or drowning The Penguin, and the Penguin didn’t even wait for Hayden to arrive to spill his guts. “Personally for me, I think it’s greatness,” said The Penguin, oblivious to the emotions rising in Bitchney as she contemplated the depth of their deceit, realizing that the alliances she thought she was forming hither and yon were always being trumped by the silent voting unanimity of The Brigade, and faced her own inevitable eviction.

Even Bitchney has admitted in subsequent interviews that her first reaction was not her best, as she tearfully whined the boys an earful of angry self-pity between sobs: “I mean, how does it feel to know that you just wasted three months, and you have no shot at $500,000, and it’s the only reason you came here? And it’s like a guarantee, to know 100% you’re going home? That you came all this way for no reason? I left my fiancé, my family.”

How does it feel? My guess is that it feels exactly like every evicted houseguest feels: how Boobiac feels, for instance, how Brendon feels, how Monet feels, how Andrew feels, how Mr. Mensa feels, he who now has no money to donate to the foundation for his wife’s imaginary bone disease. And you didn’t come for “no reason.” You won $10,000 a few days ago. I’d hate to be wailing my eyes out in angry, aggrieved self-pity less than a week after winning $10,000. I’d hope still to be in a good mood, or unconscious, or both.

For the record, I know exactly how it feels to know I’ve wasted three months. I know what it’s like to wake up not remembering the last three months. I know what it’s like to wake up not remembering the last 24 months. I’ll be damned if I can remember anything at all of the 1970s! Did I miss anything good? And I can assure you, I have no shot at $500,000 in the immediate future either. But you don’t see me getting all whiny and self righteous about it, do you?

And then, we beheld the emotional depths of The Beast, and learned his True Regard for The Fair Sex.

The Beast: “To see Britney hurt that bad, was like one of my good dogs died. It crushed me.”

“To see Britney hurt that bad, was like one of my good dogs died.”

At least it was one of his good dogs. It would be terrible if hurting Britney was only like one of his bad dogs died.

Let’s talk about Lane Elenberg, whom, thanks to The Penguin, I’ve been calling The Beast all summer long. I’ve wanted to like him. Gee, how I wanted to like him. He is gorgeous, no question about it. His shoulders are larger than my head. He has a country charm to him. He can be quite funny. He’s upfront that he’s stupid.

But stuff kept coming out of his mouth, about the joys of getting liquored up on Saturday night (I’m with you so far), and then careening about roads and fields in a pickup truck, shining a light about and then shooting at “anything that looks like it has eyes.” (I’m off of this bus!)

We began to get a clear sense that his idea of a good time is going to bars and picking fights and beating up strangers, a job he’s certainly built to win every time.

This week on the live feeds was an amazing conversation betwixt our lovely Brigadesters and a clearly reluctant and disgusted Bitchney, on what The Beast calls “The 8-Second Game,” which CBS saw fit not to broadcast. Let’s see what you would call it. (I’ve edited it down some):

Lane: “You ever play the.. 8 second game with her?”

Enzo : “What’s the 8 second game? … You gotta drop.. Oh.. The 8 second game, when you pull your pants down and.. uh.. I forgot. What is it, yo? What’s 8 seconds?”

Lane: “Four of your buddies bring a girl back..”

Enzo : “Oh, ok”

Lane : “…and then you get her in the bed, and all of us are waitin’ at the door, and we bust in on ya, and you gotta hold the girl down for 8 seconds.”

Enzo: “Oh!”

Lane: “You know, cuz the girl’s tryin’ to squirm and tryin’ to get under the covers..”

Enzo: “Oh sh**! I’m definitely gonna do that.”

Lane: “8 second ___”

Enzo: “Oh! I wanna do that. You just hold her down? Down?”

Lane: “Yeah.”

Enzo: “Isn’t that rape?”

The Beast laughs uproariously. It goes on, and gets more graphic, but the ending is the stinger:

Enzo: “Nah.. I’d be divorced. I can’t do that.”

Lane: “She has to ride back with you.”

Britney: “If that happened to me, I would kill myself.”

Lane: “It’s all fun and games.”

Did that sound like “fun and games” to you? It sounded like sexual assault to me. The Beast is a beast. It’s not a joke. It’s not fun and games. It’s subhuman.

If you’re planning on voting for “America’s Favorite,” think of “The 8-Second Game” before you vote.

But I digress…

Final Veto Meeting: This was the beginning of beauty-pageant-pro Bitchney’s Veto Meeting speech, which she knew would really be her house farewell address: “I would also like to say hi to my mom, brothers, Dad, all my family, I love you guys, my friends, I miss you so much, and I’ll see ya soon. I can’t wait!” Conspicuous by his absence was her fiancé, What’s-His-Name. She gave The Beast a lot of airtime, but had not one syllable for the Love of Her Life.

And she said she was sorry she couldn’t have been “an original member of The Brigade,” nor a later one. She lacked the most-basic requirement for entry into any boy’s club. She wasn’t a boy. There was no doubt of her not-boyness. She has no trace of an Adam’s apple.

Anyway, she also had no trace of a hope, and was evicted. All were adults about it, and swore undying love. She repented of her teary eyeworks and went out campaigning for “America’s Favorite.”

Final Head of Household Challenge, Level One: This part of the challenge had me roaring with laughter. The three remaining Brigade members dangled from ropes, while getting slammed hard into canvas walls. When they hit the wall, they were lifted to slide the other direction, and slam into the canvas wall at that end. Last contestant left clinging to life advances to the final challenge, while the early fall-offs faced off in Level Two.

Then they started up a waterfall they had to roll through on their way towards slamming into the next wall. It was like the least-popular thrill ride at Disney’s California Adventure: The Grand Slammer!

We’ve been having triple digit temperatures for the last couple weeks, and that waterfall might have been refreshing, except the heat waved broke the day before, and it was overcast and chilly when they were doing this challenge. We left them, still being slammed into walls. It never grows old.

Thursday: My GOD! They made Julie Chen work two consecutive days this week! What are they, slave drivers? Why is it always the ones who never suffer who suffer?

Final Head of Household Challenge, Level One [cont.]: The Penguin doesn’t think Bitchney would have been much good at clinging to a rope, sailing through a waterfall, and getting repeatedly slammed into walls. I too, doubt she’d have lasted long, but I surely would love to have seen it. I’m picturing it now — vividly! Slam! Wail! Gracious me. I’d go take a cold shower, but Lane is hogging the bath room as usual.

The Penguin on an All-Brigade Final Three: “Tree dodos in De Final Tree, you can’t have wrote a better – ah – script dan dis.” Don’t tell me what I can’t have been wrotten!

Hayden on slamming into walls: “After a while, hitting the wall felt like a frinkkin’ car wreck, without the car.” So it felt like a “wreck”? Which wreck? The Mary Dreare? My career? Your hair?

TMI: The Penguin: “This little wooden seat now, it’s got my left leg numb. My boys downstairs are squooshed.”

Well, see what the boys in the back room will have.

The Penguin continues: “I’d like to find out who designed this little wooden seat, you know, so then I could give him a nice – ah – Jersey beat down. That’s what I do.” He remains a source of charm to the end. He actually still thinks that’s funny or cute. In any event, the only person I know with a little wooden seat is Pinocchio.

But count on The 8-Second Man to bottom even The Penguin: “This is like a Texas bar fight. You get slammed from wall-to-wall-to-wall, people pour alcohol and water on your head, and then you wake up the next morning, and your testicles hurt.” Maybe they got a Jersey beat down from The Penguin’s boys downstairs. TMI

I’ve been slammed from wall-to-wall-to-wall while people poured alcohol in the direction of my head on many occasions, but never in a bar fight. We were just young and in love.

The Penguin fell off first. Hands up, everyone who is surprised. Hands? No one? Okay.

The Penguin: “I have a chance to prove myself in this competition, and I didn’t do it.” Oh I disagree. I believe you did prove exactly who you were. You’re the guy who always loses competitions. You’re the male Kathy.

While The 8-Second Man and Hayden were being slammed into wall after wall after wall, each actually competing full-out to win, the Penguin, alone in the house at last, made himself a pizza. Left completely alone, he becomes his mother. If he’d had a TV, he’d have put his feet up and watched an old Matlock while he ate, but since he didn’t, he went out and ate while watching Big Brother from the front row, enjoying his pizza while they suffered for his dining and dancing pleasure.

At one hour and fifty-eight minutes of being repeatedly slammed into walls, which must be a record, even for The Beast, he suffered an injury he was quite specific about. “I just ripped my whole ass.” What exactly does he mean? Maybe I should see for myself. Now hold still. This may tickle. Stop squirming. It’s all right. I’ve played people in movies who knew doctors, so they know what I’m doing.

At two hours and thirty-five minutes, The Beast slipped off. A mere two and a half hours of being repeatedly slammed into walls? That’s all you got? Pussy!

Okay, The Penguin’s “Wifey” is pretty and appealing. What is she doing married to him? She could do better.

Wifey: “He’s an amazing dad, but he is a mama’s boy.” Tell us something we don’t know.

Mommy: “In school, he was not so much of a A+ student.” I’m flattened with shock! I’m guessing neither was Mommy, though she may have done well in cooking classes.

“Enzo has definitely been underestimated,” said Wifey, overestimating him.

Jury House of Hell!: Kathy is still upset that a man who sits around the living room with people who are not his family, wearing Skull & Crossbones pajamas in the middle of the day, might be what she sees as evil. Is there some way Kathy could be evicted from the Jury House?

“Is Ragan a competitor?” asked Boobiac back at the jury house of the man who got both her and her boy toy evicted, and who has repeatedly won POVs, and outlasted her and Brendon at every endurance challenge. Somehow she never noticed he was a competitor while he was busy wiping the floor with her and her musclebound boyfriend?

“I’m painting a yellow picture,” added Boobiac brainlessly, “so whoever comes in can be cheery and sunny.” Try painting a picture of a house that Boobiac is not in, if you want whoever walks in to be cheery and sunny.

“Another showmance to the Jury House,” announced Ragan to Mr. Mensa. So that’s why Mensie was sitting around in pajamas. He intends to hustle Ragan off to bed, and finally consummate their bromance, before Ragan finds out about Mr. Mensa’s little white fib, and Ragan-poontang goes off the table. Mr. Mensa has probably had to listen to Boobiac and Brendon all week (You just know she’s loud at the, you know, loud times.), and is horny as hell.

“I see Ragan as a bully,” said Boobiac, in a glaring example of it-takes-one-to-know-one in action.

Everyone, even Kathy, laughed out loud when Ragan hit The Penguin in the head with the CD. This is definitely a Three Stooges crowd.

After watching Ragan’s eviction DVD, Mr. Mensa asked Ragan to accompany him outdoors. Off went Ragan, hoping this was, at last, the longed-for proposal: “I’ve decided that when my wife dies of her imaginary bone disease, I want to marry you. My wife’s given us her blessing.” But he had something else to say.

“Take your drink; you’ll need it,” said Kathy, in the first intelligent thing she’s said all season.

View this moment out-of-context for a second: As Mr. Mensa said, “My beautiful wife can not be happier and healthier,” we watched Ragan’s face droop, his smile vanish. He was devastated to learn his friend’s wife was healthy and happy. All his dreams of their post-show-and-bone-dead-wife marriage dashed to pieces. Now he has nothing to show for his time in the house but the $20,000 dollars he got by being the Saboteur, and thereby lying to everyone in the house, including Mr. Mensa. High horse saddled up, ready for mounting.

Ragan: “I feel like Charlie Brown when Lucy pulls the football away.” Two-dimensional? Stuck in childhood forever? Dressed like a dork? What?

Bottom-Feeder Boobiac, lurking at the door, listening to every word, like a nameless horror lurking in a crypt in an H. P. Lovecraft story (I apologize to all nameless horrors in Lovecraft tales. None of you are as hideous as Boobiac.), now calculating that Ragan’s emotions are at their rawest, moves in to strike. I’d liken her to a scorpion, but what has a scorpion ever done to me?

Ragan came clean about his great lie, which turned out to be the forgettable fact that he is a professor, and actually has the PhD that Brendon covets, and Mr. Mensa also lacks, for all his MENSAcity.

But big deal. Who cares? What about coming clean about being The Saboteur? Well? We’re waiting. Oh, how you sewed seeds of paranoia on everyone for an extra $20,000, and lied to everyone, including Mr. Mensa, would make it harder to play the Moral Superiority Card against him, wouldn’t it?

Instead, he and Boobiac went at it over her being a total bitch, and not accepting this fact. She pointed out that there had been no arguments in the jury house, conveniently forgetting the blow ups when Mr. Mensa first confessed his lie.

But here’s a fact, the complaints by regular watchers of the live feeds that the feeds are duller than watching blood dry have increased substantially since Boobiac left the house.

“Ragan, go grab your tiara and be a f***ing queen; I’m over you.” said Boobiac, sashaying off into the house, believing that this witlessness-wrapped-in-homophobia constituted a stinging exit line, though she only showed again her utter lack of any trace of class. And I was left wondering if she meant one of Bitchney’s tin foil tiaras. And if she was actually over him, why was she trying to battle him at all?

Head of Household Competition: Level Two: This involved recognizing who was whom in “funny” pictures in which the houseguests faces had been smushed together, and “Frankensteined,” which is no joke, and I speak as the ex-wife the Karloff family still refuses to admit Boris was ever married to. (That was one unpleasant break-up.)

So this involved recognizing faces and a bit of brain power, and it was between the two prize dimwits of this season’s men, The Beast and The Penguin. The competition seemed to be to see who could lose worse.

The Beast did better than I expected. He got them all right in one minute and thirteen seconds. Ooh. Suspense. How much worse would the Penguin’s score be?

Just a thought on the voting for America’s Favorite Houseguest. I wish, when they announce it, that they’d show all the houseguests rankings on it. I’d love to see Boobiac in last place, and my guess is Mr. Mensa isn’t racking up the votes either.

“We’ll determine the winner when we return,” said the Chenbot, though I can’t imagine what extremely slow children she thought she was addressing, because anyone watching the show already knew that The Beast had beaten The Penguin by 30 seconds. “It was a close game,” was a lie The Chenbot felt she needed to tell.

Okay, as regards this show’s wind-up and Survivor‘s kick-off: I was mistaken when I wrote last week that my last Big Brother column will be on Monday, for I could see no possible reason for the show not to end on Sunday with an evening-long weekend blow-out. But no. Sunday will be a deleted-scenes hour, where we’ll advance nothing, but see hopefully juicy bits of bad behavior. Translation: Lots of ear-splitting Boobiac footage.

Big Brother is ending following the Suvivor season opener next Wednesday. Oh joy. Darlings, I can watch both shows in one night, but I can not write two columns in one night. If I tried, the second one would be even less worth-reading than the first.

So, I’ll be back here next Thursday with my recap of the Big Brother finale and reunion show, and then I’ll be here on Friday also, with the Survivor recapped opener a day late. Live with it. Thereafter, Survivor recaps will appear each Thursday. Who says we don’t have seasons in California?

Cheers darlings.

To read more of Tallulah Morehead, go to The Morehead, the Merrier, or buy her book, My Lush Life.

Read more: Texas, Reality TV, Big Brother 12 Episode 27, Julie Chen, Big Brother 12 Episode 26, The Penguin, Mensa Society, Entertainment News, Cbs, Big Brother, Big Brother 12, Big Brother 12 Episode 28, Entertainment News

Art Levine: In the Age of Gaga and Tanking Concert Sales, Lyle Lovett’s Showmanship Endures

When Lady Gaga added this week another sold-out concert in Washington, D.C., to her tour, her mix of flashy pop spectacle and outrageousness still didn’t do much to bail out a troubled concert season this summer. She’s taken the music industry’s emphasis on dazzle and flash over great music that can last (despite her crafting danceable pop) to its ultimate extreme, when image trumps the music every time. Few acts these days are offering music that makes it worthwhile for people to pay the exorbitant prices that they’re charging, abetted by the gouging by the leading promoter and ticket-seller, Live Nation, recently merged with Ticketmaster.

In contrast, there’s another sort of showmanship that still endures, and it’s grounded in rich music delivered with passion and integrity by committed artists at reasonable prices. Bruce Springsteen, of course, is among the greatest live performers in the world, and he’s done what he can to make affordable tickets available for his shows, even though it has inadvertently led to more scalping. Yet this summer, Lyle Lovett’s tour especially offered a model of what a great show should be like, sweetened by the sort of sensible prices that were especially appealing on a recent August evening at Wolf Trap, the national park for the performing arts: lawn seats were just $25 and the covered orchestra seats $45, all under the warm summer sky.

All dressed in suits (who does that anymore?), his 15-man Large Band, including a four-man gospel quartet, put on a vibrant two-and-half-hour show that mixed the best American music can offer, from swing and folk ballads to gospel and blues to country and bluegrass. It was an eclectic gumbo of styles rivaled only by, say, Willie Nelson who also draws from across the American songbook. But even Nelson doesn’t play those varied songs in such differing styles as Lovett does.

It was his 19th appearance at Wolf Trap since his breakthrough albums of the 1980s, and the venue was packed. Will Lady Gaga be playing to enthusiastic crowds 20 years from now?

In truth, the pernicious trends that are wrecking the live music industry — stale music at jacked-up prices — just aren’t working anymore, despite Gaga’s current success, as shown by the cratering stock prices for Live Nation and its downgrading this week by a top analyst. As the AP reported on the same day that Lady Gaga sold out her concert:

Shares of concert promoter and ticket seller Live Nation Entertainment Inc. sank Tuesday after an analyst cut his rating on the stock.

THE SPARK: Benjamin Mogil, an analyst for Stifel Nicolaus, lowered his rating on Live Nation to “Hold” from “Buy” over worries that any gains from the improving concert business are going straight to increasing artist costs.

THE BIG PICTURE: The summer concert season was weak amid economic uncertainty this year. Live Nation says it doesn’t have a big-name lineup for the rest of the year. U2 has delayed a North American tour while its lead singer, Bono, recovers from back surgery. And major acts including The Eagles, Rihanna and Simon and Garfunkel, to name a few, have canceled or postponed tours due to poor ticket sales.

THE ANALYSIS: Mogil wrote that he thinks the concert industry’s problem is not one of low ticket demand — it’s that artists with limited appeal are booking too many tour stops to make up for falling record royalties. The analyst said he would like to see signs that the industry is committed to reducing artist payment guarantees.

Gaga’s success has been an exception to a grim concert season, noticed as early as July with the cancellations of at least 10 Lillith Fair concerts featuring women singers. While Gaga has to keep upping the ante with bizarre, skimpy outfits and lurid stunts to keep the customers coming, even though she’s also a talented singer and pianist, Lovett offers something else instead: heartfelt music spiced with his wry humor.

Much of the show was devoted to his last two albums, including his latest, Natural Forces, a sign that he keeps growing as an artist. He opened with a Vince Bell song, “Sun and Moon and Stars,” sung with quiet intensity backed simply by a cello, bass, fiddle and Lovett on acoustic guitar. His slightly strained tenor only added to the melancholy nostalgia of the song as he sang, “Lost to me is how the lives of friends go like autumn leaves in the Oklahoma wind.” But in fact, he didn’t forget Vince Bell, the Houston singer who got his start in the 70s as a follower of Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt, and was a musical hero to the then-young Lovett. “He called me on the stage for no good reason,” he recalled. “When somebody like that says what you’re doing is okay, it’s a real help.” In fact, he graciously credited all of his phenomenal musicians and made sure to tell the audience who the composer was of each song he covered.

One of the show’s centerpieces was the latest album’s title song, “Natural Forces,” inspired while watching a beer commercial during a football game, and realizing he and other Americans were not sacrificing anything while troops fought overseas for them. It led him to craft a song, apparently from the point of view of a truck driver, recalling his trips across the American landscape. Now the trucker was watching a beer commercial and wondering: “Now as I sit here safe at home/With a cold Coors Lite an’ the TV on/All the sacrifice and the death and woe/Lord I pray that I’m worth fighting for.” It was a reminder of what the rest of us don’t often think about:

His range was stunning, from his classic songs, such as the ballad “If Had A Boat,” to powerful gospel numbers such as “Church” and “I Will Rise Up.” In fact, he showed that he’s one of the few white singers who has fully mastered the nuances of the black gospel idiom without ever descending to minstrel-like mimicry of a “black” accent to convey the power of the songs.

He ended the show with yet another gospel-style number,” Ain’t No More Cane,” drawn from the Southern work-song tradition, and it powerfully evoked some of the darkest eras of our history — as well as the sort of anthemic, epic songs that haven’t been performed since the heyday of Robbie Robertson and The Band. Almost each member of the band contributed a verse, but Lyle’s plaintive voice was nothing less than haunting: “There’s some on the building/ and there’s some on the farm/and there’s some in the graveyard/and there’s some going home…And there ain’t no more cane on this Brazos/They done ground it all into molasses.”

After taking us through a rich tapestry of of styles and emotions, Lyle chose to end the show with a gripping song like this that shows that you don’t need smoke machines and pianos shooting fire to reach people with your music.

Read more: Country, Pop Music, Folk, Lyle Lovett, Bluegrass, Lady GaGa, Ticket Sales, Live Nation, Blues, Wolf Trap, Entertainment News

Angelina Jolie: Brad Pitt Is The Only Person I Talk To (VIDEO)

Angelina Jolie is in Pakistan, where she has met with the Prime Minister in her role as UNHCR ambassador. On Wednesday she spoke with CNN’s Sanjay Gupta via satellite about the flood victims and how she deals with the tragedy she sees.

“I’ll talk to my family,” she said. “I talk to Brad; he wants to know as much as he can about these issues and every trip. He’s been here as well, he came with me after the earthquake. But I don’t know, I don’t have a lot of friends I talk to. He is really the only person I talk to.”

Angelina said that she lets her older children watch the reports about the floods and tries to teach them about what is happening in the countries they are from.

“I tell my children why I’m going and I explain to them why I was packing flashlights and food. They help me pack some things,” she said. “It helps them to be better people, to understand a little bit about the world.”

See photos of Angelina in Pakistan here.


Read more: Video, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie Sanjay Gupta, Angelina Jolie Pakistan, Sanjay Gupta, Entertainment News