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Showing posts from 2012

The Great Hawaii Christmas Vacation Blog!

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The one thing we have always wanted to do as a family is to go on a tropical Christmas vacation. And this was the year we got to do it. Oh yes.

Day 1 - Travel Day




We departed mid-afternoon from Edmonton and Santa was kind enough to see us off. We had an uneventful flight to Vancouver, where, unfortunately, Weather Armageddon had hit, delaying pretty much all the departing planes. Having suffered horrible delays on our last Hawaii trip, we took this all in stride and accepted that it could be a long night. Our flight was delayed by about 90 minutes, which gave us the chance to sit down and enjoy a meal.




The Vancouver airport has a very lovely aquarium. And the fish were delicious. (I'm kidding.)

We boarded the plane on time ("on time" = 90 minutes late) and everything was looking good to get us to Hawaii by midnight. And then we sat on the ground for an hour and 10 minutes. So, instead, we landed just before 1 a.m. local time and, well, just go ahead and convert that t…

Survivor Philippines Grand Finale Spoiler Review!

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As any regular reader of my Survivor reviews will know, the finale is my least favorite show of the entire season, as it's a 2-hour prelude to the third hour reunion show where the winner is actually revealed. And there's A LOT of filler in the two-hour show, that normally includes the 20-minute montage to the Survivors no longer in the game. Bo-ring!

The final four headed to the reward challenge, which was obstacles, bags, and puzzles. The winner gets an advantage in the final immunity challenge. Malcolm won.

Denise approached Malcolm about the final 3 and Malcolm hesitated, so Denise figured she was on the bottom of the alliance and went to Lisa to try to convince her to vote out Malcolm if they get the chance. Lisa was down for that. And so was Skupin. So they figured that they were part of the final 3 regardless of whether Malcolm wins immunity or not.

And here comes the 20-minute former Survivor montage. I recapped the entire season and I barely remember some of these p…

Survivor Philippines Episode 12 Spoiler Review

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It's the penultimate episode of this season, which means we'll have ramped up drama tonight as everyone scrambles to make the finale.

Coming back from Tribal Council, Abi thanked the tribe for keeping her around. I'm not sure if she knows it's because there's no way she's getting any votes if she's in the final 3. But it's amusing to watch either way.

Random thought: Is Lisa on this show to re-launch her showbiz career?

The tribe figures that Abi does not have the hidden immunity idol that she claims to have or else she would have used it at Tribal Council last night.

Abi approached Lisa to say she's at the bottom of her alliance and she should be careful. Lisa politely listened while not believing a word of it. Cuz, you know, it's Abi.

The reward challenge was glorified ring toss. The prize was a helicopter ride, boat excursion and pizza. And they could take two other people. Skupin won the challenge, and took Malcolm and Lisa. Abi and Denise …

The Amazing Race Season 21 2 Hour Season Finale!

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It's the season finale of The Amazing Race! Two hours of television that almost always ends up in a 15-second split-screen clip of two teams racing to the finish line from opposite directions, probably 5 hours apart, but skillfully edited to make it look like it was, indeed, a footrace to the finish. Like last season, when ... wait a second. I have absolutely no memory of how last season ended. Fortunately, I reviewed it, so let me check... Someone named Rachel and someone named Dave. They could be sitting next to me right now and I wouldn't recognize them. Well, that doesn't bode well for whoever wins tonight.

And with all that prelude out of the way, let's get to tonight's show!

Teams fly to Spain and then take a train to France, where there next clue is on the PRODUCT PLACEMENT VEHICLE. IT WAS LITERALLY A COMMERCIAL! Meanwhile, on the train, the tree non-Goat Farmer teams plotted to try to take out the Goat Farmers. And 8 crates had to go into the car. The othe…

Survivor Philippines Episode 11 Spoiler Review

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I'm really tired tonight, so I'm gonna take a pass at the blow-by-blow review tonight and just go with the highlights.

The Loved Ones (TM) showed up for the reward challenge. There was much crying and hugging. The winning survivor got to take their loved one back to camp for the night. Wait. THAT'S THE REWARD!? SLEEPING IN THE JUNGLE!? What would be the "punishment challenge"? Malcolm and his weird brother won reward. They got to pick another survivor and he picked Lisa and her more normal brother. And he also picked Mike and his son, Mike.

Malcolm won immunity.

Abi claimed at tribal council she had a fourth hidden immunity idol. She lied.

Carter was voted out.

Next week: More Lisa drama.

The Amazing Race Season 21 Episode 10 Spoiler Review

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So we watched this on a time-shift channel tonight from Atlantic Canada, as our American time-shift HD channel was delayed due to football or something, and there was a promo off the top of tonight's show for the Amazing Race Canada. That will make a lot of people in my family happy. Namely, my kids.

Back at the American version of the show, the teams are off to Spain and then an overnight fairy to a Spanish island. The Twins depart before 3 a.m. and actually get a plane out to Spain before the next team even leaves at 6 a.m. Wow, no airport bunching!

The Chippendales caught up to the Twins at the ferry terminal. And since the ferry to the island isn't until the evening, we're going to get ferry terminal bunching instead. So everyone went to the beach and had a day off. And we got to watch it. Yippee.

So it's 15 minutes after the hour, and literally NOTHING has happened yet.

Teams had to find their clue amongst a bunch of fire-swinging devils. Think Orcs with fire. …

Saturday morning weigh in - 177.2 lbs

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A little less than last week. I'll take it.

Survivor Philippines Episode 11 Spoiler Review

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After getting ripped to shreds at last week's Tribal Council, Abi is very sad. Malcolm notes that Abi is not very self-aware. You don't say.

The tribe gets money for the annual food auction. Gosh, I hope SOMEONE knows how to play this game. And, yay! Denise spends all her money for pancakes and bacon. Well done, Denise. You've figured out this game.

Then Skupin bids all his money for a cheese plate and wine. Malcolm got iced coffee and donuts for $200 of his $500. Jonathan paid $100 for a blind item that turned out to be fried chicken and fries.

Carter got a baked potato as a blind item for $180 (I think). But he got the option to trade it for rice and beans for the tribe. He gave up his food for food for the tribe. The tribe applauded. He's a fool.

Another blind item. Carter and Lisa had a bidding war. WHY DO PEOPLE ENGAGE IN BIDDING WARS!? Oh, I'm ranting again. Lisa won it for $320. She got a gigantic sandwich.

Jeff put up "an advantage in this game" and …

The Amazing Race Season 21 Episode 9 Spoiler Review

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The teams are giving a flag to the Netherlands, and have to figure out that the flag is the Netherlands, not any other country where the flag is a white, red and blue stripe. Like, France. Which is where Trey and Lexi decide to go. Until they run into the Chippendales at the airport, who steer them in the correct direction.

The first three teams at the airport plotted to U-Turn Abbie and Ryan.

The Goat Farmers started the leg 11 hours behind the lead team.

The Twins were the first to arrive in Amsterdam. The clue had the Fast Forward and they were smart enough to go for it considering how far ahead they were.

In Frankfurt, Abbie and Ryan missed their connecting flight to Amsterdam. But they had tickets on a second connecting flight, so they got on that. And then that plane had mechanical problems. They had to switch planes.

The Chippendales arrived, headed for the Fast Forward.

The Twins had to eat 5 herring each in 7 minutes. They did it with less than a minute to spare and got to go to…

Saturday morning weigh-in: 177.4 lbs

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I haven't done one of these in a few weeks, and ... ick. I knew it would be up, but fortunately, my weight isn't up as much as I feared it would be. When the Legislature sits, it's much more difficult for me to exercise regularly and I tend to let my eating habits go, too. I have found over the years that basically, I have a summer weight of 175 lbs and below and a winter weight between 175 lbs and 180 lbs. It's when I get over 180 lbs I really start to freak out.

(And, yes, I have weighed myself since June, but for some reason the Tactio app nuked all of my data between then and now. Whatever.)

Survivor Philippines Episode 10 Spoiler Review

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When we last left our Survivors, someone named Artis was voted off. Pretty sure he'd never been in the game before last week. (Have I run that joke into the ground yet?)

As we start the game, Lisa tries to have a reasonable conversation with Abi. AHAHAHAHHAAH! Poor Lisa. That's impossible.

And we're already at the reward challenge. The reward is a spa day on a separate island. Skupin ended up costing his team the win. So Carter, Malcolm, Pete and Abi won the spa day. They immediately declared that wouldn't talk strategy. When they get back to camp, Abi brags about the experience and then declares she's not cooking any more. The rest of the tribe think she's lost her mind.

Skupin and Lisa had a conversation about strategy and the final 3. My work iPhone kept dinging, so I missed a bunch of it. Jonathan, Skupin and Lisa also had a conversation about strategy and the final 3. I know I'm distracted but this episode isn't lighting my world on fire yet and i…

The Amazing Race Season 21 Episode 8 Spoiler Review

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For some reason, this came on an hour earlier on the Atlantic Canadian feeds. So we watched it.

When we last left our intrepid racers, James and Abba's cab drove away with their bags, while the Goat Farmers couldn't swim and Abbie and Ryan . This led to a DRAMATIC CLIFFHANGER, which better not result in us watching the last 3 teams struggle for 50 minutes before one of them is eliminated.

So as we pick up the start of the show, the Goat Farmers were given ONE MORE TRY to get the synchro swimming because the pool was closing. And they failed. They got their clue anyway, but incurred a four-hour time penalty.

James and Abba got the police involved in finding their backpacks, basically arguing that they were stolen. Then they contacted the US Embassy to try to get an emergency passport issued.

The Goat Farmers and Abbie and Ryan showed up on the mat together. A&R were Team 4, and the Goat Farmers were Team 5. And they assessed the 4 hour penalty on the Goat Farmers at the s…

Blogger finally has a better mobile app.

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Blogger updated its mobile blogging software today, and the new app isn't completely terrible. Which is a definite improvement on its old app, which was so rudimentary it wouldn't have been cutting edge on the original iPhone.

The new app, which is being used to compose this update, has a better layout, iPad support and apparently, and scheduled post support, although at the point that I'm typing this, I haven't yet quite figured out how that works and whether you can actually schedule posts from the app or just view posts you have scheduled (although it appears to be the latter and not the former).

And, of course, it allows publishing to Google+, because it's all about the Google synergy.

Will the free Blogger app finally move me away from the paid BlogPress? Nope. Blogger Mobile still has a lot of work to do, such as include inline photo editing/viewing and the ability to place your photo at the top of yoru post. instead of just dumping all the pictures at the b…

Survivor Philippines Episode 9 Spoiler Review

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The morning after Tribal Council, Jonathan takes Lisa aside and flatters her in an effort to sew more divisions in the various alliances. It turned into a psychotherapy session. And ended in a hug. Given how much of Lisa's deep stuff we're dealing with at the start here, I'm thinking she's going home tonight, as she's getting that ultra-personal, ultra-sympathetic edit.

The reward challenge was the Survivors divided into 2 teams, the winning team got a feast after delivering school supplies and toys to a local village. I sense many tears ahead. As there were 9 Survivors and the teams had to be even, one person was not going to be picked, and would have no shot at reward, that was Abi. Ouch.

The reward challenge was an obstacle course through mud and rice that involved bags of balls and shooting hoops. Malcolm, Jonathan, Denise and Carter won the challenge. In discussing strategy, the four decided they wanted to pull Mike Skupin to their side to pick off the old Tanda…

Mini Movie Review - The Amazing Spider-Man

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I don't normally due movie reviews here, but it's my blog and I feel like a little rant on this movie.

We rented this from iTunes last night. And I'm really not sure what to make of it. On the one hand, I liked this portrayal of Spider-Man more than the Tobey Maguire version. I liked the look of the film a lot but at the same time, I didn't like how most of the movie seemed to take place at night. I liked the more traditional Marvel portrayal of the character in a lot of ways. I liked Gwen Stacey being in it instead of Mary-Jane.

But, holy crap, Oscorp has the worst security in the entire world. That one scene where Peter just grabbed another guy's ID tag and the receptionist let it happen so totally took me out of the film. Yeah, yeah, it's fiction and fantasy and in a film where cross-species genetic splicing is the main plot device I suppose I shouldn't nitpick about a security badge, but pretty much every scene at Oscorp totally destroyed my suspension …

The Amazing Race Season 21 Episode 7 Spoiler Review

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Teams leave Turkey to fly to Moscow and head to a sculpture park. Trey and Lexi are the first to the airport, can't find an airline to give them a flight (they want Aeroflot, but can't find it), so they go to Popeye's for food. That makes sense.

The Goat Farmers and Abbie and Ryan were on a flight with a tight connecting flight time of just an hour, and the originating flight was immediately delayed, with a 3 minute turnaround by the time they got on the ground. They didn't make it. Their next earliest flight didn't arrive for 12 hours after the other teams landed. Well, for once we didn't get an airport equalizer.

The sculpture park didn't open until 9:30 a.m. so that turned out to be an equalizer - except for the teams stranded in the connecting airport. So with 2 teams so far behind, the only real drama is whether the Goat Farmers or Abbie and Ryan will be eliminated. (Yet somehow, I don't think that's going to be the case.)

Meanwhile, the rest of t…

Survivor Philippines Episode 8 Spoiler Review

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Jonathan is unhappy with being betrayed at Tribal last week. Which seems to be a natural reaction. Mike gave Jonathan a pep talk and told him there were cracks in the opposing alliance, but couldn't or wouldn't name names.

Jeff and Lisa plotted to break up Pete's alliance, with Jeff figuring they could engineer a flip that would move them up the pecking order.

The reward challenge was for a river boat cruise through the jungle with BBQ ribs. The yellow team that included Malcolm and Jonathan beat a team that had Mike and Artis.

Back at camp, Pete plotted to get rid of Jonathan and keep Mike around for a while in order to take out Jeff. While out on the reward, Denise, Lisa, Malcolm, Jeff and Jonathan stuffed their faces and talked about the Evil Three (as he dubbed them) of Abi, Artis and Pete.

Lisa went to Mike and said to vote out Jonathan first, and told him about Malcolm's immunity idol.

Only 1 individual immunity necklace was up for grabs. The immunity challenge …

October RunKeeper Stats - 206.5 km

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A good month in October, putting on 206 km and change and just slightly under my September tally of 226 km. But more importantly, in October I hit my goal of cycling 2,000 km in 2012, which I'm ridiculously happy about.

The Amazing Race Season 21 Episode 6 Spoiler Review

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Teams fly to Istanbul, Turkey. James and Abba depart with a three-and-a-half our lead on the second place team of Abbie and Ryan, and a four-and-a-half hour lead on the third team, the twins. And a seven-hour-plus lead on the Goat Farmers. All of which will be negated at the airport, no doubt.

And, of course, there's only 1 flight to Istanbul, so all the teams will be on it. Airport bunching drives me crazy.

James and Abba left their wad of American money at the travel agency desk, and the twins picked it up and at the airport split it with the Texans. James and Abba went to the business district and managed to wrangle up $100 from the locals.

In Istanbul, teams took a ferry from the European to the Asian side of Turkey. James and Abba were the only ones on the first ferry. Monster Truck and Chippendales fell behind by taking the subway to the ferry instead of the faster taxi option. The Chippendales talked with a local on the train who said the taxi was faster, so they got off t…

Survivor Philippines Episode 7 Spoiler Review

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(I think there was more of Artis in the recap opening this show than there was in the previous 6 episodes.)

At Mike's tribe he told his tribe that it was at this point in the season 24 seasons ago that he fell in the fire. He told them this with scabs on his face and missing a bunch of skin on his right shoulder. One of his tribe mates noted the small irony to him.

A boat arrived on the each of the respective tribe beaches saying they were merging and that they had 10 minutes to pack up what they could. The new merged tribe had the traditional tribe feast.

Lisa went through everyone's bags to hang up their clothes. Because she's helpful, not nosy, and discovered the Hidden Immunity Idol in Malcolm's clothes. So Malcolm confronted Lisa, who instantly fessed up, and Malcolm decided that it was, on the one hand, fine because the "church lady" found it, but, on the other hand, not fine because he was now in an involuntary alliance with Lisa.

Meanwhile, Jonathan, who …

The Amazing Race Season 21 Episode 5 Spoiler Review

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We start with James engaging in a video chat with his wife, where he finds out that his dad has really bad cancer. It's a rare glimpse behind the scenes on the show.

The teams had to a bazaar for their next clue, and then it's off to find another clue under a bridge. The Roadblock involved constructing a scale and then balancing 4 rocks with wood on the other side. Abby and James completed the task while maintaining their lead.

From there, it was the Detour - making a jute bag, or deliver bamboo to a construction site. Abby and James picked the bamboo option.

Back at the Roadblock, there was much "GO TWINNIE!" again. Please, let the twins be eliminated. The non-participating twin even got a kid screaming it. Argh.

Meanwhile, back at the start line, the Goat Farmers were having trouble finding their first clue, which was at a marked taxi stand. Trey and Lexi caught up to them in a battle for the basement.

The Twins passed Abbie and Ryan at the Roadblock and moved into seco…

Survivor Philippines Episode 6 Spoiler Review

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At Jonathan's tribe, Katie has realized her position is precarious, and she moved to get rid of Jonathan so that she can get through the merge.

At Mike's tribe, Mike is eating raw rice and there's not a lot left for the tribe. Even Artis was upset! And Artis is making only his second appearance in six episodes. So he must be mad!

So, basically, 5 minutes into tonight's episode, the theme is both returning Survivors are being targeted.

The reward challenge was a version of American Gladiators' Atlas Ball competition. The winning tribe got a Survivor bistro. After an hour, it was a total stand off in the mud. So they started negotiating an agreement to end the game, considering they had to score 3 points to win and no one had scored anything after what seemed like 100 days. Jonathan was willing to trade the rest of their rice for the sandwiches. Artis wasn't happy.

Jonathan's tribe chowed down from lunch and also got their letters from home. Everyone cried.

Back a…

Mike's Mini Music Review - Newsboys: God is Not Dead Live in Concert

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I've said repeatedly that all albums should be recorded live, and the Newsboys "God is Not Dead Live in Concert" release out today (a rare Monday music release?) is just another example of why. There is an energy with live music that just can't be replicated in a studio setting, and I daresay that anyone who has ever performed with a band in front of a live crowd would agree.

And this is a fantastic live album - full of songs that are better than the studio versions of same, and pumped up full of vibrancy and the kind of passion that comes from singing with a big crowd. It's at least as good as the "old" Newsboys previous live album, Houston We Are Go, which is another tremendous collection of songs.

As an aside, I've done a complete 180 on the "new" Newsboys. When Michael Tait joined the band, I was really kind of "meh" on the whole deal and some of the early concert videos I saw on YouTube of him with the band didn't rock …

The Amazing Race Season 21 Episode 4 Spoiler Review

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The teams are off to Bangladesh and then have to head to a bus repair shop for their next clue. Of course, the first flight isn't until the next day and everyone is on the same plane, so it's another airport equalizer that drives me crazy.

At the airport, all the teams rushed out into traffic to get a cab and the Monster Truckers casually walked over to the taxi stand and ordered a cab, and got into first place. Although they didn't arrive at the Roadblock first as they took a scenic tour of a garbage dump first. The Roadblock also had the Fast Forward clue. One member of the team had to repair and refurbish a bus.

The Rock/Law team went for the fast forward, that involved grabbing dead rats from three different locations. From a bucket. So the rat part wasn't that much of a challenge. It was harder to find the locations.

The Chippendales struggled with the bus task while the Twins not only did well, they annoyed everyone with their "GO TWINNIE!" screaming. Whic…

Saturday morning weigh-in - 175.8 lbs

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I'm up a couple of pounds from my last post 2 weeks ago, which I'm not thrilled with, but sometimes these things happen. Will redouble my efforts and keep trying to move that number back down.

Survivor Philippines Episode 5 Spoiler Review

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So, we have a tribe of 2 now. I'm thinking that tonight is either the merge or some kind of draft to split them up, because otherwise there's no real resolution to THAT Tribal Council vote. The 2 of them went looking for the immunity idol and Malcolm eventually figured it out and got it from the top of the rice basket.

At the reward challenge, Malcolm and Denise were, in fact, drafted to the other tribes. Malcolm went to Mike's tribe and Denise to Jonathan's tribe in a blind buff pick. The reward was coffee and cookies. The challenge was hand to hand combat that involved knocking an idol out of the other person's hand. Malcolm brought home the victory of his new tribe, making himself very valuable and a target at the same time.

Everyone on Mike's tribe was happy to have Malcolm except RC, who suddenly had flashbacks to being bullied in school. That was strange.

Pete grabbed Malcolm and worked him into his alliance and he told Malcolm that he has the idol.

Over at …

I am not an athlete. I'm just a guy who likes to ride a bicycle.

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I am not an athlete. I'm just a guy who decided three year ago that it would be fun to cycle to work in the summer. Eventually, that turned that into a 2012 goal of cycling a total of 2,000 km. That was a pretty lofty goal, given that in 2011, my cumulative total of running, walking and cycling was a mere 1,363 km (and I originally figured I'd try to reach 1,500 km in 2012 before expanding that).

So I'm happy that I not only achieved my goal, I crushed it - and I would have crushed it sooner had it not been for my August cycling accident.

But I'm not going to rest on my laurels. I've already set another goal of cycling an additional 400 km before the end of the year. And for 2013, I think 2,500 would be a good start for a guy who isn't an athlete but just likes to ride his bicycle.

The Amazing Race Season 21 Episode 3 Spoiler Review

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Oh, this is great. I was 50 minutes into this episode and had a big long review typed out and then I accidentally closed BlogPress on my iPad ... and I hadn't saved the review. Argh. So I lost about 600 words worth of review, including a classic rant about last week's nonsensical "bull racing" task, which basically involved watching other people race bulls. It was easily the stupidest thing ever on the Amazing Race.

So, the quick by memory recap of tonight's episode after I nuked my longer review: teams had to stack 20 plates of food at a restaurant, take a train, either have a coconut lit on their head and have eggs cooked on it or wear a giant lion's head in a parade.

Amongst the teams, the Divorced Dating duo who won the first leg won this leg as well, with Texas a close second.

The Twins fell behind early and came in sixth.

The final 2 became a battle between the U-Turned Gary and Will and the Caitlin and Brittany, the latter of whom argued with their pedal b…

Survivor Philippines Episode 4 Spoiler Review

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We start at Russell's decimated tribe and approximately 2 minutes of no dialogue. Just a lot of sitting and staring. In the rain. Russell decides it's time to mount the greatest comeback ever. Well, it beats the alternatives.

Over to Mike's tribe, and it's still raining. Pete stirred up stuff by having the the immunity idol clue suddenly appear, and that set Abi off against RC.

Meanwhile, at Jonathan's tribe, Jeff made himself useful to Jonathan and continued their alliance, although it's apparent that Jonathan trusts Jeff more than the other way around. Carter joined the group. And then the girls started plotting against the guys.

Back at Russell's camp, he actively goes looking for the immunity idol, and he narrates his own search by talking about how he's going to be walking past it over and over again while people at home are screaming at the TV. Fantastic editing there by CBS.

Denise sees Russell digging around the corner of the shelter, and tells Malc…