12 people we hate at the grocery store

1. The person wearing a bluetooth headset. (Full disclosure: we pretty much hate this person wherever we see them.)
2. The deli counter worker who refuses to stop slicing meat and come over to help us, even though we know she sees us. Can that meat really not wait 2 minutes, honey?
3. The old lady who parks her cart in the middle of the aisle, creating gridlock in the bread aisle as she tried to price compare the wheat and the honey-wheat.
4. The hippie-looking dude out front with a clipboard asking us if we're registered to vote.
5. The group of workers on their break who sit on the curb out front and smoke. Can't they do that in the back of the store in the alley? Why do we have to look at them look at us as we walk up to the door?
6. The smelly homeless guy in line behind you who's buying granola bars and beer.
7. Whoever's in charge of the decision to not open more check-out lines despite the throng of people jamming the front of the store in that confusing jumble of carts that makes it impossible for you to find the end of any one line.
8. Anyone who's oblivious to your need to get past them.
9. Self-involved, small-minded people having a conversation on their cell phone while the poor cashier is trying to conduct with them pertinent check-out business. He's trying to get her to sign the receipt or find out what kind of bag she wants, but she can't hear him because she's too busy talking to someone about her loser weekend plans or what her poor, hapless boyfriend's up to. Meanwhile, you're there staring at the clock wondering when this level of hell will come to an end. Have you ever fantasized about taking that phone and hurling it across the store? No? Just us? Try it sometime.
10. Kids running up and down the aisles. Where are your parents?
11. People who claim that they left their reward card at home. Do they really expect us to believe that crap? Have you ever left your rewards card at home? Put it in your wallet or on your key ring, genius. Either that or stop the lying.
12. The worker who has no idea where to find what is it you're seeking. Better yet, doesn't even know what it is you're talking about when you describe what it is you're seeking.

The tribe has spoken, and they're all too bitter to be honest

The Cheese Fry loves him some "Survivor," having breathlessly witnessed just about every episode since its debut in the halcyon summer days of 2000. Past Cheese Fry posts have been devoted to the arcane details of the show. We maintain that much of its appeal lies in the way the show's premise so cleverly sets up an impossible social situation. The people you vote out on your march to the million-dollar prize are the same people who in the end decide whether you will get that million-dollar prize. That is, the people you stabbed in the back must now be convinced to award you the money. If there's not dozens of sociology and psychology dissertations on the ever-shifting relationships and moral dilemmas of this pressure-cooker situation, there sure ought to be.

We're always amused by the inability for the contestants on the show to grasp the simple fact that the only way to advance in the game is to, you know, lie and cheat and wheedle. Everyone does it. Surely these people are familiar with how the show works. Right? If you try and pull an Honest Abe and never tell a lie, you'll likely find yourself unable to open your mouth. Even those contestants who like to pretend they won with honor and integrity, in fact, did no such thing. They lied and cheated and wheedled. But they did it with charm and charisma. The other folks never even felt that knife going into their back. And that really is the key. More on that later.

It never fails that when the "jury" (the so-called group of outcast contestants who stand in final judgment of the last two or three players to determine who gets the money) gets a chance to speak in the show's last tribal council, invariably several of them suffer from an extreme case of poor-loser-itis with a side dish of shameless hypocrisy. They're shocked (shocked!) at the deceit and treachery that surrounded them, disgusted (disgusted!) by the collective decision that so heartlessly voted them out, and insulted (insulted!) at how cavalierly they were double-crossed and blindsided. The outrage is laughable. Someone has to lose, after all. They just can't believe that the someone is them.

What isn't so laughable, however, is a recent trend of jurors voting with emotion rather than reason. Twice now, the player to completely dominate the game - Russell Hanz - failed to get a single jury vote. Russell is undoubtedly a polarizing figure. Some viewers love him, others loathe him. The Cheese Fry is 100% on Team Hanz. No one has played "Survivor" with this kind of unapologetic scorched-earth strategy and gotten away with it. If you dare to cross Russell or even suggest you're not in complete and total agreement with his plan, chances are good he will conspire to get you voted off immediately if not sooner. That the other players didn't recognize this remains a mystery. Those who saw what a threat he truly was often came to that conclusion too late.

And yet the two juries looked over at Russell and were so hurt and bitter by the way he used and abused them, even though he so clearly manipulated and controlled every aspect of the game "from day one" (such an overused phrase in the world of "Survivor"), they chose to give the final grand prize to someone whose only game strategy was just to sort of hang around (including the insufferably smug and proudly lazy Sandra - blech). Both times Russell lost, the jury got it wrong. They know how the game is played. They just refuse to acknowledge it with their votes.

That said, the Cheese Fry is willing to stipulate that there is indeed a "social game" aspect to "Survivor." There's a right way and a wrong way to backstab. You do it, as we mentioned earlier, with charm and a smile. You let the other players save face where possible. You pretend to like them. Russell seems incapable of this sort of play. He likes to bully and growl and humiliate. As much as viewers seem to like Russell thanks no doubt to clever editing, it seems clear now that the people who actually lived with Russell found him to be utterly loathsome.

But he had his chance. At the final tribal council, some past winners have used that forum to beg for forgiveness for their game-play sins. That's the perfect time to apologize for the deceit, to remind the jury they only did what they had to do to win the game, to insist they hate themselves for the choices they made, to express regret and uncertainty. In other words, it's where you tell your biggest lie of all. But Russell in the "Heroes vs. Villains" finale remained stubbornly defiant and surprisingly clueless. Unable to read the jury or grasp the social element of the game, he apologized for nothing. We think he could have maybe swayed them with just a spoonful of humility, even if we would argue that even without humility he deserved to win the money. But the jurors are people and people get things wrong. So instead of a million dollars, Russell instead got from the jury a collective middle finger.

R-rated movie scenes... you know, for kids.

Whoever this Cooley person is, he is a genius. We hate it when someone has one of those oh-so-clever ideas that should have occurred to us.


Brackets of women

Last month, Esquire magazine kindly put together a 64-team bracket for its readers' pleasure. Instead of college basketball teams, however, this bracket was comprised of "Sexiest Women" in four "regions": Music/Fashion, Sports, Movies, and Television.

We may not be college basketball fans here at the Cheese Fry, but the same cannot be said of "sexiest women." An interesting exercise. If you're forced to choose between only two things, the choice can sometimes be rather surprising. Also interesting: many of the names Esquire put into the running are women we'd never heard of.

The results:

Sweet Sixteen

* Music/Fashion
Beyonce def. Gisele Bunchen
Brooklyn Decker def. Carrie Underwood

* Sports
Serena Williams def. Erin Andrews
Anna Kournikova def. Daniela Hantuchova, whoever she is

* Movies
Rachel McAdams def. Jennifer Aniston
Eva Longoria def. Paula Patton

* Television
Christina Hendricks def. Minka Kelly
Olivia Munn def. Ginnifer Goodwin

Elite Eight

* Music/Fashion
Beyonce def. Brooklyn Decker

* Sports
Serena Williams def. Anna Kournikova

* Movies
Eva Longoria def. Rachel McAdams

* Television
Christina Hendricks def. Olivia Munn

Final Four

Eva Longoria def. Beyonce
Christina Hendricks def. Serena Williams

Title Match

Christina Hendricks def. Eva Longoria

What does this tell us? That the Cheese Fry should be enjoying a lucrative job working as an editor at Esquire. One month after conducting this pointless exercise, Esquire named Christina Hendricks sexiest woman alive. We've already mailed them an invoice for our consulting services.

"Guys, where are we?"

The Cheese Fry remains cautiously optimistic that the six years we've invested in ABC's "Lost" won't turn out to be a colossal waste of time. Even so, as the show rolls into it's final two episodes and the writers continue to show no sense of urgency in untangling the plot or creating any sort of real endgame momentum (seriously, what are they been waiting for?), our expectations continue to drop. At this point, we're not even looking for moderate satisfaction in the show's finale. We just want to avoid feeling like a fool for watching this long.

As a fellow Lostie put it so aptly, watching "Lost" is like struggling with an annoying girlfriend in the final days of a bad relationship. You fight all the time, you know it's not working and isn't worth your time, but you hang in there hoping to recapture some of that old passion. The more time you invest, the more stubbornly you hang on. And every so often, the two of you have a great time and you remember why you're together. But then the next day you hate yourself for not breaking it off.

"Lost" has always been a frustrating endeavor. Artful, poetic episodes about science and reason, love and grief scheduled back-to-back with cryptic, dense episodes that raise more questions than they answer or, even worse, do-nothing place-holder episodes that seem to exist solely to mark time and continue to drag everything out. No regular viewer of the show could ever make a convincing case to us that the writers knew what they were doing when they first started. We're not even sure they know what they're doing now, though it seems they may have started figuring it out a few years ago when they introduced the clever flash-forward element. Unfortunately, by then too many plots and characters and problems and twists had stacked up in such a way that no one could have ever devised a storyline to plausibly tie it all together. In short, the show is cool, but also a big narrative mess. And we probably just have to accept that.

Watching the episode this past week, "Across the Sea," we were struck by how improbable it is that it's running on a major broadcast network like ABC. If we could take that episode and go back in time to 2004 when "Lost" first debuted and show it to the network executives, we might have inspired a mass panic. No cops, no crimes, no laugh track, no dancing, no footraces? What the hell is this thing? This episode, which seems to have been set around 100 BC (!), told the backstory of two god-like men who live on the magical island and who - it seems - have all along been secretly pulling the strings of the regular cast members in some mythic struggle between good and evil with the fate of mankind hanging in the balance. Look at that last sentence again, people.

To illustrate the insane tapestry this show has woven, Wired magazine commissioned a diagram showing the connection between the cast of characters.

Goodbye, "Lost." Thanks for giving us so much to talk about.