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Entries in newbie (18)

Wednesday
Aug072013

A Week in the House

Here's a newbie's guide to Big Brother house guests' daily schedules. Their week really revolves around who becomes HOH, so let's start there.

- Head of Household (HOH) competition, Thursdays, live on CBS (in the second half of the broadcast).

If it's an endurance competition (which can take hours to complete), live feed subscribers get to find out the HOH winner immediately ... but CBS viewers don't find out until Sunday night.

These photos are all from #BB15's very first HOH competition. Some (like this one) test endurance, theoretically favoring those with higher physical strength.- Have-not competition, Friday.

- "Kiss the ring," Friday. This is Big Brother Gossip's term for the conversations that the new HOH has during the day Friday with every other house guest.

- Nomination ceremony, Friday evening. HOH puts two house guests on the block for eviction.

The above (from have-nots through first two nominations) provides the content for the Sunday night broadcast on CBS. And every broadcast includes replays from the 24/7 live feed recordings, of course.

Aaryn, in her first term as Head of Household, calls everybody to the kitchen for the nomination ceremony. The HOH draws the first of the keys she's inserted, announcing the name on the key, which indicates that player is safe. Each house guest takes a turn until no keys are left, leaving two people ... indicating they are nominated for eviction.- America votes a house guest in as Most Valuable Player -- or, sometimes, America is the MVP. The MVP nominates the third house guest for eviction. The nominee is announced to the house, but the MVP remains secret. This happens Saturday. (By the way, having an MVP and a third nominee are new twists for #BB15.)

- Power of Veto (POV) competition, Saturday.

Other competitions, like the one shown here when Helen won HOH, test smarts and memory.- POV ceremony, Monday. If the POV is a nominee, she or he virtually always saves herself or himself. If the nominee had been put up by the HOH, the HOH puts a new person on the chopping block. If the nominee had been put up by the MVP, then the MVP names a new third nominee (but the MVP's identity is kept secret).

The above (from MVP through third nomination) provides the content for the Wednesday night broadcast on CBS. (By the way, do you see the value of the Big Brother Gossip Ticker in the right column? At a glance, you can find updated info as early as Saturday which CBS doesn't broadcast or post until the following Wednesday!)

- Tuesday daytime: The HOH gets a camera for an hour, writes a blog, and can tweet. This content goes live on the CBS Big Brother web site later.

- Eviction vote, Thursdays, live on CBS (in the first half of the broadcast).

Left to right: House guests gather in the living room, and nominees get to plead why they should stay. Julie talks them through the process. Then each goes into the Dairy Room to vote.- And then ... the cycle begins again with the next live HOH competition.

That's the story! That's a #BB15 week.

Did I miss anything or get a detail wrong? Comment below or send corrections to @uselesstraffic.

Next from the Newbie Desk: How a live double eviction episode works -- just in time for #BB15's first double.

Wednesday
Aug072013

The Jury of 9

Breaking news from earlier today (Wednesday): Big Brother has announced that the two house guests evicted this Thursday night (August 8, 2013) will be the first two members of the jury. Assuming no additional twists come along, that means #BB15 will have a nine-member jury, up from the usual seven. The jury returns during the final episode to pick the winner from the two finalists.

Jury members are sequestered in a separate house for the remainder of the season. They have limited contact with the outside world. They have no access to the live feeds. They do see edited versions of the TV show which includes competitions and ceremonies but no diary room sessions or other game talk. But they talk with the other evicted house guests after each arrives at the jury house, hearing each person's scoop (biased as it is) on what happened in the house each week.

One more thing: There are no live feeds of the jury house. We only get to keep watching what happens in Big Brother house itself.

The house guests have been speculating about a double eviction this week and how it could affect the jury, but they've heard no official word yet. Share your thoughts here or hit me @uselesstraffic.

Next from the Newbie Desk: My post which details each day's unique scheduled activities was preempted for this news, but it's still coming. And on Thursday, I'll detail how a Double Eviction episode works.

Tuesday
Aug062013

50 Shades of Wrong

Big Brother just didn't feel right these last few days.

On the one hand, I assume that any of this week's Power of Veto competitors -- Amanda, Candice, Gina, Jessie, Judd, and Spencer -- had nearly equal chances of being stuck with the dog cone, the clown suit, or the repeated spray tans. As long as producers intended no specific "punishment" for any specific house guest, perhaps we should think that all is as it should be in a game show which is outrageous by design.

GinaMarie & Candice, neither looking especially happy.On the other hand, in a season already infamous for insensitive, incendiary house guest commentary, why would CBS allow producers to design competition outcomes which seek to produce humor and/or humiliation by changing participants' appearances into caricatures? Candice was targeted early on by racial comments ... which, whether spoken in malice or ignorance, were unquestionably inappropriate. Now Big Brother dresses Candice as a clown, practically inviting us to laugh at the character she was required to become? After days of this, it's no wonder she mostly stayed in seclusion on Monday. And what would everybody be saying if, instead of Amanda, Aaryn had been the one to have the color of her skin changed so drastically?

It's as if they're trying to morph #BB15 into a farcical reverse-psychology whacky after-school special on race relations.

Candice's clown outfit; Amanda after repeated spray tans.At best, this is uncomfortable. At worst, it's outright disrespectful. I'm not necessarily sayin' the producers shouldn't have gone ahead with plans which were probably in place before the season started. I'm just sayin' that it troubles me when factoring in the present context.

This is an honest reaction from a newbie's perspective, and my commitment to sharing the remaining #BB15 experience with you is unchanged. But CBS should recognize that events like these do not particularly inspire new viewers to come back next year.

CBS added a disclaimer to the feeds and broadcast this season for the first time in show history. Do I need my own disclaimer? These views are mine only, offered with zero offense-causing intent, in the hope of inspiring civil, respectful discourse even if we disagree. Comment here or chirp @uselesstraffic.

Back to normal (if there is such a thing) next time at the Newbie Desk: Making sense of the different daily activities, weekly competitions, and TV schedules.

Monday
Aug052013

Tactics 101

The welcome which you, both readers and fellow BBG contributors, have provided me here at the Newbie Desk has been warm. Thank you!

In my day job (which is in the information technology field), I achieve better understanding of complex technical processes by authoring our user documentation -- making things easy to understand for staffers who don't have IT backgrounds. Big Brother viewers who have been watching since the early years may not realize how complex this process is! There are deeply nuanced strategies at play which I'm only now starting to notice.

Tactical analysis is subjective, and best left to Ash, Scott, and Mike. But if there's an objective way I can contribute to our seasoned readers and not just to other newbies, it's with the new BBG Ticker which you see near the top of the right column. If Ash's daily "Night Owl" summaries, Scott's spot-on analyses, and Indy Mike's commentary help you fill in all the gaps, I hope the Ticker provides a useful at-a-glance outline. Creating it gave me a much better understanding of house guests' roles and goals.

By the way, if BBG's writers put #BB15 into high definition, then the Big Brother Podcast makes it pop in full 3D. You listen too, right?

Shall we move on to reader comments?

leopardgrrl1 writes, "HGs ... don't seem to find much irony or humor in their watched/controlled/scripted state. Where's the snark, the sarcasm, the cleverness?"

Thou -- Andy, Helen, Clownie (Candice), and Judd -- shalt NOT talk about production. Your comment came to mind two different times while watching the feeds -- Sunday, July 28, 11:49a, camera 3, and yesterday morning (Sunday, Aug 4), 11:39a, camera 4. On July 29, When Judd, Helen, and Elissa started talking about trying out for the show, we got fish for 15 seconds. Shortly after they were back, we heard Big Brother say "You may not talk about production." About 8 minutes later, conversation again strayed back to how they got into Big Brother. We got fish for a minute and then were treated to a four-camera view of Andy and Spencer sleeping.

And yesterday morning, Andy, Candice, Helen, and Judd were sitting outside talking about things of zero consequence when Andy said, "Can we just talk real quick? Let's keep it real. They do not need an hour and a half worth of shots of us being serious. They could get that in 5 minutes, and then we could f#ckin' hang out in the back yard." Helen agrees, "I know! Why does it take so long?" Andy: "Cuz they just want us to" -- and then immediate cut to fish.

Yes, indeed, I completely agree that it would be entertaining to see the house guests talk openly about the BB experience from a "meta, beyond-the-game" point of view ... but it's very likely we'll never see it. Why don't the producers like it? Is this a newbie's lack of understanding? I understand not talking about Dairy Room conversations. But, holy good gravy, we paid for the feeds and we know they're making a TV show! If what the HGs say doesn't somehow negatively affect game play, why can't we see it, unedited?

When I whined about Aaryn winning HOH for a second time, psychodrew wrote, "One reason you see a lot of repeat winners is that there are people who throw HOH competitions because they don't want the responsibility." Teagan, Zoe, and objkshn also helped open my eyes to the nuanced strategy in this game. I see now that it's more than just winning competitions, attempting to persuade others to vote your way, and forming voting blocs (i.e. alliances). For example, some don't want the target that comes with being HOH; some choose not to evict controversial players because they hope to be paired with a "weak" HG in the finale.

Helen invited Aaryn, Elissa, and Jessie to the BBQ. Did she make the right choices?Speaking of supposedly-weak HGs, controversial remarks aside, I'm starting to think that Aaryn has got some game. If true that she was a puppet to the Powers That Be during her most recent HOH stint, Aaryn appears to have some pull over HOH GinaMarie (unless things changed last night) ... and, when selecting people to invite to the barbecue, Helen was quick to continue a "you scratch my back"-and-forth arrangement with Aaryn. Does the perception of weakness equate to stealthy strength?

Or are there subtleties at play here which are totally going over my head?

Kelli wrote, "As a well seasoned BB fan, I absolutely cannot WAIT to read your perspective!" And ErinInTx wrote, "Love the questions you asked, they are the exact same questions I hear when I first introduce someone to the madness!" Thanks to you both! It's encouraging to know that you and others appreciate hearing a newbie's perspective.

If you too are a #BB15 newbie (or at least remember what it's like), strategize with me @uselesstraffic.

Next from the Newbie Desk: Has Big Brother gone too far?

Thursday
Aug012013

Coming Soon: The BBG Ticker

While we're in the closing minutes of the weekly eviction show, I want to show you something we're working on bringing to the site: the Big Brother Gossip Ticker.

Here's what it would look like as of Wednesday, July 31, 2013:

The idea is to provide very detailed information throughout the week, hopefully updated within a few hours of nominations, competitions, evictions, etc. We'll see if this works out -- but please be patient because we have day jobs!

Tuesday
Jul302013

Wash, Rinse, Repeat

The only thing which I didn't want to have happen last Thursday (July 25, 2013, during #BB15 episode 13) is exactly what happened: Aaryn won Head of Household. Again.

This newbie's preference would have been for either of the following:

- For Amanda, Andy, Candice, Elissa, GinaMarie, Howard, Jessie, or Spencer to win ... so that we could see how things would go in the house from an entirely different perspective, since they have not yet served as HOH. For example, I don't think I've heard Jessie say more than about ten words in the many hours I've watched the live feeds since starting around July 17. She doesn't seem to get much air time. McCrae gets air time ... but given how often he sleeps (usually not alone), his part in this show apparently isn't a speaking role.

- For Helen to get HOH again ... because she's my favorite house guest, and I hadn't bought in to #BB15 yet when she served in that role the first time.

The cameras give the most attention to whomever the HOH is and to the noisiest, most controversial, and/or most scheming of the house guests. When they're bothering to focus on talk, that is.

The feeds seem to devote hours to Amanda and McCrae sleeping (or ... not) under the covers during the day. Why don't they let us listen into more conversations? With 12 people there, isn't there pretty much somebody talking somewhere in the house? Their conversations don't have to be about the game to be more interesting than watching people nap (or ... not).

My first exposure to Big Brother -- not just during #BB15, but ever -- was when news of Aaryn's distasteful speech spilled over into mainstream media a few weeks ago, so I didn't exactly leap for joy when she was re-crowned. (Neither did most of the other house guests, if I read them right.) Just when I was getting into the show, it felt like we'd be in only for a summer rerun.

Even a newbie wonders if the producers conspire to give people like Aaryn more air time for spurious reasons. Being attractive can't hurt ratings.

All right, all right -- maybe not Helen again, even though my enthusiasm about her remains high. Not Helen or McCrae or Judd or Aaryn.

Why don't they disqualify previous Heads of Household from HOH competitions? As a newbie, it feels like the advantages to the show of an always-different-HOH would outweigh the disadvantages. Or if they're going to leave it open to everyone, should they make it extra difficult for previous HOHs to win?

How would you change HOH eligibility? Or should they leave it as-is? Comment below or hit me @uselesstraffic.

Next from the Newbie Desk: Responses to your comments and questions.

Saturday
Jul272013

Gamer, Winner, or Both?

Here at the BBG Newbie Desk, I endeavor always to come clean about how my biases affect my views. I prefer to live and work in uncluttered environments, for example, and I am more apt to open up to somebody who demonstrates similar mannerisms. I am inspired by those who naturally prioritize the people they care about before themselves. I tend to assume, perhaps naïvely, that each person is inherently good until she or he proves otherwise.

My earliest viewing of #BB15 was during a few evenings while Judd was Head of Household (HOH). The first time that I tuned into the live feeds during a morning, "The Helen Show" was on. It was Sunday, July 21 ... and for more than three hours starting at about 6:45a, Helen had the house to herself. Nobody else was awake. Apparently during a Power of Veto (POV) competition the day before, Helen caught a random "punishment" of an 8:00p curfew. She had to sequester herself from all other house guests; bathroom breaks were permitted but she couldn't talk with anybody. So Helen was well-rested and eager to start the next day.

It was Helen's activities that Sunday morning which I found to be both astonishing and endearing. Rather than adopting an attitude of "Big Brother punished me, so I'm gonna do whatever self-indulgent thing I want to right now, and I don't give a hoot about anybody else" -- and, be honest, who among us wouldn't consider doing exactly that -- Helen started cleaning up the messes everybody left around the place!

Exhibit one was the bathroom. Here's what Helen found (top photo) and then how she organized things (bottom):

The kitchen was exhibit two. Dirty dishes everywhere (top photo) and then dirty nothing anywhere (bottom):

Helen even bagged up the bathroom trash and windexed the kitchen mirrors:

Only after Helen had devoted two hours to cleaning did she take time for herself to make breakfast and go jogging:

I've also seen Helen cooking huge meals (spaghetti, something called "slop balls", etc.) for the entire house several times ... and only once did I see another house guest (Andy) actually thank her for it.

Even so, while catching up with some of what I missed during the first month of #BB15, I keep reading how people say Helen is too bossy and/or too much into delivering lectures even after her week as HOH was up.

But doesn't Helen's repeated selflessness earn the right to be fully engaged in conversations with other house guests, pushing whatever strategic agenda (whether of her design or someone else's) she wants? She takes care of her fellow house guests in ways they neither realize nor thank her for, so I don't see how her frequent cooking and cleaning could be interpreted as manipulative. We don't call Judd or Spencer or even Amanda "bossy" when they push their agendas.

Not, of course, that Helen has to "earn the right." It's a game, and she's playing it -- quite expertly, from my albeit not-yet-very-educated perspective. It's true that I might be biased for having not tuned into #BB15 until after Helen's HOH week. Perhaps you have more reasons to dislike her than to root for her. I can respect that, but I'm in a different place.

The true measure of a person is found in what she or he does when nobody is watching. (In this equation, Internet viewers don't count.) Whether Helen is enough of a gamer to last longer than everybody else in the #BB15 house remains to be seen. But in my book, Helen is already a winner.

Are you already on Team Helen? Or if not, why not? Comments welcome below or find me @uselesstraffic.

Next from the Newbie Desk: What do you do when the only thing you don't want to have happen happens?

Friday
Jul262013

Confessions of a Newbie

Short, shameful confession: I've gone bat sh!t crazy.

Just wanted to acknowledge that from the get-go ... because I'm completely new to everything Big Brother, and all of you are very not.

It has taken me 10 days just to learn what questions to ask. Jumping for the first time into BB about four weeks into the 15th season is about as easy as starting "The Sopranos" at season 6, episode 21, about 55 minutes in. I get it that the big, brooding guy must be Tony, so that's probably his wife and kid he's meeting at a diner. But who is the sophisticated young woman trying to park the Lexus outside? Why are those other guys looking at Tony kind of strangely? Is somebody about to get whacked? And then the camera cuts to ... fish. Er ... darkness. WTF?

Even if it took me a week and a half to start understanding the show, it really only took me about an hour and a half watching the live feeds to get hooked on #BB15. But that's where the crazy starts coming in. Who are all these people? This one seems very plain-spoken ... That guy is big but mostly quiet ... She seems funny ... That other woman is very conniving ... My goodness, these people are all beautiful ... Wait, did she just tell that guy exactly the opposite of what she told the woman in that other room?

The rooms! This house is absolutely astonishing. Mirrors everywhere -- ah, that's obviously so they can film from every angle. Different colors, patterns, and shapes in every last spot, almost to a visual overload level. Hmmm. It's going to take a while to learn everybody's names, I thought to myself, so why don't I try to just understand the house?

The Cockpit Room? Really?!So I loaded up the CBS web site's BB home page to learn about the house itself, and found ... nothing.

Then I tried a half-dozen different Google searches ... and I found numerous floor plans, all are which are generic or customized to previous seasons.

Crazy! The house guests talk about specific rooms and I was able to visually recognize some of them, but I still couldn't quite grok where some spaces actually exist in the building.

Time for expert help. I texted my friend Indy Mike (yes, that one), and the conversation went something like this:

Mike: here's a map of the main floor from BB12 - the "Cabanna" room is now the "Cockpit" and the "Taj" bedroom is the "Have Not" bedroom.

me: is the Cockpit room kind of divided into two, like maybe with the fuselage of a plane?  or maybe i get confused by the different camera angles.

Mike: it's a big room with the photo booth and a U shaped seating area

me: oh, so the photo booth is in the middle of the U, and it looks like an airplane?

Mike: middle of the U? No, there's nothing in the middle.

me: wait, what? so where's the room that has the airplane seats and the airplane overhead bins, with the walls decorated with the split-flap display boards reading "CANCELLED" and "DELAYED"?

Mike: That's the "have not" room - the "Taj" bedroom on the map

me: the room with the airplane stuff isn't called the Cockpit room?!

Mike: nope - they call that the "Have Not" room. Cockpit room has images of planes as well. The HGs make up the names themselves.

me: So the Cockpit Room does not, at least in the camera angle usually shown, look particularly aeronautical ... while the "Have Not" room has nothing but airplane parts and airport images? Go figure.

Will the real cockpit room please stand up?Definitely crazy! And then there's all this:

What's an HOH? POV? DR? Have-not? Twist? How does an HG become MVP and what does that involve? Can viewers influence what happens in the house? What's a lockdown? How and when do supplies (groceries, meds, booze, etc.) appear in the house? What are they allowed to ask producers for, and how often? When, how, and why do they get punished? How often do they have competitions, and for what? How and when do HGs get whacked -- er, evicted? When it gets down to two people, how do they decide who wins? Finally, how come the fish never gets called to the diary room?

That last one is a (bad) joke -- sorry. And at this point, closing in on two weeks since I started orbiting this crazy world, most of those questions are, for me, now rhetorical. 

HelenOh, one more wish: Captions! Please give me captions! During the thrice-weekly broadcasts on CBS, when host Julie Chen mentions a specific house guest by name, they very kindly cut to video of that person. Very helpful! But I wish they would occasionally caption the live feeds with the house guests' names, given that some of them only rarely look much like their photos. (I'd love to see captions on all the photos included in this blog, too -- but as the new guy, my suggestions will be kept mostly to myself.)

Ash, Scott, Mike, and the others here have forgotten more about BB than I'll ever learn. Their episode summaries and analyses are awesome; I won't be trying to do any of that. Instead, I hope simply to provide occasional thoughts and questions from a newbie's perspective ... starting next time with this: How come nobody here likes Helen?

Except me, it seems. And I really like Helen.

Which undoubtedly to you makes me ... wait for it! ... bat sh!t crazy.

 

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