Good morrow, gentle Survivors. I stress “gentle” since you’ve all played such an annoyingly straightforward game so far. I guess that’s fine, but it has whetted my appetite for the insanity of past games – most notably the mistakes players have made that led to either their demise or great embarrassment.

With nearly ten full games in the books, here’s a list for your enjoyment.

Honorable Mentions: Trust

Is it really a “Whoops” moment when you trust a new player and he burns you? I’m not sure it is, which is why they don’t make the list, but there are a couple of notable instances here. My faves:

*Rachel Flynn (II) trusts Ryan Fossum to get her to the end again to win the game a second time. Ryan drops her exactly when he tells me he’s going to, and goes on to the coldest, most villainous win of all time.

*Brooks Maki and William Schuth (VII) trust Dan Kautz, who’s been with them since the beginning in the same original team, to eradicate the opposition and play to the final four. The thing is, DK knew the two of them were near impossible to beat in a writing competition, so he flipped and eliminated Brooks, much to Will’s anger and Brooks’s shrugging, “I should have known” understanding. Will did have the last laugh, but that’s part of the list proper.

*Dan Kautz and Dean Carlson (VIII) found themselves in a similar situation with Matt Novak, who secretly worked with them to win an Immunity and then eliminated them. It was ice cold, which I loved, but it was also a strange maneuver as far as likelihood to win. Anyway, Matt made the finals and finished in second place as Brooks won his second game.

Honorable Mention: Non-Subbing the Final Challenge

As hardcore players know, because they agree with me, I hate non-submissions…particularly after the first few weeks. Can you believe, though, that there was a time I expected 4-5 a week? I even had one week where 7 of 16 people showed up, and I about killed all of them.

The low points, though, were the finals of Survivor I and VI, which both saw two out of three people skip (or mostly skip) the final challenge. In the first game, my silly wife Cathy and Sam Fronek skipped out and allowed Rachel the easy win while Dean Carlson and Roman Feeser missed the final of VI to hand Brooks his first victory.

Honorable Mention: Meltdowns

It hard to call these “whoops” moments as well, since they’re just emotional reactions, but they certainly seem like they should be here in some capacity.

*In Survivor III, Rachel Flynn had one of the few in-game meltdowns when she snapped and spent about three weeks attempting to eliminated Brienne Maner, whom she’d never met. The third week she attempted this, she apparently threatened severing real-life friendships if people didn’t vote Brienne out. To this day I have no idea why she did this, but it worked and Brienne went down in 8th place. However, Rachel was unanimously voted out the following week, with everyone’s vote accompanied by some version of “This game is doing weird things to her.”

*Survivor VI had the single worst meltdown ever, as Rusty Greene, who won the previous season, was duped by a flipping Dean Carlson, who had existing friendships on another team. Rusty could not put this into perspective, and spent weeks after his elimination berating the judges, the players and primarily Dean, getting increasingly personal until I told him to shut the fuck up and keep it in email with me if he felt the need. Rusty never played again – apparently winning was the only option.

*Ian Pratt was eliminated in 9th place in Survivor VII, and went off about how he was a legitimate writer and had the accolades to prove it and how the competition was a farce if he didn’t do better than he did. He wasn’t really getting the part where players are occasionally eliminated because they’re so good, and they’d sleepwalk to victory if they were allowed to. After I explained this to him in email, he apologized a lot and felt pretty embarrassed about the whole thing.

*Dave Johnson in VIII. Siiiiigh. I don’t know where to start, but he suggested that the word count limits were “turning prime rib into ground chuck” and that he “didn’t expect a writing competition to be so subjective.” Your guess is as good as mine.

Honorable Mention: Confusing

When I put out a call for players for Survivor V, Scotte Hoerle answered. He’d never played before, but apparently was eager to follow along.

He didn’t show up the first two times and never emailed me about it until he was eliminated. After reading his elimination, he said “Wait, I was in this game? I’ve just been following along.”

He was right there on the sidebar. He was on a team and everything, and was gaining self-votes when he didn’t show. I don’t get it either.

#10: Ian Pratt and Sarah Bizek (Survivor VIII)

Non-subs are as much a product of saying to hell with the game as much as they are a whoops, if not more so, but I love this story anyway. These two were on a team with Sam Landman, an incredible comedy writer, and Joseph Rakstad as the only remaining players on the craptastic (as far as participation) team Likes Bacon. Sam was a no-show, and was eliminated. One day later, Rakstad quit the game, which was sort of an eff you to his team, who just failed to eliminate him. I was so annoyed that, after Ian and Sarah’s prodding, I allowed all players on the other teams to vote for whether or not to let Sam enter the game. Against my instincts, I allowed this, and the players actually voted Sam back into the game.

The next week, Sarah and Ian both failed to show up after this bailing out of their teammate, leaving Sam to have to eliminate one of them (Ian). Sarah once again was nowhere to be found the next week and was eliminated, so Sam was all alone from his original team.

Sam actually lasted about five weeks after this before finally having a down week and taking 10th place, but not before changing his team’s name after they sorta crapped all over him.

#9: Angie Bierly (Survivor II)

I’ve always had a strict rule about plagiarism: if I catch you, it’s a score of -5. I really never thought it would happen.

In the second week of Survivor II, I ran Fiction 59, one of the easiest challenges to complete. Angie left it until the last minute, as did her husband Leif. Leif wrote something as quickly as possible, and she didn’t want to look bad so she went and stole a story from the ‘nets, which of course made her look worse.

The bitch of the thing is that she picked an awful story. It was a bland dramatic romantic thing that was impersonal and uninteresting. If she’d written it herself, it still would have gotten the worst score.

#8: Chadbourne Hamblin (VI)

Chad Hamblin, an actor friend of mine, was eager to try his hand at Spookymilk Survivor. He wrote great pieces – nonfiction, usually – over on Facebook and I expected a lot of him. He played V and skipped the first challenge, becoming the first elimination.

The next time around, he was eager to redeem himself. The first challenge was Fiction 59. I just knew he’d kill it.

Instead, Chad – who’s a songwriter – sent a stanza of a song he’d done. It showed strong writing and was a sweet love song, but there was no story. None. It was essentially a love sonnet that could apply to anyone and didn’t fit the challenge – at all. I had to give him a 1, and he never did play again. I know Chad could probably win this game, but instead his legacy is being the only person to be the first elimination in two straight games.


I’ll continue this tomorrow, given how long this thing got. I hope you’re digging it, and I doubly hope you’re worried that you’re going to show up on the list.