Brush With Greatness?

Plus: Needless Things and Sack of Kittens

"I'm Jed from Survivor," is how he introduced himself, flashing the proud pearlies of a Baylor College of Dentistry student who practices what he preaches. No last name was needed, of course, no introductions necessary. Well, we needed one, sure; we haven't seen an episode of Survivorsince we discovered Richard Hatch wasn't Battlestar Galactica's Commander Apollo. But not the Gypsy Tea Room crowd gathered around Jed Hildebrand, this homegrown Heath Ledger look-alike who, according to his CBS bio, lettered in football and soccer at Plano Senior High School, spent his junior year of college studying socialized medicine in Europe, participated in Christian dental missionary work in remote villages in Cambodia and goes to Prestonwood Baptist Church. Wilco was playing the big room on September 28, but Jed owned it--at least he did then, exactly one week before being voted off the show, leaving McKinney's Jake Billingsley and Plano's Penny Ramsey as Survivor's remaining Collin County contestants.

After the show, Jed went to the dressing room, flashed his smile--his ID into any room--and greeted the Chicago band like old pals. Wilco front man Jeff Tweedy, sporting the look of a man who just got through vomiting (because he had), lay on the dressing room floor surrounded by over-the-counter cold medications. His bandmates sat on the couches and smoked American Spirits. Gypsy Tea Room owner Brandt Wood chatted with the band. But Jed, who apparently walks around with his own spotlight, quickly became the center of attention.

"You're on Survivor?" asked an incredulous and incredibly nauseated Tweedy, his eyes sunk so deep in his head he could see behind him. "My wife is a huge fan--obsessed with that show."

"Yeah, dude," Jed said.

"We have to call her," Tweedy said, grabbing his cell phone. He checked the time--1:30 a.m. in Chicago. Sue Miller, Tweedy's wife, was surely asleep. He dialed anyway. The machine picked up. Tweedy handed the phone to Jed.

"Uh, hi, Sue? This is Jed from Survivor. I'm sitting here with your husband and..."

Sue picked up. From Jed's end of the conversation, you could tell she thought it was a joke. He tried to convince her otherwise; she wasn't having any. Jed handed the phone back to Tweedy, who insisted that, yeah, this was the real deal.

"Hey, she said you were a real asshole tonight," Tweedy said to Jed, throwing him a changeup when he was expecting the heat. Jed hurriedly explained that "they edited it wrong," before grinning again, something he probably does in his sleep. Jed justified his behavior, saying that he had to win that night's challenge, which had something to do with retrieving something underwater--sounds like every Survivorchallenge we've ever seen.

"I don't care about immunity idols or stuff like that," Jed said. "I just wanted to beat that girl." Which girl, we have no idea. Full Frontal, sadly, watches Friendsand Scrubs.

Tweedy handed the phone back to Jed, who was now speaking to a wide-awake Mrs. Tweedy. They talked for 10 minutes, maybe longer. She asked who won Survivor. Jed laughed and explained he couldn't tell. Turns out the prize for winning is $1 million, but the fine for revealing the two finalists is $5 million. Someone mentioned it seems a little harsh.

Jed, grinning: "Totally."

After hanging up with Sue, Jed stuck around to visit and answer questions from the band. For a change, Wilco was doing the interviewing. Then he left, and Tweedy, wearing a cockeyed grin, said to no one in particular, "That was surreal."

Totally. --Robert Wilonsky and Zac Crain


Needless Things

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We receive countless letters daily--subpoenas, demands for payment, press releases--but there is one type of mail that catches the eye: the amazing new invention announcement. At least once a week, companies such as Invention Technologies Inc. (www.invent-tech.com) keep us abreast of the latest developments, which we usually ignore. But with the economy in the toilet (which, contrary to folklore, was not invented by Englishman Thomas Crapper) it's good to know that the technology to fuel the next new wave of business is on someone's drawing board. Or maybe not. Some true-life examples:


The Trampoline Bike: The inventors "wanted a better and safer way to learn bike tricks in the convenience of their own back yard." Yes, combining trampolines with bike tricks spells S-A-F-E-T-Y.

New Peanut Butter Container: "This unique creation allows individuals to use an empty peanut butter container to do more than take up space in a trashcan. It provides users with a sandwich holder, a safe place to store bills, makeup, napkins and more." Ah, yes, store your face powder in an old peanut butter jar. "Mmm, honey, is that a hint of Skippy I smell?"

Shower Frame: "A unique device that dries a person after each shower. This breakthrough new product uses an adjustable frame and special lights to save time and energy, affording convenience to many individuals." Thank God, at last. We've never been able to get the hang of towels.

Special Sauce: "[Ronnie Guillermo] was inspired to introduce this recipe to society after his son began to express how much he enjoyed the taste." Surely society will thank you, Ronnie, provided you manage to stay out of the pen.

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