The Amazing Race

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The Amazing Race: Freudian Slips

Welcome back, Race spectators! One disclaimer here–I couldn’t find any decent photos of this leg of The Amazing Race, so I just gave you all what you wanted, which is gratuitous shots of the Cowboys looking adorable, and apparently the TAR graphics from The Season That Dare Not Ever Repeat Itself. Okay enough with the small talk, let’s just jump right in, shall we?

The Globetrotters left the seventh pit stop in a race around the world at 2:07 a.m., which is a crappy time to leave a pit stop because there generally are no flights, trains, etc. in the wee hours of the morning. The clue directed teams to a travel agency where they purchased airline tickets to Vienna, Austria. In the cab ride to the travel agency, Flight Time noted that Austria is where the Terminator is from, and we were treated to several not-so-good impressions of Ahhhnold. As a side note (and because this is tax season), my accountant sounds exactly like Arnold Schwarzenegger, and it is impossible to leave his office without saying, “I’m going to tuuuhhhminate your reeeefund,” at least once. Okay twice. Pretty much the entire walk to the F train. Anyway….

The Nerds left next, followed by the Sisters, Father/Daughter, the “Couple,” and the Cowboys.  After reading the clue, Mallory remarked, “Vienna, is that cold?” Seriously? Shut up shut up shut up! She is such a moron! Vyxsin noted that they were the only dating couple left in the race, and that having a romantic relationship with your racing partner is a little bit different. They’re really stretching that “couple” thing to its breaking point, along with my last nerve.

At the travel agency, the teams learned that there were two different routes to Vienna. One had two connecting flights and arrived at 6:00 a.m., and another had three connecting flights and arrived at 5:35 a.m. All teams chose the earlier flight…except the Cowboys. They made a power move which banked on the other teams running into problems with the extra connection. How’d that work out for them? Not so good. The 5:35 a.m. flight got in first, which left the Cowboys in last place. Again.

Once in Austria, the teams had to choose a Ford Focus in the airport parking garage. The cars were equipped with some sort of modern techmonology that allowed Phil to speak to the teams on a magical screen attached to the dashboard. Phil told the teams to drive in reverse and read the clue on the magical screen, which looked as dangerous as it sounds. Imagine five cars all parked near each other backing up at the same time. Oh, and the winners of this leg will receive a Ford Focus with a magical screen.

Miraculously, there was no five-car pile-up in the parking garage and the teams discovered that they had to drive to “Schloss Schallaburg.” Father/Daughter were having problems figuring out the magical screen because he is an old and she is a moron. In the interim, the Cowboys arrived at the parking garage, which makes me wonder how in the heck Father/Daughter let a half hour slip past them.

The Nerds were the first to arrive in Schloss and learned that “Schallaburg” was a castle where they received a clue directing them to the local library. It looked bitter cold outside, and each team had a different approach to clothing. Vyxsin, naturally, had puffy pink earmuffs, while the Globetrotters were wearing shorts. The Nerds just sucked it up and added another thin layer to their pasty skin. No one looked comfortable with the weather, but it seemed to have taken an especially harsh toll on the “Couple” who were fighting like cats and chiwawas.  At one point, Vyxsin told Kynt to stop acting like a chick, which was funny because I’ve been saying that since Day One.

When the Nerds arrived at the library, they were greated with a Detour! They had a choice between a long hard walk or a quick and easy meal. In Long Hard Walk, teams had to go to the Freud Museum and pick up an analyst couch which they then had to transport one mile to the University of Vienna. In Quick And Easy Meal, teams had to go to a giant ferris wheel where they each had to eat a local meal in the dining car of the ferris wheel. The trick for this one was, they had to eat all of the food during one twelve-minute rotation of the ferris wheel. Oh yeah, that’s the one to go with. At this point, I was openly chanting, “Pick the wheel! Pick the wheel! Pick the wheel!”

As luck would have it, the Nerds, the Sisters, and Father Daughter picked the wheel! The Globetrotters and the “Couple” wisely chose the couch thing. More on that later, but first, let’s discuss the ill-advised meal.

The Sisters started first and were each faced with several large pieces of meat that looked like it was battered and fried, with a small salad on the side and a slice of chocolate cake. Twelve minutes, ladies! They were using knives and forks and that did not seem like the correct way to approach a plate full of food and a time limit, but kudos to them for hanging on to whatever dignity they had left. The Nerds were next, and Zev suggested eating the mound of food “slow and steady.” That also didn’t sound like a good strategy. Six minutes into it, the Sisters were about halfway done with their main coarse and hadn’t even started on the cake yet.  The Nerds had made a bit more progress, but Zev was slowing down at the halfway mark, at which point the boys clearly realized that choosing this task was a terrible idea.

The Sisters and the Nerds failed and were off to move couchs. Father/Daugher tried next. With four minutes left, they started snarfing down their food….and failed. Mallory, ever the go-getter, volunteered to throw up and try again, but thankfully her father decided to call it quits and move on to the moving of the couches.

Over at the couches, the Globetrotters got to the Freud Museum first, and oh my, Big Easy picked up that couch and carried it on his shoulder like it was nothing. The “Couple” were having a tough time with the carrying and lifting because Kynt’s arms are made of bendy straws filled with jelly. Oh, and because he wouldn’t stop whining like a little bitch.

The Sisters did a great job of carrying their couches. The Nerds were struggling a bit, and just as they brought their couch out of the museum, the Cowboys showed up. That put a little spring back into the Cowboys’ two-step because they knew that they were back in the race. At one point Cord said, “I was thinking it might have been faster if I lay on the couch, worry about my feelings, and Jet could push me.” They stopped just short of a proper Freud joke, so sorry boys, close but no cigar.

The Globetrotters delivered their couch first and received the next clue which directed them to a restaurant in Salzburg. The “Couple” delivered their couch next, then the Sisters. The poor Nerds were absolutely dying with their couch delivery. They got bad directions at the University and carried their couch up three flights of unnecessary stairs, which allowed the Cowboys to pass them. When Father/Daughter finally delivered their couch last, they counted the couches and saw that there were five others already there, which put them in last place.

The Globetrotters found the clue box in Salzburg first. Roadblock! Chimney sweeping! One team member had to dress in a chimney sweep uniform, climb to the roof, use a special tool to clean a chimney, and then climb back down to retrieve their clue. Big Easy’s uniform looked ridiculously small. Come on, TAR, you can make a suit of armor for a midget but you can’t make a chimney sweep uniform for a giant?

Big Easy moved quickly and was finished before anyone else even showed up. The clue directed teams to the pit stop at Villa Trapp, the real home of the Von Trapp family.

The Nerds arrived next, and what was that? Did Zev just make a “that’s what she said” joke? As in, “Make [the rope] bigger, that’s what she said.” It’s not great, but considering this is Zev we’re talking about, it’s not bad. Zev finished the task next, then the Sisters followed by the “Couple.” Then, the Cowboys arrived, and oh my, Jet or Cord (I’m not sure which, the ginger one) looked really kind of hot in his chimney sweep uniform.

And holy crap, the Nerds were the first team to check in at the pit stop! How did they beat out the Globetrotters? I have no idea. But they won cars! Well, good for them, they looked as surprised as I was. The Globetrotters checked in next, then the “Couple.”

The Cowboys finished the Roadblock before Father/Daughter even showed up and checked in at the pit stop at the same time as the Sisters.

Father/Daughter were the last team to arrive, but it was a non-elimination leg. I am not happy about this because Father/Daughter annoy me for some reason I can’t quite explain. She’s just too peppy. I’m not into pep. I’ll choose a maudlin cynic over a peppy cheerleader every time and I’m sick of seeing her happiness on my dummy box.

Anyhoo, next week Father/Daughter fight to stay in the Race and the teams enjoy fondue in Switzerland. So we’re getting down to the wire here, with six teams remaining. Any predictions? Are you happy with the final teams? Does this season make you want to run the Race or remain safely tucked into your couch? And the most important question of all, which cowboy is hotter?

The Amazing Race: Hay There, Cowboy!

Wow, that was some week off, huh? I got so much done while The Amazing Race wasn’t on! I…I did nothing, really. Read the internets, drank some wine, GTL without the G or the T, battened down the hatches for the government shut-down that wasn’t. You know, regular stuff. But you know who were super busy? The seven teams racing for a million bucks.

Father/Daughter left the pit stop first at 1:18 p.m. and headed to the airport where they were to catch a flight for Varanasi, the religious part of India. Their next clue would be at a Tonga stand. What is a Tonga? The Google tells me it is a covered carriage. That sounds not very amazing and not very religious. But to the Tongas we go!

The Cowboys left a few minutes after Father/Daughter, with Old Yeller, the Nerds, the “Couple” and the Sisters all within spitting distance. The only team trailing was the Globetrotters, who left the pit stop a full five hours after the rest of the teams.

Father/Daughter, Old Yeller, the Nerds, the Sisters and the “Couple” got tickets for a 10:45 a.m. flight to Varanasi. But for some reason, the ticket agent gave the Cowboys tickets for a flight that left a full hour afterwards. Maybe they would be on a later flight with the Globetrotters? No! The Globetrotters, who arrived at the airport hours later, got tickets for the 10:45 a.m. flight!  So all teams were on the earlier flight except for the Cowboys! That is a huge mistake. The poor Cowboys were wandering around the airport wondering where everybody else was, and you could see that sick-to-your-stomach-and-not-in-an-I-just-ate-some-bad-vindaloo-way look creep up on them when they realized that there was an earlier flight.

When the teams arrived at their destination, they hopped into cabs and headed for the Tonga stand.  This was unremarkable except for Kynt inexplicably hitting his head on the trunk of the car, which triggered the “Couple’s” need to berate their cab driver. As a TAR expert, I can say that one thing rings true no matter what country you are in–it is never a good racing strategy to piss off your cab driver.

The Nerds’ cab stopped for gas, Old Yeller’s cab was redirected by police officers over some bridge, and the Globetrotters passed the Sisters and Father/Daughter. Sometimes it’s all about what cab driver you have and, note to the “Couple,” how nice you are to them.

Despite their sunny lousy attitude, the “Couple” reached the clue box first. Roadblock!  One member of each team had to search for the meaning of life. Pfft! I could’ve skipped that task and gone straight to the pit stop. The meaning of life is shopping for shoes without having to flip them upside down to look at the price first. You got that, ladies? For the rest of you who doubt my deep insight, the teams were provided with a photo of six religious figures (lasidus? I couldn’t make out the name, if anyone knows what this is, please enlighten us in the comments) for reference. The teams had to find the holy person, who would give them a word. If the words are arranged properly, the teams will learn the meaning of life.

The Globetrotters reached the clue box next, followed by the Sisters, Father/Daughter, Old Yeller and the Nerds. At this point in the race, I was really worried about the Cowboys. An hour is easy to make up on travel (hello airport equalizers!) but tough to make up on tasks.

Big Easy tried to work with Jen, but then she ditched him. Kynt cut some sort of a deal with Gary which is strange because Gary is generally very careful at these types of tasks and should not need Kynt’s help. Kynt was basically just following Gary, and then there were two cows licking each other which was either sweet, or a metaphor for the race.

Ron was doing terribly. Like really and truly awful. Maybe he was looking for somewhere to stop for a snack? I don’t know, but he was headed in entirely the wrong direction.

The Sisters finished first and learned that the meaning of life is: Shoe Shopping Without Regard For Prices. Oh my gosh! I was right! I’m kidding. The real meaning of life is: Once You’re Over The Hill You Pick Up Speed. I suppose that’s a little more profound, but how are you supposed to get over that hill without stylish footwear? Hmm? Exactly.

Flight Time and Justin teamed up together and finished the task next. The teams were then sent to the Swaminath Akhara Wrestling Club where they were supposed to find a strong man who would give them their next clue.

Some time after the Sisters, the Globetrotters and the Nerds left, the Cowboys arrived at the task. This made Old Yeller, Father/Daughter and the “Couple” nervous because the Cowboys make notoriously quick work of tasks. Jet (or Cord, I haven’t quite figured out which is which) said, “How fast you run is how fast you’re going to get through the road block,” but you have to look around and not miss anything. So true, so true. The Cowboys blazed through the task while Ron was still wandering around India in the wrong direction. The “Couple” and Father/Daughter finished the task next, which left Old Yeller and the Cowboys out on the course.

The Nerds and the Globetrotters found the strong man and the clue box at about the same time. Detour! The teams had a choice between Feed the Fire and Feed the Buffalo. In Feed the Fire, the teams had to travel down the Ganges River and follow a path to the home of milkman, make fifty poop patties, place them on a wall to dry in the sun, and light a fire to boil milk. This does not sound like a very good task since it involves manure. In Feed the Buffalo, teams had to cross the Ganges River, pick up hay, cross again and carry the hay through narrow streets to the correct milk farm. Since this task does not involve manure, it is the task I would have chosen.

Because great minds think alike, the Nerds and the Globetrotters chose to feed the buffalo. The Sisters, on the other hand, chose to feed the fire.

Back at the Roadblock, the Cowboys finished the task before Old Yeller! Yeehaw! Old Yeller was sort of freaking out and backtracking, thinking the holy men may not have been properly garbed as in their photos beacused they wanted to take a refreshing swim in the Ganges River. What? No, no, no Old Yeller, they did not take a break from their TAR obligations to take a refreshing swim in the Ganges River! Holy hell. Eventually Old Yeller got back on track and finished the task, though he looked ready to collapse.

Meanwhile, back at the front of the pack, the Nerds and the Globetrotters worked together to find the correct address for their hay delivery while the Sisters arrived at the Dung Palace. They were literally vomiting before one poop patty was even made. Ladies, you made the wrooooong choice.  The “Couple” also chose to feed the fire, just like the fire in their bedroom. Ugh now I’m vomiting. Father/Daugher then joined in the fun at the Dung Palace.

The Globetrotters and the Nerds were singing “Running with haaay, in the middle of India!” as they delivered their bales of hay. How can you not root for these guys? They received a clue which directed them to the pit stop at Ramnagar Fort across the Ganges River. Is crossing the Ganges River the only thing anyone ever does in India? In a foot race between the Nerds and the Globetrotters, it’s best to put your money on the professional athletes. The Globetrotters were first to the mat and are Team Number One, followed by the Nerds as Team Number Two. For coming in first, the Globetrotters won a trip to the Big Island of Hawaii. A big island for some big guys!

The Cowboys chose to feed the buffalo and were chuckling that they went all the way to India to haul hay. Old Yeller also chose to feed the buffalo. Like the Nerds and the Globetrotters in a foot race, if I had to put my money on who was going to haul hay faster, I’d go with the Cowboys.

Over at Dung Palace, the Sisters were struggling. A mean old lady knocked some of their poop patties off of the wall because they were too big. Eventually they made their poops exactly the right size and were headed to the pit stop. The “Couple” finished the poop task next, then Father/Daughter.

For some reason, the “Couple” decided to take a boat to the pit stop. But when they pulled away from the dock, Vyxsin did something really weird, even for her. She jumped out of the water taxi into the Ganges River! Just jumped right out, like she was compelled to do it by an evil spirt.  She grabbed the boat and hauled it back to the dock and they took off on foot for the pit stop. And then Kynt said something, just a little something, and my skin crawled. He said, “You need to get a grip, sis.” Are they brother and sister? Eew. The possibilities are just eew.

The Cowboys made hay of Old Yeller and finished the task in no time at all. The Sisters checked in at the pit stop, then Father/Daughter, and then the Cowboys who are back in this race. Finally, the “Couple” checked in, which meant Old Yeller were the last team to arrive. They have been eliminated from the race. I’m…kind of happy about this. I’m sick of watching Ron bumble around the world, snapping at Christina and snacking on local delicacies at the most inopportune times. They weren’t going to win, so it’s good that Phil put them out of their misery. And it was misery for poor Christina. Yes, she said that she cherished the moments she got to spend with her father, but I could sense seething contempt just below the surface. Good luck with your marriage to that other guy from TAR, Christina. I hope the two of you are very happy together and move far, far away from your dear old dad.

Next week: The six remaining teams head to Austria, where it looks like they compete in a food challenge that Mallory isn’t enjoying, and the “Couple” are again fighting over directions.

The Amazing Race: Globetrotters, Cowboys, and Indians

I want to preface this recap by saying that I am slightly grumpy because I am out of wine, but I will soldier on with a vodka and tonic instead because that’s just the type of dedication I bring to these recaps.

I also have a correction from last week’s episode. The “Couple” did not U-Turn the Globetrotters. The Cheerleaders did. I apologize for any evil thoughts you may have sent to Kynt and Vyxsin and encourage you to direct all future evil thoughts at the Cheerleaders.

Okay, let’s get down to business!

The Cowboys were the first team to depart the pit stop at 2:14 p.m and learned that they had to travel to the Jin Fu Yi Zhan tea shop for a tasting of papaya and mango infused tea. What they didn’t know was that this tea would appear in a later leg of the race.

Father/Daughter left  two minutes after, then Deaf Kid and his Umbilical Cord. Deaf kid was pissed that they were staying in China, which may be a little bit racist.

Father/Daughter found the tea shop first, then the Cowboys showed up. Mallory said the tea tasted like peach. Close, very close. Not really. Christina asked what kind of tea it is, and learned it was papaya mango. Smart. Zev had no idea what it tasted like. Maybe like tea? At least say it tasted like tea.

The teams next had to travel by plane to Kolkata, India where they had to find the Town Hall to receive their next clue. When the teams arrived in India, they ran out of the airport like lunatics and/or rock stars. Lunatic rock stars. Think Russell Brand on speed, or just think Russell Brand.

All of the teams looked like they were having a fun time passing each other in India’s notoriously dangerous cabs, being generally silly, running red lights, playing chicken, almost getting hit by a truck. When they arrived at the Town Hall, they learned that they would have to spend the night outside because it didn’t open until the next morning. Big Easy said he was going to pitch a tent which was sort of TMI for TAR.

Oh ha! When the back of the pack showed up at the Town Hall, the Globetrotters told them to run! run! run! There’s a clue box and you have to sign up for a time! Father/Daughter and Deaf Kid and his Umbilical Cord were dodging and weaving trying to find the clue box! I love the Globetrotters, and everyone had a good laugh which they probably needed because they were about to sleep on the streets in India.

The gates opened at 10 a.m. and everyone ran inside where they were greeted by a Roadblock. The Roadblock was all about flavors. One team member had to participate in an ancient Indian tradition of tea tasting. The team members had to find the flavor of tea that they had tasted in China, about two days ago in an entirely different country. To make matters worse, there was a lot of tea! There were thousands and thousands of cups of tea to taste! I have to pee just looking at all of that tea.

Old Yeller did something smart. Rather than drink a thousand cups of tea, he smelled the cups and looked at the color and immediately chose the correct cup of tea. He basically just put the “amazing” in the Amazing Race. Rather than a regular clue, Old Yeller was handed a bottle of Snapple iced tea sans label. He popped the cap off and underneath it said to go to the Tiwari tea stall to find their next clue.

Zev took a sip and had no clue what the tea tasted like. Luke was totally confused. Everyone was just randomly bringing cups of tea to the judge. Then, Jet started smelling the teas and he found the correct cup. Smell, people, smell!

Kisha selected the correct tea next, but the Sisters were confused about the Snapple bottle. Rather than look under the cap, they began asking people where the Snapple factory was and asked their cab driver to take them there. Rookie mistake, Sisters.

Back at the mile-long tea tasting, Mallory began praying to Jeezus. In India. Wrong God, lady. Kynt  selected the correct tea, and Luke escalated his freak-out. Then, Mallory smelled the teas and was able to select the correct cup. Smell, people, smell!

There were three racers left tasting tea: Luke, Flight Time, and Zev. Zev selected the correct tea next, and Margie clapped for him which is either nice, or sign language telling Luke to hurry up.

Meanwhile, the Sisters wandered around in the middle of nowhere asking people where they make Snapple. Finally, Kisha got thirsty and opened up the bottle for a sip of tea and ah ha! There’s a clue under the cap!

The “Couple” arrived at the tea stall first and received their next clue. Detour! The teams had to decide between Hindu Art or Bengali Literature. In Hindu Art, teams had to paint, dress and adorn a statue of a Hindu God. In Bengali Literature teams had to go to a bookstore and collect eight stacks of books which must be taken to a school in a rickshaw.

The “Couple” chose Hindu Art and were very happy that the body of the statue had to be painted pink and accessorized with sparkly things, just like them. Whatever, people.

Father/Daughter chose Bengali Literature. They loaded the books into a large cage attached to the back of a bicycle which I guess is a rickshaw. Then, they climbed into the cage themselves. This might be the strangest mode of transportation in TAR history.

The Cowboys and the Nerds also chose the bookshop, while the Sisters, Old Yeller and the “Couple” did the painting. Old Yeller put in ear plugs to complete the task because the music was too loud for him. Sheesh, old people!

Flight Time and Deaf Kid were still enjoying hating the tea party. Flight Time got it wrong. Deaf Kid got it wrong. Flight Time got it wrong. Deaf Kid got it wrong. Flight Time finally got it…wrong again. Then, Flight Time chose correctly, leaving Deaf Kid as the only one left at the task. Deaf Kid was annoyed and frustrated. He was crying. He was wailing. It was sad, and also….ugh. He threw himself onto the floor in a crumpled, defeated mess, crying for his mother.

I’m sorry, but I have to jump in here. Nut up, Deaf Kid! You’re being a big baby. You’re being a momma’s boy. You need to suck it up and get the job done. Oh what? You heard me? Deaf Kid sucked it up and completed the task! All of the tea people hugged Deaf Kid and carried him on their shoulders like a hero and promised to name a special new tea after him. I think one of them suggested Sobbing American. It’s a white tea. Look for it in the beverage aisle at your local Whole Foods.

Father/Daughter finished the painting Detour first and were directed to the pit stop across town at the Fountain of Joy. The Nerds finished the book delivery next, and then the Cowboys.

The Globetrotters, on the other hand, arrived at the painting task just as Father/Daughter arrived at the pit stop as Team Number One. Oh look, there’s an Amazing Race-flavored Snapple and their reward is to be the first humans to taste the tea. The tea had previously only been tasted by special tasting helper monkeys, like in Raiders of the Lost Ark. If Father/Daugher survived this tasting, Snapple would put the tea on the market. They also got a Bollywood performance and 1,000,000 rupees which I am surprised to learn is over $20,000.

The Cowboys, Old Yeller and the Nerds were all stuck in a traffic jam on the way to the pit stop and arrived at the same time, just as Phil was rolling the lifeless bodies of Father/Daughter off of the mat. I’m kidding, they survived, look for the limited edition papaya mango Snapple in the beverage department of your local Whole Foods, right next to Sobbing American Tea. The “Couple” showed up a minute later, followed by the Sisters.

The Globetrotters were in a race for last place with Deaf Kid and his Umbilical Cord. Both teams chose the painting task, and the Globetrotters finished first. Before heading to the pit stop, Flight Time gave Deaf Kid and his Umbilical Cord a hug because the Globetrotters are just such wonderful people. Although they had trouble finding a cab, they finally got one and despite some fancy editing the Globetrotters got to the pit stop first.

Deaf Kid and his Umbilical Cord arrived holding hands which, ugh, is part of the problem. He’s deaf, Margie, not blind! Luke sat down on the mat and broke down in another round of tears when he learned that they had been eliminated from the race. He apologized to his Umbilical Cord, and she said she was proud of him. So that’s nice. They both looked completely exhausted so this was probably for the best.

The Race continues in two weeks, when the Sisters play with dung and Zev kind of freaks out from sensory overload. There are seven teams left so we’re getting down to the wire here. Anyone want to call a winner? I’ve got my money on the Cowboys, but the Sisters are looking pretty strong, too.

Finally, today CBS announced the Amazing Race will be renewed for a 19th race.

The Amazing Race: U-Turn-O-Rama

Where were we? Oh right, the “Couple” lost their fanny pack which contained all of their worldly and otherworldly possessions. Kynt had a queasy look about him and I got the impression that he knew he had left the waist-luggage on the gondola. Was he right? Yup. The “Couple” climbed all the way back up the mountain (via gondola) and there it was, waiting for them in some sort of makeshift lost-and-found. Kynt was so relieved that he kissed the fanny pack, which is more intimate than he has ever been with Vyxsin.

In the meantime, the Nerds learned they are still racing and had to travel by train to the city of Kunming where they were to search for their next clue in the Dounan Flower Market.

Deaf Kid and his Umbilical Cord arrived at the train station at noon and learn that there is only one train which left at 7 p.m. Sad trombones played as they realized that their lead was lost. Oh TAR, you’re such a tease with the transportation equalizers. Also? He can’t hear the sad trombones.

When the “Couple” finally reach Phil they were so overjoyed that they were still racing that Kynt kissed the clue! No he didn’t, but he wanted to kiss the clue a lot more than he wanted to kiss Vyxsin. Because they took the wrong flight, they incurred a 30 minute penalty which they would have to wait out at the next pit stop.

What happened next was strange and wonderful. It appears that Flight Time has been lugging a basketball halfway around the world in a giant fanny pack. So while they were waiting for their train, the Cowboys, the Sisters, and the Globetrotters shot some hoops in the parking lot while the Cheerleaders cheered. It was an amazing little glimpse at how much fun racing around the world can be, and I have made a mental note to bring a basketball the next time I find myself at a train station in China with seven hours to kill.

All teams boarded a triple-decker train to Kunming. What is a triple-decker train you ask? It’s a train with beds stacked three high. The top bunk looked about ten feet off of the ground, and there was no visible ladder so I assume climbing up involved a great deal of gymnastics. Or, if you’re the Globetrotters, just sitting down.

Upon arriving in Kunming, Old Yeller noted that by speaking Chinese, they have the home court advantage. Not to be outdone, the Nerds added that “Ron and Christina must know exactly where they’re going.” Because China is a small town?

The Sisters located the clue first amongst the flowery flowers of the flower market. Teams were directed to the Golden Horse and Jade Cock Memorial Arches to search for their next clue. No joke, I had to rewind three times because I thought Phil said “gay cock.” Now that would have been an interesting Detour.

Detour! The teams had a choice between honoring the past, or embracing the future. In Honor the Past, teams had to watch a traditional Tibetan performance and place a set of 15 dolls representing the characters in the show in the same order as they appeared on the stage. In Embrace the Future, teams had to offload a water heating system, carry it to the roof of a building, and properly install it.

Dance, dance, dance, dolls, dolls, dolls, and the Nerds finished the task and were the first team headed towards the dreaded Double U-Turn. The Sisters and Old Yeller were close on their heels. Because Old Yeller knows all of China everywhere, the two teams decided to follow Old Yeller’s cab.  Unfortunately, Old Yeller’s cab driver did not know China as well as they did and led all three teams to the wrong location. Oops! That’s what you get for following another team.

Over at Embracing the Future, Deaf Kid and Umbilical Cord lugged the materials up to the roof like champs! Behind them were the Cheerleaders and the “Couple” who seemed to already know about the dreaded Double U-Turn. The “Couple” were having a bit of trouble carrying heavy things because Kynt has wispy, pale little twigs for arm. To add insult to injury, the Cowboys blazed past them on the staircase like they were carrying marshmallows topped with feathers. The Globetrotters eventually showed up, picked up two toothpicks, and stepped onto the rooftop.

Deaf Kid and Umbilical Cord finished the task and headed for the dreaded Double U-Turn. When a team is U-Turned, they have to go back and complete the other task which can really slow a team down considerably. Deaf Kid arrived first and decided not to U-Turn anyone because they were pretty sure that they were in first place. Which they were. But still, it’s a race for a bazillion dollars! Play hard or don’t play at all, folks!  Another team that didn’t U-Turn anyone? The Cowboys. I don’t understand the nicey-nice strategy, but okay.

The “Couple” and the Cheerleaders arrived at the U-Turn almost at the same time, but the “Couple” muscled the Cheerleaders out of the way at the last second. First, they U-Turned the Globetrotters because they knew that they were still behind them. But what other team was behind them? Psst! They’re standing right behind you! The lightbulb went off in Kynt’s head and they U-Turned the Cheerleaders right to their faces! Ha ha! It was evil and awesome and the smartest thing they’ve done in days.

Roadblock! Teams had to take a cab to the Stone Forest outside of the city. Most of the teams bunched up and followed one cab to the Stone Forest where they had to reconstruct a 20-foot life-sized dinosaur model. The task looked really hard and physically exhausting.

The Cheerleaders arrived at the second task while the Globetrotters realized that they had been U-Turned. Poor Globetrotters. The Cheerleaders finished before they even showed up.  But, the Globetrotters made quick work of it and the Cheerleaders’ cab had to stop for gas, so the Globetrotters passed the Cheerleaders on the way to the Stone Forest.

The Nerds and Father/Daughter got totally lost and were having communication problems. At one point, they were miming “stone” and “forest.” As a result, they were the last two teams to arrive at the task.

Most teams were struggling to properly complete their dinosaur models. Father/Daughter took one look at the task and decided to use their Express Pass. Remember that? They got it for winning the first leg and it allows them to skip any task. Bam! Off to the pit stop at Green Light Park in Kun Ming Zhan!

The Cowboys did a great job of being careful and checking the diagram a million times and finished the task before the rest of the teams. They even let out a little yeeeeehaw! And, because Father/Daughter were having trouble finding a cab, the Cowboys passed them and won this leg of the Race! Another hearty yeeeehaw! and the ginger one even threw his hat in the air! And, rather than another romantic vacation, they each won $5,000 which they can spend on hats and belt buckles and other cowboy accessories. Good for you, Cowboys, I think you got your groove back!

Back at the task from hell, Jaimie was getting pissed, Zev was disassembling his dinosaur again, and Kynt climbed up on a ladder to grab the top of the dinosaur tail and did some sort of a swan dive onto the ground.

Umbilical Cord finished next, then the Sisters, then the “Couple” (who still have a 30 minute penalty to wait out), and then Big Easy who looked like he just picked up a few dinosaur bones and placed them at his feet. Finally Christina finished and I have to say, good for you, Ron. You kept your big mouth shut and let your daughter do the task without any berating or micromanaging. See how well that worked? The only teams left at the task were the Nerds and the Cheerleaders, and neither of them were even close to finishing.

Eventually, Justin finished his dinosaur. Jaimie looked like she wanted to give give up. She threw a mini-tantrum, waving her arms around like a tyrannosaurus rex, and…pressed on. Exhausted and broken, she finished the task knowing that they were going to be the last team to arrive. The Cheerleaders were eliminated, but I give them credit because they finally showed something closely resembling grace.

Next week, the teams are off to Calcutta, India and have to do a tea tasting that supposedly brings Luke to his breaking point (fingers crossed!). Also, Luke loses his sleeves.

So? Are you as happy as I am that the Globetrotters caught up and the Cheerleaders were eliminated? How badly did you want to join in that game of hoops at the bus terminal? And where exactly was Flight Time stashing that basketball?

The Amazing Race: Yakety Yak, Don’t Turn Back

Welcome back, Race spectators!

The teams started out at the pit stop at the mouth of Tokyo Bay in Japan, which is sort of disturbing timing considering the parade of horrible events that is still unfolding in that country. I would like to say a few words about it before diving into the recap, but I have no words. It is simply that awful.

The Nerds were the first team to arrive at the pit stop at 8:44am at departed at 8:44pm. Their destination is Jade Dragon Mountain in Li Jiang, China.  But, because there were so few available flights (really? Not a lot of flights from Japan to China? That seemed a little sketchy), all of the teams had to take the same designated flight to Kungming China and then book their own local transportation to Li Jiang.

Zev’s reaction? “There’s a lot of people in China, I’m not much of a people person.” Thank you for that insight, Zev.

Someone who is considerably more excited about going to China than Zev is Old Yeller because he and Christina speak Chinese.  On the opposite end of the happiness spectrum are The Sisters Who Had To Pee In China because it is the scene of their ill-timed nature break.  Also, China is where The Sisters and Deaf Guy And His Umbilical Cord had a kerfuffle during which one of the sisters called Umbilical Cord a bitch. Which she is.  Joining The Sisters in China Misery: Part Deux are The Cheerleaders who did not enjoy their brief stay the last time around because nobody spoke English or appreciated their inner beauty.

The teams had to drive themselves to the airport. Does anybody else find the Deaf Guy driving disturbing? I didn’t know that was allowed, but then again I’ve never really thought about it very deeply. I’m too lazy to Google “Deaf Driving,” but if someone wants to elaborate on the ins and outs of driving while hearing impaired, it would be greatly appreciated.

The drive to the airport was uneventful for all but one team—the “Couple.” They got very, very, very lost. Kynt was driving and Vyxsin was doing just an awful job of navigating and it was unclear how long they had been on the road but they left at night and it was daytime when she realized that the compass pointed in the wrong direction.  We soon learned that all of the other teams had three hours before their 9:50am flight.

Could the “Couple” actually miss the flight? Uh huh. It was 9am when they finally turned around and were headed in the right direction, but they were nowhere near the airport. The flight boarded at 9:20am and took off without them! The flight really took off without them! That rarely ever happens, and it may be the first time in TAR history that a team has missed a pre-arranged mandatory flight.  Whatever the case, it was not looking good for the “Couple.” The next flight to China left about five hours later, a lifetime in TAR years. But, they soldiered on.

Once in China, the teams scrambled to figure out how to get to Li Jiang first. There seemed to be a choice between trains and planes, but no automobiles.  All of the teams opted for a train, with Old Yeller being the only team to make it onto an earlier train.  It didn’t matter though because the first shuttle to Jade Dragon Mountain left at 8am which allowed the other teams to catch up.

In the meantime, Old Yeller stopped for a snack of what I think he called dragon balls. He thought they were delicious. He was very focused on food and annoyed his daughter throughout the entire leg of the race about snacks. “Can I have my yogurt now? Oh those little grilled fish look delicious! Let me just grab a few fried scorpions to tide me over.” It’s a race for a million dollars and he’s trying to turn China into a giant tapas bar.

The rest of the teams caught up with Old Yeller as they hopped onto shuttle buses headed up the mountain. They all noted that the “Couple” weren’t there. It has been days since anyone saw them.  The “Couple” actually arrived at 2:20am, but the airport was closed and the trains weren’t running that late so they found a hotel and took a nap. In the morning, they opted for a flight to Li Jiang, and before boarding the flight, Vyxsin realized that she left her passport at the security checkpoint. This team is just an absolute mess! Get it together, “Couple,” or you’re gonna be Philiminated!

While the “Couple” was bumbling through the airport, the other teams encountered a task called “Yak Yak Yak!” Since nothing called “Yak Yak Yak!” can ever be bad, the teams were in a generally pleasant mood as they saddled up their yaks and rode them across a river. The Cowboys made saddling up a yak look easy with their mad cowboy skills while the Nerds were having a bit of trouble getting on their Yak. The Globetrotters basically just stood there with their legs spread apart and when the yak walked underneath them, they sat down.

After the yak rides, the teams had to take the Jade Dragon Gondola three miles above sea level to get their next clue. The altitude was making teams woozy, and they all seemed to be having a good deal of trouble running.

Roadblock! One team member had to search tens of thousands of hanging charms for the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac and place the charms in the correct order on a wind chime. Do you know what wind chimes are for? Stupid people who don’t know that it is windy.

The Deaf Kid collected his charms first, but he got the assembly wrong. The Daughter got hers right so Father/Daughter were the first team out of the Roadblock. They then had to find a marked bus and travel to the old town of Li Jiang. Old Yeller finished next, then the Deaf Kid, the Cowboys, the Globetrotters, the Cheerleaders and the Sisters.  Zev was the only one left. He was looking for a rabbit charm and was incredibly frustrated.

In the meantime, the “Couple” headed up on the gondola. And we know it’s not just fancy editing because as the other teams were headed down on the Gondola, they passed the “Couple” headed up. Folks, we have a race on our hands! The “Couple” showed up while Zev was still trying to complete the task. He had found the last charm, but didn’t understand that he had to hang the charms in the order that they appear on the zodiac chart.

At the bottom of the mountain, Old Yeller hopped on a bus without checking to see if it was a marked bus. It wasn’t. It was just a regular old shuttle bus that didn’t have any doors. Old Yeller was pissed because they were going in the wrong direction which, naturally, was Christina’s fault.  The driver wouldn’t turn around, so Christina jumped out of a moving vehicle, landing on her back. I am not sure if she did this to win the race, or to end it once and for all. It was very, very strange. The bus finally stopped and Old Yeller got out. The two of them ran down an incline to the other buses which were already on the road, flailing their arms and yelling for the buses to stop. All of the teams ignored them (I think I heard the Cheerleaders tell their driver to speed up and head for the old man chomping on a fruit roll-up), but the Globetrotters stopped the bus because they are just wonderful people. I sure hope nice guys don’t finish last.

Once in the town, there was a boring thing about a zodiac sign and a wish. Then the teams had a choice between Hammer or Horn. In Hammer, teams had to pulverize hot molten candy. In Horn, teams had to carry a long ceremonial horn in a precession to a palace. All teams chose Hammer except the Cheerleaders and the Globetrotters.

Oh did we forget the Nerds and the “Couple”? While the rest of the teams were pounding candy with a hammer, Zev was struggling to figure out the arrangement of symbols and Vyxsin couldn’t find her last few charms. Zev finally realized that he had two goats and needed a horse. Ain’t that always the way it goes? Too many goats, not enough horses. He found the right one and finally finished the task while Vyxsin struggled to keep it together.

The hammering didn’t look that complicated as the teams blazed through the task. Back at the horns, the Cheerleaders realized that they wouldn’t be able to lift the horns and turned around to go to the other task. By the time they got back to the other task, the teams had finished and it was a race to the Eternal Tower in the center of the city.

Deaf Guy and his Umbilical Cord were the first team to arrive and won a romantic vacation to Aruba. Eew. Enjoy your couples massage. But surprise! They’re still racing!

All of the other teams checked in at the pit stop with what looked like not much time between them except for the “Couple.” While they eventually finished the charms task (are they still working on that?), the idiots left their fanny pack on the gondola. As is the rules with fanny packs, it contained all of their worldly possessions, including fairy dust, passports, and money. Now, I haven’t worn a fanny pack since…ever. But it is my understanding that these things clip around your waist for the sole purpose of not losing your stuff. I can understand why Old Yeller took off his fanny pack in the last episode since he was going to be submerged in water. But the “Couple”? No, that’s just stupid. And I don’t want to hear that it clashed with their “pink and black attack” outfits, because that pack was black. So if they had just renamed themselves the “pink and black fanny pack attack,” they wouldn’t be in this pickle.

Where were we? Oh right. All of the teams checked in except for the “Couple” who are totally screwed. Scenes from next week included a dreaded two headed double UTurn, and that’s about it. Did TAR stretch this out into a non-elimination “you’re still racing” to give the “Couple” time to catch up just like they did with the Cowboys? And will it even matter considering their latest bout of idiocy? And do the Globetrotters even have a chance of winning with their nicey-nice strategy?

The Amazing Race: Unfinished Episode

Hello. My name is Misslinda and I am an Amazing Race addict. There, that felt better.

This season, The Amazing Race rounded up “team favorites” to race around the world a second time. And by “team favorites,” they mean teams that we all love (The Harlem Globetrotters, The Cowboys, and Mel and Mike) mixed with teams that make us want to throw things at the television (The Cheerleaders, The Deaf Boy And His Umbilical Cord, The “Couple” With Zero Sexual Chemistry, and The Worst Father Ever And His Subservient Daughter) plus a few teams nobody even remembers (A Father/Daughter Team, Some Guy And Some Girl, Some Nerdy Guys, and The Sisters Who Had To Pee In China).

The eleven teams started out in Palm Springs, California and were told that the first ones to reach the mat would get an “Express Pass.” The Express Pass allows a team to skip one task at any point in the race. This is a very valuable pass because every team finds themselves completely screwed by a task that they just can’t finish without killing each other.

The teams ended up on two flights to Australia—the Earlier Flight, and the Later Flight. The Earlier Flight was scheduled to land 90 minutes before the Later Flight which is, by TAR standards, a pretty decent lead. Unfortunately, a passenger on the Earlier Flight had a heart attack, which necessitated landing in Hawaii and refueling. The eight teams on the Earlier Flight did not take this turn of events well and lamented the loss of their lead. Only The Globetrotters said that the important thing was that the passenger got the medical attention he needed. These guys are all class. If I wasn’t already rooting for them to win, I’d switch teams.

So the Earlier Flight becomes the Later Flight, and the Later Flight (containing Some Guy And Some Girl, Father/Daughter, and The Sisters) catches a lucky break at the expense of a poor man’s heart. Way to go, Later Flight.

Once in Sydney, Australia, the teams navigated public transportation to an aquarium. At the aquarium, one team member had to scuba dive in a tank filled with sharks and stingrays to find a giant compass the size of a personal-sized pizza. This is the point in the race where I state, for the millionth time, that I could never be on The Amazing Race. I can’t swim, and I can’t drive, so my racing skills are rather limited. But kudos to all of these people for suiting up and diving into a tank filled with teeth and other stabby things.

All teams found the compasses, with The Cowboys and The “Couple” lagging a bit behind. The compass was like a secret decoder ring and the teams’ next task was to translate strings of nautical flags into a message that would give them their next clue. This did not seem like a difficult task—match the flag with the corresponding flag on the compass to spell out sentences. The only difficulty seemed to be that the sentences were really long, and there were three of them. So some teams were frustrated and impatient and followed other teams to the next checkpoint with only parts of the clue, only to have to go back and try it again. Some teams begged for information from competing teams, while others worked together to cut the decoding time in half. Still others were totally stumped.

Some Guys appear to be working with The Globetrotters. How do I know this? Some Guys were wearing t-shirts that said “Harlem Globetrotters” in big bold letters and helped the Globetrotters with the clue. Other teams just sort of bunched together, aimlessly helping whomever asked, without having printed corresponding t-shirts ahead of time.

The clue led the teams to something called a “skiff” which looked like a tiny, not-very-seaworthy sailboat. The team members had to dangle off of the sides of this floating contraption and grab the next clue from a buoy. The Cheerleaders’ skiff capsized, trapping them underneath, which gave me hope that this would turn into A Very Special Amazing Race. Unfortunately, no such luck. They are fine, just a bit soggy. But, it did jumpstart The Cheerleaders’ habit of berating, yelling at, and ordering around the locals who are there to help them, so there’s something.

In the end, Some Guy And Some Girl made it to the finish line first, earning them the coveted Express Pass. Then Phil yelled, “Surprise! I know you’re tired from an 18-hour flight, scuba diving with sharks, and balancing on a scrap of plastic attached to a sail on some very choppy waters, but you are still racing! So go! Move! GET OUT OF HERE!” and kicked them off of the mat.

The only team that didn’t make it to the mat was The Cowboys. They were confounded by the nautical flags and all tuckered out from running back and forth to check and see if they got it right. And, since all of the other teams had already moved on, there was nobody left to help them. They would have to help themselves, and boy, did they look helpless. The episode is “to be continued,” so we will have to wait an entire week to find out if they catch up, which may be how long it will take for them to figure out the clue.

So, what did you think of this episode? Which teams are you rooting for? How long until The Worst Father Ever loses his cool? Are you looking forward to another season of squicky bedroom talk from The “Couple”?