brain blog archives

Following are blogs from friends and family of Francis, Sam, and Charles.

Posted 22 August 2006 | Matthew Meltzer (Charles' roommate)

The energy was building as people arrived at my apartment for our finale-watching party. As the final episode of Treasure Hunters began, my eyes were glued to the screen. Due to the excitement building up and continuing throughout the night, I am having to watch the show for the 3rd time to bring y’all an accurate recap (thank God for Tivo).

Matt's Watch Party

After the announcer guy spent the first few minutes recapping part 1 of the finale, we joined back with Team Air Force and the Southies. As the Air Force searches for the secret entrance to the treasure room, they try every 5-letter code they can think of. Meanwhile, Charles, Francis, and Sam trade off turns with the cryptex while analyzing every piece of information in the Book of Maps and the chamber. DAWNS. No. EARLY. No. After two hours, I think they’re getting tired of trying 5-letter words.

Just then, the Southie Boys find the secret entrance and descend down the stairwell to the hidden chamber. Of course, they fail to realize the importance of the star coin and never insert it into the door. As the Air Force finds their way to meet the Southie Boys, our Genuises are getting tired and frustration builds.

Air Force Matt quickly reaches for his star coin and now all three teams are in the final chamber. As they enter, Team Air Force notices that the Geniuses are frustrated and worn out. I think Air Force plays this part smart by dividing up and developing fresh ideas before working on the cryptex. As the time passes, Sam begins to nod off with John (Southies) and Brooke (Air Force) not too far behind with heavy yawns. After more than 5 hours, no one has made any progress.

Team Air Force begins to note all items in the chamber that there are only one of—a star. Everyone believes that they are overthinking the solution. After 6 hours and 29 minutes, Charles randomly spins the wheels on the cryptex while Sam and Francis rest (and think!). Air Force is still searching, looking through the Star-Spangled Banner book for any hint or clue.

All of a sudden, Francis jumps up from the ground and asks Charles for the cryptex. With the Southie Boys doubting Francis’ apparent revelation, Francis moves the dials to spell FSKEY. And it opens!!! The energy in my apartment was incredible with everyone cheering and throwing their hands in the air. They solved it! They solved the cryptex! In a brief aside, Francis tells us how the image “FSK” remained embedded in his mind. As he entered the three letters, he realized that Francis Scott Key may, in fact, be the key. And it worked!!! But wait…there’s more.

Inside the cryptex, our boys found a silver arrow which they immediately place in one of the dials on the ground. Charles gives the arrow a quick spin and it lands on the star (the same one Team Air Force found earlier). Francis runs over to the wall and hits the star with his fist. We see smoke. All the teams run over as we hear Francis yell “Oh, snap”. Did he find the treasure? Oh wait, a commercial…great.

Treasure Hunters returns and at about this time, our celebratory shouting subsides as we see the door slide open. Our Genuises run down the new path with Sam leading the way. When they enter they see a HUGE stack of gold coins. AMAZING! Our Genuises won!!!

Laird calls to congratulate them (more shouting and celebratory high fives). We see our boys cast their visions for what they can do with the money:

Charles: Go to med school and do so much more.
Francis: Support his family and go to med school.
Sam: Go to med school and open a clinic.

The pre-recorded show ends as all teams give each other hugs and recap the season. Though many people were disappointed in our boys’ performance on previous tasks (coming in 2nd to last doesn’t always look good), both the Air Force and Southie Boys state that the Geniuses truly earned the treasure. After more than 6 hours in the chamber, only Francis’ insight solved the final clue.

The live recap wasn’t nearly as exciting as when our boys found the treasure. Even so, it was nice to see everyone in a true-to-life situation. We had a chance to hear from all the teams almost a year later. I wish NBC allotted a two-hour time slot for the Finale.

Charles, Francis and Sam have joined us in our living rooms for a summer full of excitement (I don’t think I have ever looked forward to Mondays until June 19). Even though they didn’t know each other very well before the hunt, we had a chance to see them grow as a team through their struggles and successes. Our Geniuses showed us that you don’t always have to be perfect to succeed. Throughout the summer, we saw each of them take risks and perform when the team needed them most (Sam with the mirror, Charles with the Star-Spangled Banner book and Francis with the cryptex). In the end, we saw our Genuises work hard, have fun and simply be themselves. Keep up the good work boys!

Posted 15 August 2006 | Matthew Meltzer (Charles' roommate)

The season finale (part 1) gave me the adrenaline rush Charles had during his escapade on the 22nd floor of the Land Title Building last week. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not one to (normally) watch reality TV. However, this episode had enough to draw in the most skeptic of skeptics. I watched most of this leg of the journey on the edge of my seat, Googling…err…searching Ask.com for clues and mulling over all four (yes, four) verses of the Star-Spangled Banner.

Our final adventure begins in the hotel as our Genuises discussed their journey so far and the excitement of possibly winning the treasure. Quickly, they were ushered into a room where they received the next clue location. Laird said this would be the final clue but I have a feeling there’s at least seven final clues…just wait and see. Oh yeah, there’s one more catch – they can’t bring their laptops to use the trusty Ask.com.

Now heading towards DC in their Tundras, the Southie Boys and Geniuses remember to use their GPS systems. It’s a good thing too since Sam’s the only Genius with an uncanny sense of direction! The Southie Boys arrive first but get lost in the Library of Congress looking for one of three book titles. Our Genuises arrive soon afterward but no one finds anything until team Air Force shows up, storms the card catalog system and finds the treasure map album behind the book about this history of the Star-Spangled Banner. Team Air Force quietly compiles all their previous clues and learn that the final map (final clue number 2) must be printed on a Gutenberg Press. As they assemble all the artifacts for printing, our Geniuses quickly scramble to one of the two remaining books to find the compilation of treasure maps.

With our Geniuses neck and neck with team Air Force, Sam’s driving sense leads our boys to Ft. McHenry. From this point on, we have control of the game. Our boys board the ship and find the glass panel resembling the map printed on the Gutenberg (3rd final clue). They learn that the final clue is not on the boat but remains on the map. Charles, Francis and Sam jump into a little skipper boat and roam the waters of the Chesapeake (I think) for the “key”.

While sailing aimlessly, all three Geniuses are looking for a sign. Sam saves the day and points out Key Industries (4th final clue). After landing, our boys receive another Motorola message from Laird telling them of a secret room leading to the final treasure.

After searching frantically for a bit, our boys realize that they won’t perform well when running frantically around the building. Now, focused with cool heads and a desire to win, they explore every nook and cranny of that old building. I think it was Francis who found the staircase that led to the secret room.

On the bottom floor, Charles debates with Francis and Sam on whether or not to use the star coin artifact to open the door. After dropping the star coin in the door, it opens. Immediately, our Geniuses look everywhere for clues to help open the five-letter cryptex. At this point I realized there was only 2 minutes left – we’re going to have to finish watching next week!

NBC showed some quick clips of the final stretch leading to the live finale. We see team Air Force and possibly the Southie Boys joining the Geniuses downstairs. All I know is that it’s gonna be close…and exciting!

Until next week, I’m going to spend time thinking of every five letter word that may open the cryptex. Stars, scott, flags, light, brave, truce…. This could take forever. All we know is that “The Key is Free”.

Posted 11 August 2006 | Ida Khobahy (Francis' girlfriend)

Wow, I can't believe the Geniuses have made it to the final three. I couldn't be more proud of them. I am so happy with the way the show has turned out. If I were to pick the final three this is how I would've had it. I feel like all three teams truly deserve to be there. The episodes have become more personal in terms of getting to know the teams which is great.

First off, I was so impressed with Charles, and how he took on that challenge in New York. Not only was he not afraid of being 22 stories high on the ledge of a building, but he was excited about it. If it were me I would've soiled myself 10 times over. He sure let his manly man colors shine in that moment. Hell ya Charles. As for Francis and his directional capabilities...well, we won't go there. Rumor has it Jessica Biel is now Sam's number one fan.

I don't know how I will be able to handle watching the next episode this Monday. My nerves are on end. And although I would love to see the Geniuses advance to the finals, I am already so proud of them for getting as far as they have.

Posted 10 August 2006 | Gale Goldshmid (Francis' mother)

Another wonderful Monday!!!!! What a fantastic show that was!

The show started at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, one of the world's great hotels. The teams wined and dined like rich people. Certainly that was a pleasant surprise for me, to see my boys actually relaxing, and at the same time I think they deserved to be pampered. They even had a butler at the room and a waiter, who served food for them! What a way to go!!!!!! Now that’s “high class” all the way in my books.

Relaxation didn’t last too long, though, because in the morning, Laird instructed them to use a Susan B. Anthony dollar at the Hall of Fame for Great Americans to help them find her bust, which would lead them onward in their quest .All four teams arrived and gathered around a statue of Susan B. Anthony, which led them to a bust of Lafayette. In no time, they figured out that a nearby mailbox contained a key for each team and a message telling them to go to the Gould Library.

When I noticed Sam behind the wheel, I knew that in no time they’d get to the library. The clue was hidden in the painting. The Geniuses solved it in record time. They were the first ones to put together all the clues pertaining to the painting and the clue about how life imitates art. The next destination was the Land & Title Building in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Okay, my first thought was that if Francis would be reasonably silent, mute, and wordless and NOT let the whole world know that he is from the Philadelphia, the boys will be okay. My second thought: if Sam will be driving, then they will get to the final destination safely and quickly.

Well, so far so good, even though Francis did try to let his teammates know that he was going to his hometown, they still got the directions from the internet and they were okay. WOW!

At the Land & Title Building, they were informed by Mr. Robot that they have to choose one teammate to complete the task. There was no hard thinking there; both Sam and Francis selected Charles. What a great idea that was because Charles is fearless!!! Charles had to step out from the window on the 22nd floor and walk his way around the building to a plaque. People—can it get any more frightening than that??? I dooooooooon’t think so! Francis and Sam, from the streets had to lead him towards the right direction, and they did it! With excellence and speed, thanks to Charles’ quickness! Charles ran so fast, I was amazed by his speed and determination. Way to go!!!

Their next destination was Founder Hall on Girard Ave., and yes, you guessed it right, it is in Philadelphia. Okay, coming from Philadelphia, I knew that they were approximately 10 minutes away from Girard College. Again, I had the same thoughts: if Francis would be reasonably silent, mute, and wordless and NOT let the whole world know that he is from the city, they will be okay. At this point, the Geniuses are in first place! This has never happened before! I can smell the victory………………….. But not for a long. I hear Francis ecstatically, joyfully, and blissfully convincing our two other Geniuses about his solid knowledge of the city and providing them with directions. Instantly, my heart drops, my blood pressure went up; I could not believe what I was hearing. And Francis was unstoppable; it was a one man freak show. The crisis was upon us!

HELP, HELP, HELP, 911, IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE, HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I noticed they were ON THE BRIDGE, heading towards New Jersey, NO………… Sam you’ve got to do something; poor Francis realized that he was lost. I did feel bad for him, but I noticed how at ease boys were. What teamwork and support! Excellent, guys! I thought you would be cutting Francis into small pieces because you went from FIRST place all the way to the LOST (I mean LAST) place, but you supported him!

While Geniuses took a tour around the city, three other teams arrived at the location with no problems. They were told that there were several clues in the building that would help them to reveal the code to the cryptex. The last team to open it would be going home. The pressure was on……

Finally! Finally, I see my boys arriving. The game is on; this was a fight for the final three teams to go into the Finale. The boys were running up and down Founder’s Hall. Francis’ curiosity helped the boys when he found a painting that swung open, revealing a secret room containing model ships.

The name of the ship was the Liberty. That was their clue word. Ex-CIA and the Geniuses figured it out at almost the same time, but our boys were quicker! In a matter of seconds, the boys opened it first!!!!!

What a terrific show! Go all the way. guys! You have made it to the final three TEAMS! YOU ARE PLAYING IN THE FINAL GAME FOR A TREASURE! I HOPE YOU WIN IT AND THAT IT IS A BIG ONE!

You have played the game with dignity, respect, charm, pride, self-respect, and with great teamwork! We are all extremely proud of all three of you.

P.S. I know Francis said that food and sex are the only two things that would make him run faaaaaaaaaaast. Well, as a mother, I will arrange a meeting with Francis to present him with other good and healthy reasons for running….

Posted 8 August 2006 | Matthew Meltzer (Charles' roommate)

The Geniuses made the final three! Woo hoo! Did I spoil it for those of you who haven't seen this week's episode? Well, here's what you missed.

The show began as the remaining four teams entered the Waldorf Astoria, a amazing first-class hotel in New York City. As our boys were wined and dined, one of the Ex-CIAs (I think it was Mark), had a little too much to drink.

In the morning, Laird provided each of the teams with a Susan B. Anthony silver dollar. This coin led everyone to the Hall of Great Americans. When the Southie Boys reached this statue, they looked everywhere and couldn't find a clue near the statue. One of the Ex-CIAs had a great idea and ran to where Susan B. Anthony was looking. Voila! A key.

These keys led the teams to an art gallery where the Geniuses took control of the game. Charles noticed that there was a true-to-life painting of the photo gallery with a light illuminating one of the sculptures. The Geniuses flipped the light switch for this sculpture and noticed that is was a silhouette of a boat in one of the other paintings. Next stop: the Land Title Building in Philadelphia.

While the other teams figured out that clever clue, the Geniuses were in their car headed towards Philly. Francis was glad since he was returning to his hometown. Now first in the race, the team quickly sent Charles to the 22nd floor when Laird said that only one person could enter the building. Good thing too - we know Francis and Sam wouldn't want to be on the ledge of a building 22 stories above the street! At the door, Charles figured out the VISA credit card clue in no time at all. Before we knew it, he was on the ledge of the building, making his way to the plaque with "Founders Hall, Girard" inscribed on it. Francis knew that this plaque was referring to Girard Ave in Philly.

Back on the road again, the Geniuses were caught in traffic and construction. While our boys spent time finding their way back on track, the Air Force and Southie Boys caught up and edged into the lead. For a while, I thought the Southie Boys were going to lose because they couldn't control their tempers. Luckily, they were back on track and managed to think of the 7-letter clue to open the cryptex.

Laird said that the clue was hiding amongst the regalia at Founders Hall. Besides the secret room (which only the Geniuses found), you could browse through shipping log books and notice that "Liberty" was one of the ships. Francis' curiosity led them into the secret room and they began to browse through old books and ship names just as the Ex-CIA did the same.

I was on the edge of my seat watching Charles turn the dials on the cryptex. Liberty. Liberty! LIBERTY! Come on Geniuses! We watched NBC swap between the Geniuses and Ex-CIA just as they both determined the correct pass phrase. Everything came down to the wire. Then we see Charles open the cryptex! Gold!!!

Charles said it was really that close. In fact, NBC had to review the video footage from both teams to determine who opened the cryptex first. What a close call. Now we're in the final three! Watch out Southie Boys and Air Force. The Geniuses are here to stay.

Posted 3 August 2006 | Matthew Meltzer (Charles' roommate)

This week opens in England as we begin to learn about a secret society. This clue quickly takes us back to France where we meet another physical challenge. This time, our boys have the choice to climb a mountain or take a penalty and skip the section. While Francis and Sam momentarily contemplated the possibility of a relaxing “break”, Charles put his foot down and made sure they were stretched and ready for their rock climbing adventure. Though Sam was afraid of heights, Francis and Charles kept him moving and shouted words of encouragement. A short time later, we cheered as the three finished the arduous climb and continued down this leg of the journey. When they dropped the keys on the way to the castle, I loved the fact that Francis was calculating the probability that the fallen keys could, in fact, be the one needed to open the treasure chest.

Once the Geniuses reached the castle, they teamed up with the Southie Boys and ex-CIA. While teamwork usually pays off, this meeting led to two hours of wandering past the clue as it lay hidden within the castle walls. After they retrieved their map, everyone began to head into downtown Paris for a nice view from the Eiffel Tower. While they were on the subway, the Southie Boys uncovered that the map contained a deeper clue when you rub the top layer of paint off with water. By doing so, these guys were able to pull ahead and relatively skip the task of identifying the “freedom” clue by the Statue of Liberty in Paris.

It was fun watching tonight with Charles because up until the show aired, he said that everyone thought Miss USA was still a few hours behind at the castle. He never realized that they were ahead and could have ousted one of the other teams, including them!

By the time the Geniuses reached the manor in Normandy, I knew we were home free. Charles, Francis and Sam were in their element and discovered the clue quickly (that is, after sifting through the sand for some more clues). Great job on the second place finish this week!

Posted 27 July 2006 | Gale Goldshmid (Francis' mother)

Another Monday, another great show.

The show started peacefully, stress free, and quiet—just the way I like it. The boys are at the Magnolia Hall Bed & Breakfast in Savannah, Georgia. They just received a call from the robot—I mean the host (who has zero personality)—telling them to decode the correspondence from America's first spy, and that the clues would be found in the catacombs beneath Paris.

Well, Paris…….. Paris….these words were like music to my ears. The next thing I know, the boys are with the rest of the teams riding in the Paris metro looking at a map to figure out which stop they have to get off at. Everything is very logically organized. All of a sudden I noticed Francis chatting with some girls…. the next thing I hear is him telling Charles and Sam: “The girls know the way to the catacombs. We need to follow them.” Okay, that was a bad move—a very baaaaaaaaad move. For someone who is directionally challenged (here I go again, can’t miss the opportunity), in another country, with a different language, getting directions….BAD MOVE, GUYS! I am screaming from the bottom of my lungs: “Sam, Charles……… nooooooooooo, ask someone else, don’t let Francis lead you….”

Well, after I was done screaming, I noticed three other teams, Air Force, Fogals (I guess the Geniuses didn’t “fogal” them enough last time) follow the guys. But those girls my boys were following left all three teams in the middle of Paris, totally lost. I felt badly for Francis; I was heart broken. He probably felt guilty for dragging his team behind those girls only to get deserted by them in Paris. Any other place would have been okay, but not Paris, not at 19. Oh, well, they finally stumbled upon the tomb entrance where they quickly found the clue.

Their next destination was a statue of the Marquis de LaFayette, a Frenchman who spied for America during the Revolutionary War and who was also the man behind the mask. It took hours for all the teams to figure out what they were supposed to do with the mask. But not the Geniuses! In almost no time they cracked open their mask and found a medallion engraved with a ship and a message sending them to Dover Castle in England. The Fogals and Air Force were behind, completely lost. Perfect game—go Geniuses!

Now they’re in London; I love it! At the Dover Castle, the guys were searching for an "arrow that leads the way."

Southie Boys took first place when they discovered a canister containing a scroll with their next clue. A message from Laird told them that the parchment was from America's first spy. Now they had to discover his identity and find the location from where he created his secret messages. Some research led them to Ben Franklin, who once worked at a printing press in the back of a London church.

Again, three teams were left at the castle: Fogals , Air Force and the Geniuses. Kayte Fogal figured out where the scroll was and brought Air Force along for the ride, which left the Geniuses in the last place. The boys knew that they were among enemies and had to think fast—really fast. Pretty soon, they found a canister containing a scroll with their next clue. They were off to St. Bartholomew’s Church in London.

Again, a miracle happened. The two “friendly” teams got lost again. I couldn’t ask for anything better. I know it sounds vicious, but I am the Geniuses fan and Francis’ mom.

Ben Franklin once worked at a printing press located in St. Bartholomew's Church, where he gathered intelligence about the British during the American Revolution. To keep his cover, he devised methods to encrypt his information. The teams had to discover one of these methods in order to find the next clue. There were six teams remaining, but only five artifacts hidden inside the church.

Well, that’s when my blood pressure started rising! I saw three teams: Miss USA , Southie Boys and Ex-CIA working, looking, searching, working, looking, searching, for hours……… they had no clue. That’s nine people with respectable IQs who are completely lost. They were no thoughts coming through their heads—none.

The Geniuses were not there yet and I noticed that there’s about twenty minutes left until the end of the show .Oh my god!!!!!!!!!! And just our luck—finally, those nine “braincases” solved the clue.

Ex-CIA's Todd got an idea to use a candle flame on the parchment to see if it revealed anything new. The heat revealed a hidden message directing them to the locations of a key, which was the fifth of the seven artifacts.

Okay, now I am not sitting down—I am watching the show standing up. Yes! I see the Geniuses entering the church. They are looking, wondering, searching……… Later on, the Fogals and Air Force caught up and entered the church. Well, now it’s two teams against one team. Fogals and Air Force are working together as a one team, and that left Geniuses by themselves to deal with this “Fogal Force,” as Francis called them. They had to think faaaaaaaaaast, they had to work expeditiously, and swiftly, without any delays and no mistakes. What a challenge! For a moment, I thought the swamp was piece of cake compared to this pressure.

Pretty soon the Geniuses realized that the heat revealed a message on the parchment. Now the BIGGEST challenge was to fool, or rather, “fogal” the Fogals once more and leave Air Force and the Fogals to fight for last place.

And sure enough, my boys pulled through on yet another exciting episode of the show!! Yes, boys YOU DID IT! What an ending that was!!!!!! Congratulations!

When I got back to work on Tuesday, everybody was telling me how stressed they were over Monday’s show. People are rooting for you and your success!

I have to give you guys credit. As I see it, you play the game with such easiness, simplicity, and you really bring so much fun and humor to the show. Go all the way! We love you! Can’t wait for next Monday….. So far, what I saw in the preview gave me goose bumps.

Posted 19 July 2006 | Matthew Meltzer (Charles' roommate)

As the treasure hunt continued, I realized how incredibly long this one leg of the journey was. After all, the countless hours trekking through swamplands at Beneventum only began their journey. I’m sure plenty of folks breathed a sigh of relief when they saw Charles and Francis return for Sam (of course, we knew they would stay together all along). Their next stop is the house full of quilts. I’d like to point out a couple things here. The geniuses were the only one to discover the red “star” on a quilt using those fancy Benjamin Franklin sunglasses. They also found the clue in 9 minutes while other teams took a half hour or longer. This clue noted the Dock Street Theatre in Charleston and the importance of “reflection”. [Sarcastically] When the superimposed Genworth Financial image on the chair mentioned something about mist, I knew that the mirrors in the theatre would play a great role. I think the Ex-CIA and Southie Boys tried the hardest for that clue—looking for an answer in the reflection of the theatre’s crest above center stage. I think it was the Air Force who first figured out that breathing on the mirror reveals the treasure’s next location, Fort Pulaski.

With the Browns closing in on the Geniuses, we saw Sam play a vital role in keeping our boys moving forward. Way to go Sam! At the Fort, our boys didn’t even read the directions on the historical marker. Francis went right for the flag and Charles instantly reminded him of how important it was that the American flag does not touch the ground. After a few seconds of hesitation, our boys had the next clue in hand. The Geniuses arrived in Savannah during the graveyard shift and began digging for the last mask. As the sun began to rise, our boys struck gold and excavated the final clue, keeping them alive in the hunt (Charles points out that the masks were buried in the pattern of the red star discovered on the quilt).

Next week we’re headed to Western Europe. Let’s see if the Geniuses reclaim first place.

— Matt

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Posted 12 July 2006 | Matthew Meltzer (Charles' roommate)

I must say that this leg of the journey makes for great television. With another early start, we see the teams jump in their SUVs (what happened to the trucks?) and things begin to get interesting. NBC seems to focus on Charles giving Sam a hard time. I’m not surprised—Charles is approaching the game from a logical side and understands the major physical challenges ahead. Everyone’s running on little sleep so they’re bound to get snappy. While this makes for some great TV, it’s hardly Charles and Francis teaming up against Sam. They’re just planning for what’s next (which, by the way, is A LOT of work stomping through swamps). I picked up on the civil war theme as the southern twang of “Follow the Drinking Gourd” echoed in the background as the teams reached the tunnel in Brooklyn. Upon reaching their clue, I liked how the rose-colored glasses made the parallel to Ben Franklin’s pair in “National Treasure”. I’d like a pair for myself. Miss USA should’ve known that they needed to take the clue from the tunnel. No “Motorola message” from Laird means you have to keep hunting! For those who retrieved their “Don’t Tread On Me” flag, the hunt just became more a lot more exciting (to the tune of $30,000).

Their next stop is an arduous journey through the swamps on the Beneventum Plantation. For those of you who have never walked through swamps before, I’ll give you a little taste. I had the chance to partake in this same journey in a two-hour version through the Everglades in Florida. It is very hot, you’re up to your neck in stinky swamp water, you ruin your clothes, and the muddy sediment pulls on your shoes like quicksand. It’s fun for the first five minutes before you realize how hard it is to stay afloat. Oh, and look out for water moccasins! It’s easy to lose your footing or get stuck. It’s all part of the journey. So with a few short minutes back, we see our Geniuses finally reaching the canoes. Up to this point, EVERY team accepted the 3 hour penalty to keep the team whole. Will the geniuses? With all this Charles/Sam controversy, what will happen next Monday? To be continued….ahh, what a controversy. Good TV.

Well, I don’t know anything for sure but I can deduce a few things from common sense. Charles is a team player and he knows that three minds is greater than two. After all, we’re not even halfway into the hunt! Also, if y’all have been watching Treasure Hunter commercials and “upcoming episode” clips closely, you’ll notice a few things. Hey, is that Sam holding a piece of paper as Charles waves a candle under it? And how did all three of our Geniuses end up in France by the Eiffel Tower? I don’t remember the boys going here yet (as pictured on the team profile). That’s right, we’re sticking together for the long haul. Go Geniuses. Show America what you’re made of!

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Posted 12 July 2006 | Gale Goldshmid (Francis' mother)

Another Monday, another great show. Where do I begin…….?

There are seven remaining teams still in the game for the BIG TREASURE. My only hope is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that the team that will get to the last point will actually win a true treasure. Usually in the reality game, they’ll tell you up front what you are playing for, but I’ve noticed that in this game, we still have no clue what all these teams are running around for. Oh well; I guess we’ll find out eventually.

Now that my random thoughts are out, let’s get on to this episode. This show started off pretty well. The boys are sleeping in the house and probably have been fed, too. No laughing pleeeeeeease, it’s important for a mother. They did receive an early call, something like at 5:30 am in the morning. I am calm—I know that boys probably went to bed with their clothes on and, YES, Francis will wake up. Their search started outside their hotel room with a newspaper’s article describing their next objective. The location is the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel in Brooklyn, New York. I am breathing easily—New York city is a place Francis has been many times. Now, this doesn’t mean that he can drive there as, yes, you guessed it, he is directionally challenge. I only mentioned that three times in my previous blogs. Sorry Francis, I can’t miss an opportunity. Sam is driving; the boys are mentally and physically exhausted, and this is causing for a little bit of unbalance to be brewing between them. I can understand—they are young and ambitious, but are tired and stretched thin. Not a problem, though, because when they get to their destination, I know they will pull it together. Wisdom and brains will prevail. Yes, I was right. In no time, they discovered the clue. Their next destination was a plantation in Georgetown, South Carolina. Also, the first team to reach the next clue would receive a $30,000 prize. Sounds sweet…… and for the first time I heard an actual treasure amount.

When they arrived at the Georgetown’s Beneventum Plantation, they learned that the plantation was a departure point for slaves fleeing slavery via the Underground Railroad to freedom. They also learned that slaves would use quilts as their maps to hide their routes. No problem; piece of cake! They also learned that their journey would lead them through a swamp to a hidden key that would unlock the box containing $30,000.

I was in total shock and disbelief!!!!!!! I never thought for one moment, that when we said yes to allow Francis participate in this game, that Francis would have to be in the swamp with snakes and spiders, at a temperature of 101 degrees!!! As I was watching every team, I realized how team members are struggling through, collapsing from heat exhaustion. I noticed how Sam very cautiously struggled through terrain with only one hope in his mind: “If only I can escape my asthma attack. Not here and not now!” Sam—you are my hero; I can’t imagine someone with asthma doing what you did! What a selfless act! I realized that Charles was struggling with you slowing down and catching a breath. But what he didn’t realize was that you were actually very cautiously preventing your attacks by controlling your breathing. I saw how difficult it was for Francis, and as a mother I couldn’t sit and watch it. Especially, after one of the Brown Team brothers tore a leg muscle. Guys, you are heroes in my book!! I don’t know how you did it! Go GENIUSES!

Finally, to make things even worse, when they arrived at the “old man” box, a message from the host informed them that they reached a critical point. Excuse me but the journey up until that point was not exactly a walk in the park. At the most tiring moment for them, when they are mentally and physically exhausted, when they can barely breath, when they are fatigued, they have to make a choice. For the next leg of their journey, they would have to choose two people to go forward. They also have to decide either to come back for the teammate and lose three hours or to continue on with the game. What a decision to make….. At the point when you are dead tired, drained, and worn-out, it must be even tougher. Francis, Sam and Charles decided to leave Sam behind as they headed out on their boat to discuss the new option before them. The show ended with “to be continued………”

Actually, that was the least stressful episode from the show. I know Francis; he will never LEAVE a friend!!!!!!!! Not for $30,000, not for thirty million. No amount of money will prevent Francis from doing what’s morally correct. Friends come before any material things in life; that’s just the facts of life.

I can’t wait for the next Monday, for the next show, to see what happens!!! We all love you guys and are so very proud of all you have done!!!

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Posted 7 July 2006 | Ida Khobahy (Francis' girlfriend)

This last episode of Treasure Hunters really showed Team Geniuses true colors. It was awesome to see Francis steering the Fogals in the wrong direction on the phone. The teamwork, and brain power of the Geniuses was really apparent at the light house where they combined their forces (kind of like on Captain Planet) to figure out the clue. I liked this episode because I felt like I was given a better look at the teams, and their personalities. The teaming up of Team Genius with the Southie boys is a good idea. We will have to wait and see if the alliance continues throughout the episodes. I think with the two teams together they can really get far.

The Fogals finally got a taste of their own medicine. That was definitely nice to see. They didn't seem to happy about the other six teams "fogaling" them. It was disappointing to see that they had the Air Force team on their side. I can't wait to see either one of those two teams go. The fact that the Brown family got a second chance didn't seem to bother me as much as it bothered the Wild Hanlons. The Browns don't seem to be that much of a threat at all to any of the other teams except for the Hanlons, and I could see why that would bother them so much. Unfortunately, we had to see the Hanlons go this episode. I thought they were a great team to watch, but they really did suck at the game. My heart went out to Josh on the Wild Hanlon team. He really seemed to be a good kid, and he was doing well with the clues considering the fact that he was getting no help from his dad or uncle.

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Posted 6 July 2006 | Gale Goldshmid (Francis' mother)

EPISODE 3: Monday, July 3 2006 — Boston

Another Monday, another great show. The beginning of the show was calm and sad at the same time. I saw the Geniuses sitting at the round table, inside the Bed and Breakfast somewhere in Boston, Massachusetts. My boys were eating, relaxing, and socializing with other team members. That’s all a mother wants to see. Unfortunately, due to Jessica’s damaged ankle, the Grad Students’ team informed everybody that they had to leave the game. That was a sad moment. My heart goes out to them, and I hope she recovered completely and quickly. They seemed like very nice girls. Best of luck to them!

And then, in the next moment, I noticed Francis wearing his Russian winter hat. Okay, it’s Boston and everybody’s wearing a short sleeves and Francis is in the winter hat? Hmmmmm…….. I thought he was losing it for a moment. Well, that thought disappeared pretty fast once I saw the Geniuses dressed and running downstairs to go to the Old Burke schoolhouse somewhere in Boston. The time was 7:00 AM. Francis usually is in a deep sleep at that hour. I don’t think Francis even knows 7:00 AM exists. So I am talking to Sam and Charles, as if they can hear me, saying, “Please, please don’t let Francis drive!” Francis is extremely directionally challenged. He’s still struggling in Dallas where he’s been living and driving for two years. A new city, it’s 7:00 AM in the morning – Francis would’ve been a bad choice to drive. And, as if they heard me, I then saw Sam behind the wheel, and the Geniuses were following the Southie Boys, a team from Boston; my stress level went significantly down.

So far so good……… till the Fogal team decided to call and Charles told Francis – “Oh man, I don’t want to talk to them, you deal with them.” I thought to myself, “No, not Francis. He can’t lie to them, he’ll help them! He’s too nice!” Well, to my huge surprise, Francis very casually, with a big smile on his face, sends them to Chicago. Wow, wow, wow, I am very impressed! My first thought was that the Fogal family decided to call the Geniuses in the first place, because they figured that young, innocent boys will not screw with them. Well, they did! Big time! Not once, not twice, but quite a few times. MY BOYS FOGALED THE FOGALS!!

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Posted 28 June 2006 | Gale Goldshmid (Francis' mother)

EPISODE 2: Monday, June 26 — South Dakota — Montana

Some people live for the weekend. I live for Mondays. I can’t wait for the weekend to end and the new week to begin. Okay, okay, no yelling or cursing, and no I am not crazy. Just remember it’s a mother writing, whose only child is on TV. Okay, okay, I hear you, he is 20 years old...but still my precious baby.

Episode 2: phone rang at 2:20 AM in the morning for their next challenge. Sorry, I didn’t hear anything else after I saw Francis dressed up and ready to go. At 2:20 AM — NOT PM, people. To put that in perspective, waking up is a whole ritual for Francis that usually goes on for 60-90 minutes. It usually ends with Francis’ dad threatening to pour cold water on him.

While I was processing this data, in almost no time I notice that teams are arriving at the Lexington mine in Montana. I see Francis sitting behind Charles, my boys are ready and VERY confident, no problems! Well, after they turned their flashlights on, oh no, oh no, oh no.... I saw millions of scary looking snakes. Okay, I’m trying to process that data. Francis...is in the dark...with snakes. For a moment I thought I was hallucinating.

Let me open you on a little secret: Francis is afraid of spiders, people. Snakes...I am speechless.... I am VERY PROUD OF YOU, my son! I had no doubts that the Geniuses team would not be in the mine for a long time. Surely enough, in no time, they will solve it and even help others. And they did! What a way to start a show! Go GENIUSES!

I can’t even tell you, how HAPPY I was when I saw tents, lights, and yes you guessed it — food; not junk food, but real steaks. Finally, my boys can eat and sleep peacefully, not on the bus, but on the ground.

Next morning, it was another early wake up, but I am used to it now. Now they have to paddle in a canoe for 20 miles on the Missouri river. What a picturesque view! It was truly breathtaking. My only hope here was Charles and Sam. They would have to pull through here. Francis is a novice at canoeing; he’ll try his best, but he still has zero experience.

Again, when they got to the 14th star, I knew that the GENIUSES would pull it out, and sure enough they did! Go TEAM! GO BOYS!

I was very glad to see Sam eating and driving at the same time, and not Francis! Francis should stay away from driving...he is very (how should I say this?) directionally challenged. He was working on the mental challenge of the race. Excellent! That was an easy episode for me; boys ate, slept and won. They are still in the game!

But putting all the jokes aside, I am very proud of Francis, Sam and Charles for their strength of mind and good spirit. They are the youngest team on the show. I can only imagine how physically and emotionally exhausted they were, and yet they kept going.

There are a lot of people from the DAL-TILE Corporation in Dallas and Pennsylvania that are watching and cheering for you! Everyone is behind you 100 percent and wishes you all the BEST!

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Posted 28 June 2006 | Ida Khobahy (Francis' girlfriend)

Team Genius pulled through again! This episode was much easier on the nerves than the last one. I think the last episode left me with a few strands of grey hair. Consequently, we did not get to see as much of the crew as we expected. This episode contained a lot of laughs and surprises. I was so impressed with the Geniuses' physical abilities; I never doubted once that their massive guns would be able to handle the 20-mile canoe trip.

The Geniuses seemed to be on top of their game by waking up early and going to bed already dressed, looking sharp at all hours of the day -- what studs.

How could your heart not go out for the grad students? Those girls were such troopers. I was glad to see them make it through. And the Fogals, let me just say...not surprised at all with the way they continue to "Fogal" the other teams. You can smell the evil on them through the TV.

We all watched the Wild Hanlons lag behind from the get-go, and, sadly, I thought this would be their last adventure. The Wild Hanlons got a lucky break when the Brown family managed to somehow tip their canoe over. The poor Brown family had so much determination and hope, it was a shame to see them lose their place because of another swimming incident.

I can't wait to see what is in store for next week's episode.

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Posted 27 June 2006 | Matthew Meltzer (Charles' roommate)

Running on little sleep, the Geniuses began the second leg of their journey. I’m glad they stuck with the Grad Students and Ex-CIA in the mines. It’s a good time to build camaraderie. After all, there are many future opportunities to run solo.

I’m pretty sure Charles, with his physics background, knew how to bend the light using water as soon as he saw the bucket. With the next clue, they hit the road again. I liked Charles’ excitement when he heard the other teams were cooking steak. As soon as he jumped in their canoe, I knew Charles would feel at home (I think every Boy Scout takes a 20-mile canoe trip during their career).

With an early start, they headed downstream in search of the final “Texas” star. Once they retrieved their maps, I knew the Geniuses were in their element — following maps and decoding ciphers.

On a side note: I was disappointed in the Fogals’ disloyalty after they received help from the Southie Boys. I’m proud of the Grad Students for staying together and finishing the task. Way to go Wild Hanlons for taking a break and grabbing a burger!

I’m really looking forward to next week to see how everyone reacts to the recent turn of events (Fogals’ disloyalty and Jessica’s injury).

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Posted 27 June 2006 | Michael Candelori (Francis' friend)

I figure that the best way to blog about the show would be to write it during the broadcast, so here’s my extremely biased play-by-play of the second episode!

Photo of Francis
Candelori

9:13: The Geniuses are tied for fourth place with two other teams after breezing through the clue at the bottom of the pail. GO GENIUSES!

9:16: The playing field is leveled, as the 8 teams that made it to the next site can’t go down the river until morning. Hopefully the guys set an early alarm clock. During high school, to try to avoid the dreaded Expressway traffic, Francis would usually leave insanely early from home in the morning; hopefully he’s sticking by this philosophy.

9:22: Sunrise and the Geniuses are up. (Nice red jacket, Francis.) All of the teams rowing like crazy – I hope they don’t get worn out. This game seems to be played best with periodic speed, but also measured patience, a mix of the proverbial Tortoise and Hare.

9:28: The Geniuses are in fifth place, and appear to be pushing/pulling their canoe. Whatever works! The grad student team gets stuck when one of the team members hurts her ankle stepping in a hole. This is a hella dangerous game.

9:35: The Fogal Family are some fierce and shameless competitors. That’s all I have to say about that.

9:39: The Grad Students look like they may be out of the game due to the unfortunate injury Jessica suffered.

9:46: Francis seems perplexed by the code – I guess Lewis and Clark should be proud! SHOW US MORE OF THE GENIUSES!

9:47: The Air Force comes in first place. I believe the Geniuses are now in sixth, but they don’t seem too far behind. Fogals are second. Miss USA, Ex-CIA...Geniuses are still in sixth! They find the compass and get to “rest at camp.” GO BOYS!

9:50: The Wild Hanlons are split about what to do, and you can’t blame them – they’re operating on very little sleep and food. But driving 80 miles round trip to eat? That may be dangerous, as the Grad Students aren’t out for the count yet. And another commercial! I know they have to pay the bills, but c’mon…

(Commercial break side note! When Francis and I were working on our senior project, we worked for a local news agency in Philadelphia. One time, driving by an NBC news crew, Francis rolled down his window and yelled CHANNEL SIX RULES!, referring to our local ABC affiliate. I hope NBC won’t hold that against him. He also once ate a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in like 20 minutes while we were filming a documentary. Sorry, Francis, but the people need to know these things.)

9:57: Holy moley! The Grad Students are seventh to retrieve a compass! That’s impressive perseverance, you gotta hand it to them. And the Wild Hanlons retrieve the last one!

10:00: Another fantastic episode with a strong showing from our Geniuses. It looks like next week, there will be a boat involved, and apparently the Brown Family is still in it? I guess we’ll have to wait and see!

Michael Candelori
Cinematographer
me@michaelcandelori.com
610-357-0113

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Posted 21 June 2006 | Michael Candelori (Francis' friend)

EPISODE 1: Sunday, June 18 — Hawaii — Nebraska — South Dakota

My relationship with the Geniuses is through Francis, one of my best friends from high school. We did on our senior project together, we were AP Chem lab partners. I guess it was association by nerdism, not that that's anything to be ashamed of!

The first time I heard about the show was when I got a call from NBC last summer as they were casting it. When I heard the show's premise -- essentially "The Amazing Race" meets "The Da Vinci Code" -- my first thought was, Francis can win this thing. He's a genius! Honestly (and I'm not just saying this to get a share of prize money), Francis is one of the smartest people I know, and when he pairs up with two other Einsteins, it must be a recipe for success.

So it scared the blazes out of me when eight teams headed to Mt. Rushmore -- and the Geniuses and Young Professionals headed to Mt. Theodore Roosevelt?!? When the Geniuses got lost in the forest in Hawaii, I got a little worried, but when they stayed behind even as the Young Pro's were headed back to the bus, I was biting my nails with a fervor. Luckily, they beat the Young Pro's up the hill and already had a solution to open the box in mind, staying in the competition by a hair.

I will say this: Francis has, in my experience, not been the best with driving directions. He could probably invent a time machine out of an old Delorean, but he's not exactly a walking, talking GPS device. It seems like there will be a lot of chances to take a wrong, deceitful turns in the show, but I'm sure that the Geniuses' combined IQ will attract them like a bespectacled magnet to the artifacts. I can't wait to see where they head next!

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Posted 20 June 2006 | Ida Khobahy (Francis' girlfriend)

Well we watched the first episode, and we all thought it was great. The show starts off right away. I wish there would've been a better introduction to the team members but maybe that will come later on in the show.

The show was intense, and had us all nervous about what would happen next. We were all very proud of Team Genius for being so quick about figuring out the code at Mt. Rushmore, which totally helped them out after having gone to the wrong place (Mt. Theodore Roosevelt). I think they have a good chance at getting far in the game. I was surprised to see how the Fogels, the religious family, was so unethical. But maybe its all part of the game; kind of like when Team Genius screwed over the Grad students at the airplane crash site. The Hanlons are a riot, if it weren't for their son they would've been the first to go home in my opinion, but I am glad they made it. The episode didn't give as much time to the "ladies man" (a.k.a. Sam) as us ladies would've liked to have seen but, hopefully, later on we will see more of him. The guys all have a great sense of humor and I hope that is revealed as the show progresses.

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Post 20 June 2006 | Gale Goldshmid (Francis' mother)

I really enjoyed the show. I was so happy finally to see Francis, Charles and Sam, the Geniuses team, on the national TV.

I really liked the beginning of the show. From the first moment, the show pulls you right in. When I saw Francis standing on the top of the boat in the middle of the ocean, my heart stopped for a second. But the show was moving along so fast, that I was about to get worried………. and then they’re working on solving the Morse code clue. And I though it was so hilarious when the grad students were trying to ride the coat tails of Team Geniuses right at the beginning of the show. Smart girls!!!!!! It didn’t take them long time to figure out who’s running the show—my boys! I jumped for joy when they were the first ones to solve the Morse code. The next minute, I see my son, my Francis, my only son, jumping from the boat into the ocean without a life vest! Yes you guessed it right—in my mind I was jumping with him . I was so worried if he’d make it to the other side, because, well, Francis and the ocean…the two of them don’t go very well together. Francis likes to watch it—NOT to swim in it. My heart stopped for the second time at this moment. I didn’t care about the game, I just wanted to see Francis alive and on the beach.

Right at that time they started showing other five teams in Alaska, but there was only one thought in my mind: where is Francis; did he make out all right ? Okay, enough already with Alaska and the Glacier—too cold , too much snow, please, please, please just take me back to Hawaii, to the black sand beach. I need to see if Francis is okay! Yes they made it and now they are flying on the airplane!!! Feels good now…. I can feel much better with Francis securely on the airplane instead of swimming in the ocean.

In almost no time I realize that the game didn’t even start, when I saw all 30 people (15 from the south and 15 from the north) on the State Capital Building in Lincoln, Nebraska, running towards each other and then immediately stopping to meet eye to eye in the middle — well, I had goose bumps all over me. That was a very exciting moment; I loved it!

The bus trip was a bit tense—okay very tense. I was a nervous wreck when I knew that they were going to the wrong destination. (Mt. Roosevelt instead of Mount Rushmore). I was screaming, trying to help, but they didn’t hear me. So I waited and waited, and waited. Yes!!!!!!!!

After hours spent in the wrong location, and seeing all the teams, even the Wild Hanlons, working on solving the last clue—my heart stopped again. This time it was for a loooooooong time, even though Francis provided the clue, because they couldn’t open the box! It was down to two teams and one correct box. Who has it and who will be eliminated?! Too much pressure.... I was a nervous wreck!! And then finally, my boys GOT IT; THEY GOT IT!!!!!!!!!!!

I’m so very proud of Francis, Charles and Sam! Go Geniuses! You have a huge fan club of Russians from Canada and multiple cities in the USA CHEERING FOR YOU!

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Post 19 June 2006 | Rajeev Khurana (Sam's brother)

This show is pretty intense! Sam's definitely got his game face on. Although he may not say much, he's always thinking and he isn't the type to interject worthless commentary or bad solutions. It's pretty hilarious that the grad students are trying to ride the coat tails of Team Genius this early in the show. I wasn't surprised to see Sam and the rest of the team crack the Morse Code clue first, even though they don't know Morse Code. Sam has always been resourceful and a quick learner.

The swimming in the ocean part was a little worrisome, given that even though Sam's complex has a pool, I don't think he's been swimming in years. But hey, it's just like riding a bike, right? You never forget. Though never quite as good as me underwater, Sam's always been a good swimmer.

I think Sam would have been better off starting in Alaska — though he's been a Texan a long time, he's a Chicagoan at heart and he can easily brave the cold weather.

Enough Glacier! Lets get back to TG!

There is not nearly enough team genius being shown so far! That must mean there is a lot of team genius coverage later on in the show, i.e. they get pretty far!

BACK TO TEAM GENIUS!

Diving?! WOO HOO so glad Sam took that diving class at SMU!

Yah TG! 1st place! Good job Charles!

TEAM Genius! Is basically a statement that brains has prevailed so far over brawn and or good looks. This ones for all smart the kids that got beat up in the play ground — not that Sam ever got beat up for being a smarty pants.

Team genius has got to get back in front —Sam needs to step up, it's crunch time! They cannot give the key to the grad students after they open the box. Sam may be a true gentleman but this is an exception. Phew! TG made it out!

Young professionals with the geniuses! They should be a killer combo — a combination of practical experience with academic might!

We've been to Mt. Rushmore! Sam should have known this! Family trips have to be worth something. Let's just hope team genius steps it up when they get to Mt Rushmore!

Glad to see geniuses stepping it up and thinking about the puzzle before they get to it. Come on TEAM GENIUS! Sam can do hills! He used to walk home from jr high and high school up this really steep 3 mile hill.

Good to see they made it through. I don't doubt they will come from behind and take the lead again. Especially if the next puzzles are very difficult.

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