Saturday, January 24, 2015

BMN Superfan season 3, episode 10

At the start of the season finale, Shandi Finnessey asks the final three: "What are the two things that [every other competition show] has at about this point in the season?"  Jamie quickly answers, "They meet their loved ones, right?"  It then takes a little longer for someone to figure out the second right answer, but finally Curtis says, "And then we see who we knocked out."

During the breakfast, the family and friends come out: Curtis has his parents, Mary and David; Jamie her high-school teacher Mark Rockwell; and Aubrey has her mother, Barbara; Aubrey thanks Barbara for her strength after the death of her father and older brother in the year before Aubrey was cast for the show.  Once the meal is over, the finalists, family, friend, and helpers come together to clean the property and give the animals final feedings.

Then the ousted contestants return and everyone takes a place in the stands to witness the final challenge of the season.  Before that occurs, Shandi announces that the final jackpot amount is exactly $100,000, as Labell presents a check for $14,000.

At this point, the final challenge for the season is laid out.  It's an illustrated time line
of nearly 100 years of Barefoot family history.  All pictures are in black-and-white, although some are modified to remove the original colors.  One at a time, each finalist runs the course to put the photos in the correct chronological order of when they were taken.  Whoever has the slowest time will be eliminated immediately, leaving only two for the final judgment. (Adrian Van Bracklin Orr and family, from screen capture of a 2013 episode of Who Do You Think You Are? on TLC)

"The worst part of this game is not being able to tell who these people really are," Aubrey comments.  "It's clear that a lot of these were childhood photos and you had to try to conclude who they look like now."  Still, she figures it out the best, placing the 10 pictures in correct order in a time of 7 minutes, 33 seconds.  Jamie (9:30) defeated Curtis (9:49) for second place.

After the goodbyes to Curtis, Shandi reveals that America will decide the winner of the season between Aubrey and Jamie - in just a few minutes!  When the obvious shock wears off, she elaborates: Throughout the season, several hundred fellow fans had received preview versions of each episode.  In addition, they had already seen their original audition tapes.  Now, copies of the final challenge are being sent by e-mail and social media, notifying them of who the finalists are and asking them to vote for their favorites.

Two hours later, Shandi gathers the finalists together and asks a few questions.  Among them is how they thought their games went, and what each would do with the money.   After building the necessary suspense, she opens the envelope and announces that Aubrey Chapman is the winner of BMN Superfan season 3.

Aubrey thanks the obvious sources - God, Jesus Christ, Barbara, co-workers at K-Love, and a few others.  She then points to the sky and says, "Dad, this moment is yours too!"  Shandi asks Barbara for her late husband's name, and she says Ken.  Shandi: "Ken is indeed proud as he watches from upstairs!"

The show ends with the Barefoots returning from their show in Jerusalem.  They encounter a letter from Labell congratulating them on the show and explaining all that happened at the farm while they were away.  He adds that there was a competition show and that those who worked on it have a gift for "the 13" - an autographed picture of all of them.  Buddy Wayne closes out the season by saying: "This is something we would love for our memory wall.  Thank you, Labell, and thank you to our helpers.  Now we can celebrate!"

BMN Superfan season 3, episode 9

Only five contestants are left, and Shandi ups the stakes again as they gather in the common room for breakfast: This is another double-elimination week, and also the next-to-last week of farm life before the Barefoots return home.

The breakfast challenge (inspired by the multiple-choice questions on Big Brother) is to answer questions about events on the farm, specifically whether one of them before or after another.   Get it right and stay, get it wrong and be eliminated.  The last contestant standing wins a huge reward after dinner tonight.

The list of questions is too long to repeat here, but let's say Aubrey nails it, winning her second straight challenge on the eighth and final question.  She correctly stated that Curtis' vow to keep Alecia in the competition occurred before Vicky was accused of being a stereotypical blonde.

For the main challenge, Harvey is the focal point and the memory-wall item is the singlet he wore at the 1965 North Carolina state high-school wrestling tournament, when he competed for the Meadow School. 
However, the semifinalists won't battle on the mat, but above the ground - it's a series of matches on pugil sticks.  The object is to knock the opponent off the platform and onto the mat below.  The challenge takes place in a stepladder format.  In other words, the winner of the first match takes on the winner of the second, the third, and so on, until a final match is made.  The last match winner makes it to the final episode, and the others are subject to elimination.  As the breakfast-challenge winner, Aubrey is awarded a bye until the very last match; she also picks the order of the remaining contests.  Complete results:
  • Maurice knocks out Shannon, then helps her up like a true gentleman.
  • Curtis then beats Maurice due to a slipup Maurice compares to "a bad Monty Python routine," then comes back to defeat Jamie
  • Curtis, in his third match, ousts a well-rested Aubrey in the final match to win immunity.  He wins $5,000 in cash and the same amount is added to the kitty for a new total of $86,000.
Labell Barefoot joins Bill Leslie and Barbie Blank in the panel to make the decision as to who joins Curtis in the finale.  All three come to a couple of quick decisions: Aubrey is rewarded due to her outstanding play throughout the season, while Maurice is ousted due to his poor performances in challenges the last few weeks, as well as being slower in the farm tasks than the others.  That leaves Jamie and Shannon.  Both make their cases to stay on the show, and both are the same: Each claims to have worked harder on the farm than anyone else.  Barbie, skeptical, asks who has done the better at challenges.  Both answered themselves, so Barbie reveals that Shannon was on winning teams more often that Jamie was.  "But that was so then," Jamie protests.  "I'm the one who's ready right now."  The panel comes around, and Jamie is awarded the third and final spot in their last week, meaning it's time to say aloha to Shannon.

BMN Superfan season 3, episode 8

I have completed my catchup of last fall's version of my made-up "reality" series, BMN Superfan!  I am placing the three posts back-to-back-to-back to represent the remaining episodes. - D.H.

At the beginning of the show, Shandi congratulates the final six and reminds them they are now competing as individuals.  She also reveals that Popeye's five brothers and Blake - Brandy and Bunky's brother - have arrived at the farm to help in the daily chores.  Maurice finds them fascinating "in the sense that we are learning an entirely new way of life [from them] and a moment in time we don't see anymore."

To better acclimate everyone, there is no morning competition.  However, David Stewart - neighbor of the Barefoots and former vice-president of the North Carolina Board of Agriculture - makes a surprise inspection of the farm, asks questions, and writes down a report.

Hambone, one of the hottest and most innovative stars in music today, is the subject of
the memory wall challenge; the wall item is a poster promoting a national tour with Hambone and fellow body percussionists Steve Hickman and the Lierman Brothers.   The challenge is a balance-endurance test: Contestants are placed on top of a platform with room to balance only one foot.  On top of their heads is a table; to begin, one small filled barrel is placed on the table, then every five minutes another barrel is stacked on top of it, adding weight and further affecting balance.  The last standing contestants wins immunity and a prize.  It's explained that the challenge reflects Hambone's love of living life on the edge.

Immediately, Maurice has an apparent panic attack and pulls out just about a minute after the start.  He is checked out by medics while the test continues.  Next to be eliminated is Shannon, nine minutes in.  It takes until the addition of the fourth barrel at the 18-minute mark before Curtis is ousted.  Right after that, Jamie makes an incredible save to avoid going down; eventually, four contestants remain when the fifth and final barrel is added.  However, it takes only seconds for Michael to go down, leaving Jamie and Aubrey standing.  The two have friendly competition, singing and telling stories to each other, taking the edge off.  At 44 minutes, Jamie is blown off by a slight move to the right, and Aubrey is the winner.  She earns $1,000 cash, and the same amount is added to the jackpot for a new total of $71,000.

Maurice is checked out to be OK and joins the rest of the cast for panel.  Bill Leslie marvels about how Jamie and Aubrey stayed respectful throughout their head-to-head duel at the end and did not try to make deals to eliminate the other.  "They definitely both deserve to stay," agrees Barbie Blank.  Then Bill reveals that what David found on the farm will go a long way in determining who will stay and who will go.

According to David, Maurice has worked hard and adjusted, while Curtis is "simply a natural."  On the other hand, Shannon is slow to work at tasks, and Michael left a cow-milking pail unattended; he insists that he simply forgot and thought one of the brothers or Blake was going to pick it up.  "Don't always count on it," Barbie snaps.  Both Shannon and Michael give their cases as to why they should stay on the farm.  Michael cites an ease of getting along with people, and Shannon says she has the better record in elimination contests.  The latter is more convincing, and Michael is sent home.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The family farm is bigger than I thought!

Now for the mind-blowing information about the Barefoot Family Farm that I promised in the overnight hours today.

When I established the boundaries of the farm some time ago (it appears below as well as on page 65 of my book), I placed it at 45 acres.  This was because I figured it was as big that a farm could be if it did not have modern equipment and was for subsistence purposes.  Also, it reminded me of the "40 acres and a mule" that William Sherman, famous U.S. general of the American Civil War, promised to give African-Americans after the Union won the war and took over Southern lands.  Of course, that promise was famously broken (just ask Spike Lee).

That's how things stood, until I visited this online global information systems (GIS) site maintained by Johnston County, NC.  Originally, the purpose was to see the attendance boundaries for the middle schools there, including the Meadow School which has played a small role in my storylines before.  (This also checks which specific addresses are within those boundaries.)  Before long, I noticed that one of the tabs is labeled "Measure."  With that, you pick points and the GIS program calculates the acreage within those points.

So I drew a perimeter around the Barefoot Family Farm and got just a little under 65 acres - 20 acres, or about one-third, more than what I had published.   Probably not exactly the right size for a subsistence farm, but of course B.W. can always give away some of it to friends or neighbors who need it.  Or B.W. can just expand the property to include more hunting space and maybe a mud bog for Hambone and her friends.  That's the photo below this paragraph that I created this week, and the software came out with 596 acres. (Red is the real-life plot of land generated earlier at 2118 Barefoot Road [8 acres], blue is the current farm [45 acres], and yellow is the possible expansion.)

Meanwhile, I also measured Camp Paradise in Stricklands Crossroads, Hambone's second place of business, as seen in the next picture and also page 53 of the book. According to the GIS software, it is actually roughly 525 acres, not the 210 I published previously - well over twice the size!  Also notice that the water features, unlike the pond I made at the Barefoot Family Farm, are real - the Harold W. Lees Pond Dam and Stone Creek.

Brenda's cooking side is revealed!

I have two posts planned for this weekend.  In this first one, I go back to Brenda's biography in which I call her - by far - the best cook in the house.  Within the last couple of days, I got the epiphany to manifest Brenda's love of the kitchen by way of a Photoshop project, a magazine cover which I banged out just now in a little under two hours.  Here's how it worked:

The title - The Retro Chef - is something I made up after just a few minutes of contemplation.  Yeah, I know I should have taken more time, but this is clearly my best effort to show that the magazine is by, and for, cooks who use traditional methods and tools for making meals at home.  An example of such tools is the Amish stove I have used previously, specifically on page 69 of my One Family Together Forever book.  That stove is the backdrop for my cover.

I then dressed up Brenda in a shirt, pants, and apron and made sure to size her to fit the proportions of the stove so that she would have a realistic pose in front of it.  The apron is a new element in my work and came from this page on Amazon.  Originally red plaid, I made it light brown and plaid through a hue and saturation layer; I changed the T-shirt (the only other visible element, as it turned out) to brown by the same method, and plugging in just about the same settings.

The resulting main title is self-explanatory, and like most other magazines, I added other mythical articles to the cover.  Those were done in Myriad Pro font, which I discovered at school and was later able to download at home by way of Adobe Creative Cloud.  The name The Retro Chef was created using the Della Robbia font and the text was rasterized so that a stroke could be applied.  Such a stroke is common in designing a magazine's title and was especially needed here because the shine of the oven created a white color that blended exactly with the title font originally.

Come back for an eye-opening fact about how big the Barefoot Family Farm really is.  For now, here's the cover of The Retro Chef with Brenda!

Friday, January 9, 2015

BMN Superfan season 3, episode 7

To make up for the lost elimination at the end of the last episode, two more will go home tonight.

Both challenges are dedicated to Brenda's long-lost son, Bryson.  First up is a test of arithmetic skills in front of Bryson's teachers at a one-room schoolhouse near the farm, Noah Barefoot Jr. and his wife Elma.  Teams take turns in two-person relays answering equations using only their heads and scratch paper (Shannon and Keiji sat out for their teams who had extra members).  While a frustrated Curtis tears up one piece of paper after another, Maurice - who is a retired schoolteacher - relishes the task and gets every question right.  Maurice and his teammate Jamie win an advantage for the main challenge.

That afternoon, Alecia plots to throw the next challenge in an effort to eliminate Curtis, who she says is "a useless redneck who just goofs off" on the farm.  Curtis confronts her, saying he works as hard as anyone else and that she is "not acting like a lady."

Bryson's "Showdown at Las Positas" poster is the jumping-off point for the main challenge, which is set in the "wild West," as so many movies and TV shows have over the decades.  The three teams engage in a paintball tournament, in which the winner of the first head-to-head matchup meets the team with the bye in the second to determine who wins immunity.  The green team has the bye for winning earlier in the day, and sitting out are Aubrey and Maurice.

In the worst challenge mishap of the season, Keiji accidentally hits Michael in Michael's left shoulder in the first match.  Before he could recover mentally, Keiji is himself hit by Curtis, giving the win to the blue team.  Afterward, Keiji is seen consoling a tear-filled Michael.  In the final match, Curtis' presence makes his duo the favorite, but Alecia doesn't do him any favors by missing one shot after another.  She is knocked out by Jamie, and then Shannon scores the one-on-one upset win over Curtis to ensure safety for the entire green team - and keys for each to the master bedroom.

Panel begins with word that the contestants who survive elimination will join Shannon, Jamie, and Maurice in the master bedroom for the rest of the competition.  In getting to the bottom of the tension between Alecia and Curtis, Bill Leslie says, "We need some ethics in this competition.  Maybe on some other shows you can get away with it, but not here."  Alecia responds by accusing Curtis of not hitting Shannon because of her gender, so "maybe he threw it."  But the judges don't buy that line: Alecia is sent home.  For the second ouster, Keiji is told to say sayonara; "tough choice, but I just don't think he's that strong of a competitor," Barbie Blank says.  The replies at confessional are different: Alecia is defiant, blaming Curtis and Shannon on her way out, while Keiji thanks "the great people of America for their support."

BMN Superfan season 3, episode 6

The second half of the competition begins with a pig race in the "backyard" of the farm, where a 300-foot oval course has been constructed.  After a short training session from professionals Bobbette, Danielle, and Mike, the teams select a pig and a coach to lead them on to victory.  Here were the trainers and pigs:
  • Red team: Michael, "Pigmeat"
  • Blue team: Curtis, "Curly"
  • Green team: Shannon, "Baron Bacon"
Pigmeat and Curly were tied for the lead with one turn left, but a late surge leads the blue team to victory.  In confessional, Curtis claims that he gave Curly "magic words" that turned the tide of the race.  Curtis and Alecia won $2,500 each, and race sponsor Jimmy Dean added $3,000 to the grand-prize pool to increase the total amount to $64,000.

During the afternoon, Alecia is rushed to a hospital after being kicked by a mule during a grooming session.  "If you thought farming was easy before, this should end all [illusions]," Aubrey says.  When it becomes apparent that Alecia will stay there overnight, the other contestants are summoned for a random draw to determine Curtis's teammate for the dinner challenge.  Keiji is drawn as the replacement, to which Curtis replies, "I don't know what a Southern-Japanese accent sounds like, but it would be interesting."

Harvey is the focus of this challenge, with the memory wall item being the uniform he wore in the softball game seen on Gone Barefoot in season 5.  In this task, teams play home run derby, using balls thrown from a machine at 50 and 65 miles an hour in three rounds, taking five pitches each round.  Just before the competition starts, Alecia suddenly returns from the hospital, but cannot participate due to the draw having already taken place.  Also, the green team chooses Jamie to sit out.

Curtis hits three homers in his turn, two more than Michael and Shannon did.  In the second round, Maurice, makes some comical swings, but is shut out.  He admits, "If this were cricket, I'd be fine, but baseball is so much different.  All I could do is watch everyone else and learn from them."  Meanwhile, Keiji and Aubrey hit one each, so the blue team wins again, completing a show-long momentum swing.  Both receive a $75 gift credit from Sports Authority, which also commits $6,000 to the kitty for a new total of $70,000.

At panel, Shandi informs the contestants that due to a mixup that prevented Alecia from competing in the main challenge - she had suffered only a bruise in the mule accident instead of the concussion that was feared - that elimination will not take place.  "Frankly, I agree that no one should have gone home from this challenge anyway.  Everyone tried their best, even Maurice."