BANTER BLENDER #91: Talking Survivor, Amazing Race with Michelle Collins

What better way to kick off your Memorial Day Weekend than by talking about TV? Michelle Collins ( joins Ben Mandelker ( to talk about the season finales of “Survivor” and “Amazing Race.” Along the way, the two have plenty of tangents, including talks of mishaps at Target and sartorial mistakes at H&M. Definitely load this one up for when you’re stuck in traffic this weekend!

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BANTER BLENDER #90: Talking ‘Survivor’ with Rob Cesternino

This week Rob Cesternino (Rob Has A Podcast @ joins Ben Mandelker ( to talk all things “Survivor.”

The two discuss the show as a whole with Rob relaying his experiences on season 6 (Survivor: Amazon). Intertwined with this discussion is talk of the current season, Cagayan, and the various strategies on display.

For any “Survivor” or reality TV fan out there, this is definitely worth a listen!

Check out Rob’s podcast at

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BANTER BLENDER #84: Online Etiquette, Survivor, and Justin Bieber

This week on “The Banter Blender,” Ronnie Karam ( joins Ben Mandelker ( again to discuss a variety of topics, starting with online etiquette. The two delve into the world of baby status updates, humble brags, and Instagram offenses, among other things.

Next the guys take on the latest season of Survivor and roll their eyes at Justin Bieber’s latest antics. Plus, details about meeting BRENCHEL (a.k.a Brendon Villegas and Rachel Reily) from Big Brother and Amazing Race. Just the usual mix of topics for The Banter Blender. Come listen!

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Survivor: One World returned to its One World premise at the end of last week, and on Wednesday, we had our first post-merge episode, which sadly was about as full of scheming as a nap time at the local Retirement Home. I thought there’d be lots of scrambling — would people align themselves with their new tribes or their old, gender-based teams? There was a minor effort by the men to reunite, but given that the men have been a strategical mess all season, this obviously went down in flames. The first problem was that spearheading this effort was Tarzan, a man not known for great social gameplay. Jonas last week announced that he would be taking the leadership role now that Colton was gone, but apparently that only consisted of him making nice food for everyone. It was therefore a bit shocking when he snapped at Tarzan for having the balls to organize the men’s alliance. Unsurprisingly, sensitive guy reacted poorly to Jonas’s behavior, and proclaimed himself a man without allegiances. Oy vey.

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We have seen some awful, reprehensible behavior on Survivor — heck, reality TV in general — but the first half of Wednesday’s episode displayed some of the very worst in the history of the genre. I don’t think I’m overstating this. Watching Colton and Alicia gang up on outcast Christina was so hideous and vile that I almost couldn’t believe what I was watching.

We’ve seen bullying before, and we’ve certainly seen manipulative demoralizing, but the way these two hyenas attacked was so utterly loathsome that it seemed to stir something primal and angry inside of me. They were awful not just as people, but as examples of social psychology. Here were two idiots on a power trip, cloaking their miserable behavior as “strategy” (an attempt to beat down Christina’s morals), but really what they were doing was giving into their evil, malicious cores and feeling justified in doing so. I feel like I sound like a preacher. Hmm… Either way, the truth is that watching these assholes really made me mad. Their unchecked animosity towards Christina — who was already totally marginalized for no good reason — was reminiscent of schoolyard bullies. And what’s worse is that no one stopped them, leading them to believe that it was somehow okay to act that way, even in a game. This is how thousands of people became Nazis, people. And yes, I do believe this is my first time vaguely equating people from Survivor to Nazis. LOL, I think?

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Survivor: One World changed things up on Wednesday. The tribes, finally even, were subjected to a random switcheroo, and as luck would have it, all the hot, strong people wound up on one team, and the scraps on another. Yes, while Salani became home to the likes of supermen Mike, Jay, Troyzan (as well as all those pretty, generic women), Manono took on the elderly (Tarzan), the weak (Colton), the small (Leif), the ineffective (Jonas), the useless (Christina), and the even more useless (Alicia). The only bright spot was Monica – a strong, likable lady who could possibly lead the underdog of all underdog teams to victory. Theoretically.

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SURVIVOR PHOTOCAP: Well That Was An Interesting Strategy


Soooo…. that was crazy.

After twenty four seasons, Survivor still manages to shock and surprise us, which is really a testament to the human condition more than anything else. On last night’s episode of Survivor: One World, one tribe did something so silly, so unnecessary, and so ludicrous that it can only be viewed as an exemplary instance of groupthink gone massively wrong. Then again, isn’t that what always happens with groupthink?

Stop now if you haven’t watched the episode. Otherwise, proceed!

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I don’t even remember what season Survivor is in now (23?), but this veteran series still has the ability to shock. Add to that the slickest production values in the genre, and it’s easy to remember why this is still one of the best reality shows around.

If you haven’t watched this week’s episode, stop reading and fire up your DVR now (or go to However, if you have witnessed the lunacy, follow the jump to the rest of the photocap.

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SURVIVOR PHOTOCAP: So It’s Turned Into One of THOSE Seasons


A few weeks ago, Cochran made an epic move on Survivor: South Pacific — a move that greatly imperiled his former tribe. Sure enough, we had to watch them all go home one by one, which constituted a rather boring patch in an otherwise great season. It’s a shame, really. Cochran’s big move didn’t have to be the end for those people, but no one seemed intent on using scare tactics. Maybe Jim a little, but overall, Cochran’s tribe focused more on striking deals, arguing that they could be used as numbers should anyone on Coach’s team want to change things up. Unsurprisingly, that didn’t happen.

As a result, the likes of Dawn and Jim and Whitney and even Cochran failed to see the potential in such outliers as Edna, the plucky but unwelcomed member of Coach’s tribe (I’m too lazy to look up the official tribe name). Clearly she could have been brought over. Additionally, there wasn’t nearly enough preying on the quiet power struggle between Albert and Coach. A simple appeal to Albert’s ego and insecurities should have been enough to cause some damage (to be fair, Dawn did trie).

At the end of the day though, the biggest fault lies with Cochran and Edna. They were guiltiest of being the laziest strategically.

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SURVIVOR PHOTOCAP: There’s A New Sheriff In Town


I don’t care what people say: I still like Cochran. To be fair, I haven’t gauged public opinion on the guy since last week’s epic episode that saw him jump ship to Coach’s team, but I get the sense there are probably many viewers out there who think he’s a spineless coward. I wouldn’t say that though. Was it the smartest move he could have made? Probably not. But spineless — hardly. It was an act of self-preservation, but this season has somehow turned into one of those weird situations where people seem preoccupied with the notion of honor and loyalty. Guess what, castaways: this is Survivor not a Presidential race. Ain’t no such thing as honor on the island.

The big problem for Cochran now is figuring out how he’ll weasel his way out from the bottom of the totem pole. After all, it’s only a matter of time before his old tribe mates are picked off, leaving him as Player #7 in the alliance. If Cochran’s former allies would stop fixating on his betrayal and think more about constructive steps forward, they’d realize that they could still ally with him and somehow destroy Coach’s team. Ozzy, Jim, and Whitney’s rants, however, all but destroyed whatever lingering bit of loyalty Cochran would have had to them. For now, it seems like we’ll just have to watch Ozzy’s tribe slowly get picked off.

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