Home > Family, Guest blogger, Los Angeles, Personal, Relationships > Your Survivor questions for Ba.D.: answered!

Your Survivor questions for Ba.D.: answered!

One year before Li'l D

I met my honey, Ba.D., on the verge of my 2004 move to Japan.

Over drinks shared with a mutual friend, I told him about why I wasn’t interested in practicing law despite the law degree I’d soon hold. He told me how he liked his beer (“black and bitter, like me”) before launching into an improv Dashboard Confessional-style song that had me in stitches.

I moved. Ba.D. and I alternately exchanged emails and conversed through online forums. Our friendship developed online because that was all the distance between us allowed.

Recalling how much of our relationship was built through the written word, it struck me one day that I really wanted a written update. I wanted to see more words from Ba.D., and I wanted them on my blog.

Ba.D. agreed, but he wasn’t sure what he’d write about. After a couple of weeks, I suggested his stint on Survivor would be a gimme. He could talk about that for years, after all!

I asked you if you had any questions for him, and some of you did. He’s answered these here, giving me a sweet opportunity to remember all the time his written words brought me joy before I returned to Los Angeles.

RAWR.

What is something that you did on Survivor that you thought you would never have the courage to do?

Get on the boat and do it.  Seriously, I was aching to do it, but I didn’t know how scared out of my mind I’d be until I got on the boat in the middle of the Pacific and start paddling.  And yes, it is something frightening in the back of your mind to think that you’re out in the middle of the ocean, no life vest, sharks and about 3 miles between you and land—and only a flimsy catamaran between you and the cold water.  Yeah.

Oh, and what is the ONE item that you wish you had brought with you that you didn’t?

Oh, I brought it, I just didn’t get to use it:  A journal and notebook.  It was my luxury item, but my tribe didn’t win that challenge, so no go.  It was too bad.  I would have probably been a little more even keel if I’d had it.  Or a camera.  Yeah.

I suppose I could ask: What was the toughest part of the show for you? What did you enjoy most?

The two things that sucked the most: Dehydration, and this guy named Rocky.  If you’ve ever been really thirsty on a really hot day, imagine taking the biggest drink of scotch you can. Now run around the block like 3 times.  Then imagine doing that every three days without drinking anything but coconut water.  Dehydration sucks, and is no joke.

The other thing was this guy named Rocky who just rode me like an evil boys gym coach from an 80s teen movie.  Or like a glee club kid by a certain cheerleading coach.  Sartre was correct: Hell is other people.

Do you have any regrets about being on the show?

Yes:  Losing. Maybe not punching out a person or two (not that I’d be allowed to without facing some prosecution).

Deb told me she was in labor for 27 hours w/ your son. Do you think this makes her tougher than any member of the Survivor cast?

Yes and no:  Tougher than many of the pretty boy whiny castaways, sure—but many folks are just as tough, for different reasons—like Christy Smith, who went way far in the game despite being deaf and ostracized by her tribe, or Chad Crittenden, the first player with a prosthetic leg, or Cristina Coria, who before coming on the show survived being shot by a murder suspect.

Deb’s also tough as nails (I can tell you stories), but she refuses to audition for Survivor.*

Hmm .. the Chicagoan in me wants to ask if somebody pissed him off so badly, that he wanted to just make them “disappear”. You know, concrete galoshes into 500 feet of Lake Michigan “disappear”.

Yes, a guy named Rocky (see above) and a guy named Mookie.  I guess their names were totally appropriate for that question, huh?

Did you, or any of your fellow castaways have any military survival training, and if so, did it really help? 

I didn’t, but one of the older guys my season was a door gunner in a helicopter in Vietnam, so I imagine that counts.  From what I gather in talking to him, it didn’t help him at all.  Survivor is kind of its own animal.  You’d do better watching that guy Bear on Survivorman before going on.

I made up my own training schedule, consisting of trying to make fire from pretty much nothing and keeping it alive for 3 days while brushing up on my first aid and coconut opening skills.

In your view what is the right stuff to survive? What did you think was the right stuff at the time you applied/auditioned?

There’s survival and then there’s survival on Survivor.  There’s a kinda mix you need.  But I’d say its 1) The ability to think outside the box 2) A certain adaptability that allows you to work with almost any kind of people and 3) A level of “moral flexibility” that will let you do or say what you need to survive and 4) The ability to keep your humanity intact in most situations.

Looking across the seasons, which survivor do you admire the most and why?

This is actually a question on the application!

Did you go really hungry? Did they monitor you?

Oh yeah, the hunger is for real. People pay a lot for coconuts. When you’ve not eaten anything but for 9 days, there is a lot of the suck. You can live off of them, but gah.

Being a pretty laid back guy, did something/someone really make you angry?

Yes, see above about that guy Rocky!

How often did you laugh…if ever?

Not nearly enough.  But once I did again, things got better.

Honestly, did you ever get so hungry you considered eating one of your own limbs? Which one would you eat? Do the producers at least give you guys salt and pepper to season said limbs?

No, not my own. 🙂   You always eat the other guys first, starting from the flank … what, you’ve never read the story of Alive?

Was it hard to watch yourself on TV? Would you say how they portrayed you was accurate?

Parts were very hard, especially my last tribal council (I was watching it by myself in a New York hotel room).  And yes, for the most part it was me … edited and parsed down to make me look a certain way, but it was me.

What would you do differently if you could go back to compete again?

NO SPOILERS! 😉

What was harder for you: the physical toll (being hungry, no sleep) or the social aspects?

The dehydration … oh man, the dehydration.

This one if from my nine year old son: Were you ever really REALLY scared? And if so, what scared you the most?

Yes!  Of falling off of cliffs and of sharks! REALLY SCARED of sharks.  Two of the deadliest sharks in the world (and one of the highest counts of shark attacks) are in Fiji where we shot the show.

Did you ever get a little ticked off that Jeff Probst would show up completed rested, showered, and with a full stomach and then proceed to yell at you guys with his annoying play by play during the challenges? 

You better believe it, though mostly with Jeff’s play by play.  It’s his job to do (because you’d be surprised how quiet it would be on tv without it), but man it gets iritating when you’re trying to concentrate on the challenge, or worse when you’re trying to hide your flubs.  You hear a lot of “Thanks, Probst.” from folks during the challenges.

Also, did the cameras bother you? Or did you forget they were there after awhile?

You’re hyper aware of them for the first day or so, and then you totally forget they exist.  Heck, you find yourself standing in these perfect little half circles for conversations without knowing why.  They’re like ninja! With cameras.

I need to know how I can get on the show. Seriously. This is not a joke. I have tried a few times. (Okay once.) But I don’t have time to mess around. I’m 43. I can wear a bikini. I’ve had laser hair removal. I love to camp. Who can you put me in touch with so I can get on that show. I don’t even care about the money; I just want to go somewhere hot and play.

This is one of the questions that I get asked A LOT.  Like once a week.  The best advice I can give on this is to just be interesting and willing to talk your mind.  They want interesting people from all walks of life, but you’d be surprised how “cookie cutter” applicants can be.  They’re looking for big characters, so, if you apply (and in your case if you apply again), make yourself into a character—take one or two little things about yourself that are big and just blow them up.  I went for the gamer nerd, and well, look where it got me?

Oh!  And the second piece of advice I can give is to be persistent.  Many of the non-recruited, cool players were fans who just kept on applying.  Leslie Nease (the really REALLY Christian lady from Survivor China) applied like 30 times before she got on.

And the third piece of advice is to know the game.  They really, really, really, really, want people who know the game.  My friend, Bobby “Bobdawg” Mason of Survivor Vanauatu proved that he knew the game by bringing in a huge flowchart to his interview showing who got voted off when, what their mistakes were, and their occupations.  Cochran from this season of Survivor is studying at Harvard Law, and wrote his entrance essay on how the jury on Survivor works in contrast to the judicial jury system, and flaws and advantages in both.

How did being on Survivor change your view about people?

Honestly, if anything it reinforced some of my beliefs:  If you treat people with some kindness, and at least a speck of respect, you can get pretty far in life.  I mean one of the nicest guys I’ve ever known won my season.  And yes, I know (and saw in spades) that people can really suck.  It really is a microcosm of the human condition, even as manipulated as it may sometimes seem.

* Ed. note: See Ba.D.’s answer on Jeff Probst’s play by plays for further detail. As you know from my road rage post, there’s little that says “I love you” quite like staying out of jail for your offspring.

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  1. December 18, 2011 at 9:56 am

    I am nowhere near interesting enough, or hardy enough in any sense, to be on Survivor – the reason I watch it in fascination instead. I have such respect for anyone who makes it even a day. The fatigue, dehydration, lack of food (etc.), has to bring out the absolute worst in the people you are playing the game with, making the social game all the more challenging.

    Kind of thrills me to know that I know someone who knows someone who was on Survivor. You might say I need to get a life, but see my note about not being particularly hardy. This one suits me just fine!

  2. December 18, 2011 at 11:42 am

    I love this! I will give it a go. I am pretty out there. Ask Deb. Might have to work the hot for teacher angle a bit. 😉

    Now I am in love with both of you. What is the best luxury item you think anyone ever thought of bringing?

  3. December 18, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Though this is not at all the focus of this entry- why didn’t you want to practice law before you graduated?! As a hopeful student wanting to go to law school, I have to ask… I bet UCLA had something to do with this. Kidding.

    -MTO

    • December 18, 2011 at 1:53 pm

      I bet UCLA had something to do with this. Kidding..
      Hee! I think it had something to do with my sticking it out despite wanting to bail early. 😉

      I decided I didn’t want to practice law after the first year of law school, actually; I only completed it because I wanted to be able to say I had the degree along with the debt! Not my best reasoning, granted.

      I think one of my 2L profs nailed it when she said I was a very abstract person who needed grounding in practice. I rejected that and said practice was the last thing I needed to inform me I’d chosen poorly.

      I would definitely not go to law school now, but I’m glad I went then and that I do now use the law degree enough to make me feel like it was a solid investment. 🙂

  4. December 18, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Thank you for the Christmas present–the long awaited answers. I have such respect for you for doing this–getting accepted and participating in “Survivor.”

  5. December 18, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    So interesting. I don’t really watch TV, but I’ve heard a lot about the show, saw it once I think. My idealistic dream since I was a little girl was to live on a deserted tropical island (or maybe almost deserted). But that was to get away from mean people, it would be a nightmare to be there with mean people.

  6. John Erickson
    December 18, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    So, did you get Rocky’s home address? I’d be willing to combine your muscle and my … um … “know-how” … and send Mr. Rocky on a permanent swimming vacation! 😉
    Interesting stuff! And you really hit it on the head about teaching yourself to make fire. While my re-enacting “get-aways” were downright civilised by comparison, getting a fire going for heat and/or food was ALWAYS a bear. Smart thinking!

    • December 18, 2011 at 1:56 pm

      I actually almost added a second editor’s note stating that Rocky and Ba.D. have made good since the season ended. It’s only when recalling island time that Ba.D.’s face-punching urge is engaged these days. 😀

  7. December 18, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Hmmmm. I think my partner who does disaster response in remote international locations might be character enough. Fascinating post!
    Kathy

  8. December 18, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Thank you Deb and a huge thank you Ba.D.! I have been waiting for these answers and you didn’t disappoint. Huge Survivor fan. I am endlessly fascinated with the show, especially the behind-the-scenes stuff. I bow down to you for being strong enough to go on Survivor and endure everything you did. Maybe one day you’ll return?!

  9. December 18, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    I don’t think I can survive Survivor. The politics will kill me.

    I feel a tad famous now knowing you.

    • December 18, 2011 at 5:23 pm

      I dislike Probst’s play by plays, but I do understand their purpose in the show. It truly is the politics part that would kill me. Just watching the maneuvering this last season (the only one I’ve watched) left me so uncomfortable, I can’t imagine how it’d be to actually be there! Noooo, thanks!

      Off the island, most the folks are plenty kindly, but it’s hard not to wonder who’d be throwing you to the sharks if you were on an island with ’em.

  10. December 18, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    Thanks for this! I’m not a TV-watcher, but Ba.D’s answer to the last question piqued my interest. Going to see if I can stream a few episodes of the latest season!

  11. December 18, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    He answered alot of my questions whenever I watch the show! I am also afraid of sharks and three miles with a dingy would have been very scary for me!

  12. December 19, 2011 at 7:18 am

    Ooh fun good to meet him and hear about the show – I think there was one UK version a few years ago!

  13. December 19, 2011 at 7:28 am

    I always thought trying to compete on Survivor would be such a neat experience. Then I read the fine print. There is no cake on these remote islands, and that, my dear, is a deal breaker!

  14. December 19, 2011 at 11:26 am

    It’s nice to get to know (a little bit) the man who holds the heart of such an interesting person as you, Deb.

  15. December 19, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    I have never seen the show Survivor, so this was interesting to read. I have actually met someone who was on one of the seasons, but did not discuss it with him.

  16. December 20, 2011 at 11:26 am

    This is such a cool post, Deb! Thank you, to both of you, for sharing!

  17. December 20, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    I love this!! Thanks so much for encouraging him to write for your blog, Deb! So interesting. And of course, I didn’t miss that Glee reference 😉

    Your footnote cracked me up!

  18. December 21, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    FANTASTIC post! And interview!

  19. December 22, 2011 at 2:54 am

    Glad to meet you Ba.D! Great interview… and that Rocky guy must have sucked. 🙂

  20. January 4, 2012 at 7:37 am

    I loved reading this! I have never watched Survivor. They don’t let me get the remote. I’m probably working when it’s on anyway. But I loved reading this. I also love your closing comment: there’s little that says “I love you” quite like staying out of jail for your offspring.

  21. August 15, 2015 at 6:18 am

    Never watched survivor, but enjoyed this post.

    • August 15, 2015 at 7:01 am

      My first year of law school, I had a roommate who watched it in my room, but that was as close as I got to watching before Anthony. Apart from the episodes he’s in (which I only watched last year), I’d guess I’ve watched three or four full episodes of it. 🙂

  1. September 19, 2012 at 4:35 am
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  3. December 14, 2012 at 4:50 am
  4. August 14, 2015 at 8:29 pm
  5. February 3, 2016 at 4:13 am
  6. October 7, 2016 at 5:03 am

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