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John Sciacca Writes...

Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Mess with the crazy bear, get the crazier lion!

Posted on March 25, 2011 at 3:18 PM

(I understand that some of you don’t watch Survivor and you are probably tempted to skip right over this. To that I say...give the post a try. Even if you AREN’T a Survivor fan, it’s funny. So, put those glasses back on and read on, dear reader...)


It takes a special, unique and way-off-the-reservation brand of insane in the membrane crazy to even *think* about going for the title of “craziest Survivor ever!” But this year we have a man that is not only going for it, he looks like he wants to take the title DEEP out into the woods, inscribe it with some secret, hidden, coded message, turn it into a flag, fly it from the highest tree, then get a tattoo of the flag on his arm and then tell everyone, “You do NOT disrespect the title of craziest Survivor ever! Or you get the bear AND the lion!” This man is, of course, the human embodiment of crazy-awesome which is Formal Federal Agent, Phillip Sheppard. A man so loco that he dunks his head and drinks deep mouthfuls right from the fountain of crazy, before stripping down to his manties and then bathing in the fountain of crazy. Then destroying the map leading to the fountain of crazy so that no others can find his trail.


Watch Phillip's casting video at your own risk! If you aren't looking at him, he'll know! Like an evil, Formal Federal Agent Santa, he knows when you've been naughty BEFORE you've even BEEN NAUGHTY! He'll walk into a room and immediately tell that you're not really listening to the music. You're talking to him but are you REALLY talking to him? You just uncrossed your legs! Phillip will know if you're hiding the latest batch of secrets for Wiki leaks or if you just tried to discretely slip a fart into the room. Oh, yes! There is NO fooling our man!


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His tagline is “Former Federal Agent?” Yes. With a question mark. Apparently his past is SO covert that not even Survivor was able to either confirm-or-deny his Formal Federal Agentness status. At first, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about Phillip. Let’s be honest. In the past, umm, how can I say this, uh, delicately-er...? Umm, historically, uh, African American players have not, uh, been the best survivors on Survivor. As in the first ever person to QUIT the game; to just lay down the torch and leave. “I’m sorry, Probst, but it’s just too tough out here. I thought when you said “Survivor” you meant we’d have to survive off room service and basic cable not THIS!” And I believe that every one of them has at some point made a comment about both hating the water and not swimming. On Survivor. A game that pretty much involves the water constantly. The guys are often giant, man-muscle looking types that just end up lazing around camp, complaining how hot and hard it is and then sucking ass in the challenges. The women don’t fare much better and you occasionally get someone like a NaOnka from last season that was so vile that I seriously felt chunks of my soul putrefying and decaying every time the camera panned to her. (Then there is James, the great redeemer. James the mighty, James the grave digger, James the Greek immortal cast from solid, gleaming obsidian and sent down to Survivor to keep all the immunity idols and eat all the bananas.)


So, my expectations of Phillip were initially on the low-lows plan. And then something magical happened. He opened his mouth and the awesomeness started flowing out. It bubbled out like honey. It was like Mr. Phillip Sheppard was filled with carbonated awesome, and Survivor had shaken it all up, and now every time he opens his mouth, something amazing and beautifully-broken spews forth. Especially if there are any lazy, good-for-nothing girls lying about. Or if there is a secret to be kept, in which case Phillip is unable to contain himself and must immediately blurt it out. I can ONLY imagine some of the amazing exploits of Phillip as Formal Federal Agent(?)! “Look! I don’t understand what kinds of shenanigans you’re trying to pull here! You told me that I was going to wear a wire and get him to admit to all of these nefarious acts! Now you’re saying that you’re actually not here undercover to try and arrest this man! You are lying! LYING! I will not be part of this dishonor. I’m sorry, Don Bossiosa, but I just have too much honor and dignity to stand by while these lies are going on!”


Even Probst is with me. From his own blog, Jeff says, “I can already hear you guys complaining. Probst, you love Phillip. You have a hard-on for Phillip. (that was one of the quotes I read on Twitter.) I know many of you already hate Phillip. You think Phillip is crazy. Phillip is a loser. Those words fall on deaf ears. It’s as if I don’t have ears. They just bounce off and fall to the ground. I absolutely love Phillip."


Here are some of Phillip’s words of awesome from his official Survivor bio:


Personal Claim to Fame: Being a father to my son and being able to take risks in life. I say "yes" when others may say "no."


OK, when others say, “No” what Phillip *really* says is, “Remember! I’m a Formal Federal Agent! And I am a human lie detector! I can tell that you are not telling the truth right now!” In fact, he pretty much manages to work this into a conversation when anyone says anything. That is his tagline, his mantra, his coda, his first, his last, his everything. In fact, I don’t believe I’ve ever heard him say JUST “Yes.” There is usually a lengthy diatribe that both precedes AND follows any statements by Phillip.


Inspiration in Life: Medical Professionals - they save lives in real time.


I think Phillip’s actual inspiration in life is to be the best, most crazy-awesome Phillip he can be each and every day. And to make sure that damn fire is attended to every frickin’ 30 minutes like clockwork!


Pet Peeves: People who think they know everything and yet do nothing and watch others do the work.


It is like this quote was pulled specifically from this week’s episode. The whole episode surrounded Phillips pet peeving over this. Apparently watching two cuties lounging around the beach in bikinis while they meticulously groom each other’s arm pits is NOT what Mr. Phillip came on Survivor to do. He does not like the uncomfortably close high-defs of young girls using an old rusted pair of scissors to dig out ingrown pit hairs and evacuate the pus from infections. No!  He wants to bestow loyalty and “hardest working female at camp” government meritorious service badges on people. He wants to spear crabs. He wants to sneak off into the forest and look for secret, coded messages written in the bark. And for the love of all that is good and holy, he wants that damn fire attended to! A rogue breeze may come up. Poseidon may rise from the ocean! A low-flying Apache helicopter could come over the horizon. There are any number of things that could happen to put that fire out! Vigilance, people! Constant vigilance!


3 Words to Describe You: Outgoing, articulate and determined.


This sounds so much nicer than “in-touch-with-the-mother-ship, borderline-mentally-unstable and hyper-argumentatively-verbose.” I will give him determined…he seems determined to completely alienate every person on his tribe. From the pre and post challenge speeches, to the constant fire bitching, to the way his conversational style borders on hostilely interrogative, Phillip demonstrates his determination every time his big, crazy-beautiful face is on camera. Outgoing? He seems to shrink away from the other players, going off on Delta Force covert op missions to cut down branches and limbs to stoke and appease the ever hungry yet constantly fickle and angry fire gods. The only time that he is outgoing is when he is yelling at someone for something. And articulate…oh, man! This one is the BEST EVER! From the first Tribal, it was clear that Phillip and articulate were words that were never going to share the same phrase-chesskwa. Or Franqwueskwa. Or Franchupacabra. Or Francubiczirconia. Or the Former Republic of Franczhekistan. Of course, you can’t blame Phillip; hells-no! It was clearly his dry-mouth medicine. That evil medicine that targeted that single word in the English language. It was probably some Cold War super-virus thing he picked up from all of his time at the whatever he did for the Federal Agency. Or the time that his tribe performed gallantryly.  I’d like to interject a bit of Phillip dialogue here. For one, because I think it will show you just how articulate this modern-day Dylan, Kerouac, Ginsberg really is. For two…well, I just want to read it again because it is so awesome. I want to print this quote out on a quilt, take off all my clothes and then wrap myself up in it. I swear, when Phillip starts talking, I want to put down my martini, pull out my notepad and just stare at the screen in wide-eyed wonder, waiting for him to drop some bit of new Webster’s Collegiate International brillianterness on me!


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“I’ve been in [though it kinda sounds like he *could* have said “I’ve invented...”] an alliance with Rob and Grant and myself. In fact, I’ve called ourselves ‘Stealth – R – Us.’ I’m the specialist. Rob is the mentalist. And Grant...he’s the assassin. And yet today when Rob and Grant found a clue for an idol, they tried to hide it. Well hell hath no furrity...like...a lion or a gorilla...when he thinks he’s been provoked. If you’re gonna make an alliance with me, you’d better adhere to it because I’m all about integrity. I served my country for 4 years, 11 months, 13 days for duty, honor, country. That means something to me. And when you try to trash on that, me and the United States got something for you when you try that one baby. I could dwell on a place of negativity right now based on what I just saw. I’m not gonna do that. I’m gonna smile. And when the time comes, I’m gonna kick a little ass around here.”


(Claps hands and giggles to self like a giddy schoolgirl!) Oh, Phillip. Oh sweet-crazy-awesome-Phillip! That paragraph is so bee-you-tee-full I don’t even want to touch it. I just want to sit back and look at it. I want to print it out on 6 sheets of paper, make it into a cube and then walk around and study it from different perspectives and angles. It’s like your Sistine Chapel. It’s your Magna Carta. It’s your Sgt. Peppers.


SURVIVOR Contestant You Are Most Like: I am my own man!


Phillip is not only his OWN man, his is like two or three or seven other men -- and possible a woman or two -- all wrapped into one. There’s Phillip keeper of the eternal flame. Phillip the bear, “a powerful animal, won’t attack anyone unless provoked.” Phillip the lion, “one of the few animals that no animal, whether it’s starving to death, will approach.”  Phillip the Formal Federal Agent. Phillip the human lie detector. Phillip the nighttime cuddler. There are so many facets to the Phillip diamond it is just impossible to number them all. Looking into Phillip is like standing in the middle of two mirrors.


Why you think you will be the sole SURVIVOR: I am a go-getter. As a former Special Agent with the former Defense Investigation Services, I honed my interview and investigative skills to persevere when others are being evasive or less than forthcoming.




Philip is definitely a go-getter. Especially if that thing that needs to be gone and got is little, scurrying beach crabs. (Or anything to do with the fire.) In which case, Phillip will go and revert to a primal state where it is just man, stick and crab. And man wearing light peach, grandpa Joe man-shorts. Shorts that might have at one point in time held a shape that in some way resembled underwear, but now each and every cotton fiber in them has decided that being anywhere else is better than spending one more second playing loincloth. Phillip’s trou are so loose and baggy that at any moment you expect to see a full salute from Phillips staff sergeant and two privates. Phillip, ever oblivious to how others see him, likes to practice squat thrusts and deep-waist bends right in front of the girls who stare off into the fire and wonder what would be more painful: another second of staring into the Black Hole of Phillip’s, um, universe, along with an encore presentation of little Phillip and the twins or jamming a smoldering ember deep into each socket. I think that ONLY the fact that they would have to endure a tirade about messing with the fire is what prevents the first ever Survivor self-inflicted double-eye blinding. As to the second bit, you’ll recall that he was only with his government job – some have suggested it had something to do with latrine sanitation and disposal, but I like to think it was some branch of government that makes CTU and SD6 and CSI and all those others look like day care – for less than 5 years. I’m sure that he knows the hours and minutes but he didn’t want to brag with his EXACT time working for the government, and there is probably some discrepancy on exactly when his you-done-gone-and-went-crazy discharge papers were processed and they escorted him from the building.


In last week’s episode they had a reward picnic beneath the second largest Jesus statue in the world. And if you thought this was a mere coincidence, then I must tell you that you are absolutely wrong! They didn’t just merely stumble over to the world’s second largest Jesus. No! They were already there because both Probst and Burnett needed to offer personal thanks for the unending, ceaseless bounty of Special Agent Sheppard sauce that has been blessed upon them and ONLY the world’s second largest Jesus could accept such a level of thanks.


And like a brilliant actor, Phillip needs a supporting cast of characters to help elevate him to the maximum of his game, and in Survivor Phillip has found a terrific foil in both Boston Rob and Probst.  


Probst subtly goads Phillip along, saying things like, “Today’s challenge is going to be a physical one. Phillip: which animal are you bringing, lion or bear?”


“Both, Jeff!”


“Whoa! Both! Wow. That’s just...wow! Other tribe, Phillip is bringing both! Scared?” That he can pull this off with both a huge mouthful of snark AND retaining a look of total sincerity is literally worthy of an EGOT!


Then there’s Boston Rob. Rob realizes that Phillip is insane – “Goes to show just how stressful government jobs can be” – and he probably finishes his prayers each night with, “And please, Lord, let at least one person from the film crew have the decency to wake me up or scream out, “Rob! Wake up! He’s coming to choke you to death with a vine!” when it comes to that. My love to Ambah. Amen.” But Rob also sees that he can use Phillip. Like a crazy, one-off Leatherman forged in the mental ward of Mordor, Phillip has his uses and Rob is playing them like the ultimate puppet master that he is. When the secret voices start telling Phillip to get a little TOO crazy, Rob pulls him aside and tells him to dial it back. When Phillip can’t be trusted to hold a secret, Rob spins it into a secret mission, a hidden code that will be delivered at the right moment that only Phillip can receive. When Phillip want to cuddle up with Rob, with nothing but those mutinous underwear between them, Rob closes his eyes and thinks of England. Rob is brillianter and showing why he is one of the best to ever play – and learn from – the game.


To Probst, and Burnett, and Boston Rob and – most of all – Phillip I say a sincere, “Thank you, gentleman!” and “More please!” Phillip is clearly receiving secret satellite transmissions from deep space, picking them up on hidden microchips implanted in his molars, and he is now acting for the good of himself, his grateful nation and all Survivor viewers everywhere! And I can only help the transmissions continue! Tune in next week, Wednesday, 8PM, CBS-HD. Also, if you’ve made it this far, I want to reward you with another blog that I’ve discovered. It’s the Bitchy Survivor Blog by Colette Lala and it is high-larious; breaking down the exploits of each episode. (Oh, Matt! You pretty-pretty pony and your gleaming, distracting pony lashes!) I challenge you to read only one entry!

Categories: March 2011, TV

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