Who is the Mole? (and Recent Adventures)

12 Jun

For those of you who have forgotten what Anderson Cooper’s job was before Anderson Cooper 360, then your memory might be jogged by ABC’s recent revival of its 2001-2002 reality series, The Mole.

The show, originally a Belgian creation, premiered during the height of the reality television craze around the turn of the millennium and was the only reality TV that I really enjoyed. While the show does feature some physical challenges a la Survivor, it stands out thanks to its greater emphasis on mental challenges and psychological gameplay. Moreover, it’s just dang fun to watch and try to figure out who “the Mole” is, sharing observations with your friends and looking for hidden clues in each episode.

The first two seasons, hosted brilliantly by Anderson Cooper, were followed by two “Celebrity Mole” mini-seasons in 2003-2004, hosted by Ahmad Rashad and featuring B-list celebs like Kathy Griffin, Stephen Baldwin, and Dennis Rodman. Although the shows certainly didn’t capture the magic of the first two seasons, they were quite funny.

If you’re feeling nostalgic or have a genuine interest in discovering The Mole for the first time, then you can watch all of season 1 on youtube and season 2 on veoh. You can also get a taste of Celebrity Mole: Hawaii here.

The very first episode:

In any case, you can imagine my joy upon discovering that ABC had brought the show back for another season. Heck, I had been such a Moleaholic that I even participated in an online version of the game (and made it to the final four before being executed). When the new season premiered last week, I was somewhat disappointed by the new host and the lack of the classic Mole score (although the new one’s pretty good), as well as the overall unlikeable group of contestants, but I was just so happy that the show was back.

Warning: Spoilers follow. Although it’s probably too early to speculate on who the Mole is, I can make some basic assumptions based on previous Mole selections. The attractive and/or intelligent female Mole seems like a cliché at this point, as does the unassuming old person, so I’m putting my money on one of the younger guys. Paul can’t possibly be the Mole, given the size of his mouth. Alex seems like a better candidate, especially since he kept a rather low profile in the first episode (a common Mole strategy).

Additionally, I read some comments on the abc.com Mole boards about possible hints in the first episode. One of the host’s questions, something along the lines of “Do you think you have a beat on who the Mole is?”, might be a veiled hint pointing to Alex, a musician. Apparently the host even said something like, “That’s music to the Mole’s ears.” Could these clues be too obvious? If I recall correctly, Anderson Cooper did not actually have knowledge of who the Mole was in the original run of the show, although that might have changed.

However, in the second episode my suspicions shifted somewhat. Alex seemed to ditch the low profile, which might just be part of his strategy, but there were a few possible instances of sabotage (penalty kick, pig launching). My suspicions were also piqued by Victoria due to a number of possible hints (including the Catholic / Virgin Mary connection) but if she is the Mole, then the hints are painfully obvious. I hope this isn’t the case. The only people that I’ve written off completely are Paul, Bobby (both of whom I CANNOT STAND), and Craig (who’s great). And I’m not particularly suspcicious of Mark or Nicole. But I could be way off. I was also sad to see Liz go.

(End spoilers)

Anyway, I’ll keep you posted on my thoughts about the Mole as the show progresses. I’m just glad that I have one decent summer TV show to keep me entertained.

The end of spring and the beginning of summer have been quite busy for me. I ended the school year with an awesome (and relatively cheap) trip to San Francisco and Yosemite. Even though the Megabus got stuck in major traffic during the overnight trip to SF (causing us to arrive an hour and a half late), I was really happy to be back in San Francisco. The ride across the hills east of the city was particularly nice in the morning, when the sun cast long shadows over the green hills topped by dozens of wind turbines. It’s definitely a very unique city, with some nice architecture, beautiful scenery, but perhaps most importantly, a dense population. It felt great to walk on the sidewalks with people heading to work in the morning – a virtually nonexistent phenomenon in LA.

After stopping at Union Square for some overpriced (but very good) orange juice and observing an art show, I jumped on the BART without too much trouble and headed across the bay to Berkeley, to meet up with my friend Trici. We had a nice brunch and she then treated me to a tour of the UC Berkeley campus. The place is pretty much as “out there” as I thought it would be, but the San Francisco area would be nothing without its crazy charm. Upon returning to the city, I spent the afternoon just walking around – an endeavour that would have been quite easier if the city weren’t covered by giant hills. Still, it was good exercise, and provided some great vistas, like the one above.

To see all of my photos from San Francisco, click here.

While searching for some of the stereotypical tourist photo ops (including the crooked Lombard St.), I somehow managed to lose my map and ended up abandoning my quest to find the famous Painted Ladies. Unfortunately, by this time I had developed a bad cramp in my leg from walking so much and wasn’t able to make it to Chinatown for dinner as I’d hoped to do. I did pass through Japantown on my way to my hostel, as well as the Mission District, which was nothing short of sketchy. Needless to say, I was happy to get to my hostel, which was pretty nice (en-suite bathroom AND free Internet!)

I had to leave pretty early the next morning, and after grabbing some pastries at a 24-hour Walgreens, I headed to the Amtrak station. The train voyage began with a nice ride along the bay, but then traversed the very flat, very hot-and-dusty-looking San Joaquin Valley before stopping at Merced, my portal to Yosemite. The following bus ride was a long journey along sinuous roads of increasing elevation, at one point passing through the picture-perfect “Old West” Gold Rush town of Mariposa, before finally arriving in Yosemite, where I was greeted by the sight of some enormous waterfalls.

Fortunately, I was in Yosemite at the perfect time of year, since the waterfalls were at their full flow. The weather was actually a bit warmer than average, however, feeling quite summerlike most of the time, except at nighttime, when it was rather cold in my unheated canvas tent-cabin. Good thing there were blankets for three people in it. Of course, the canvas walls were so thin that I could hear the entire conversations of the cabins next to mine in the evening, which was only really an issue my first night in the park, a very busy Saturday.

Despite the number of people around, I really enjoyed the vastness of nature in the park. The meadows near my campground were always full of deer in the mornings and evenings, and although I failed to see any black bears, I did manage to spot a coyote just before I left the park. Nothing really that exotic for me, though. My real amazement came from the epic scale of the waterfalls and all of the granite peaks from which they descend, a sense of amazement which is perhaps best captured by the famous “Tunnel View” shot:

Even more impressive was the view atop Glacier Point, which I reached via tour bus. I thoroughly enjoyed the tour, except I accidentally bought a round-trip ticket and so was unable to hike down from Glacier Point via the Panorama Trail. Still, I was able to do a little easy hiking around Mirror Lake (where I almost got lost) and to the Vernal Falls footbridge. It would have been nice to have had more time in Yosemite, especially time to see the Giant Sequoias. Well, there’ll always be Road Trip ’09… (the subject of a future blog post)

Now I give you some of the short video clips taken in Yosemite with my camera:

Glacier Point Panorama

Lower Yosemite Falls

Upper Yosemite Falls

Mirror Lake

Vernal Falls Bridge

To see Part I of my Yosemite photos, click here. For Part II, click here.

Even though I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Yosemite, I was incredibly happy to get back home last month. As I revealed in the previous post, May is one of my favourite times of the year, and I loved seeing all of the spring flowers blooming (ahh, fields of dandelions…) and enjoying the not-too-warm weather. Of course, I took advantage of this natural beauty to add to my photo collection.

To see Part I one of my springtime photos, click here. For Part II, click here. I also have a few springtime videos for your viewing pleasure:

Springtime at Inspiration Point

Squam Lake Panorama

Newfound Lake in Springtime

Shortly after my return home, my family and I went down to Newport, Rhode Island for Memorial Day weekend. I’d been to Newport several times when I was younger, but it was only during my trip last summer that I began to really appreciate the city, especially its history, architecture, and atmosphere. So I was happy to return and enjoy some pleasant late spring weather while travelling the Cliff Walk and exploring the old city.

It’s hard to pick one photo to represent Newport in my blog, but I’m pretty fond of this one:

For Part I of my Rhode Island photos, click here. For Part II, click here.

After returning from Little Rhody, I kicked off my summer break geocaching with a trip up to the North Country with Madeline, the highlight of which was a cache atop Mt. Prospect in Weeks State Park in Lancaster, which provided an incredible view of the area. We also had pretty good caching karma during the trip, and it feels nice to be back in the caching groove again, since 2007 was pretty uneventful in the way of caching.

Summer seemed to “officially” arrive last weekend, with a humid heat wave of temps in the 80s and 90s for about four days. I took advantage of the hot weather to do some kayaking – first on Squam with my mom to nab SquamLoon’s island caches, and then down the Pemigewassett River with my dad from Plymouth to Bristol. Unfortunately, I underestimated how long it would take us to get to Bristol, largely because the river is quite still south of Bridgewater. It must’ve taken us four or five hours, and we landed at the very instant that a thunderstorm arrived with pouring rain. A close call.

I’ve also been occupied with swimming, working on my research project (more on this in a future post), and cache-hiding. I placed my first cache yesterday, which I’ve yet to publish, and also helped Madeline place an as-of-yet-unpublished cache near the Newfound River.

Next weekend, I should have some photos from the Lupine Festival and will also share my thoughts on the next big summer movie, M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Happening.” “Prince Caspian” was my first big film of the season, which was quite a good action flick (unfortunately not quite as character-oriented as the first). Indiana Jones was also fun, but overall seemed kind of mediocre. Oh well.


6 Responses to “Who is the Mole? (and Recent Adventures)”

  1. weezysjournal 17 June 2008 at 22:38 #

    I absolutely LOVED The Mole when Anderson Cooper was the host. I still like the show now, but it’s not the same without Anderson. And don’t get me started on Celebrity Mole with Ahmad Raschad. The show was okay, namely because Kathy Griffin was on it and I think she’s funny, but I couldn’t stand Raschad as the host.
    This new guy (I don’t even know his name) is good, and kind of reminds me of Anderson Cooper. But make no mistake, Anderson is still, and will always be, the best host of The Mole.

    By the way, nice pictures.

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