The four hamsters of the apocalypse

Episode 67 (Tuesday, Sept. 26): Curtis has a big 32-incher!


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Bill WymanJeff StarkCarina Chocano
September 27, 2000 11:00PM (UTC)

The final four hamsters are staring into the maw of oblivion. On Wednesday one of them will be 86'ed under the godlike gazes of Julie Chen, Dr. Drew and that AOL "Internet Advisor" person.

Then, two days later, finally, will come the disbursement of the prizes -- first, second and third -- with their respective cash payouts: $500,000, $100,000 and $50,000.

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The implacable passage of time and the irresistible pull of the future has put the hamsters in a very, very philosophical mood. Except for Jamie, of course.

"The entire time I've been in here," Josh tells his roommates as they clean up after their Tuesday night repast, "I've always felt, like, average compared to everyone else in here."

Josh is in a humble frame of mind, which means he hasn't been drinking lately, and we're wondering what took him so long.

We always felt he was sub-average compared to everyone else in the house -- which must be even harder than it looks for a man with his IQ scores and his patented Orgasmatron lovemaking technique.

"For instance, Eddie is national MVP wheelchair basketball," Josh says to Curtis. "You're a lawyer. You passed the bar in two states and sang at Carnegie Hall." Then he turns to Jamie, "You're Miss Washington."

Achievements like that are beyond him,. His life goals up until a few weeks ago included bedding Brittany or Jordan on national TV.

Cut to Miss Washington and her lacquered mask of a face. She'd like to smile, but she can't. The sealant would crack.

"Everyone in here was extraordinary to me," Josh says, as Jamie rocks in her chair, staring vacantly. "And I was like, 'What am I doing here?'"

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This is the first time we've felt kinship with Josh. Not an evening has gone by in which we haven't thought to ourselves, "What is he doing here? What are we doing here?"

Curtis knows just how he feels.

"I thought there'd be a lot of conflict, and I'd be a nice guy and I'd get through it," he says, proving that even before he got to know and love his fellow hamsters, he had the competitive spirit of wallpaper.

"I just sort of felt that everyone had these sort of bigger-than-life personalities, you know?" Curtis says.

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Bigger than life on Mars, maybe. Otherwise, we don't know.

What Curtis means is that you don't generally get a lot teenage girls and Web geeks rooting for the lawyer when there are other, more collectible action-figures -- like "the chick-magnet," "the stripper" and "the virgin" -- to choose from.

But this is of course just one of the many social mysteries "Big Brother" has raised over the past 80-odd days.

Eddie tells everyone he registered for school before coming in the house because he thought he'd be out in a week. Josh and Curtis are surprised.

"Really?"

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Sure! But not because he felt diminished by genius-level torsos and musical attorneys.

"Just because I'm outspoken, and a lot of people don't like that," says Eddie, employing the time-honored interview tactic of spinning negatives into positives. ("If I have one negative trait, it's that I'm too much of a perfectionist.")

"But what about when you came in here and met everybody?" asks Curtis, who strangely cannot understand how Eddie's confidence could have remained unshaken in the presence of George, Karen et al. "'Cause, I mean, I was more confident coming into the house then after I came in and met everybody, and I was like, Uh-oh."

As were we, but for different reasons.

Josh displays his usual mental acuity by answering with a non sequitur.

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"I thought it was going to be an older group that made it farther instead of a younger group."

Jamie, as always, lets down her guard and flashes her raw, naked emotions.

"I had no i-dee-ah," she drawls.

On the 83rd day, they talk about banishment nominations. It took 83 days for someone to question a self-imposed gag-order from back when they didn't know each other. They are a curious bunch indeed.

"Curtis the five-timer -- I'm on the four-timers," says high-fivin' Eddie the mook. "It's cool man, being nominated over half the time. I'm kind of proud to be part of that club."

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"I was telling Sloshy," says Curtis, "when he was like [in piteous Josh-voice], 'Oo-oh-oh, five out of seven votes!' I was like, 'Try five out of seven rounds.'"

What Curtis means to say is that he's a tough guy now. He hung in there, and by virtue of patience, inoffensiveness and agreeing a lot, he's made it to the bitter end.

"Yeah, Curtis, sorry I nominated you all those fuckin' times," Eddie, who appears to have parted with hygiene, laughs.

Curtis, of course, has been paying Eddie back in kind.

"I never knew," says Curtis. "I never knew for sure. How many times do you think I nominated you -- if ever?"

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Does Curtis know how not to lead a witness or what?

"Uh, all of them?" ventures Eddie.

"That's a start," he says.

We would describe how much the boys are cracking each other up, but it would bore us, and in turn, you. Suffice it to say each riposte inspires hearty guffaws all around.

Curtis and Eddie try to get Josh to divulge his votes, but he doesn't want to.

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The boys lapse into an uncomfortable silence. Eddie decides to persevere.

"I bet Jordan and Mega got 100 percent of the nominations the first time around. I guess everyone voted for them except for themselves."

Curtis just smiles a little tight-lipped smile and nods. If Josh isn't going to risk hurting feelings by revealing his votes, then neither is he! Nice 'n' non-conflictive was his strategy!

Then Josh bursts out laughing, spewing creamy globlets of cereal from the sides of his perennially upturned mouth.

"Look at that face!" he says, laughing and pointing at Curtis. "That face says, 'No.' I read that face like a book."

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In other words, Curtis's face could have been saying any number of things in any number of languages, few of which Josh would be able to comprehend. But Curtis plays along, laughing at his own coy adorability.

Finally, Josh is noticing him!

"I looked away, 'cause I didn't want to know," Eddie says.

"So I guess that means you got nominated, huh?" Josh says to Eddie, in between staccato ha-ha-ha's.

Curis indicates that he didn't. Eddie's eyes flash.

"You did!" he says, pointing to Josh.

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At this point Curtis, ever the lawyer, intervenes. It's OK to talk about it only if everyone talks about it.

"But since Sloshy won't ... " he says.

"I cannot tell you guys," says Josh, "because mine will blow you guys out of the water."

Then a rare moment: Curtis is openly scornful.

"Pfft! No they won't!" he snorts. "You always think you're surprising us because you think you're [air-quotes] unpredictable, but ha-ha-ha-ha --" his Adam's apple bobs in nervous merriment.

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Here's how it all winds up shaking down -- of course we've seen it already, but just in case anyone wants a refresher:

Josh's first round: Curtis and Brittany. (Turns out this does surprise Curtis.)

Curtis's first round: Mega and Karen.

Eddie's first round: Jordan and Mega.

Jamie joins them in a big hurry.

Jamie says she nominated Jordan and Mega, because "both of them were really upset, they both missed their significant others, and I thought they'd both get the most pleasure out of leaving."

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She quickly takes a sip of coffee and looks around to see if anyone has actually swallowed that.

Anyway, "True Red Room Confessions" continue, revealing an occasional nugget of honesty -- Jamie nominating Josh because the Red Room kept asking her about him, for example; Eddie nominating Curtis because George said Curtis made him feel dumb when they played cards -- but for the most part we are just given the pleasure of watching the kids sit around and laugh.

We can never get enough of that, no sir. In fact, we'd like another three months of it. Where do we sign up?

The only strategic nomination decision in all of them comes, of course, from Curtis , who finally went after George for being such a lump.

"We had lost two challenges in a row, and I thought, you know what, we're hungry --"

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Jamie stares. No one laughs.

"So, I guess I was just picking on the basis of who could help on the challenges. 'Cause we were really hungry at that point!"

Curtis tries to laugh, but it comes out false. No one joins him. They're thinking about how much smarter he is than any of them.

And it's not funny.

Later, Eddie and Curtis sit on the porch talking about who they think will be banished.

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"My best guesstimation is Jamie or I," says Eddie.

"I've seen more negative signs towards Jamie than anyone else towards the house," he continues. "I saw a lot of negative signs toward George, and he got bounced."

Eddie's not talking, of course, of his perceptions. He's talking about banners.

"Now I'm seeing a lot of negative signs towards Jamie. I don't believe them, but I see them. And at $300 a pop, to say, you know, Jamie's two-faced or whatever, what makes you think they're not going to put $300 on their credit card to call and vote her out?"

Who knows? Maybe the naughty little monkey's mom finally got wise and confiscated it!

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In the next scene, the "mystery" of the "sah-bah-twah" is revealed. They houseguests watch each other on tape. First Eddie, who didn't notice anything, and then Jamie, apologizing herself out of existence for even having the tiniest erroneous guess, admit they hadn't a clue.

Finally, it's revealed that Curtis won the challenge. Big whoop.

More interesting are the two things Curtis notices while watching the tape and shares with his sidekicks: a) "Wow! The nightvision's pretty clear!" and b) "Oh, my God, I look like butt on TV."

We notice that Josh can't take his eyes off his onscreen adventures. He makes bedroom eyes at himself and toys with the pug's fur.

Curtis has won himself a mother of a TV, however, and in the last scene they do a little dance to celebrate. Eddie's homey posturings have paid off.

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They do a group Trinitron hamster dance. It is slightly more annoying than that satanic Web site.

Curtis keeps repeating the phrase "Thirty-two inches."

He's referring to the size of his new unit's flat screen, but a confused producer zooms in to his crotch instead.

We realize that Curtis has chosen an unfortunate phrase to latch on to, but we still feel disconcerted. Is Big Brother trying to imply something about Curtis?

There is a camera in the shower.

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We start to feel a little disoriented.

Then the "Big Brother" theme song comes on, and it's in a different language.

Whoa.

(C.C.)

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Bill Wyman

Bill Wyman is the former arts editor of Salon and National Public Radio.

MORE FROM Bill Wyman

Jeff Stark

Jeff Stark is the associate editor of Salon Arts and Entertainment.

MORE FROM Jeff Stark

Carina Chocano

Carina Chocano writes about TV for Salon. She is the author of "Do You Love Me or Am I Just Paranoid?" (Villard).

MORE FROM Carina Chocano

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