Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers

Survivor Know-It-Alls: The Movie: The Novelization

Sarah Channon is back from the latest Know-It-Alls Live with the stories, the photos, and the insight.

Survivor Know-It-Alls: The Movie: The Novelization

It was the biggest Know-It-Alls of All Time. A merge episode on a full-size movie screen. An all-star RHAP line up led by Survivor Royalty, Cirie Fields, and featuring a surprise cameo by a certain Emmy award-winning host. (He kept his shirt on. Still didn’t disappoint.) For over five hundred fans, this was the viewing experience of a lifetime.

The setting was noir, the city that never sleeps amid the rain and resentment of early November. Undaunted, the RHAP ensemble entered New York’s stage one by one, each intent on their own plotline.

For Akiva Wienerkur, this was a jaded ambition for a live podcast of his own. The camera-shy podcaster had returned to his hometown for his first RHAP event… and to finish out his recaps of the Seinfeld series in style.

There was no widescreen release for this low budget indie. He and Rob hosted a select group in a room that Akiva described as “A church that ran out of money.” Almost as underwhelming was the support of Akiva’s traditional podcast partner, Alex Chester, who spent the entire time on his laptop.

Fortunately the other sixty or so attendees more than made up for it. If Akiva had any doubts about the endeavour, they evaporated in the face of the devotion of one Nelson from Denver. Alone among the audience, Nelson was not in town for the Know-It-Alls. He’d flown across the country purely to be there for this one last Seinfeld podcast.

Yet not even Nelson was the MVP of that evening. “Dan the Benefactor” had sent emails into the podcast for most if not all of its run. A few years earlier, he had encouraged Akiva’s habit of running long, by pledging to donate $1 for every minute the podcast ran over 70. Naturally, Dan was in attendance, and during the show he announced that the grand total of his donations and Akiva’s verbosity had come to over $2,000.

So it was that Akiva could close out his show with his head held high. Or at least maintain his occasionally giggly cynicism. He went to celebrate with the patrons at the traditional KIA eve Karaoke event, where most people were excited to meet him for the first time and completely failed to recognize him until he spoke.

The karaoke was a quieter affair than usual, with no Survivors (aside from Rob—do we even count him any more?) in attendance and Podcast House for once, choosing to stay home. (This in itself was concerning, as the Podcast Housers are normally a tight knit partying machine…) But even with these reduced numbers, there was a Wanda tribute. It’s not entirely clear which of Wanda’s Paparazzi covers this was a tribute to, but we can be certain the result would have brought a tear to both Ms Shirk’s and Mr Wigler’s eyes.

Mike Bloom was among those singers. After falling into infamy at the previous Know It Alls, he was hoping to fly under the radar this time and reclaim his good name—if nothing else, he now had a professional reputation to consider.

On Wednesday night, Mike planned to eschew both the hustle and bustle of Rob’s VIP dinner and the hedonism of Podcast House. Instead, he would prepare for the show by a quiet dinner with an exclusive group of mature, responsible RHAPpers: myself, Akiva, Jordan Kalish, Megan Z, and every patron whose name begins with A.

But these best laid plans were shattered by an incoming phone call. Cirie Fields would be arriving at the VIP dinner earlier than either Rob or Stephen could meet her. Mike Bloom, newly minted professional journalist and face of Parade’s Survivor courage, was the clear choice to be the official Fields Greeter, and so he became a late addition to the VIP group.

Now, while Mike might have the poise to point and laugh as Malcolm is brutally taken out of Game Changers, handling the lady who is arguably the best-loved contestant in the fandom was an entirely different matter—especially when she was accompanied by her fan favourite Loved Ones: husband H.B. and son Jared.

In the presence of such a trio, fainting and stuttering à la Cole would be an entirely understandable fan reaction, but it wasn’t an option for Mike. He was going to have to maintain a professional and friendly air as he made the Fields family feel at home. It would be the greatest test of his podcasting career.

Fortunately for Mike, Cirie had this. It is a cliché to say that when you meet a certain Survivor, you understand why they’re so good at the game. Nevertheless, when you meet Cirie, you understand why she’s so damn good at the game. Every Survivor event she goes to, Cirie must encounter a long line of fans telling her how she’s their favourite, an inspiration, the GOAT, etc., yet her reaction is not one of resignation nor even polite cordiality. Cirie’s a hugger.

So it was that Mike met Cirie and Cirie met Mike and it was magical. As it happened, she now lives in his old hometown, so there was no lacking for conversation fodder—especially when he discovered Jared went to the rival high school.

The other Survivor in attendance at the dinner was Jessica Lewis, there with her podcasting cohort, David Bloomberg. It was Jessica’s first Know It Alls, and she took more selfies than anyone. Her bubbly enthusiasm and the giggliness of the Fields family proved to be the perfect formula for the VIP dinner. (Nobody submitted a review of the food; they might have dined exclusively on atmosphere.)

Meanwhile, all across Manhattan, the forces were gathering… Way downtown, the holy trinity of the Survivor Press had reunited—Dalton Ross, Gordon Holmes and Josh Wigler—but now they parted ways: Dalton to the PEN Fan Forum, Gordon and Josh to Know-It-Alls. The Podcast House crew finally ventured into the outside world, heading to Times Square to find food where they could, before moving onward to Lincoln Square. By Central Park, at one of the few kosher restaurants in the extended area, Mike Bloom’s forsaken dinner companions (remember us?) began the ten block walk to the theatre.

Thus it was that hundreds of us came together in a merge of our own at AMC Loews, and just like the Survivors, there was some shuffling around as we greeted old friends and new faces. One of the biggest deals of the evening for me was finally meeting my ex-boss, David Bloomberg, whom I first emailed at Reality News Online almost eight years ago, on a whim that writing about Survivor might be fun. (In other words, David’s to blame.) David promptly sneaked me down to the front row to meet my real biggest deal of the evening, Cirie, who first sucked me into Survivor fandom almost twelve years ago. (Come to think of it, Cirie might have primary culpability here.)

Once my fangirling duty of taking photographs for this blog was done, I joined up with the Podcast Housers to watch the actual episode—minus Colin who had apparently been selected as the Bachelor for the evening and was elsewhere in the theatre. (Sorry, no spoilers on who got the final rose.)

It was surreal for us all to be in a movie theatre to watch Survivor. It would only get more surreal when Rob announced that he had a message for us from somebody who couldn’t be there tonight… Suddenly, blazened across the big screen was Jeff Probst, each dimple the size of Scot Pollard, and he was talking directly to us.

We screamed. Apparently, Josh Wigler was the one who had made this brief Jeff-video happen, and we fully wasted ten seconds of his effort by drowning out Jeff’s words of wisdom in our shock. But we loved it. We might complain about Jeff as much as he said we do, but he pandered to us and we ate it up and begged for more. It’s also a cliché to say there’s a reason why nobody else has ever hosted the show, but… There’s a reason why nobody else has ever hosted the show. Jeff is damn good at what he does.

And then the show came on, and we found ourselves flying over tropical waters. Survivor doesn’t just hold up well on a movie screen, it holds up fantastically. We could count each of Cole’s withering muscles, pick out the fine detail in Lauren’s spewed seawater, and I never want to watch Dead Devon’s helicopter shot on a regular screen.

After the show, Stephen came down the aisle at a run that would warmed the Survivor Historians’ hearts, only to find he had to stop and wait with Rob for the theme song to play out before they took their seats. You should by now have heard the podcast. There were fewer guests than the usual Know-It-Alls effort, but it was definitely quality over quantity. Most of us were still pinching ourselves that we were in the same room as Cirie.

Afterwards, we funnelled gradually out to the lobby and then the afterparty—always the highlight of the evening as we mingled with those we knew and those we’d always wanted to meet. Cirie and family were there, though they did not venture into the crush of the bar, so word of their presence spread enigmatically, a secret quest whispered from friend to friend: “Outside and to your left—you’ll have to go around the rail, but she’s there.”

Once again, Andrea came from the PEN Fan Forum with a guest: the reigning Big Brother Champion, Josh Martinez. It was a good night for Big Brother fans as Ian Terry was also in attendance. Gordon Holmes represented a new face from the press side of things. Austin Trupp, creator of Survivor: Maryland, had been brought in by Podcast House. RHAPpers were still taking this rare chance to meet Akiva. David and Jessica were being put on the spot about why this season’s Jessica lost. And there was a supporting cast of hundreds of fans discussing any and everything.

The numbers slowly reduced as people gradually exited stage left, but as is tradition, the party went on until the bar kicked us out. From there, also as is tradition, the plot moved over to the Podcast House’s after-after-party. A bright-eyed Ian Terry went with it, for the superfan-turned-reality-star had always been good friends with the Podcast House group. Now it was his turn to join in with the action, and he wasn’t going to miss his shot.

Perhaps he was disappointed, for I was assured that this was more restrained than after-after-parties-past. (Though as I would come to find out, you can’t trust any of these people.) Most of the footage from the evening has been conveniently lost, but I was able to secure one secret scene. Here is your RHAP blog exclusive:

Scene: Podcast House. Night.

IAN TERRY is preparing to make good life decisions and go home.

DOM HARVEY (British accent heavily slurred): You’re leaving? Oh. OK, it’s fine… I just thought after five years of friendship, we could play a game—but it’s OK. Go home, and sleep.

THE REST OF PODCAST HOUSE: No, Dom! You should play! Do it for Ian!

DOM: Oh, all right then! I’ll play a round for Ian!

(Wild cheering from all except IAN.)

Ian never had a say in it, but he and Dom faced off in a battle of that Genius favourite, Indian Poker. Dom was three sheets to the wind; Ian was stone cold sober. Dom slaughtered Ian 6-1. (Rule, Britannia!)

When dawn finally came, Podcast House retreated from the natural light, Ian escaped, and the rest of us awoke to a more subdued world: from Reality to reality, in all its lower case dreariness.

Yet what is a movie without one final twist? A post-credits stinger, if you will. For the first time, neither myself nor the Podcast Housers were departing NYC on the Thursday… This is it, dear readers. The KIA Blog is going into Podcast House.

I told them I needed a place to hang out for a few hours and I wanted Dom to try out my two piece pyramid puzzle. (He finished it in just under two minutes, placing him third in the Survivor fandom league behind Colin Stone—about thirty seconds—and Jeff Pitman—one second.) However, my real quest was to uncover what exactly was going on in Podcast House. Why were its residents so much more withdrawn than Know It Alls past? Were they falling apart without the rock-steady influences of Alex Kidwell and Jordan Parhar?

My initial findings were worse than I feared. Charles Kurz was a gibbering wreck, we never noticed Brian Scally until it was too late, I still wasn’t convinced that Matt Liguori and Matt Geoghegan were two separate people, and Lita Brillman kept trying to start rumors about herself. (At one point, she disappeared for a long time only to return with extra people. She spent the rest of the evening placing an ever-changing rotation of guests and bottles around the table. I wasn’t buying it.)

I persisted, venturing right into the inner circle (the one around the coffee table), and there I found the answer to the mystery: Secret Hitler, the game of hidden identities where the liberals must identify the fascists and prevent an anonymous Hitler’s rise to power. It’s a simple game, with a few improbable constants: Brent is always a fascist, Charles is always a liberal and you’ll never trust Colin. Also, to my concern, I was randomly picked as Hitler five out of seven times. What the hell was that supposed to mean?

It was, of course, too late. I had already fallen into their trap. (And by “their”, I mean “Taran Armstrong’s”. Damn his inscrutable robot face.) Seven hours after setting foot inside Podcast House, I was screaming that Dom and Colin were fascist murderers simply because they were working together in cheerful harmony. (I still maintain this was excellent cause for suspicion.)

Horrified at what I had become, I finally escaped, bearing with me the full tale of these three days in New York. Well, most of it. Podcast House tried their best to skew the blog to PG 13 and beyond, but there are some things I will not write. The uncensored version of events can be saved for Brent Wolgamott’s fourth appearance on The Taran Show.

As usual, this blog would not exist without the reports and photographs of others. Many thanks to Akiva Wienerkur, David Bloomberg, Jessica Lewis, Mike Bloom, Zach Brooks, and of course, the residents of Podcast House: Austin Trupp, Brent Wolgamott, Brian Scally, Charles Kurz, Colin Stone, Dom Harvey, Lita Brillman, Matt Geoghegan, Matt Liguori, and Taran Armstrong.

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