Category Archives: Racing

Amazing Race 21 – Episode 8 – PENCILS DOWN! NEXT ROUND!

Can you recall a more fun episode of the Amazing Race where the end result was pretty obvious from the first minute? Let me put it simply – we are at our Final Five now and I ask if anyone really has a team they truly dislike? I mean, each team has had moments – especially in Moscow – where they had very relatable moments. I can honestly say – if Texas won the Race, I would not be that upset. I use them as the example because of the remaining five they are probably the one I have the least affection for – and that’s really no fault of their own. Trey has gotten such a boring edit it is hard to relate to the guy.

Let’s cut to the chase – we pick it up where we left off. Hairs looking around for their wascally cab driver who absconded with their passports and stuff. Apprentice was chilling by the poolside watching the Goats fail miserably at synchronized swimming – part of their deal to work their doomed leg together – and the other three teams chilled at the Pit Stop. As it turned out, the Goats failed all the way to the moment the pool closed for the night. No Detour for them. They get the clue along with a nice four-hour penalty. D’oh!

The two teams headed to the Roadblock and the Locks of Love. Abbie and Josh took the task and Josh revealed himself to be a lock savant. His skills in deciphering puzzles should earn him a spot on Survivor: Puzzle Edition enabling him to lock horns with Boston Rob and Jonathan Penner. He was done so quickly that he strolled over and helped an exhausted Abbie with the task. Two Roadblocks for the price of one. The Goats could have left her to flounder, abandon their pact and hope and pray that Abbie took four hours and one minute to finish. But that would be ridiculous. Their only hope was a non-elim as they went to the Mat.

They stepped on together – but they all knew Apprentice won this battle because of the Detour. But Phil stunned them with the news of one other team’s struggle. Interesting to note that he didn’t tell them who or why. Both were fine. I wondered about the penalty and if they chose to enforce it the next leg because of non-elim or due to the Hairs’ issue. I recall the Roadblock penalties get enforced during the leg, but cannot recall the deal with Detour failures in recent seasons. Emily and Nancy memorably blew the Detour in Thailand in Season 1 and had it enforced on that leg – but that could have changed.

The Hairs check in without ID and are given the chance – find the passports, complete the tasks and the Speed Bump, and have a chance at surviving. Did anyone out there think this was going to happen? Especially after we left them for such long swaths of time? Give them credit – they tried. Working in government I know how hard it is to get a passport with incredible short notice. Not impossible – but really difficult, especially from a foreign country. It was find it or be done – no hope for a new one for Abba. And finding the cabbie would be a needle in a haystack – and even if they found him, they had to hope he was honest and would still have the ID and bags.

Spoiler alert – they failed. Now their only chance was for a double non-elim – something the show has done twice in 20 previous Races (Seasons 3 and 11).

Meanwhile, we get to see the other five teams Race in Russia – and boy was it fun.

First fun part – the cabbies. Maybe to offset the villain who took the Hairs’ bags, this leg found a Rogue’s Gallery of Russian cabbies to drive our friends around. They were so much fun, I want a Russian version of Taxi with these guys filling the roles of Alex, Reverend Jim, Bobby, Elaine and Tony. We had Texas’ driver bring them to seedy Moscow instead of the Agriculture Academy. How do we know this? Broken bottles! And let’s not ignore his Mr. Noodle attire. Oh, the humanity! We had Magic Mike’s driver get them to the task on time, but then get a bit lackadaisical afterwards, choosing instead to munch on a Danish and sip some coffee. And the Twins’ get a jovial – what else for the Twins? – driver who uses his 37 years of cabbing experience to deduce that the ladies, cameraman and boom mike guy want nothing more than to get a McRib sandwich. They are only available for a limited time, after all.

The Hairs must be watching this back thinking – why couldn’t we get a character instead of a thief!

Second fun part – the geography professor. I want to hang out with this guy. He looks like he should have played the teacher in any hair metal band’s video from the 80s set in schools. Perhaps Hair James even knew him! But he sat at the front of the class while the Roadblockers tried to solve the math puzzle at the heart of the Roadblock challenge, waiting for his moment to shine. When time ran out, he stepped up in a thick, cartoony Russian accent – “PENCILS DOWN!” And after the many failures – “NEXT ROUND!” After the Racers solved it, he pulled the ole switcheroo – “I’m really sorry but…YOU WIN!” Top moment- Ryan’s big hug for Professor Awesome.

Third fun part – the Detour Part 1. Most Racers did the dancing task – which I would have passed on because it seems as if the other one was built especially for me. But first, dancing. This season has a bunch of physically fit contestants – especially three of the five teams remaining. Magic Mike are professional dancers. Abbie is a dance instructor. Ryan is a master of martial arts. Trey apparently played football, with Lexi cheering him on in full Bring It On mode. There was no doubt these teams would choose dancing. The Twins are no physical slouches either – so clearly we were going to get some dancing on. Best parts – seeing the true skills shine through. Abbie was a rock star, as was Y. MM James managed to grimace through his hurt ankle and still likely do much better than I could have on a bionic leg. Trey struggled – but not that badly.

Best part – Nat (I think – seriously, twins. I never stood a chance with them) splitting her pants in the course of dancing not once, but twice. Heh.

Fourth Fun Part – Detour Part 2 – How do you not take this one! As a history major, who took several Russian history classes, it was built for me. Go to a fake cocktail party and identify several famous figures in Russian history before moving on. I’ll bet if I walked in there, I’d have been done in about 45 seconds. You had to find Stalin, Lenin, Peter the Great, Cathy the Great, Tsar Nicky II, Brezhnev, Brezhnev’s eyebrows, and Trotsky. Sadly, no Yeltsin, so we can just look back on the ol’ drunken lug’s antics with President Clinton in clip form.

The Goats do this task – and while it is a missed opportunity not seeing them dance, it was the right call. They swept in and out of there as fast as I would – although they chose to linger and have a bit of fun. To be honest, I’d be tempted to do the same.

And we never got a chance to see the Hairs much. It was telling that when teams departed the Pit Stop that we never saw their departure times. Apprentice/Goats were probably hours behind the Top Three, but there was no telling just how far behind the Hairs were from the pack. Heck, they could have a full day behind after passport searching. They were doomed. They started the leg and all we saw was a mere glimpse into what tomfoolery that Speed Bump would be. We see the Hairs in video only – aired over a VO from their exit – of them riding in a limo with a Russian Orthodox priest. What POSSIBLY could they have been doing! Please CBS – put that on the website. Stat.

So, down to five teams. Likely one more non-elim coming. Maybe a Superleg. The Goats are longshots to win – barring any other huge missteps by other teams. And none of the other four teams has really separated from the pack – I could see any or all of them finishing in first place. And don’t forget – Apprentice is still in line to win $2 million.

Amazing Race 21 – Episode 7 – Note To Racers: Stop Losing Your Passports

I just don’t understand it. Maybe it’s a Moscow thing – this makes two trips to the Russian capitol where a team has had a passport issue. If you recall, Toni/Dallas got ousted in the Final Four of Season 13 because of a lost passport. You cannot move on to the next country unless you have a passport. More so than your cash supply, you should keep your passports stapled to your body – you can always beg for money, you can’t beg for official American identification.

So, I’ll say it up front in the column – we had a To Be Continued episode this week. This is something the show has done before when something very dramatic happens and the traditional split for the episodes is not as interesting. The Hairs’ inability to hold onto their identification was the key event of the leg – especially when coupled with the airport drama surrounding Apprentice and the Goats. It made perfect sense to cut the episode where they did.

Well, at least it makes sense if you assume that both a) the next leg takes place in Russia as well, and b) Leg 7 is a scheduled non-elimination leg. I assume both are true. This would mean the Hairs would have a chance to overcome this huge mistake – something past passport losers were not given a chance to do. It also means that Apprentice and the Goats may have a very big surprise coming their way at the Mat. Although, I would have loved to have seen what the show would have done in an Elimination leg if the two teams stepped on the Mat at the exact same time. Who would go home? Perhaps they would have to wrestle right there on the spot with Phil officiating. If that happened, my money is on Abbie kicking the Goats’ ass.

But back to the Hairs. At the Roadblock at the tail end of the leg, the Hairs left their cab to get the clue. Abba started right in with the Roadblock as James started to realize that the cab was still there with their bags. When they went to find the cab, it was gone. My question – did they pay the guy? If not, and they spent a lot of time at the Roadblock, the cabbie might have thought they stiffed him and took off with their stuff out of spite. We see them tell the cabbie to wait, and he nods, but nothing is said about payment made. It is also possible that it was simply a misunderstanding and they were extremely unlucky.

So where are they at now? They need to track down this cab. And if it is in fact a non-elim leg, they have plenty of time to get it done, even if that may just delay the inevitable. They have a small cushion with Apprentice and Goats still on the course and not yet at the Roadblock, but still, the clock is ticking. But how do you track down one cab in a city the size of Moscow where you do not speak the language? Not easily. I think their only chance is to find a local to give them tons of help. Call every single cab company in the city and ask them to check in with cabbies driving blue cabs that recently carried two long-haired freaky people from America with huge backpacks and companions carrying a camera and boom mike. And hope you not only find him, but that you do so quickly. They may start Leg 8 very far behind, and with a Speed Bump, but they would still be alive.

But these are really, really big ifs.

The other big event of the leg was the airport drama. You know something significant is going to happen these days when the show lingers on the airport for a while. In the old days this was standard, but recent legs have swept quickly through the ticket wrangling unless there was in issue. This leg…there was an issue. And it was the same issue which often comes up on the show in the airports – teams pushed it when it comes to transfer times. Apprentice and the Goats decide to take a flight through Frankfurt which has a one hour transfer time. This means that they are really threading the needle – any setbacks along the way could really come back to haunt them. I’ve been there in less pressure filled moments where a sprint across an airport is needed to make a transfer (hello Minneapolis and Dallas airports!).

As it turns out, the Goats (who chose this flight thanks to a coin flip! A coin flip!) and Apprentice are stuck on the tarmac in Turkey for about an hour. They arrive in Frankfurt with about three minutes to sprint through the empty terminal. They fail to make it and are stuck hours behind the other teams. In fact, they got lucky they didn’t miss the hours of operation at the next task. They could have been woefully behind as Teri/Ian and the Guidos were in All-Stars or as how the end game of Season 1 shook out.

Again I am going to ask about the villainy of Apprentice – who if we are to believe in their villainy, has to be the absolute worst villains since Ahnold took on Batman armed with horrible makeup and cheesy one-liners. While Ryan talks some smack about the other teams a bit, they act in a different manner. Sure, Abbie stonewalled Texas and the Twins in the airport – but it’s not like the Twins have been all that friendly back to Apprentice. Right? Meanwhile, in a situation where they could have gone head-to-head with the Goats and gone all out to avoid elimination, they elected to run the leg together, knowing they had such a huge deficit to overcome. Now, it is possible the could reneg on this before the leg ends next week, but when presented with their first chance to abandon the Goats at the Detour, Ryan and Abbie elected to wait around for the Goats to finish the task. Some villains.

But to me, the hero of this leg was the super-awesome synchronized swimming task master who had such little patience for the mockery these Americans were showing to her…ahem…sport right before her eyes. Loved the big hugs she got from Magic Mike after she finally freed them from the challenge. Loved her muttering about “already being afraid” when the Hairs arrived for the task. Also loved the utter impatience she had for Brent for his horrible swimming skills. I mean, he was so bad at it, one could say he had the reverse of skills. He had slliks. But she was my hero and if synchronized swimming wasn’t so incredibly lame, I’d be on board with watching her team compete in Rio in 2016.

Detour – The choice was Alphabetize or Synchronized – The first entailed going to the library and finding four books while using the card catalog and exploring the labyrinth which seems to make up the Moscow library. Oh yeah, it’s all in Russian. Because, you know, Russian people go there. I’m looking at you, Lexi. It’s not in English because…you’re in friggin’ Russia.

The second option entails heading to the pool and learning a routine with the up and coming next Russian Olympic synchronized swimming team. This is the task the show wanted the teams to take, since the visuals of bathing suits and silly water dancing were much more interesting than searching a library. To me, the library task seemed much easier. Texas and the Hairs go to the library and are baffled by the Cyrillic alphabet. Now, as a Russophile, I have a working knowledge of the alphabet – as basic as it gets. However, my question to these teams is simple – didn’t you buy a guide at the airport? Don’t all teams do that? All of those guides have this information included.

That said, despite her whining about the language, Texas did a great job on this task. Meanwhile, the Hairs unexpectedly bailed on it and went to the swimming task. I wonder if the requirement to get undressed for the task led to their carelessness with the passports, but that’s something we’ll never know. Meanwhile, Apprentice and the Goats had no choice – they were so far behind the others they were unable to go to the library since it was closed by the time they got the clue.

Roadblock – At Luzhkov Most, there are a whole bunch of Trees of Love, where people place locks on the trees to show their everlasting love. It is a great callback – to some extent – to the classic lock opening Roadblock from China in Season 6. This one is less challenging – they have a string of 10 locks and a ring of keys. Open all the locks. The Season 6 one was needle in the haystack – this one was more just methodical repetition.

So, we leave things for the week with three teams checked in at the Pit Stop – Texas, Magic Mike and the Twins – all of whom had a solid leg. The Hairs have been turned away by Phil and are now facing the daunting task of finding their passports. Apprentice has completed the Detour and is now hanging out waiting for the Goats to finish – they each still have to do the Roadblock. Drama!!

Amazing Race 21 – Episode 6 – “Bangladesh Good. Not Bad”

Yeah, yeah, late again. I know.

This week’s Amazing Race involved a change of setting – bye bye Bangladesh, hello Turkey. Teams got bunched up and sent to the European side of Turkey, only to be re-routed to the Asian side of Turkey – a fun usage of the unique nature of Turkey. But despite the tasks, the scrambling and the elimination of a team, one occurrence which took place this week stands out as the item of conversation.

Look, Twins, I want to like you guys. You are a strong team – you understand how to run this Race, and you are an all-female team who seems to be rather strong in challenges. You can be a good team. So, please, I am begging you, stop doing things that piss me off! I can almost live with the endless shouts of “Twinnie” and the still-unexplained hatred of Team Apprentice. I can live with never knowing which one of you is doing a challenge. I can live with having to look up each week how to spell your names. But, I am having a VERY hard time looking past your theft of another team’s money.

And it was a theft – no matter how you, other teams, or the Show try to spin it. I have read tweets from Racers that upon finding the Hairs’ lost money, the Twins were told to not give it back. I don’t buy it – and if true, shame on the producers. That’s manufactured reality show drama, which I do not care for – it would mean they chose to have the Hairs wander through impoverished Bangladesh because it would make for good TV. And, who’s going to stop the Twins from ignoring the producers and handing that cash back to the Hairs? What? Are they going to be kicked off the show for doing the right thing? And shame on Texas for going along with it – I give partial kudos for Trey for at least having the initial instinct that this whole idea was wrong.

The result of this cash incident is that I am officially in Team Hairs’ camp for rooting interest this season. They have been good for a funny quip, and have shown serious resolve – lost cash, injured knee, ailing father, etc. My respect for Twins and Texas took a serious hit – while respect for talent on the Race remains, respect for sportsmanship fallen to nil. This wasn’t the same thing as giving wrong directions to another team, or taking a cab from another team. To me this is taking away possessions from another team. To me, this is worse than Romber driving past Breg (second reference to that incident this season!) – where at least they could see the show staff tending to the brothers. This was something that could have been settled right away – how many people in that Bangladeshi travel agency were carrying around a wad of American cash? You pick it up and ask your fellow racers, “Hey, who lost some money?” And then you go beat them in the Race course fair and square.

Boo!

Ok, rant over. The Goats were going to be in a lot of trouble this week, as they left the Pit Stop six and a half hours behind the Hairs, and 90 minutes behind Magic Mike. They also got very lucky that there was an airport bunching. As it turns out, the key moment for the outcome of this leg was at the Istanbul airport. Teams had to decide whether or not to take a cab or the Metro to the Detour. Important Race note – 99 out of 100 times, it is better to take a cab. Always.

However, Magic Mike and the Truckers did not follow this plan, and they began to fall behind. Y realized that this was the Road to Elimination and the boys bolted for a cab. The Truckers, upon seeing this, failed to see the light themselves and stayed the course. Rob even mocked James Squared by calling them followers. The big guy is in his own world sometimes. As a result, they lagged behind the whole way, and while they caught up at the Roadblock, really needed someone to get lost in order to stay alive. They didn’t and met Browsie’s elimination. We are now down to six – five if you realize that the Goats have barely hung on for a few weeks now.

Detour – The choice was Simit or Scrub It – Simit is a kind of Turkish bagel. Teams had to stack a whole bunch of them on a tray, balance it on one person’s head, and then deliver them to three locations. The other task involved a spa and a massage. Somehow, two teams decided to haul bagels. Over a massage. There are few things in the world I would choose over a free massage. I mean, if you are offering one now, I’m ready to go. Crazy.

Granted, the Turkish deep tissue massage was a bit brutal, but still. You’ve been racing for a couple of weeks. You’re tired and dirty. Take the damn massage! The task did bring us the closest we’ve come in a while to seeing Racers naked. I remember the underwear race in Russia, the frozen dip in icy water, and a few other naked or near naked moments, but this one presented more than half of the Racers naked except for some flesh colored wrappings. I was looking down for a moment, looked up and thought Abbie was buck naked. I was surprised it made it past CBS censors. But, alas, it was an illusion. Male and female Race fans were a tad disappointed in the development.

Meanwhile, the Goats struggled with direction in more than one way. Before they had trouble getting directions to move the bagels, they had their Speed Bump. It was arguably the easiest one ever – eat ice cream. Really. That was it. Go to the marked stand, endure some goofy antics from the vendor, and eat ice cream. And they messed that up! They went to the wrong vendor, which meant they had to eat seconds. Normally, that would be far from a punishment, but, you know, the Race. Only the Truckers’ decision to do the bagel task made some sense – the massage would take a set time, the bagels could, in theory, be a chance to make up some time.

Roadblock – Serve Turkish Sherbet. This is the traditional Race task of selling a local product until you reach a certain level of sales. I would imagine it would be fairly easy to do this kind of task since the locals would have the fascination issue going on – crazy Americans with cameras selling treats. Who wouldn’t buy from them?

Anything of interest here? Actually yes. Lexi’s cheerleading skills came into play as she worked the crowd like a master. Ryan’s Apprentice skills come in as he turned it into a challenge from that show – he found a dude and hired him to help him out for a percentage of the sales. It meant selling more than needed, but at least he had some help. And Brent also showed some great skill in working the crowd as his sales history came into play. Oh, and Chip James found some women. Duh.

In the end, Texas earns their first win, and the Truckers get booted. Rob may have been a stubborn Racer, but he went out with class. He praised his wife, who without her, he’d be nothing.

The Amazing Race, Nov. 4 – Bad, Bad, Bad Karma

It was a great relief to see Josh and Brent, AKA The Beekman Boys, saved last week by the non-elimination. It couldn't have happened to a more deserving team. However, they have a lot of work ahead of them to now fight back. They have time and an extra task against them, but will be traveling to Istanbul, so hopefully they'll have a time equalizer of a flight ahead of them as well to make up a little ground.

The first team to leave from Bangladesh are Rockers James and Abba at 8:30 AM. Their clue tells them to fly to Istanbul, then make their way to the Kabatas Ferry Terminal to find their next clue. They have $100 for this leg of the Race. As they head to a travel agency, Abba discusses the problems he's having with both his knees, saying he's in pain. There's no quit and no surrender in him though, as he says he will have to cut them off before they cause him to stop.

Abbie and Ryan leave at 11:04 AM and head to the same travel agency. They talk about how crowded and hot they found Bangladesh and warn that “next time you're at home and your Samsung 52″ starts to go fuzzy on you, don't bitch about it,” obviously realizing there are more important heady issues out there.

Sisters Natalie and Nadiya leave more than an hour later at 12:10 PM. They talk about the two teams ahead of them and mention that while Abbie and Ryan are competitive, Ryan rubs people the wrong way. They have no animosity, but find that the other team are just “two weirdos.” Right, no animosity.

Monster Truck team Rob and Kelley leave at 12:31 PM, and Rob denies the first cab that offers them a ride, plucking one out that he sees parked, asking whose cab it is. He recognizes that people don't know him. He uses his cockiness and aggressiveness to make himself overcome any obstacles that might be put in front of him. Rob doesn't get drive form other people; he makes his own drive.

James and Abba are somehow at the travel agency at the same time as the Sisters and Abbie and Ryan. There is only one fight, and it will get into Istanbul at 6:25 AM. Ryan complains about the two most annoying teams, the Rockers and the Twisted Sisters, all with hair the same length. He's tired of them and just wants to get them out of the Race.

Trey and Lexi leave at 12:53 PM, and Jaymes and James leave at 1:30 PM. Rob and Kelley arrive at the travel agency and run into Abbie and Ryan leaving and the teach give each other warm embraces. Abbie mentions how the other three teams are scheming up there, but it doesn't seem to bother Ryan who believes if you put those six people together you get about six brain cells. Trey and Lexi arrive to join the party as well.

Beekman Boys Josh and Brent are the last to leave at 3:04 PM. They know they're starting hours behind the others, plus have a Speed Bump, so they recognize that they have a lot of obstacles in front of them. They're not quitters, though, and when they lost their jobs and had to save their farm, they just buckled down and did it. They're happy to leave Bangladesh, despite it being a fun country with great people.

The other teams are still holed up in the travel agency all fighting for time on the one empty computer. The Sisters see a wad of American money sitting there and start to ask whose it is, then decide not to say anything, knowing it belongs to the Rockers. They laugh about it with Trey and Lexi, who wonders if this will be a game-changer for them. Natalie has a good conscience, but the closer they get to the finish line, the drive gets stronger. She knows Lexi is on the same page as she and Nadiya, but Trey needed some convincing to not say anything. I'm a little lost how this equals a good conscience.

Abba starts looking for the money, and seeing the zipper open, thinks it fell out in the cab. James tells them there's nothing they can do about it now. They know it's bad to beg in a place like this where there is so much poverty, so they head to a business district hoping to get to some people that actually have money.

At the airport, the Sisters laugh about feeling guilty, so split the money with Trey and Lexi, saying they're Christians, so maybe they'll pray for them. They know it has to be the Rockers' money. James and Abba get some money from a woman on the street, then get more and more from the locals. Abba can't even begin to express his gratitude as they end up making all that money back that they needed to move on in the Race. They don't want the other teams to know they lost their money, as they don't want them to see their weakness.

All the teams get on that same flight and reach Istanbul the next morning. The Rockers are the first to find a cab and want to stay in the lead. Rob/Kelley and James2 take the subway instead of cabbing it. Josh and Brent opt for the cabs, saying that it's faster as long as there's no traffic, and they need to take the fastest way possible because of the Speed Bump ahead.

The Rockers get to the ferry first and find a clue that welcomes them to Europe, then tells them to take a ferry back to Asia. The city is the only one in the world that is split between two continents. Once ferried back to Asia, they will search the Uskadar Terminal for the next clue. The Rockers hit their ferry by themselves, feeling like it's a charter and they're back on tour.

The Sisters are the next to arrive, followed by Abbie and Ryan. Trey and Lexi follow with the Beekman Boys right behind. These teams all hit the next boat. The Sisters say they feel bad for the Chippendales and Monster Truck. The locals are telling the two teams on the train that there isn't much traffic at this time and they'll be making lots of stops in the train. James2 decide to get off the train and hit a cab. Monster Truck is wondering if they know something they don't. Rob figures they just want to group together with everyone else, because they're followers. He feels this could be the leg that gets them the win.

Amazing Race 21 – Episode 5 – Bamboo In The Face Is Always Funny

Before I start, two things.

First, the lateness of this column is due to one thing and one thing only. Sandy. Granted, I am often late with things anyway, but this time…well…I’ve been very distracted. I am copying a piece of my Survivor article here now – While we poke fun and tease in columns such as this, we have to always remember that they are all real people, not scripted characters. In a related note, this column went up a couple of days late – not an uncommon occurrence for me with my other columns, but not often for Survivor. I am a Maryland resident, but I will always be a New Yorker at heart and this week has certainly struck close to home. Literally, figuratively and emotionally. If you have the ability to do so – please show some love to New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and any of the other states that faced damages from North Carolina all the way up the coast to New England. And maybe, just maybe, when the last body is found, the last neighborhood given power, and the rebuild begins in earnest, maybe we can have a real grown-up national discussion about climate change.

The second thing is to reiterate that the personalities we see are show personalities. They may be a reflection of the people in real life – character sometimes shows or vanishes in crisis situations – but they are just edited snippets of real people. I ripped the Blondes a new one a couple of weeks ago in this column. Brittany did respond to me via Twitter – somewhat sarcastically – but she took the time to comment on some stranger’s insults to her. She could have gone a totally different direction.

In addition, the Twins and Apprentice have also responded to me via Twitter – both have been very good-natured. Of course, I have defended Apprentice, and so it isn’t really a giant leap to be nice back. The Twins have taken all of the ribbing with very good-natured. They may be crazy and annoying to watch, but they know they are watching a cartoon version of themselves on screen. Self-awareness goes a long way in life – and it is really important on reality shows.

Anyway, at this point there is no real need to hide any spoilers. This was a non-elimination leg and the Goats managed to survive as a result. They had an especially lackluster leg and got very, very lucky this didn’t result in their ouster.

The Amazing Race, Oct. 28 – What a Partnership Is All About

They haven't done a non-elimination yet on this season of The Amazing Race, and it leaves me on the edge of my seat just waiting for it. While they do change it up all the time, for at least the past handful or so of seasons, in the first few weeks they have been having either a non-elimination leg or one where the leg isn't over by the time the racers see Phil Keoghan.. We haven't seen either of those situations yet. Will we finally get one tonight?

While James and Abba were the first team to arrive at the pit stop, James opens this week's show two hours before he and Abba are due to leave the pit stop mentioning that before they left for the Race his dad was getting tests. He's had cancer for a number of years. James gets to chat with his wife who tells him that his dad's cancer is indeed stage 4 with no chance for remission. They have a good cry together. He then says it's good motivation for the Race. It was just fun and games before, and still is, but there will be a place in his heart where he's going to have a little more push.

James and Abba end up leaving the pit stop at 7:39 AM. Their clue tells them to make their way to the Jatrabari Market to find a vendor selling eggplant to get their next clue. They can't believe how crowded it is here in Bangladesh. They find a cab stand and start for the market. They want to keep their lead and hope to never see another team again. The “Long Hairs” find the vendor and receive another clue telling them to make their way to Ferry Ghat Road under a bridge to get their next clue.

Abbie and Ryan leave over two hours later at 9:41 AM. He mentions they want to be known as the strongest team to ever compete in the Race. He really wants the record of the most legs won that Rachel and Dave just earned with eight won legs. They've won two, so need to get going with this.

Sisters Natalie and Nadiya leave one minute later. They're the only all female team left and recognize that they're the only team without a powerhouse man or two men on it. They're not just hanging with them; they're beating them. It feels amazing, and they don't believe they're going anywhere.

James and Abba make it to the cluebox under the bridge and find a Roadblock. Hearing that it's a “heavy” task, James offers to take it on, as Abba was having problems with his knees after the last leg. One member from each team must use sticks and ropes to construct a rudimentary scale, then balance sticks on one side and stones on the other. Once it's in balance, they'll receive the next clue.

Forty years ago James was a Boy Scout and is trying to utilize those old lessons, despite the fact that throughout the 80s he promises he was no Boy Scout. Abba knows James is pretty good with the mechanical things. He doesn't get approved the first time out and observing the sample figures it has something to do with the type of ropes he used but can't figure out where to find the correct ropes.

The Sisters and Abbie/Ryan are arranging taxis at the same time. Natalie and Nadiya are saying they need to beat the “goras,” which they admit means “the white people.” They say it's not derogatory; it's just the color white. Sure, the word might not be derogatory, but the thought sure seems to be.

James finally finds the thinner ropes he was looking for and dresses down the local sitting there, telling him he could have told him those ropes were there. The other two teams are arriving at the market and start searching for the vendor. The sisters are the first to find him, followed by Abbie and Ryan.

Josh and Brent are the fourth team to leave at 10:53 AM. Josh mentions that he and Brent have been together for fourteen years. He likes to say together for ten and apart for four, as he still works in the city five days a week, then comes home for the weekends. Brent lives at the farm full time. It's become comfortable for them, and he knows that's not a good thing.

Rob and Kelley leave at 10:59 AM, and he says Kelley is playing a huge part in the Race. She's so quiet and reserved, but her competitiveness is amazing. She is a professional barrel racer at the rodeo and works really hard to be a winner. She'd rather come in under the radar, then take the money and go home.

Jaymes and James leave at 11:10 AM. James finally gets his scale approved and starts trying to create a balance. He says it's so close he can taste it. He gets it approved and they receive their next clue, a Detour – Straw Dogs or Bamboo Jungles.

In Straw Dogs, teams will whip unprocessed jute on a bed of giant nails to untangle the fibers. After twenty bales of this, they need to transfer it to the machines that will manufacture it into bags. At the end of the production line, they'll get the next clue. In Bamboo Jungle, teams will collect bamboo poles of various lengths and load them onto a rickshaw, then deliver them to a construction site. The Long Hairs decide to do bamboo.

Josh and Brent look for a cab while Abbie and Ryan are the next to arrive at the Roadblock. They decide it's not that heavy and that Abbie can do it, despite the fact she admits to not knowing what she's doing. Natalie and Nadiya arrive, and Nadiya decides to do it. Ryan is getting irritated with them again and starts shouting, “Go for the Brownies. Twinnies!” The sisters decide he's a tool. Abbie asks Nadiya if she's built a scale before, and she cracks that she has a “bloody third-world scale in the back of my garden” and that she ties her sister together.

Josh and Brent are still searching for a taxi stand and hope the Monster Truck team is having troubles as well. In fact they are, until they see James2 grab a cab. They hop in a cab as well and tell the driver to follow the other taxi.

Amazing Race 21 – Ep 4 – C’Mon Twinnie!! Long, Strong and Hard!

A strange thing began to happen during this week’s Amazing Race – the team I think the show wants me to root for began to annoy me to epic proportions, while the team I think I am not supposed to like began to grow on me quite a bit. This phenomenon truly took form two other times in Race history. The first was the Charla/Mirna vs. Colin/Christie battle in Season 5. The world loved the cousin team, except for me. They were nails on the chalkboard whenever they spoke, and Mirna was just as much of a villain, if not more of one, than Colin. The worst things Colin did were to himself and his own team (i.e. almost going to jail for failing to pay a cabbie). I rooted hard for the girls to lose and for the intense Texan to win that season and would have loved for C&C Music Factory to have come back for All-Stars (supposedly Christie’s pregnancy held them back)

Again, in Season 7 I think we were meant to root against Rob/Amber and root for the snarky Lynn/Alex. Instead, I found the cattiness of the boys to be too much, while Romber ran far from a villainous Race. Their big villain moment – not stopping to check on Breg after their car crash. Which, in theory, was just racing. Again, I was against the grain on that one.

This season, I feel as if the editing wants us to root for the Twins. They are shown in such a way that I think the editors would like us to pull for their enthusiasm. But the opposite is working on me. I want to ram a sewing needle through my eye every time they talk. I am sick of every Sri Lankan reference they make – it’s like S7’s Ron constantly talking about Iraq. It’s becoming a drinking game. The ladies speak like a bad cheerleading squad all the time – specifically one which was erased of all memory and thought and are only now beginning to relearn the English language and require constant repetition to fire up the ole neurons in the brain.

Wanna hear the most annoying sound? C’mon Twinnie!!!!

Meanwhile, at one point the Twins called Team Apprentice a couple of idiots, and another time called them psychotic. Am I alone in wondering what > alternate amber-inundated universe they are living in? Nothing I have seen of Apprentice makes me think villain from those two. Even their self-proclamed intensity has yet to make its way on screen. In fact, they had an incredibly endearing moment during the Detour. When they chose to construct a mattress, they did so because of Abbie’s experience during her one year at the Fashion Institute. Ryan was wise enough to step back, praise her skills and tell her to tell him what to do. This was no alpha male ego problems taking hold here – it was team first. Now, I don’t know what those broad hand gestures they were doing at the beginning of the leg were all about. That was weird. I couldn’t tell if they were landing a plane, playing a bad game of charades with Phil or telling me I needed to steal second base.
Even Apprentice and the other teams have begun to grow tired of Team Twinnie’s…volume. During the Roadblock, several of them looked about ready to start shoving that bus spackle down the Twins’ constantly-open pie holes. The best part was Abbie’s fake gun blast to the head in the background as the Twins went on and on. > Their volume not only goes to 11 – it stays at 11. As George Carlin once said about the broken air conditioning – it’s either effin’ on, or effin’ off. Pick one. I pick effin’ off, please.

Anyway, the Race went from Indonesia to Bangladesh which could be renamed “The Country Without A Sanitation Department.” You know you’re country is filthy when the Amazing Race task assigned to your region is cleaning up dead rats. I mean, it doesn’t even have roads in some places in the capitol city! This leg may have featured the dirtiest inhabited city ever on the show. More than anything from India. At least, that’s the way it looked to me.

Speaking of the rats, the Hairs were the lucky team this week to take part in the Fast Forward. I still lament the loss of the weekly Fast Forward option. They had to go to three locations and collect several dead rats as part of the cleanup of the city’s vermin problem. You know you have a dirty city when the term “vermin problem” is used and reality show contestants are recruited to help out. The one thing interesting to me was that there really wasn’t much of a search for the rodent corpses involved. They were just kind of placed in a pot upon arrival at the location. I think it would have been some interesting visuals to have the two of them looking around the sewers and visible piles of trash looking for the bodies, or even better, have them chase them down and bludgeon them with their backpacks.

Although, if my kid went trick or treating and got a bag full of rats, well, > even Charlie Brown would be offended.

But they found the rats – the real rats, not the proverbial ones from the music industry – and made their way in first place. That FF finish kept Team Apprentice out of the top spot for the third time in four weeks. Make no mistake – they are going to be a force this season, barring some random event or unexpected unforced error. I can see them and Magic Mike battling it out down the stretch for the win. And how interesting would that be – Apprentice with a shot at $2 million. Only Sandra from Survivor has pulled that off and she had to starve herself for about 80 days to get that done
Meanwhile, Fantasy Island struggled. Again. Gary is a superfan – and as a fellow superfan, I appreciate that. And I have no idea how good or bad I would perform on the Race. My issues with directions would probably lead to some serious car meltdown at some point. However, Fantasy Island did not do well on anything in four legs. This was an overmatched team – and one that appeared defeated before this leg even began. I liked these guys a lot, but this was a very poor Race team.

The Amazing Race, Oct. 21 – The Physically Demanding Race

Gary and Will have to find a way to get their act together this week. They keep barely squeaking by each week. The only thing that saved them last week was Caitlin and Brittany's unfortunate luck to have a rickshaw driver who didn't know where he was going that was paired with their inability to realize they were in a country with people who didn't speak English. Gary and Will just have to find a way to do it.

The first team to leave Indonesia are Abbie and Ryan at 9:52 PM. Their clue tells them to fly to Dhaka, Bangladesh, where they will make their way to a repair shop to pick up their next clue. They babble something about either being first place nerds, or telling the other nerds they're in first place. They think it's nice to have a lead, even if it's just a few minutes.

Trey and Lexi are the next to depart, leaving just two minutes later. She says they are absolutely exceeding their expectations. Because they haven't traveled, they went into it blindly, but she thinks they have their feet wet and are due for a first place this leg. She knows they need to stay on their toes and not take anything for granted.

Abbie and Ryan land at a travel agency and and hear about a flight the next morning on Singapore Air leaving at 10 AM. They ask for anything with connections that will get then there more quickly and are told this is probably the best choice. Trey and Lexi arrive and hear the same spiel.

Without the drama of watching the other teams leave, just to see them nab the same flight, all the teams now make it on to the 10 AM flight. Jaymes and James discuss it being anybody's game, and add, “why not ours?”

Gary says the way they came back from the last leg was probably the greatest comeback ever. He thinks they're representing the superfans in this race. Will compares them to the Little Engine That Could. They never figured out who U-Turned them, but figure it was Rob and Kelley, which it was, but they're going to act like they don't know. Rob knows they think it was him and Kelley, but he's going to lie and say he doesn't know what they're talking about. They plan to just stay in front of them to not have to worry about getting U-Turned themselves.

The flight lands in Bangladesh and everyone darts to get cabs. Rob and Kelley go to a taxi stand inside to arrange their transportation, while the others are running out into the busy streets to find theirs. Jumping in a cab, Abbie calls it insane, and Ryan “very third world.” There are no lanes of traffic. It's just vehicles, bicycles, and teams of animals all over the place.

Ryan adds it's all aggressive dudes, and they don't want anything to do with them. Sisters Natalie and Nadyia refer to it as “Third World Grand Theft Auto” minus the bulls. James2 compares it to a symphony of cars. Longhair James calls it the best roller coaster ride he's ever been on. Josh is wondering if his and Brent's goats would get along with the goats here. Trey and Lexi are frustrated when their driver stops to get gas. Will and Gary argue if they're putting up with the luck of the draw or not. Rob and Kelley's driver stops by the landfill, and she jokes it smells really good. Abbie and Ryan refer to the experience as “Funky Monkey.”

Abbie and Ryan get to the repair shop to get their clue first, followed by the Sisters. They find a Roadblock. One person from each team will use body putty to fill in the damage on a city bus, and then sand it ready for painting. They also need to remove three pairs of seats and deliver them to the refurbishing area.

Trey is saying he'll do this one, as does Natalie. There is a Fast Forward on this leg as well, but but both teams decide they don't need it. James2 arrive, and James will be doing the Roadblock. Nadiya knows it's more of a boys' challenge, so she thinks she and her sister have to pick up the pace on this one. Trey explains he has to start with putty, adding color, and and then mix it. Nadiya tells her sister they're the only “brownies” there and have to win.

Rob and Kelley arrive with Rob deciding he'll do it, knowing it's something he can handle. Kelley adds they do all their own repairs on their monster trucks, so he knows this is something he can handle. James finally gets the can of putty open. James and Abba arrive and decide they'll do this Fast Forward. They will have to become rat-catching assistants, filling a big bag with dead rats from three separate locations. Blech.

Josh and Brent arrive, and Josh decides he'll repair the bus. Ryan is complaining it's hard for him to concentrate with the Sri Lanka girls there. Abbie actually does a fairly good impression of them. Nadiya is yelling that Natalie is the only girl there. Trey and Lexi arrive with Trey deciding he'll do it, and Gary and Will arrive in last place yet again, and decide Gary will do it.

James and Abba arrive at the Fast Forward. As they embark, not too pleased with the task, James remarks, “Rats!” Ryan finishes the first part of the Roadblock, but can't read the next part of his clue after getting putty all over it. He offers to help James do his sanding if he'll share their clue with them. He agrees. Natalie is told hers isn't smooth enough before she can start sanding. Lexi tells Trey to observe the way Rob is doing it, and Will glances that direction as well.

Amazing Race 21 – Ep 3 – You Can Be Pretty And Ugly At The Same Time

Before I get into the wonders of Race Karma – which I don’t believe in when it comes to using the U-Turn, etc., but I do when it comes to attitude – I want to just give a small lesson to all future Racers.

I don’t care how good looking you are, or think you are. I don’t care if you have no experience outside of your own small town. I don’t care if you are the smartest person in your circle of friends. I don’t care if you’ve always gotten your way and are not used to struggle. I don’t want to hear about comfort zones. I don’t care if you are super tired and hungry on the Race. I don’t care about any of these things. As a fellow American I only ask one thing of you – don’t make us look like pinheads. One way you can avoid making Americans look like pinheads…don’t assume everyone in the world speaks English. Especially in countries where the British Empire didn’t do a whole lot of conquering.

It is the height of arrogance to assume that everyone in the world is just like you, and around solely to service you. It is the whole dislike of foreigners which is a national disgrace in some circles – leading to some politically charged policies (i.e. a giant fence stretching thousands of miles) and in my opinion, some awful veiled racism. It’s even worse (I guess that makes this the height of arrogance) to then go into another country with the same attitude. Do you go to your neighbor’s house and rearrange their closets because it isn’t exactly like yours? Ugh – it just makes me so angry to watch people treat other people like that when all they are doing is their jobs, or actually trying to be a helpful citizen.

The Blondes are the latest team in a long line of teams to act like American Asses. I don’t care how pretty you look, when you behave like this you look like an ogre. Watching Brittany and Caitlin – but mostly Brittany – vent their small minded frustrations out on various Indonesians was sickening. Shouting at one man. IN. STILTED. LOUD. VOICES. Was just pathetic. Yes, please shout at a man trying to help you in the train station and treat him like a moron because you don’t speak his language. Classy. She kept asking if “people like us” were through there – and the subtext to that statement is just perfect. No Blondes, there was nobody like you there. The funny thing is, you’d take that as a complement when I mean it as an insult.

Later, the Blondes found themselves in a race with Fantasy Island to avoid elimination while riding on little carts called becaks. These are basically the bicycle powered cabs that always get in my lane as I try to navigate around the Washington Monument on the way home from work. I hate them here, and would probably hate them there. However, the Blondes had to ride one – in fact, all of the teams did. And only the Blondes had a problem with the driver. The Twins actually avoided a skinny driver in order to find one with more powerful legs. The Blondes managed to shout at him. A lot. Including an awesome moment when they tried to pay him where Brittany continued to shout. HOW. MUCH. IS. IT? It turns out it cost “50” for them. A moment later we see Fantasy Island pay “2” for what we can assume was the same trip. HA!
They managed to get lost on the way to the U-Turn mat on this little contraption and as a result found themselves at one part of the Detour as Fantasy Island performed their U-Turn mandated task. Eventually the teams were neck and neck and at a literal fork in the road. The Islanders went right, the Blondes went left. Or should I say, wrong.

And they are out. Unlike the classy manner in which Amy/Dan went out last week thanks to a poor cab driver, the girls were ready to blame the driver and claim they were a stronger team than the Islanders. Nobody forced you ladies to be in the back of the pack and thus in the position to screw up. No one forced you to treat the man with derision rather than kindness. No one forced you to stay with a poor driver instead of getting out and finding a new one. You lost. Suck it up and stop saying the sun was in your eyes. Brittany became the first Racer I have ever unfollowed on Twitter because of her bad show behavior – and for her political comments which I found to be rather offensive. I see no loss in their departure from the Race.
Looks go a long way sometimes – but sometimes, it doesn’t make you attractive.

The Amazing Race, Oct. 14 – So Hot, Could Fry an Egg on My Head

It was kind of a surprise to see Amy and Daniel eliminated last week on The Amazing Race. And for it to come because of a bad taxi driver is always hard to see. They were supposed to be major contenders and were doing so well. It's just a part of the Race, though, and what they need to expect.

The first team to leave Indonesia tonight are the sisters, Natalie and Nadiya, at 6:07 AM. Their clue tells them to make their way to Antika Jaya Padang Restaurant to pick up their next clue. They are also warned of a Double U-Turn ahead. If I were racing, I'd be very worried every time I saw “restaurant.” Last time they had to eat Fallopian Tubes. The sisters are very excited to be leaving first and that they have the Express Pass. They only plan to use it to get first place or avoid elimination. They ask locals for directions to the restaurant.

Trey and Lexi are the next to depart at 6:12 AM. They are continuing their alliance with the sisters, even though they know they see them as “the biggest hillbillies.” Lexi thinks in the long run that it will pay off for them. One of the sisters suggests they go to the restaurant with “the stupid Chippendales.”

Jaymes and James just happen to be next, leaving four minutes later. They say they live in Vegas, but don't want anyone to let that fool them, as they're really a Virginia boy and Maine boy. They guarantee they're good people. They catch up to the other two teams and search together for the restaurant. James thinks it's good to align with other teams, especially in the beginning, as it keeps you from being eliminated too early.

Abbie and Ryan leave at 6:19 AM. He says it's hard to race as a couple, as sometimes they are competitive with each other. It's just their nature because of her dance and his jujitsu. The pressure is increased even more for them because of the $2 million on the line for them after winning the first leg. He squeezes her head, and she does a really weird “heeheehee” thing. They meet up with the other teams as they all search together. Trey and Lexi are the first to find out where it is and the others follow suit.

The next team to leave at 6:26 AM are Josh and Brent. Josh thinks the teams are starting to divide into two groups, the alphas and the others. The alphas are all really focused on winning, and the others are just focused on doing their best, knowing they'll win if they do their best. More often than not it's great people who end up winning, and they believe they are great people.

James and Abba leave at 6:34 AM. Ababa says they are just doing their own thing and being different. If anyone thought they were just long-haired guys who aren't smart and are slow and out of shape, once they got a chance to run, they got a chance to see something different, and it might have surprised everybody.

Trey and Lexi are the first to find the restaurant and it's a Roadblock. Uh-oh. One person from each team will have to serve up twenty plates of food all at once Padang style. They must carry all plates in their arms, and if anything drops, they have to start over. Lexi does the Roadblock and oddly decides to try it with her backpack still on.

The other teams start to arrive at the restaurant, with Brent, Ryan, and Jaymes opting to do the Roadblock. Lexi is complaining that it's pinching her thumbs. The sisters haven't made it there yet and seem to have caught the bad cab driver curse. They get out of the cab and try to find another to start over.

Caitlin and Brittany leave at 7:08 AM and say they have never been a part of something as big as the Race. Caitlin says they're going to have emotions come out that they've never had before, but you'll see her get really angry before you see her cry. Brittany says she can get punched in the face and still not cry. “There's no crying in baseball.”

Jaymes and Lexi are struggling with the dishes. Lexi finally gets an armload, and just when she starts to deliver them, they all fall. Ryan gets his dishes to the table, and Jaymes says his first job was working at a pancake house, and when he got to Vegas, he was serving drinks, so he knows how to do this. He gets to the table promising he's not going to spill it. Ryan gets his delivered, as Lexi gives it another stab, and Brent drops his dishes. Jaymes gets his delivered as well.

James2 and Abbie and Ryan get their next clue telling them to make their way to Surabaya Gubeng Train Station where they'll take the train to another town. While on the train they need to keep their eyes open for the next clue.

James and Abba land at the restaurant with Abba agreeing to do the Roadblock. Lexi gets her dishes delivered finally, as does Brent. Both of these teams take off for the train station. Abba gets his plates delivered and they take off as well.

The sisters arrive finally at the pit stop with one of them doing the challenge. I'm not sure which one, but it's the one who was told “Get the clue, Dummy!” by the other one. So Dummy is doing this challenge, I guess.

Rob and Kelley are finally leaving the pit stop at 7:22 AM. The other teams are starting to arrive at the train station, and those who are arriving early are getting tickets on the 7:36 AM train. Looks like many teams will forced to take later trains.

Caitlin and Brittany arrive at the restaurant, and Brittany offers to do the Roadblock. Dummy is attempting to deliver her twenty plates and drops a plate, having to start over.