Monday, October 29, 2012

English Premier League Fantasy Draft Review

Fantasy Football is great.  Fantasy English Football is sadly lacking.  Can you believe with all the coverage the English Premier League has been getting in the US the last few years that there still isn't and EPL Fantasy Draft based league out there?  All the leagues are lame salary cap leagues.
To remedy this, my friends and I created our own draft league starting with the 2007-08 season.  Things are pretty serious now.  With the uncertainty of transfers, new players, 2 weeks before the transfer window ends, the draft is always the funnest night of the year.
Here is a recap of the 2012-2013 EPL Fantasy Draft.  I will give you the first two round of picks to see how things work, show you my entire draft, and then end with some good picks/ bad picks.

Round One
1.Wayne Rooney - The safe number one pick, will score goals regardless of the addition of Van Persie
2. Sergio Aguero -My pick here, think it was a good one.  Aguero will put in his goals
3. Fernando Torres - The only real top striker on a team with loads of creative midfielders.  Can he find his form?
4. Lucas Podalski - This manager does not take players from Man U, Man City, Liverpool, Tottenham, or Chelsea.  That's the only thing that makes this pick make any sense.
5. Robin Van Persie - People are worried about Rooney and Van Persie fitting in together, but if anyone watched Man United last season, they would see that Rooney plays deep, almost as a center midfielder sometimes.  RVP will lead the line.
6. David Silva - Best midfielder last season, but tailed off a bit toward the end.  With such a strong squad, not sure if he is a top 6 pick
7. Luis Suarez - Horse-faced racist diver, but a good player.
8. Gareth Bale - Good pick here, maybe the best midfield fantasy player in the league
9. Carlos Tevez - A bit risky this high, but it looks like he'll play this season, and if he plays, he scores
10. Oliver Giroud - Hmm, scored a lot for Montpellier, but this is  the EPL.  He won't be a Chamahk, but he also won't be a Van Persie
11. Papa Cisse - Incredible scoring record last season, but I don't see he having that same form
12. Rafael Van der Vaart - Ooh, is he still in the league?

Round 2
13. Juan Mata - Great midfielder player, should get lots of assists, but will he bag enough goals
14. Nani - good fantasy player, but gets in Ferguson's doghouse from time to time
15. Santi Cazorla - New boy from Spain will be needed to provide a create spark for Arsenal
16. Joe Hart - First goalkeeper taken
17. Vincent Kompany - Best defender on the best defensive team in the league
18. Steven Gerrard - Great pick if this was 2004
19. Clint Dempsey - Maybe a bit high, especially with transfer status in the air, great midfielder, though
20.Denis Hazard - Talented midfielder, should be another of Chelsea's creative talents, should  get a lot of assists if his strikers can put in some goals
21. Thomas Vermaelen - Arsenal, lots of injuries, but a great player
22. Mario Balotelli - Great summer for Balotelli, but will be get enough starts with all of City's talented strikers?
23. Nikica Jelavic - Great scoring record of Everton last season.  He should do more of the same with a team that only plays one striker and has a good number of attackind midfielders and defenders
24/25. John Terry/Frank Lampard - Pretty much the same pick here.  Great histories with Chelsea and will somehow continue to put up points despite playing less

Now my full picks
Round 1. Aguero
Round 2. Jelavic
Round 3. Vidic - Injuries could be an issue, but Man U was second in least goals against last season
4. Micah Richards - Clicy was picked right before Richards and I really wanted a Man City defender, so I might have reached a bit
5. Vertonghen - I like this pick, a defender on a strong team, but lacking a strong center defender.  He'll coem in right away and score some goals
6. Oxlade-Chamberlain - Ready for a break out season
7. Cabaye - Looked good for France in Euros, should comtinue to do what he did last season
8. Heitinga - Should be the started for Everton with Jagielka, or maybe even play a defensive midfield position
9. Moses - Strong attacking midfielder, but if he moves to Chelsea, he'll get much less playing time
10. Fellaini - Moved up the field a bit after Gibson came to Everton and put in goals and assists, see more of the same this season
11. Mirallas - Coming to Everton, should be a nice second forward or attacking mid - led the Greek league in goals last season
12. Adam Johnson - Plays strong for England, will now get some playing time at Sunderland, a team in need of some creativity
13. Cameron - USA, USA - Stoke has a strong defensive record, especially at home
14. Schwarzer - Nice value pick here
15. Begovic - good to have options between the posts
16. R. Taylor - eh, kind of a throw away pick here

 Verdict: Strong strikers undoubtedly, a strong defense, but not as strong in years past for me, and a definite unproven midfield.  I will need someone in that midfield to step up to grab a top 2 spot.

Good Picks:
4th Round: Baines - Good value in 4th round.  Everton actually had the 3rd least goals against last season and Baines will continue to put in goals and even more assists
5th Round: Kagawa - Should fit in will at Man U and set up Rooney and Van Persie,  Adebayor - One of the most underrated players in the league.
6th Round: Ben Arfa - attacking young player on the rise, Howard - strong 'keeper, good defensive team, Peinaar - Looked great at the end of last season when he joined Everton, look for more of the same linking up with Baines
8th: Dzeko - He'll put in his goals
9th: Distin - Could start for Everton, Kaboul - should start for Tottenham
10th: S. Taylor - Missed a lot of last season, but should be back strong for Newcastle, Michu - Interesting attacking player new for Swansea, Agger - staying put Liverpool, Fellaini - above

Questionable Picks
4. R. Ferdinand - High for Ferdinand, he's old, slow, and injury prone.  This isn't 2005.
6. Graham - Scored a lot last season, but I don't see the same happening this year
7. Santos - What is he, 3rd choice at Arsenal?
8. Dawson - Injury prone to the max
9. Pennant - Defender, midfielder, what team is he even on?
10. Kolarov - Set to leave City
11. Scholes - doesn't play enough, Kane - who???
13. Barry - Defensive midfielder, Savic - 4th choice at city

Overall, teams look a lot more equal than in years past.  People are finally figuring out how to draft.  I really don't know how to predict the league. Even Serg as a pretty good team  This is definitely the least confident I have felt post draft.  Not even certain to finish in the top half this year.
Dustin looks good with Van Persie and strong midfield, should challenge once again
BJ - reliant on Arsenal and will need to get enough from his Everton and Villa players to challenge for the top
Worth - lots of Liverpool, but does have some decent attacking power with Suarez, Dzeko, Berbatov, Nasri, and Yaya Toure
Raubert - very solid team from 1-11, should challenge for the title
Junkie - If Rooney can get hot, he can challenge for the top 3, if not, I see a midtable team
Jerry- strong in the back with Hart, A. Cole, Luiz, and Zabaleta, but really only has Tevez on the attacking side.  I see a bottom half finish
Carlo - average at best, high scorer will likely be Peter Cech
Andy - I see Mort and Andy battling it out for last place, but have to predict Andy will go from first to worst.
Bryan - with strikers Grant Holt, Danny Graham, and Moussa Dembele, I see a bottom half finish for Bryan
Serg - Soild team all around, will need midfield production from Ben Arfa, Marin, and N'Zogbia to challenge

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Greatest Single Season Performances in Survivor History

Over the course of 24 seasons of Survivor there have been many attempts to try to isolate the best Survivor Player Ever and I've seen a good number of "Best Survivor Winners" lists.  Rankings are always difficult because the seasons are so different.  I do always find it interesting in sports when someone looks at the best single seasons.  Just a lot of fun hypotheticals - What was better Bonds in 2001, McGwire in 1996, Ruth in 1921?  Chamberlain in '62 or Jordan in '96 or Robertson in '62?  Marino in '84, Manning in '04, or Brady in 2007?  Graff in '88 or Federer '06?  ''68 UCLA or '82 UNC? Lots of fun ones.

I decided to to the same thing here for Survivor.  I am just look at individual, single season performances. Is it fair to compare Boston Rob who played 4 times with Yul who played once? I'm looking at all players, not just winners.  Who really deserves the credit in Australia - Colby or Tina?
This way, everyone is on as even a playing field as possible.
Lots of criteria will be used in evaluating these individual season performances.  Challenges performances and wins, strategy, overall control of gameplay, other players in the season, control of ones destiny, and alliances/partnerships.  Lots to consider, but let's give it a try.

Best Individual Single Season Performances in Survivor History:

Honorable Mention:

Kathy - Marquesas - also strong in All-Stars too
Lex - Africa
Vecepia - Marquesas - not too memorable, but a good win
Rob - Amazon
Rafe - Guatemala - Maybe the most under-rated player ever.  4 individual immunity wins, driving force of his teams strategic moves, but allowed Danni to back out of final 2 deal.  Big mistake that keeps him off the list.
Ozzy - Cook Islands - Crazy good in challenges, but no real strategy game
Amanda - Fans vs Favorites - partner in crime with Parvati
Aras - Not a bad player, but actually benefited from Terry's dominance
Sophie - not very memorable, but some big challenge wins against veterans Ozzy and Coach

23. Yau-Man -Fiji - The lone bright spot of the Fiji season.  Yau-Man was all over the action.  3 immunity wins, found the hidden idol, made a fake idol, lost his spot in the finals due to Dreamz going back on his public promise.

22. Chris - Vanuatu - Some call Chris an undeserving winner, but I think he deserves some credit.  He was the last man standing, and overcame a strong 6 woman alliance.  He was in control of most of the women, getting them to turn on each other, and even got all the people he back stabbed to vote for him at the final Tribal Council.

21. Terry - Panama - Maybe the best individual immunity Survivor ever.  He one 5 straight and each time he needed to win to keep himself in the game.  Poor social game and inability to win the challenge at the final 3 puts him in only at number 20.

20. Earl - Fiji - Not too much memorable about Earl, but he did his thing, sweeping the finale and not getting a single vote against him the entire season.

19. Colby - Australia - Amazing season.  Domination in challenges, but ruined by the sole decision of taking Tina to the final over Keith.

18. Russell - Samoa - Say what you will about the person, Russell dominated this season.  He took his numbers down tribe at the merge and transformed them to the game's driving force.  He found hidden immunity idols without clues, using them to turn the game around, and won the final immunity challenge, ensuring Brett would not make it to the finals.  His social game was too harsh and he got too cocky at the end, but that does not mean he didn't play a great season.

17. Sandra - Heroes vs. Villains - The winner of one of the best, most competitive, most unpredictable seasons of Survivor ever, comes in at only 17?  Yep, Sandra was lucky to get to the finals, with Parvati and Russell doing most of the work.  She was very fortuitous, but won in the end, for the second time.

16. Danni - Guatemala -  Nothing too exciting about Danni.  She did all the things she had to do to win - strategy, alliances, social, a challenge win in a pretty tough season.

15. - Rob - All-Stars - Rob deserved to win Survivor All-Stars.  There is no other way around it.  He bossed the season.  He was huge in challenges, and somehow even got Amber to the final with him.  He wheeled and dealed and backstabbed.  He lost in the end by one vote, but did score a hot wife.

14. Sandra - Pearl Islands - Yep, Sandra's Pearl Islands win was better than her Heroes vs. Villains win.  In the Pearl Islands, Sandra's game wasn't hugely different, but she played a much larger role in the game's strategy.  The season had so many twists and turns and backstabs, but Sandra stayed adaptable and pitted the right people against each other at the right time, all while staying on top herself.  Was the best to show that strong physical play is not necessary to be a strong Survivor.

13. Bob - Gabon - Gabon was an interesting season as was Bob's.  He shined in the outdoors aspect and was pretty good in challenges, winning 3 and made an awesome fake immunity idol.  But there were a few times Bob was on the outside.  It was Sugar that kept him in the game and took him to the final.  Very likable, though and totally deserving.  It's just many of the upcoming players on the list were in control of the game from start to finish.  That was not the case for Bob.

12. Parvati - Heroes vs. Villains - I'm not sure why Parvati didn't win Heroes vs. Villains.  She definitely played the best game.  If she would have won she'd surely be top 4 on list list.  But the jury was a bit too bitter and gave the win to Sandra.  Despite this, Parvati played an amazing game - winning 3 huge challenges, flirting like crazy, strategizing with Russell, and pulling off what I think was the greatest strategic move in Survivor History - giving immunity idols to Jerri and Sandra when it was tied 5-5.

11. Ethan - Africa - Ethan was the Jack-of-all-Trades, maybe the first player to be likable, strategic, and physical throughout the entire game.  Sorry Colby.  He, though wasn't totally the driving force all the time.  He had a quality alliance, and when looking at the facts, Lex actually did most of the leg work and was the power player of the season.

10. Jenna - Amazon - The biggest determiner on this list is controlling the game, but it is also the sign of a good player when you can take a game where you are not in control and flip to where you are in control.  I would say the Amazon was like that a few times for Jenna - not in control, in control, not in control, in control.  I don't totally like here as a player, kind of whiny at times and cocky at other times, but big challenge wins and playing the men nicely brought her an impressive win.

9. Todd - China - There are basically two ways to win survive, through winning challenges or through strategy.  The best performances are a combination of the two. Todd is an example of the strategy route.  I don't think he won a single challenge, but he controlled his alliance, made a few smart moves, and won easily.  Not the most memorable performance, but high quality.

8. Brian - Thailand - This is where we start to get to the very best seasons.  These top 8 can definitely call themselves All-Stars and are clearly the players of the best Survivor Seasons ever.
Coming in at 8 is Brian.  He had a bit of luck that there was not a merge at the normal time, but led his weird older person tribe back from a numbers disadvantage, then voted the other tribe out one at a time, then voted off alley Ted, the only real physical threat, at the right time, then took Clay to the final instead of Jan so he looked strong in the final Tribal.  All and all, a stellar season.

7. Richard - Borneo - Richard Hatch, the godfather or Survivor, the one who started it all.  The first season of Survivor was SO much different than the show today.  Richard was really the only one who knew how to play the game, you know, actually talk about who you are voting off and make deals with people.  A bit cocky, he put together a quality team and was in charge from day one.  After the merge, he voted off the other team one-by-one, used Sean as long as he needed him, dropped Sue after they were down to 4, had Rudy in his pocket the whole time, and audaciously dropped out of the final immunity challenge knowing both players would take him to the final.  A great start to the franchise.

6. Parvati - Fans vs. Favorites - She is just so damn charming.  She could sell a 1985 TV as a 80-inch plasma.  A truly dominate game in Micronesia, with some of the best blindsides in the history of the game, but she did have some help in getting there.  She had a strong 3-woman alliance with Amanda and Cirie, a bunch of "fans" pawns, and it did help that it was a final 2 and not a final 3.  Lots of great moves along the way, but blindsides of Ozzy and Erik will be up there with the best ever.

5. JT - Tocantins - Like Parvati in Micronesia, JT was dominate, and like Parv, he had some help on the way, a partner in crime in the form of Stephen.  This is what keeps him and Parv from the top 4 on the list.
He had someone to do the work with, to bounce ideas off, someone to take away some of the spotlight.  And Stephen was probably leading the strategy side of things. They followed a similar script to others, leading the numbers down tribe back over the numbers up tribe  But JT was obviously the man, winning a good number of challenges and sweeping the final vote.

4. Kim -One World -

 Kim's performance was the one that led me to the development of this list.  I think she won One World without really sweating.  She started with with the strategy, working the men with ease.  Then she stepped up her challenge game and didn't really give her competition a chance to vote her off.  It was pretty odd watching on TV.  It just seemed so obvious she was gonna win the whole thing.  She had the social game too, winning easily at the end.  Strategic, physical, social.  Yes, that will get you a high spot on the best seasons ever list.

Top 3: Much of this list is just judgement calls.  8-4 could really be in any order, same with like 23-18.  The top 3 is perfectly clear, though.  3 individual seasons stand out as easily the best in Survivor history.  Each of the top 3 played vastly different games, and I'll try to defend by top 3 placement below.

3. Rob - Redemption Island - Rob's performance in Redemption Island was certainly the most dominant.  Was it the best?  I don't think so.  He was ridiculously in control of the entire game.  The thing that brings him in only at #3 is the lack of competition.  His tribe mates were clueless and Russell, who was hyped as his competition, wasn't even voted out by Rob.  His uber-control was impressive, but kind of boring.  I guess he was subtle enough in his domination, an awesome liar, or his tribe mates were just dumb. The never even considered voting him off! Amazing season, and maybe I'm going against my own criteria here, but the guy played 4 times!  The rest of his season was so naive! That puts him just below the next two on our list.

2. Yul - Cook Islands - Yul was a first class mastermind.  His was not in outward control like Rob.  It was behind the scenes decision making.  His was a strategy game  He never won an individual challenge, and didn't need to.  He voted off the right people at the right time and led his tribe after infamous mutiny to an amazing challenge winning streak. He had the hidden immunity idol the entire time.  He used it amazingly, without actually having to use it. He  got Jonathan on his side by using the idol, one of the best moves in the history of the game, then voted Jonathan off to get the good will of the other tribe.  This little write up cannot do justice to his game play.  And what puts him above Rob is the fact the he came back from a disadvantaged position and he faced some great competition - Parvart (on this list twice), Candice, Jonathan, Ozzy, and some other strong males.  Got it done!

1. Tom - Palau - And #1 on our list of greatest Survivor individual season performances - Tom Westman and his Palau season.  Lots went into this choice.  It was his dominance of every facet of the game.  First off, he led his team to Complete Defeat of the other tribe.  They won EVERY immunity challenge.  There was no need for a merge or a new tribe name. The other tribe (one person!) was absorbed into his tribe. That is boss.
Then when when it came down to an individual game, he controlled that too.  He first voted off Coby, the one tribe member who wasn't really in his alliance, then voted off Gregg when he was started to put together possible opposition.  He stuck with his main alley Ian to deflect some of the attention and in the final challenge got Ian to give up on the condition that Tom take weak Katie to the Final Tribal and not Ian.  Crazy!  Yes, that is domination.  The best single season ever.  Team play, individual play, manipulation, stamping out threats, strategy, and getting votes from everyone that was once in his alliance.

 Congratulations Tom!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Another Almost for the Badgers

Almost made you love me
Almost made you cry
Almost made you happy, baby
Didn't I didn't I
You almost had me thinkin'
You were turned around
But everybody knows
Almost doesn't count

Almost heard you saying
You were finally free
What was always missing for you, baby
You'd found it in me
But you can't get to heaven
Half off the ground
Everybody knows
Almost doesn't count

I can't keep on lovin' you
One foot outside the door
I hear a funny hesitation
Of a heart that's never really sure
Can't keep on tryin'
If you're looking for more
Than all that I could give you
Than what you came here for

Gonna find me somebody
Not afraid to let go
Want a no doubt be there kind of man
You came real close
But everytime you built me up
You only let me down
And everybody knows
Almost doesn't count

Maybe you'll be sorry
Maybe you'll be cold
Maybe you'll come runnin' back, baby
From the cruel cruel world
Almost convince me
You're gonna stick around
But everybody knows
Almost doesn't count

So maybe I'll be here
Maybe I'll see ya around
That's the way it goes
Almost doesn't count

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Survivor One World

Early spring once again gives us Lent, the promise, but usually unfulfilled promise of nice weather, lots of basketball, and a new Season of Survivor. This time, we can actually say this is a new season of Survivor. No new players and an interesting "One World" twist.
First off, NO MORE REDEMPTION ISLAND! Can you tell I'm excited? Now if you are off, you are off, maybe better dramatized this way
Back to the One World thing. Both tribes are living at the same camp. It does provide something new and possible intrigue, but we'll see how it plays out. Survivor did kind of did this once before in the Thailand season. Tribes were put together at the same beach when teams were tied 5-5. They thought it was a merge, but the tribes actually stayed divided. It was an interesting, albeit short-lived twist. I think it will work better this season with the tribes divided by sex.
Also there will be "Do it Yourself" challenges with no Jeff Probst. We've seen one so far, and it was pretty dumb. If you look back on some of the original seasons, Jeff did not provide any play-by-play in challenges and they were decidedly less dramatic. I'm not sure the reason behind it. Probst too busy? Add to the tension between tribes? Hopefully there won't be too many more of these.

Let's take at my initial thoughts (before watching episode 3) on the Survivor One World Cast:

Alicia - Seems like a bitch, don't think I'd want her on my side as you can't trust her and she's pretty volatile. But she does have a body-body.

Chelsea - I would not mind being stranded on a desert island with her. She's hot (Survivor seems to be upping the hotness after a pretty weak cast last season. Even the older women are hot this time) seems to be smart and can catch some chickens. I'm rooting for her.

Christina - Eh, not sure where she fits into the game

Kat - Not the brightest bulb. I don't see her getting far as she seems to be there to have fun and not necessarily play the game.

Kim - I like her, she seems well rounded and actually possesses common sense. In a Seinfeldian critique, her eyes are a little too close together.

Monica - 41? How much of that body was always hers?

Sabrina - I like her. She seems pretty funny and good at reading others.

Bill - Stand-up comedian? Say something funny already.

Colton - Uggh. I do not want this to be the Colton Season. This guy sucks. I hope he goes soon.

Greg (Tarzan) - Seems an interesting old man. I'd like to see more of him.

Jay - The new Grant - hasn't said too much, but did start fire ridiculously easily. Less douchey than his Frat Pack alliance.

Jonas - The only regular guy in the bunch. I'm rooting for him.

Leif - Not tall. Not talkative.

Matt - Seems pretty douchey.

Michael - See Matt, but a little less proud about it

Troy - Dude said, "Greg can't be Tarzan, I'm Troyzan." That's all you need to know.

There you go. I am optimistic about this season. Hopefully there will be a tribe switch at some point, maybe a mutiny or something to really shake things about. I like a few of the women, but am uncertain about the men. It's early.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Just when you thought the Badgers were destined for mediocrity

.....they go and win at Ohio State.

This one was a surprise. The Badgers Bball team won in Columbus, doing what the football team could not. This was a big win, the first for Wisconsin over a top 10 team on the road since 1980 (that one is surprising), and it keeps them in the top 4 of the Big Ten. Now don't get me wrong, the most likely scenario is that Wisconsin is an average team this year. We have seen that with 2 losses to Iowa and a bad loss to Michigan, but aside from those, the rest of our losses have been close ones to Top 10 teams. We can still hold hope of pulling off some UCONN-esque run or maybe more fittingly, a run similar to the 2000 Badger team.

Lots of positives to take from Sunday's win:
- Jordan Taylor shot over 50% from the field
- Ryan Evans and Jared Berggren have continued to usually be consistent 2nd and 3rd scorers.
- Balance - with the off the bench spark from Rob Wilson in recent games, 5 players scored 7 points or more.
- Poise in crunch time
- Doing the things we usually do well - went 9-11 from the free throw line and only turned the ball over 7 times
- Defending the big man - Wisconsin has struggled this season against Sullinger and Draymon Green, but on Sunday they held Sullinger to 8 points, the second lowest of his Big Ten career.

On the flip side of those positives:
- With that said balance - 5 players scoring 7 or more - those 5 players were the only players to score for Wisconsin and only 6 players took shots.
- Mike Bruesewitz - Apparently effort and fearlessness is not enough sometimes, even for a Bo Ryan team. Bruesewitz is under sized, and with the improved play of Ryan Evans, he's seeing a lot more time on the bench.
- Ben Brust - his hot start has cooled down, as he scored 0 points in 4 of his last 7 games, only scoring 10 points once in that span, but that is not unexpected for a player seeing such a large increase in minutes from the previous season.

All and all, a fun win, one that allows us Badger fans to maintain a slight glimmer of hope for a special season as March approaches.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

What is the Best Season of Survivor?

What is the best season of Survivor? I've tackled this question once before - back after Season 17 - but a lot has happened since then, so let's take a look at it again.
Now lists like this always differ from person to person. I look for a few specific criterion when evaluating a season.
1. Was the cast entertaining? - Usually I will use likable, but unlikability is just as important to a season of Survivor
2. Was there someone to root for at the end? You can have a great season, but if there isn't someone to root for in at least the last episode, the season really loses steam.
3. Unpredictability - This will come in two forms, both equally important to Survivor - big moves and blindsides
Other things also come into play like location, challenges, attractiveness, and where I was at the time.

Some of the rankings have changed somewhat dramatically from the first list, some not so much. This time, I saw 4 distinct tiers from my rankings. Tier 1 will be the clear best - picks 1-4. Tier 2 will be good, entertaining seasons - picks 5-8. Tier 3 were normal seasons, better than normal TV, but just average Survivor, unmemorable - picks 9-17, with picks 13-17 especially interchangeable, with little distinguishing them from one another. Tier 4, bad seasons picks 18 -23.
Alright, enough explanation, let's get to the countdown.
Ranking the Seasons of Survivor

23. Survivor Fiji
Actual Season #14
Quality Contestants: Yau-Man
Why 23? Boring. I did not finish watching this season. People were mean and unlikable, challenges unmemorable. Yau-man was the only redeeming quality of this season.
Turning Point: There was this weird haves vs. have-nots motif from this season. The winners of the first challenge got the good camp and then went on to win every immunity challenge, even after the teams were switched up.

22. Survivor Nicaragua
Actual Season #21
Quality Contestants: Marty? Fabio?
Why 22? Again, unmemorable, no big moves or twist, generally unlikable, dull contestants. Again, I did not finish watching this season.
Turning Point: ????

21. Survivor Redemption Island
Actual Season #22
Quality Contestants: Boston Rob, Philip
Why 21? The placement of this season depends on how you feel about Boston Rob. If you like masterminding, boring, predictably TV, you'll like this season. I respect the game he played. It has to be the best ever, but that does not mean that this was a good season to watch. Even with Redemption Island, NOTHING happened.
Turning Point: Rob gaining the confidence of every single person in his tribe.

20. Survivor Thailand
Actual Season #5
Quality Contestants:???
Why 20? This is rated the worst season by many and I can see why. It may be puzzling then, that with zero quality contestants, this season still beats out 3 others on my list. I think part of it is due to the newness of Survivor at this point and the fact that the underdog tribe of mostly older people took over the game. Also, it was compelling to see how far Brian's control of the game went.
Turning Point: This was the weird season where when the tribes were tied 5-5 they moved to the same beach, but did not merge. They stayed as separate tribes, and Brian's tribe won the next two immunity challenges confirming their dominance in the game. This could be the inspiration for this season's "One World", but I hope this season is better than Thailand.

19. Survivor Africa
Actual Season #3
Quality Contestants: Ethan, Tom, Lex, Kim P
Why 19? Africa had a lot of good contestants (see above) and interesting people (add Frank and Brandon to the list.) It had the first tribe switch in Survivor history, yet it was a boring, at times hard to watch season. Most of this is due to the locale. It was super hot, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by thorn bushes to protect them from the animals. I think the low rank is also due to the disappointment compared to previous seasons.
Turning Point: There is the obvious tribe switch, where the old people's alliance lost their power, but there was also this odd episode after the merge where Lex was on a mission to find out who voted for him in the previous tribal council. He thought it was Kelly even though she was in his alliance so he voted for her, Kelly voted for him and got the numbers-down tribe to do the same. But for some reason, Brandon went with Lex and voted off Kelly too, sending her home with a 5-4 vote. If Brandon votes for Lex, the Lex/Tom/Ethan/Kim alliance is done-zo.

18. Survivor All-Stars
Actual Season #8
Quality Contestants: Most
Why 18? This is another season expectations were high, but disappointment abounded. This lends to the low rating. Mostly, though, it was players already knowing each other and having established relationships that made it a bad season. People knew each other, how they played the game, and knew them outside the game. This added a very negative personal element to the game. There was no feeling out period, no forming of strong teams, just getting rid of people perceived as threats.
Turning Point: Lex believes Rob and protects Amber. Next episode, Rob votes out Lex. Rob and Amber go to the final.

17. Survivor China
Actual Season #15
Quality Contestants: Todd, Amanda, James
Why 17? China had some good contestants. It was entertaining and I guess good television, but other than James being a beast and Todd controlling the game, I don't remember a thing about the season.
Turning Point:???

16. Survivor South Pacific
Actual Season # 23
Quality Contestants: Coach, Jim, Brandon (purely as entertainment)
Why 16? South Pacific was the second of the two Redemption seasons. Ozzy and Coach were the returning players, a much less significant draw than Russel and Boston Rob. Not a great season, but some great big moves by Cochran and Ozzy. The moves, though actually did very little.
Turning Point: Cochran betraying his tribe when the merged 6-6.

15. Survivor Amazon
Actual Season #6
Quality Contestants: Butch, Rob C
Why 15? This was the first gender divided season. Kind of a weird one. Lots of sexual talk. Lots of the women playing the men. No hugely likable characters, but entertaining. Probably the first season based primarily on strategy instead of alliances. That might for lots of backstabbing and betrayal.
Turning Point: Quite a few but mostly the women conning the men, expect for Rob, who was usually in with the women.

14. Survivor Tocantins
Actual Season #18
Quality Contestants: Coach, Taj, JT
Why 14? Another season not very memorable. No real big moves, but some good contestants. A satisfying season as the underdog tribe going into the merge watches the larger tribe self destruct and the underdogs come out victorious. This is running theme in Survivor.
Turning Point:

13. Survivor Guatemala
Actual Season # 11
Quality Contestants: Rafe, Gary, Bobby Jon, Stephenie
Why 13? Again, not a hugely memorable season. A pretty good cast, and a tough, tough locale - starting the game with the 12 mile jungle trek. Love Bobby Jon!
Turning Point: Probably the early alliance formation after the tribe switch - really cast the die for the entire season.

12. Survivor Samoa
Actual Season # 19
Quality Contestants: Russell, Shambo
Why 12? The ranking of this season depends on how you feel about Russell. I like Russell as a villain, but not really as a player. It's great to have someone to root against, and I totally see why he did not win. This season again saw the underdog tribe at the merge stay together as the larger tribe totally self destructed. This time, though, not really many likable people on the underdog tribe - kinda dull in fact, excluding Russell.
Turning Point: At the merge the leading tribe was up over Russell's tribe 8-4 (7-5 if you count Shambo) and they voted off Erik, one of their own for no real reason. Then things went downhill from their with Russell using his idol and players being concerned about pulling a rock. Also, black Russell's having to leave due to injury should not be downplayed. I think his tribe would've stayed together if he were still there.

11. Survivor Panama
Actual Season #12
Quality Contestants: Bruce, Sally, Aras, Cirie
Why 11? Lots of unlikable characters - Shane, Danielle, Terry, Courtney and a season where the underdogs do not make a comeback like in Samoa and Tocantins. Still a good season though, due to good challenges, and the immunity dominance of Terry.
Turning Point: Actually Terry winning every challenge kept Aras in the game. If Terry would have lost along the way, he would have used the idol and that would have sent out Aras, the eventual winner.

10. Survivor Marquesas
Actual Season #4
Quality Contestants: Paschal, John, Kathy, Young Boston Rob
Why 10? Interesting season, not really a lot of likable people, but some good players. This season saw another tribe switch (only the second time) and the first ever big alliance break (see below). It also had the purple rock, a young Boston Rob - much funnier, but not a smart player -, "I need somebody to pee on my hand", and some awesome scenery.
Turning Point: Biggest switch ever, and a precedent setter for Survivor going forward - one tribe has numbers domination at the merge and the people at the bottom of this alliance sense that they are at the bottom and jump to the side with the numbers disadvantage, thus switching everything up.

9. Survivor Gabon
Actual Season # 17
Quality Contestants: Bob, Matty, Corinne (good villain)
Why 9? A more interesting Africa than Season 3. Not the best cast, but a quality, likable winner and some good villains put this season in at number 9 on the list. Interesting idea of ranking the tribe members based on importance, then letting the tribe members pick new tribes based off that.
Turning Point: The early tribe switch along with the method for choosing new tribes mentioned above made for some strong alliances. Then the tribes switched again. The dominant alliance had the numbers in both tribes, but then Susie switched and voted off Marcus, thus changing the numbers. The role of Matty, though must be noted here. He won immunity for his tribe in this challenge. If he had not, he would have been voted out by Corinne, Charlie,and Randy. Whew, a long explanation, but an important one.

8. Survivor Pearl Islands
Actual Season # 7
Quality Contestants: Rupert, Darrah, Johnny Fairplay (great villain)
Why 8? This is the one that changed the most since my original rankings. Wow, this was a wild season. Pretty much every episode was a new betrayal, alliance, backstab, and blindside. Some of the best Survivor characters ever in the form of Rupert and Johnny Fairplay and nice eye-candy in Darrah. The Outcast thing, though, really lowers the rank of this season, especially with the unworthy uber-annoying Lil making it to the final.
Turning Point: When the outcasts came back tribes were even. Burton was integrated back into his original tribe whereas Lil rejected her original tribe, going with the other tribe and handing them the telling advantage.

7. Survivor Micronesia - Fans vs Favorites
Actual Season # 16
Quality Contestants: Favorites
Why 7? Wow, some of the best blindsides ever! Really, the women PLAYED the men amazingly a few times this season. Only comes in at 7 though, due to injuries to Jonathan and James, and the overall weak play of the fans - some pretty poor contestants among them.
Turning Point: I guess you are judging which blindside is the best here - I'll go with the one against Ozzy. Also, Cirie choosing early in the game to align herself with Amanda and Parvati proved an important move.

6. Survivor Vanuatu
Actual Season # 9
Quality Contestants: Julie (hot), Ami, Sarge
Why 6? Lots of people don't like this season at all, but I love the self-destruction of the women coupled with the subtle manipulation Chris uses on them. His comeback was epic. He should have been voted off after not being able to cross the balance beam on the first episode! Also, the attractiveness of many of the women and the amazing locations and challenges helps move this season up the rankings.
Turning Point: 6 women left and Chris, Chris finally gets the women to break their alliances as he gets the weaker women - Twila, Scout, and Eliza to form an alliance with him.
5. Survivor Palau
Actual Season # 10
Quality Contestants: Bobby Jon, Stephenie, James, Tom
Why 5? Lots of great Survivors and the biggest domination of one tribe over another in the history of the game. How could you not be engrossed by the total decimation of this tribe? Would they ever win? What would happen if they didn't? Would there be a merge? How would a tribe continue to dominate when they couldn't vote off their weakest players? All these questions were answered in Survivor Palau. Unfortunately, this was the odd season where the first half was much better than the second, because there were a number of weak players on the winning tribe that stuck around too long because there was never a need for tribal council.
Turning Point: No real turning point, just a slow, inevitable rise to the top.

4. Survivor Borneo
Actual Season # 1
Quality Contestants: Rudy, Richard, Greg, Colleen
Why 4? The first season ever brought us many great things. Sure it was pretty simple compared to later seasons - smaller challenges, less big moves, less strategic play, but the newness was awesome. To see it so quickly transform into a game of survival to a social game was pretty amazing. Also, some great characters in the first season, almost everybody that made it to the jury. Props to Richard Hatch for making the show what it is today.
Also, the final immunity challenge and tribal council are still unrivaled - Richard bowing out immediately telling both people (correctly) they have to take him to the final, Rudy's loss of concentration giving immunity to Kelly, Sue's speech, Greg's "pick a number" - love it!
Turning Point: Tied going into the merge - one tribe realizes they have to talk about who they are voting off. The other doesn't. Survivor history.

3. Survivor Australian Outback
Actual Season # 2
Quality Contestants: Colby, Mike, Rodger, Elisabeth
Why 3? Survivor at the height of it's popularity. You had increasingly better challenges, the start of a real strategy based game, yet the focus was still on surviving - floods, lost food, starving, killing pigs. Mike falling in the fire!!!! You had truly likable characters and the first Survivor villains. Unfortunately, Colby's not winning does drop the season down a notch.
Turning Point: Once again tied at the merge, this time the team's see the need to stay together. Keith wins immunity, so the votes are tied between Colby and Jeff. Jeff has previous votes against him and is gone. Colby and Tina's tribe moves on to victory.

2. Survivor Heroes vs. Villains
Actual Season # 20
Quality Contestants: Everyone but Sugar and Randy
Why 2? 3 and 4 were a close call and the same goes for 1 and 2. Heroes vs. Villains was a great season. It only comes up short due to the fact that none of the final players were likable. There was no one to root for in the end. The final 5 were a shadow of the former Colby, Jerri, Russell, Parvati, and Sandra. Another negative is your favorite players diminishing their legacies. Tom who was beyond awesome in Palau was pretty pedestrian here. Stephenie was voted off second. James got hurt again. JT orchestrated one of the dumbest moves in Survivor history. Boston Rob passed out.
That being said, still so close to being #1 on the list. Great contestants who knew how to play the game. The Heroes vs. Villains format worked much better than Fans vs. Favorites. You had Boston Rob vs. Russell, Tyson pulling a dumb move which got him voted off, Tom, Stephenie and Cirie not pulling the strings for a change, Amanda again blowing it, and Candice flopping over to t he Villain's side. (Why was she a Hero anyways?)
Turning Point: Lots of big moves as seen above. JT giving his idol to Russell was amazing, but the biggest move of all, and the BEST MOVE IN THE HISTORY OF SURVIVOR was Parvati giving her secret idol and the idol Russell gave to her to Jerri and Sandra. It was just the perfect example of playing the odds, reading the other players, and looking forward in the game. It was 5-5 at the Merge. Parvati knew they Heroes would not vote for her or Russell, so used both idols to keep her tribe ahead in the game.

1. Survivor Cook Islands
Actual Season # 13
Quality Contestants: Yul, Ozzy, Parvati, Jonathan, Cao-Boi
Why 1? Cook Islands just doesn't have the negative aspects that H vs V did. This was the "race season" and that has nothing to do with my ranking, but I do think the diverse cast did help the season. Anyways, lots of great characters - both likable and unlikable. Great challenges, maybe the best ever and a good number of twists and turns. The biggest reason this is #1 was due to the "Mutiny" twist. After a tribe switch and the knocking out of the weaker players, the teams were integrated and tied 6-6. Contestants were given the choice of switching tribes. Candice and Jonathan did so, totally switching the game, giving one tribe a 8-4 advantage. This gave the audience a clear underdog team - Yul, Ozzy, Becky, and Sundra - to root for and a clear villain team to root against. The underdog team went on a winning streak and ended up being the final 4.
Turning Point: After the Mutiny, the underdog tribe won a bunch of challenges in the row to almost even out the game, but their work was not done yet. When the merge took place, they were still outnumbered 5-4. Yul used his idol to get Johnathan to switch back over to his tribe, getting the numbers in his favor and then voted off Johnathan 2 votes later. Epitome of the Survivor Puppet Master, -carefully calculating every possible move and how certain players would respond to it. Rivaled only by Parvati's move in H vs V. Love it.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Check out my latest Badgers Basketball post at The Bucky Channel.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Green-Skinned Comic Book Women

It's probably no surprise you have to come to Big Dunc to settle this decades old question, who is the hottest green-skinned woman in comics? This question has plagued discerning men for many-a year. There are a lot of brightly colored women out there in comic books. The green-skinned ones are especially alluring. I don't really know what it is about the greenness that creates attraction, but it has become something of an epidemic. And how does one answer this baffling question? Why create a poll of course.

Who is the hottest green-skinned woman in comics?

Honorable mention:
Poison Ivy - She would definitely be a strong contender for the top spot, but I'm pretty sure her greenness is more of a recent thing and she can also control it for the most part.
Marrina - Former member of Alpha Flight - alien, maybe a mermaid too. Enticingly scary.
Tonaja - One of the new Inhumans followed in Paul Jenkins' Marvel Knights Inhumans mini-series. An awesome read. In a later series, Tonaja and her friends became exchange students at the University of Wisconsin. You cannot make this shit up.

Mantis - Not to be confused with the short lived Fox show M.A.N.T.I.S. starring Carl Lumbly, this Mantis again has not always been green. I think she came back green after one of her resurrections

Jarella - Don't know much about her, but I like her style.

Now on the the finalist.

She-Hulk - She-Hulk is probably the best know of these green-skinned comic babes. She's been a member of The Fantastic Four and The Avengers, so you know she can stand toe to toe with the best and baddest. She stands an intimidating 6'7" and weighs 650 pounds. Be careful not to get on her bad size. Despite the size she still remains alluring in her green skin. In fact John Byrne even devoted an entire issue of Fantastic Four (275) to a group of paparazzi trying to catch She-Hulk sunbathing in the nude.
Verdict: Yeah, she's big, but worth ever pound.

Jade - I'm not huge DC fan, so I don't know too much about Jade. She is a Green Lantern, and while most Green Lanterns have a green hue to them, she is legit green from head to toe. She's been affiliated with The Justice League, Justice Society, and Green Lantern Corps. And I did just learn that she is the daughter of Golden Age Green Lantern Alan Scott and that she was adopted by a couple in Suburban Milwaukee. Wow, gaining points fast.
Verdict: She looks pretty nice and imagine what she can do with that Power Ring!

Gamora - "The Deadliest Woman in the Whole Galaxy", Gamora was a ward of Thanos and through him came in contact with Adam Warlock after his other half The Magus destroyed Gamora's home planet. Yes complex stuff. But they important part - she kicks butt and wears a FULL BODY FISHNET STOCKING. Yes. And I love the 70's hair.
Verdict: She's got the whole package.

Lyja - Another complex Marvel story, Lyja is the Skrull that posed as Alicia Masters for about 10 years and married Johnny Storm. After she was found out as an impostor, there was a brief reconciliation and Lyja was a member of the FF for a while.
Verdict: Traitor, spy, alien, whatever you want to call her, I like her style and can even look past that weird Skrull gilly chin and the Elf-ears.

There is the emerald field folks. Vote for the hottest, or if you feel odd voting on the basis of the attractiveness of a comic book character, then just vote for who you think is "the coolest".