Category Archives: Racing

Amazing Race 20 – Ep 8 – Not The Bees, Not The Bees!!

Due to a very full, very crazy week, I have not been able to post my Amazing Race column all week long. So for the sake of brevity, we’ll be going with one analysis of the Double U-Turn, a much larger series of Route Markers, a description of tasks, and the order of finish.

The drama of the results for the week was not really there as the Feds started out in a two hour hole, and despite catching up later on in the leg, for once, the Speed Bump actually mattered. With no real chance of Stalker getting lost, the Feds were doomed as soon as they started the Bump.

So, without further ado – The Double U-Turn.

We have talked ad nauseum about the U-Turns and Yields and the outcry and outrage Racers experience when it happens to them. I will sum up my thoughts on this again – once the Race makes it part of the game, then you can’t bitch, just like you can’t bitch when you land on Boardwalk with a hotel. It’s the rules. Use of the U-Turn are primarily to protect your own team from elimination, or perceived elimination; to target a really tough team for elimination; or to safely eliminate a team behind you just to make sure it isn’t you.

Not all teams use it in this manner. Many use it for spite.

That brings me to JJArt and this week’s drama. It seems JJArt and Army Wife had a pact to U-Turn Baby Brother when they had the chance. Why? Because they’re annoying. A super dumb reason to use a U-Turn. Anyway, now that we have one, JJArt expect the pact to be honored, while Army Wife expects to win the Race. They arrive at the mat first and choose to not U-Turn. Their spot-on reasoning? The Feds were so far behind that they posed no threat this leg. And I’ll add, the Feds were never a threat anyway even if they managed to slip into fifth and survive.

JJArt lost their ever-loving minds when they realized Army Wife actually changed their minds. It was a betrayal on the level of Judas, Benedict Arnold, and Anakin Skywalker. They even confronted Army Wife about it at the Roadblock. And when presented with Rachel’s calm analysis, they stuck their noses in the air and vowed revenge. Despite the whole “breaking their word” thing that JJArt seemed to be focused upon, I am squarely on Army Wife’s side on this one. It was a dumb pact and using the U-Turn when you arrived first and enjoyed a gigantic lead is not a great moment to use the tool. They were right. JJArt’s sense of betrayal comes solely from their dislike of Baby Brother. While I get that, boy, we all get that, dislike is not a reason to use the U-Turn and it is not a reason to overreact.

Seriously, the border patrol guys may be the biggest enigma team in show history. They have moments that are incredibly endearing and make them so easy to root for, and then they do these things which are just so frustrating. I don’t know what to make of them anymore. But in a season full of unlikable Racers still hanging around, they are still near the top of the list of teams to pull for.

That’s because Baby Brother and Stalker are still around. The second part of the Double U-Turn came from Baby Brother using it on Stalker. While the JJArt use of the U-Turn was solely from dislike (the strategic move would be to nail the Feds to ensure their elimination), Baby Brother was about half from dislike. They knew Stalker was behind them, and when you factor in the Baby/Vanessa battles this season, it was clear that the U-Turn would go to them and not the Feds. In addition, at this point, the Feds were actually much closer than expected, and Brendon threw a bone to them in helping them when they crossed paths.

The U-Turn. Such a polarizing game choice – and thus the reason the show uses it. And in an episode where the Feds’ last place finish was pretty much expected, it gave us some interesting moments in what could have been a snoozefest episode.

The Amazing Race, April 15 – Kookoocachoo the Baboons

The racers should all know the U-Turn is coming. It’s directly following a non-elimination leg, and there are only six teams left. And with all the crap that was flying between them all after last week, who knows how this is going to turn out. The Teachers/Federal Agents aren’t out of it yet. Everyone could gang up on others in the Double U-Turn, which would allow the Federal Agents to catch up. There aren’t many there who like Big Brother team Rachel and Brendon, so I don’t know how they’re going to escape the Double U-Turn, unless they get there first.

The first team to leave the pit stop in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, are once again Blonde Rachel and Dave at 6:03 AM. They get a clue telling them to drive on a safari back into the Ngorongoro Crater, then travel to Safari Junction, where they need to search for “Hillary Clin Ton.” At Safari Junction? Really? Sure enough, Dave is expecting the Double U-Turn, so wants to arrive first before Border Patrol, and they are considering U-Turning the Green Team (Big Brother).

Kentucky team Bopper and Mark are the next to leave just two minutes later at 6:05 AM. Bopper injured his knee on the last leg, but before he lets it stop him, he’ll let them cut it off, and he’ll “keep on truckin’.” He believes they entered the Race as huge underdogs, while Mark adds that he doesn’t think they’re underdogs anymore. They’ve moved up to where everyone is recognizing them as a threat. That might not be so good on a leg with a Double U-Turn.

Border Patrol agents Art and J.J. are the next to leave at 6:23 AM. Way back in Bavaria, Germany, they created an alliance with Blonde Rachel and Dave, and all agreed they would U-Turn the Green Team. With their ears probably ringing, Big Brother leaves at 6:48, and Rachel says the more the haters hate, the stronger she and Brendon get. She wants to just “let them drink their Haterade,” and she and Brendon will be the ones who benefit from it. He oddly comments, “Feed me, Seymour.” Vanessa and Ralph leave at 7:18 AM.

Driving through the Crater, Dave comments that it’s referred to as “Africa’s Garden of Eden.” It’s very tranquil, and he finds the mystique phenomenal. Watching the sunrise, Bopper tells Mark he’s glad to be doing the Race with him, and the feeling is mutual. Redhead Rachel would like to forget about the Race and just stay there. I’m sure that would make the five other teams very happy. Dave thinks he’s looking at Mrs. Robinson instead of group of baboons as he calls out, “Kookoocachoo.” He finds this the most surreal experience of his life, as it’s exceeding all his expectations.

Bopper is amazed to see “stuff that we ain’t never going to see in Kentucky.” The don’t even know what some of the animals are. He knows his daughter would freak out to see it. Art is just as amazed and thinks if they win the million dollars, they can always fly back there. Redhead Rachel calls this “so much cooler than a zoo.” It’s made them forget that they were racing, and one of the best parts is that the people they don’t like are nowhere to be found. Brendon sees it as a “pause in the game.” Vanessa wanted to go on a safari in Africa and see an elephant, and here she is.

Blonde Rachel and Dave and Kentucky reach Safari Junction at the same time and start asking around for “Hillary Clin Ton.” Meanwhile, a box baring the name Barack Obama is visible. So what’s the deal with U.S. politics? They both get pointed in the direction of a small little cart outside baring the name “Hillary Clin Ton Shop.”

The two teams find a Detour – Water Supply or Air Supply. In Water Supply, teams will pick up a cartful of empty containers at a specific address and make their way to the well. They’ll wait their turn, fill the containers, and bring them back. In Air Supply, teams will work with a local mechanic to fix a tire puncture. First, they need to remove the inner tire without removing the wheel from the bike, find the leak, patch it up, fill it, and take it for a test run. Both teams decide to do Air Supply; let’s just hope they don’t break out in cheesy ’80s songs.

Border Patrol are approaching Safari Junction and looking for Hillary Clin Ton. Art says she’s kind of old now, but he doesn’t know what she looks like here. J.J. suggests that she’s probably wearing a pantsuit. They see the shop, find the Detour, and decide to do Water Supply. The other two teams begin the fix-a-flat challenge. Dave is used to removing a tire from the bike to fix the flat, but realizes their practice here is to leave it connected. Mark works on the tire saying when he was growing up, they didn’t have new bikes. Rachel and Dave find the hole, telling the local mechanic he’s a good teacher. He winks at the camera.

Border Patrol picks up their canisters and transport them to the water hole, only to see a huge line of people waiting. Art realizes it takes thirty to thirty-five seconds or so to fill a bucket, then counts about sixty buckets in line, so knows it’ll be about thirty to forty minutes until they get to the front of the line. It gives them an appreciation of what people must do just to get water. J.J. suggests they not move, as it’ll take twenty to thirty minutes just to find the Air Supply challenge.

Brendon and Rachel stop for directions and are told Hillary Clin Ton is inside the petrol station, but then see Barack Obama and Hillary Clin Ton on the side of the road. They decide to do Air Supply. Vanessa and Ralph arrive and ask around for Hillary Clin Ton. They can’t find anyone that knows anything about this. As they pass right bight the tiny shop, she figures it’s probably something obvious that they’re missing.

Rachel and Dave are fixing their flat still, as are Kentucky. Bopper points out he has mechanic hands and compares this to a NASCAR pit stop. Rachel and Dave’s tire isn’t fixed, which produces arguing from them yet again. He blames, and she strikes back, just like always. Meanwhile, Kentucky is asking to have their tire looked at and approved. Border Patrol is still waiting in line figuring now there are about a hundred buckets before them, surprising, as I thought it was sixty before.

Kentucky get passed and receive a clue to make their way on foot to Jack Stelzer Pub where there is a Double U-Turn ahead. Mark tries to ask for directions and has a local just nodding as him. Language barrier apparently. Finally someone tells him it’s about three kilometers ahead. Blonde Rachel and Dave are still fixing and arguing as she offers to just sit back and let him do it. They finish and get their tired passed and receive the next clue, as Big Brother arrive. She’s worrying about them being U-turned after seeing Rachel and Dave leave, and Brendon tells her they just need to make it through that and focus.

Federal Agents Nary and Jamie are finally leaving at 9:21 AM. It’s a bummer to them to leave in last place, but they say they’re just here to have a great time, try to win a million dollars, and see the world. The only thing they can do is just fight for it, and they’re willing to do it, so “Speed Bump, here we come.”

Kentucky land at the pub and find the Double U-Turn. Not surprisingly, they decide to not U-Turn anyone. They receive a clue telling them to head to Gem Gallery & Arts. Rachel and Dave land at the pub and call it awesome when Kentucky tells them they didn’t U-Turn anyone. Rachel and Dave discuss their agreement to U-Turn the Green Team if it ever comes to that, but Dave feels success has been achieved either way without creating an unnecessary enemy. She says the “Teachers” are so far behind, they’ll be out anyway, so they decide to not use the U-Turn. They head to the Gem Gallery.

The “Teachers” are marveling looking at the sites, just as the others did. They particularly love seeing a baby zebra. Vanessa and Ralph are still walking, searching for “Hilary Clin Ton.” They stop and ask for directions again, and see Big Brother, realizing they must be close. Yet, they need to find the clue, and it’s highly unlikely Big Brother is going to help them and tell them where it is. Redhead Rachel sees them walking around confused, and figures it’s good for them. Indeed. Vanessa and Ralph argue, as the “Teachers” are waiting for a break to get back in the game. Finally a young boy shows them the tiny cart they were missing, and they decide to do Air Supply, again not a bad ’80s band.

As Nary and Jamie are arriving and knowing they need to really hurry, Border Patrol finally makes it to the front of their line. They’re imagining having to do this every day just to get water. They get their containers filled and take off to deliver them. Blonde Rachel is remembering just a few hours ago looking at the “bamboons,” but now it’s race time. Dave corrects her that they’re called “baboons.” They reach the gallery and find a clue telling them to head to Margaret’s Farm. Kentucky gets there just after them. They get back on their road in search of the farm and encourage their driver to pass Rachel and Dave. Their goal is to just stay in the game, but they would like to experience first place just once. If that’s the point, then wait and do it on the all-important last leg.

Border Patrol is still pushing their water back. They marvel at all the people out and about and that the everyone wants to help them. They get the water delivered and get the next clue to head to the Double U-Turn. As much as they want to enjoy the place, they know they need to get there. They find the Double U-Turn, and seeing no one U-Turned assume no one’s been there and that they’re the first. They U-Turn Brendon and Rachel, and marvel at how clean they themselves look in the picture that pops up. They explain they’re done with Big Brother and that they made a deal with Rachel and Dave. They’re hoping Rachel and Dave will show up behind them and U-Turn the teachers/cops, whatever they are.

The Amazing Race, Apr. 8 – Camping and Arguing Go Together

The last episode of The Amazing Race was a pretty good one, although I had to read through my past recap to remember it. CBS skipped airing the show for a week, then I was out of town last weekend. I’m just now unburying from that mess, and now I’m remembering that last episode. Joey and Danny were eliminated, and Border Patrol finally lost their hold on first place. Will they get it back this week?

The first team to leave the pit stop in Baku, Azerbaijan are Blonde Rachel and Dave at 9:15 PM. Their clue tells them to fly to Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. They’re excited to go, since they’ve never been to Africa. They stop at a travel agent to look up possible flights and find a flight leaving tomorrow morning at 8:30 AM via Nairobi, then to Kilimanjaro.

Border Patrol agents Art and J.J. leave at 10:45 PM and still feel like the frontrunners. They’re hoping they can get rid of some of the dead weight, i.e. the Big Brother team of Redhead Rachel and Brendon. They’re getting tired of them following them and are “getting a little cranky about it.”

Kentucky team Bopper and Mark leave ten minutes later, and Big Brother leave one minute after that, as she celebrates their upcoming trip to Africa. This is her dream, having wanted to go on an African safari her whole life. Bopper asks whoever thought two country boys would be on their way to Africa.

Border Patrol is booking their flight, and when Big Brother walks in, they ask the agent to not mention their flight out loud, as they know the other team will try to listen. Sure enough, Rachel sits right next to them, all ears. She mentions the animosity and claims to not have done anything to deserve it. She thinks Border Patrol just doesn’t believe they belong there. Kentucky arrives, and Bopper is excited to see a candy dish and pockets some of it.

Federal Agents Nary and Jamie leave in fifth place at 11:32 PM. Jamie explains that a year ago she was in a training accident where her gun went off and shattered her femur. Nary slept in a bed right next to her and never left her side. She appreciates the support. Vanessa and Ralph leave three minutes later.

While waiting to book their flight, Mark asks what teams are behind them, and Bopper tells him the “Teachers” and Vanessa and Ralph. Border Patrol contends “they’re not teachers.” Redhead Rachel asks why, and is told it’s just a hunch, but Border Patrol believes they do something in law enforcement. Art had been talking about “UC operations” on the last leg, and that’s code for “undercover.” Jamie asked what kind of UC operations Border Patrol does, and it was apparent she knew exactly what he was referring to. Border Patrol and Rachel discuss that teachers are more friendly and bouncy.

Once it’s Big Brother’s turn to book their flight, Rachel asks what flight Border Patrol got and asks if the agent was told not to tell them. While in the cab on their way to the airport, J.J. is still complaining about them, saying, “Do something on your own for God’s sake. Pull up those little boy britches and be a man.” Brendon tells Mark he doesn’t care if Nary and Jamie are cops; they can be FBI agents for all he cares. If he only knew how close he was. They’re nicer than the Border Patrol guys. Border Patrol laughs at the pot they just stirred.

Sure enough, Nary and Jamie enter, and Brendon mentions right away that Border Patrol told them they were cops. He mentions cops or not, they’re still nicer than Art and J.J. The “teachers” say they can still run faster than Border Patrol anyway. Brendon wonders who Border Patrol is chasing and claims that’s going to be where he crosses, through that hole in the fence they patrol. Jamie figures if the gig is up and the truth is out, that’s okay, as their agency is better anyway, and they can kiss their ass.

Vanessa and Ralph enter to wait in line for airline tickets as Big Brother is leaving. Redhead Rachel says she wishes there were a quicker flight than 10 AM. Vanessa laughs and says she’s not going to buy that. Observing Rachel, she thought it seemed like she was in a bad acting class. The other teams book their flights, and Vanessa comments that she hears Nairobi is nice this time of year. All teams make the same flight.

The flight lands in Nairobi, and Brendon and Ralph collide, and Brendon puts his finger in Ralph’s face, who says it was uncalled for. Border Patrol talk about Brendon flipping Ralpha off. Border Patrol uses this time to bring up Big Brother following them. Rachel then picks up the beef and tells Vanessa and Ralph to get out of their faces. Everyone is upset at Brendon for flipping them off, and Rachel says it was Vanessa who ran into her. Vanessa says Rachel shoved her, as she doesn’t take up that much space, in other words attacking her size.

Vanessa tells Rachel to just to put on more sparkles. Rachel hopes insulting people makes her feel better about herself, and Vanessa hopes running her mouth helps Rachel feel better about herself. Rachel asks her how old she is, and Vanessa says she’s 38, but still looks better than Rachel, then tells her to get her nose done next time before her boobs. Ralph turns around and tells Vanessa to stop. Mark compares it to a bunch of kids in school in a lunchline. J.J. can’t believe they’re even in the same race as Big Brother. Rachel is upset about being insulted, and J.J. just laughs at her. She encourages him to learn some humility. Rachel goes back to her Big Brother days and cries that everyone is picking on her.

Border Patrol calls over the Federal Agents and asks them what job they really do, saying they know they aren’t kindergarten teachers. He tells them no one talks about UC operations and caseloads unless they’re in law enforcement. Jamie asks if they really want to get into this amongst all the other confrontation. Nary and Jamie stick to their story, but it really doesn’t change how anyone feels. J.J. is happy, though, to get “them juices flowin’ before we hit that road runnin’, Baby.”

The flight touches down in Kilimanjaro and everyone takes off to catch cabs to the Arusha Airstrip. They’ll sign up for one of three charter flights. Big Brother discusses how much they hate Border Patrol, as Redhead Rachel calls them “Snobby McSnobsters.” Vanessa feels it’s a shame that “Team Big Baby” got ahead of her and Ralph. He just wants to worry about themselves for a change. What a novel approach.

Border Patrol arrives at the airstrip first and signs up for the first flight at 9:30. Big Brother is next, grabbing that same flight, followed by Kentucky and Blonde Rachel and Dave, who get a 9:45 AM flight. Blonde Rachel cracks up seeing Border Patrol and Big Brother on the same flight. Federal Agents and Vanessa and Ralph get the last flight at 10:00 AM.

Border Patrol and Big Brother board the charter together. J.J. jokes they’re their best friends, and Redhead Rachel says not only is she motivated to beat them, she’s motivated to destroy them. Art thinks someone will end up crying by the end of the day. J.J. just hopes it won’t be Art.

Amazing Race 20 – Ep 7 – Do I Have To Pick A Side?

That’s what this season of the Amazing Race has devolved into – after a promising beginning, and some pretty decent locations and challenges, we have reached the point where I don’t want to root for any of them except for Team Bopper. This week, we spent about half of the episode dealing with inter-team fighting, and then a little intra-team fighting for good measure. I am left with two teams I cannot bring myself to root for – and ironically, they are the two teams fighting. Two teams where they alternate between being cool and pissing me off to no end. A team that I have no idea how they have avoided elimination, and Bopper.

Let’s get this out of the way right away – this was going to be a non-elimination. I even wrote it in my notes during the previouslies. It was just prime non-elim real estate. As a result, we got tons of drama. And ridiculous drama at that.

DRAMA #1 – The brewing feud between Big Brother and Stalker came to a head. Amazingly, it was not Baby Rachel who fired the shot to set off the war, but Brendon. The often-silent Big Brother team member was trying to push past Stalker at the Nairobi airport when he bumped into Ralph, who told him to watch it. It seems that Brendon flipped him the bird and Ralph got angry. My words of advice to Brendon – don’t flip off big dudes. That’s usually a bad idea.

They go back and forth a bit. Vanessa suggests more sparkles for Baby, who responds by asking if Vanessa is 38. Which is a weird insult. Vanessa says even if she is, she still looks younger than Baby. True, but at least at this moment they are both acting quite young. Vanessa adds that perhaps a nose job should have happened before a boob job. First, Survivor and now the Amazing Race have boob job moments. Odd. Someone also got accused of being fat, I think. That may have just been in Baby’s mind. Baby later said she didn’t say anything mean about Vanessa, and I present People’s Exhibit #1 – the video from five minutes before that statement. Baby said that all Vanessa does is say mean things and name call – and she is mostly right. Vanessa said she didn’t make Baby cry, her lack of self-esteem made her cry. And she is also mostly right.

Everyone watching CBS at that moment, or reading this now, just had their IQs drop a couple of points. Mark summed it up nicely (after a few viewings to understand him) – they were like kids on line at lunchtime.

DRAMA #2 – Border Patrol Style – JJArt are puzzling to me. One minute they are giving cash to Team Bopper, and the next they are bragging how awesome they are. One minute they are hilariously making jokes about scraping off oil from a man’s nether regions, and the next they are being just as petty as Baby and Stalker. I don’t get it, guys. I want to root for you – stop making it so hard!

First, nobody watching cares if a team follows you. And there is nothing you can do to stop them. This has been something that has irked Racers for many seasons – and no one cares. If they follow you, you are still going to finish ahead of them. So chill. Chances are at some point, they will get lost and you won’t have to worry about them anymore.

Second, nobody cares that the Feds lied about being school teachers. Why do you care? It is a pointless lie, as I mentioned a few weeks back. Unlike Survivor, they cannot be voted out for being a threat. All it does for them is make them, maybe, seem more approachable, and perhaps allows them to get some special treatment. But, honestly, on the Race, it doesn’t matter. It’s you vs. the Race Course. Let them pretend this is great strategy.

To quote Kurt Russell’s Herb Brooks – “Play your game.” Stop playing theirs.

DRAMA #3 – This marriage worries me – They just don’t seem to like each other. The passive aggressiveness of the fighting is amusing to watch, but after the initial chuckle, it’s somewhat uncomfortable to watch it. Of course, we are talking about Army Wife. Every few episodes they just tear into each other. I kind of like Rachel more, because usually she seems to be right about Dave’s behavior. However, if I had to deal with constant sarcasm, I’d probably blow my top every now and again like Dave. Maybe we shouldn’t “misconstrue his support for yelling.”

That said, they become likable this season if only by default.

I just miss those early seasons when regular people were cast on this show and not models, stunt casting and freaks of nature. And when we focused more on the Race and not on the crap being said by Racers about each other.

The Race. We leave Asia and head to Africa. They leave for Tanzania, with Army Wife’s 90 minute lead doomed for the history bin after the airport equalization. Then we waste time with foolishness for the first half of the episode. Teams take a flight over some gorgeous landscape in three shifts – first JJArt and Baby, then Bopper and Army Wife, and lastly Feds and Stalker. We spend a lot of time with the animals and the Racers’ reactions. I bet you are wondering if there are actually challenges this week!

DetourMarksmanship or Courtship – Marksmanship requires them to toss a traditional weapon, something that sounds like a voomlu or something, that resembles an IKEA version of a boomerang. They must each hit a clay target. Courtship requires them to jump for a minute. Really, that was the challenge. If ever there was an obvious choice…this was one. Amazingly, four teams went with the weapon. Perhaps that’s just a subtle commentary on the American psyche – we’d rather use a weapon than exercise.

The best part is that you had to ride a bike – more like a “bike” to get to the challenge and back. Going downhill was one thing, but uphill on this ninth-rate bike was fun. Vanessa was too short to be able to ride it, but Ralph kept making her try. The resulting faceplants must have made Baby smile when she was watching at home.

Amazing Race 20 – Ep 6 – The Weirdest Challenge In 20 Races

And that is certainly saying something. Teams have had to slingshot watermelons, roll cheese down a hill, unravel bales of hay across a field, and run almost naked through the frozen streets of Russia over the last several years. But I must say that the Detour that took place during the Race’s first foray into Azerbaijan was much stranger, and it led to some of the show’s funniest moments in recent memory.

As for the goings on this week, we had another Fast Forward, and what I considered to be a somewhat surprising elimination. But let’s be honest, the stars of the week were not any of the Racers, they were the random, extremely hairy Azerbaijani men covered in oil, and scrubbed clean by random Americans on international television. You think Mad Men was the Must See TV on Sunday – think again, Jon Hamm and January Jones were not submerged in oil and scrubbed clean. Men and women – gay and straight – fans of this column…take that sentence, the mental image that went with it, and thank me later.

You’re welcome.

Anyway, teams left Bavaria for Baku, Azerbaijan – a country which I’ll bet maybe 10% of Americans have ever heard of, and less than 1% could actually spell (I looked up the spelling). It is a former Soviet republic just north of Iran on the Caspian Sea, and teams were to fly there and find the Temple of Fire. I must say, that was my favorite Harry Potter story. Especially after Hermoine and Ron were submerged in oil. Accio Scrub Brush!!

JJArt left first, bragged about being awesome, yada yada yada, we had an equalizer. Not only was there one at the airport to get on the one Germany-Azerbaijan flight, but also upon arriving at the Temple of Fire in the middle of the night. However, it did allow for some interesting moments where Racers, at first trying to see if it was part of the Race, but then just doing it for fun, began dancing around the fire with the local dancers. And the obligatory Bopper-focused hoedown joke.

From here, the teams had two choices – the Roadblock or the Fast Forward. The task for the Fast Forward was not spelled out in the clue, similar to the Roadblock. Without a doubt, the Roadblock was much cooler in concept, if not in translation onto the screen. In the Roadblock, the show made a very, very loose connection to Azerbaijani culture. Very loose. So loose it needed a belt. There is more oil in this country than they know what to do with – although as a driver in the USA, I have some ideas of what they can do with some of that oil. In order to get some of it – they drill offshore. To get to the rigs, they have to take helicopters. Once in a while – hopefully not that often at all – the choppers crash in the water. Oilmen (I assume just men – this being Azerbaijan) therefore need to train for such an event before they hop aboard and hope Murdock isn’t flying the thing. The Roadblocking Racer has to learn this drill.

They are put in a chopper cabin and submerged completely in water. When the buzzer sounds, they break open the window and swim to the surface. There is actually minor danger as the Racer is actually underwater with no tank. Albeit with several crew members and the surface a mere couple of feet from their head. That said – still a cool challenge to do, if not to watch. The Show manufactured some drama with Vanessa, as we were led to think her claustrophobia and hydrophobia would come into play. It didn’t.

Meanwhile, the episode’s true drama came at the Fast Forward. The Dumbbells and Team Army Wife each decided to try for the free pass. One team would likely win the leg, and the other team would be an hour behind and struggle to avoid last place. It is a huge gamble to go head-to-head for a Fast Forward. The task seemed like something the Dumbbells would be better at – one team member climbed atop a truck full of bales of hay and tossed them down to the teammate below who would stack them in a 10x3x5 pattern. Dave and Fitness tossed, and Rachel and Danny stacked.

Dave tossed at a greater pace than Fitness who seemed to be going for perfection rather than speed. Dave dropped his almost directly on top of Rachel – and it seemed to overwhelm her. In reality, she recovered from the carpet bombing and was able to position the bales much better than Danny was. In fact, the boys seemed to be lacking the sense of urgency needed for this situation. Based on their comments about not wanting to lose to a girl, perhaps they didn’t take the challenge seriously. As it turns out, they should have, as Army Wife edged them out for the win. Dave even showed more affection for Rachel at this moment than he has all Race long. Even if it manifested in compliments to her work ethic and status as a “workhorse.” Oh, Dave, you sweet talker.

The next clue was “hidden” in a carpet shop – although it was clearly too difficult for Stalker who somehow failed to see the clues even though the bright yellow cards stood out next to the rugs. I can only hope it was a momentary brain fart that was stretched in editing, and not a 20 minute delay, because boy, they looked really stupid. The teams were sent on the Detour next.

Apples or Oil – as Azerbaijan is apparently flush with both. Making it the strange mix of New York and Texas, even if everyone looks like they come from Jersey. In Apples, teams go and find some old Soviet cars which are filled with a ton of apples. Literally. One apple in each car has a flag attached to it. Find it. Classic Needle in the Haystack. In Oil, it seems locals soak their bodies in oil for its healing properties. If we could just get on wind power, we can use all of the oil in the world to heal us, a la Star Wars bacta tanks. Anyway, I thought the task would be to soak in the oil, but no, it was to clean off a dude who was soaking. How odd. I mean, is this normal practice? Is there someone whose job is to sop oil off the mostly naked bodies of total strangers? And yet, that’s where we were. The Feds, Stalker and Dumbbells went for the apples, but that left JJArt, Bopper and Baby Big Brother with the oil.

Art told us that his guy was a tall, skinny, Azerbaijani man with gold teeth. But when you are in Rome, you do as the Azerbaijanis do. He called the guy a “Nutella-covered man.” He was hairy as a St. Bernard. And it was wicked strange. JJ wanted to know what the hell was going on in his life. Bopper didn’t want to “burn the man up” because he ain’t no animal. JJ demands that Art “get in the junk.” JJ thinks that sometimes you have to bite the bullet and scrub a man’s junk.

High Race comedy.

In the end, we get some editing as Dumbbells and Stalker lag behind, but Stalker is really comfortably ahead. I expect the Dumbbells to get spared, but they get the boot anyway.

Route Markers
• Did we have to know that Vanessa was “going commando?” Although points to her from making a Friends joke.
• Danny’s glasses. Those were NOT first place shades.
• What’s with Baby’s headband? How is that a fashion choice?
• Bopper thinks Azerbaijan is in Africa. I can’t kill him too much on that, because I am sure he is in the vast majority on that one.
• Danny never looks at instruction booklets. That explains the bad challenge performances, and that he doesn’t have any kids.
• Bopper has a crush on Jamie. Awww. Well, she is pretty cute. Not sure how much I would have liked my partner telling her partner that, but whatever. It’s pretty cute. Not sure if I see a future for the federal agent and the backwoods Kentucky dude, but who knows.
• Nice shot of Vanessa’s hand on the window as the chopper submerges. All it needs is “Not Penny’s Boat” to complete the scene.
• What’s with the exclamation “Cheese and Crackers” coming from Stalker? Is that something common I have never heard of?
• Danny says that his grandpa’s apple tree gives him experience doing the apple challenge. Really? Where tons of them crammed into a car?

Detour – Apples vs. Oil. Stalker, Dumbbells and Feds do the apples, Bopper, JJArt, and BB do the Oil.

Fast Forward – Stalking hay bales. Army Wife wins it.

Roadblock – Helicopter rescue. Bopper, JJ, Jamie, Brendon, Vanessa and Fitness do it.

Order of Finish – Army Wife, JJArt, Bopper, Baby Big Brother, Feds, Stalker, Dumbbells (ELIMINATED)

Next week – Nothing. In two weeks, Africa. Zebras. And Vanessa vs. Baby smackdown.
Don’t miss a single recap of this show or others. Check out our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter.

The Amazing Race, Mar. 25 – “Beaten by a Frickin’ Girl”

I do hope another team can jump ahead into first place tonight on The Amazing Race. It’s not because I don’t like the Border Patrol agents, as I do, but it just makes it more interesting to not see the same team in the lead every single leg. I just want to shake it up a bit.

The first team to leave Bavaria are again Art and J.J., the Border Patrol agents, after checking out the Travelocity vacation they won to Thailand. They leave at 8:48 AM, with a clue telling them to fly to Baku, Azerbaijan, a former Soviet Republic that is nicknamed the Land of Fire. Once there, they will make their way to Temple Ateshgah, the Temple of Fire, to find the next clue.

Border Patrol are starting to believe their own hype, but also know they’re one Roadblock or Detour from being humbled. They plan on staying in, though, by continuing to take those gigantic gambles and lead the pack. They discuss Joey and Danny, saying they’re wearing really retro ’80s retro winter gear. J.J. thinks they look like they’re from a bad ’80s movie with some Wham playing in the background.

Joey and Danny leave at 9:17 AM and discuss their rise to the top to now being in second place at the beginning of this leg. They need to get first and know they’re one of the strongest teams left. Danny thinks the orange-framed spectacles without lenses he’s wearing are first place glasses. Vanessa and Ralph leave two minutes later and discuss not being very nice to each other on the last leg. It’s a new day, and he hopes they’ve learned from their mistakes. She thinks if they’d just stop screwing up, they might win something. They figure the Land of Fire has to be warmer than where they are.

Blonde Rachel and Dave depart at 10:57 AM, and he still feels, despite leaving in fourth place, that he and Rachel are the team to beat. Never in his life would he expect to travel to Azerbaijan, just north of Iran. As long as they can reduce their mistakes, remain supportive, and rely upon one another, he thinks they’ll run a good leg. However, he’s already getting snippy, as she asks if she should have taken a left, and he tells her to just drive and let him navigate.

Big Brother team Brendon and Redhead Rachel leave at 11:17 AM and decide to head to a travel agency. They are told of an option to fly with Turkish Airlines leaving at 6:20. They decide to book that one and head to the airport. Kentucky team Bopper and Mark leave at 11:41 AM, and Bopper thinks they’re going to Africa. That could mean trouble for them.

Federal Agents Nary and Jamie leave one minute later in last place. Mary thinks the other teams believing they are teachers and seeing them coming in last place makes them believe they aren’t a threat, which was their strategy. Hate to tell you two, but … you aren’t a threat … it doesn’t just seem like it appears that way.

Border Patrol lands at the airport and tries to get tickets and finds the same flight Big Brother did. The flight will get them into Baku at 4:10 AM. Joey and Danny arrive at the same time as Vanessa and Ralph. Danny gets upset with Joey for trying to say hi to Vanessa and Ralph. Joey thinks he’s taking it too seriously. These two teams find the 6:20 PM flight and are told it’s the earliest.

All the teams end up on that same flight and race off the plane when they touch down in Baku. Bopper seems to like his and Mark’s driver, saying, “Dale Earnhardt is behind the wheel.” Blond Rachel and Dave are the first team to arrive at the Temple of Fire. They have trouble finding the cluebox, then see a sign saying it opens at sunrise. Joey and Danny arrive as Rachel and Dave are in dancing with the locals around the fire. The other teams arrive and enjoy the entertainment and also jump in.

At sunrise the teams run in and find their clues, which include a Fast Forward. In this one, teams make their way to a haymarket to unload and stack 150 bales of hay and stack them in a certain pattern. Blonde Rachel and Dave decide to go for it, as do Joey and Danny. The Federal Agents decide to not even try for it and instead head to Occcupational Training Int’l. to find the next clue. Border Patrol knows they can’t do the Fast Forward since they have already done one.

Blonde Rachel and Dave are the first team to arrive at the Fast Forward, but Joey and Danny are close behind. The two teams start stacking the hay bales right away. The other teams are all racing to OTI.. They all seem a little scared of the cabbies’ driving. Bopper states that he hopes it doesn’t get too loose, as things will be spewing, and sure enough, Mark spews. Border Patrol compare the drivers to NASCAR. They can see Mark getting sick in the back seat, and Art says, “That’s funny! That poor dude.”

The other two teams are still stacking their hay. We’ll see if it’s easier to stay hay than watermelons. Blonde Rachel and Dave fall behind quickly, and at that point, I think I’d just give it up and run to the next task. If you’re doing everything you can, and are still behind, forget it, otherwise the other team will win, and you’ve just wasted all that valuable time.

Border Patrol and Kentucky are the first two teams to arrive at OTI, followed by Vanessa and Ralph and the Federal Agents. They’re all looking all over for the clue, and Kentucky is the first to find it, a Roadblock. One person from each team must undergo mandatory helicopter rescue training. They’ll be strapped into a helicopter simulator, submerged and capsized, then must surface to finish the task and get the next clue. Oh please don’t let Mark do this one.

Thankfully, Mark tells Bopper this one is for him. Nary tells Jamie to do it, as J.J. is thinking it could be a running challenge, so he should do it. Big Brother arrives with Redhead Rachel telling Brendon to do it, and Vanessa and Ralph arrive, with her agreeing to do it.

Back at the haybale stacking, they’re all still working on it. Dave realizes he can just push off the bales from the truck, leading to Blonde Rachel being able to stack them much more easily to gain some ground on the guys. Danny questions Joey on his plan of attack of walking to the back to find bales from the back and throwing. Just as Joey says they’re going to beat the others, Rachel and Dave finish and win the Fast Forward, apparently to make a liar out of me. They get a clue to head to the Esplanade Estakada, the pit stop for this leg of the race. Dave calls Rachel a “fricking work horse.” Fitness comments in their cab to the Roadblock “beaten by a fricking girl.”

Back at the Roadblock, Nary explains to Mark that Jamie is good in the water. He asks if she can tell that Bopper has a crush on Jamie. He goes back to the harp challenge talking about Bopper going over to make sure they were all right. She doesn’t seem to care and gives him a nervous laugh. Jamie, Bopper, and J.J. get submerged, and Bopper knows he just needs to hold his breath for ten seconds. Jamie is trying to just stay calm. It begins the roll, and they get disoriented. The three help each other out to get on a safety raft and get the clue. The clue tells them to make their way to the Toghrul Karabakh Carpet Shop to get the next clue.

Blonde Rachel and Dave reach the pit stop and land on Phil’s mat to be pronounced team number one. Since they started this leg with a long drive, Ford thought they’d each appreciate a new 2013 Taurus which has been totally redesigned. They plan to stay on top now that they’re back on top, knowing what hasn’t worked well for them the past few weeks.

Back and the Roadblock, Brendon and Vanessa get ready to be submerged. Brendon goes alone. Redhead Rachel is so glad Brendon is doing this one, as he’s a way better swimmer. Rachel asks what you do after you capsize, and Vanessa answers “save your damn self; don’t die.” The capsule turns over, and Brendon escapes easily as Rachel compares it to doing an obstacle course in the water. Vanessa is still waiting to go.

Joey and Danny are on their way to the Roadblock still, as Vanessa says she has a strange fear of closed in spaces and being under water. I hear you on that one. Ralph is worried about her as he knows about those fears of hers. She gets submerged and capsizes and can’t get the window open. She finally makes it out to get the clue. Ralph thinks she’s just going to be pissed that her hair is wet.

Joey and Danny arrive at the Roadblock with Joey agreeing to do it. Danny finds it miserable to wait and just hopes to finish this really quick, then make it to the Detour, then “who knows what’ll happen.”

Amazing Race 20 – Ep 5 – Once Upon A Time…

…There was a long-running reality show, which has been awesome for many years. It was once in constant danger of cancellation, but thanks to a groundswell of support from fans and a good Sunday night timeslot, it survived and pushed away many challengers. And then came the Evil Queen, Snow White and the other story time characters on Once Upon A Time. This would be a real challenge. So, anticipating the time slot competitor, producers of the Amazing Race crafted an episode that poked a little fun at fairy tales as racers tromped their way across Bavaria.

And it was good.

That’s right – gather round friends and enjoy as Racers delve into fairy tale-ish challenges. We have the lovable fools – Boppers. We have the evil stepmother – Stalker. We have the fools – Big Brother. We have it all.

In all seriousness, I kinda dug this episode, as the challenges were fun and provided much drama at times. I do think that the theme was intentional by the show to tweak their timeslot competitor, and that’s fine. Now, if Mr. Gold, Emma, Regina, Mary Margaret, David and Henry start racing around Storybrooke searching for clues, then you know something is up. That’s right – I’m into that show. Thank goodness for DVR.

JJArt started the leg with a four and a half hour lead thanks to the Fast Forward, and while they would be caught up to, they continued their stellar racing and constant bragging. The teams head to Bavaria in Germany and a restaurant full of Roaming Gnomes. The product placement for the company that saved the Race years ago was incredibly shameless – but I am often impressed at how the show manages to get that darn gnome integrated into challenges. Get a load of this sentence, in relation to the Roadblock – Team members played an ancient form of curling, which required them to slide gnome statues across the ice onto a target.

Teams get mostly equalized on the trip to Bavaria – as they head into the Detour. JJArt, Army Wife and the Dumbbells get their first, but the other teams eventually wind up catching up with the leaders to some extent. The Detour was goofy – as I think the more complicated task was the easiest one.

Detour – <Fairy Tale or Champion Male. Why it wasn’t Bearded Male, I don’t understand. But anyway – in Fairy Tale, teams follow a trail of gingerbread, while picking up the various pieces. They arrive at a Hansel & Gretel village and must make the roof of a model gingerbread house. A hysterical looking witch stirring a cauldron will hand them the clue. In Champion Male – they style the beard of some dudes with super long beards, and have it match the photo that each man is holding. Teams don’t see the photo until they select their man.

To me, manscaping a beard just seemed too difficult. Plus, the fairy tale challenge seemed so cool! The three frontrunners all choose the beard, with the Dumbbells selecting the longest beard because of Danny’s hunch that it would be easier. It wasn’t – in fact; it was harder since the more hair meant a more complicated design. The ladies shined, and the Jersey Shore dudes knew all about mousse. But amazingly, it was Art who turned into a beard savant. He was like Britta with the flower designs. (Seriously, everyone watch Community on NBC – you won’t regret it.)

The others all arrived in Bavaria – and the Cousins got lost. I am sure that won’t be foreshadowing or anything.

Boppers move up in the pack and get to the gnome restaurant before the others, and get their Speed Bump. They have to yodel. The boys dive head first into the challenge – costumes and all – and have a grand time learning to (barely) master the tune. The yodeler lightly mocks their American style of yodeling. Needless to say, I don’t see the fad catching on here.

So, Baby and Cousins arrive at the Gingy challenge and instantly go the wrong way. Do’h! That enables Bopper to get a little bit of a lead. Bopper cackles at the witch while making the roof – so, add that to the list of fun stuff with these guys.

The next clue is at the “Sleeping Beauty” castle and King Ludwig II’s bedroom. Presumably, the King ain’t gonna be there. Nor will Sleeping Beauty. However, there is a horse-drawn carriage to take teams up the hill to the castle. If they don’t want to take the huge hike – and JJArt was smart enough to snag a carriage. Most other teams? Not so much. Vanessa most adamantly did not want to hike – “We can’t hike that, are you guys high?!?” She was just making an effort not kill Ralph at that point. And it got uglier – Ralph threw her stuff at her for her to carry as she whined. She said, “Congratulations, you made YouTube.” As if that wasn’t the plan all along.

Meanwhile, Army Wife and the Feds manage to make their way to the wrong castle. And not just that, but wound up on a tour before realizing it!! Hehe. Incredibly, the Cousins and Boppers do the same thing! Except they realize it right away.

The Amazing Race, Mar. 18 – “Two Dudes Running a Race”

I’m still riding on an emotional high after the great ending to last week’s Amazing Race. To have Kentucky team Bopper and Mark saved by a non-elimination, and to have Border Patrol agents Art and J.J. share their first place money bonus with them so that Bopper could use it for his daughter’s medical care was just the best ending. Hopefully they’re not too far behind and can catch up, after not making another boneheaded flight-planning mistake, of course.

The first team to leave Turin, Italy, are of course Border Patrol at 8:57 AM. Their clue tells them to travel by train to Ehrwald, Austria, where they will drive across the border into Bavaria and to the Gasthof Zum Rassen restaurant to look for the Travelocity gnome and their next clue. They once again brag about their positioning, and point to what they claim is a huge difference of two dudes running the Race as friends than a husband and wife. J.J. claims Art’s an idiot most of the time, and he’s going to let him know. Their goal is to win another leg today.

Blonde Rachel and Dave leave much later at 11:33 AM. Joey “Fitness” and Danny leave at 12:11 PM and discuss their funny hats. They’re the animal face hats that are all the rage with the teen scene. They decided to dress like this in the colder climates. It’s a little hard to take them seriously, not that it was really that much easier before. Fitness likes the tongue hanging out, thinking it’s kind of flirty, but Danny questions who he wants to flirt with. They make the same train as Rachel and Dave.

Vanessa and Ralph leave at 12:27 PM, and she makes mention of cream in relation to Bavaria, with pastries obviously on her mind. He mentions being married three times previously, with none of them successful, and she’s been married once, and is now divorced. She believes they are more apt to vocalize what they want after their other failed relationships. She thinks it will help them, but it’s also a big problem of theirs, not that that makes a lick of sense. She’s trying to find the train station, and he saw a train and yells that out, as if that’s helpful.

Federal Agents Nary and Jamie leave at 12:56 PM, and Big Brother team Brendon and Redhead Rachel leave at 1:18 PM, and reading the clue, she wants to know where the Roam is, which he points out is the gnome, and they need to find him. Really, she’s not that dumb. He mentions how horrible their last leg was, and that he wanted to quit, but now they’re coming to grips with wanting to win the million, yet also wanting to enjoy their time. They make the same train as Vanessa and Ralph and the Federal Agents. Rachel and Vanessa are going to really enjoy their time together.

Mississippi team Kerri and Stacy leave at 3:58 PM and are excited, reenergized, and ready to jack up some other teams. Stacy mentions being away from their families, and explains her husband is a professional basketball player, and Kerri has two kids. She wants them to know you don’t have to be an athlete to be a champion. Stacy says when they have on their hot pink lips, they’re ready to go. Good to know.

Kentucky leave so much later than the others at 5:54 PM. Maybe they’ll be helped by something being closed all night. They call themselves down but not out, realizing they’re in last place and also have to complete the speed bump. They need the money worse than anything out there and they will just do whatever it takes. Despite not seeing anyone else, Bopper is positive they’ll run into others and catch up.

Sure enough, when Kentucky gets to a planned train stopover in Innsbrook, they see some of the other teams. Mark asks what everyone is sitting there waiting on, and he’s told they were all waiting for them. He mentions the adrenaline flow going on now that they’re not solidly in last place anymore.

Border Patrol leaves Ehrwald, and mention they haven’t seen any of the other teams. They get in their car and head to the restaurant, but know it doesn’t open until 8:30 AM. The next train arrives carrying Joey/Danny and Blonde Rachel/Dave, and they also grab their cars and head to the restaurant.

Border Patrol lands at the restaurant and see the other teams show up while they wait for 8:30 AM. They enter at 8:30 and find the gnomes sitting at a table holding a Detour – Fairy Tale or Champion Male. In Fairy Tale, teams will follow a trail of gingerbread, picking up the pieces as they go, and arrive at a village based on a fairy tale to find a witch. They’ll use the bread to complete the roof a gingerbread house and decorate it properly. In Champion Male, teams will choose a man with a long beard and style his beard to match a “winning look” using haircare products. All three teams decide to style the beard.

The bulk of the other teams arrive in Ehrwald and all take off in their cars. Bopper warns Mark to stay calm and focused, since they still have a Speed Bump coming up. Mississippi’s strategy is to stay with the pack, as they know they can compete like that. Kerri mentions she can just about navigate herself to the mall, and that’s about it. That could be a problem since she’s not driving and in charge of navigating.

Blonde Rachel and Dave are the first to arrive to style a beard. They choose a beard and get to work. Dave mentions she has experience styling hair, and she believes she knows how to do it. Dave decides to also give him a mohawk, or at least that’s what he calls it, but it looks more like a faux hawk.

Joey and Danny are the next to arrive, and pick the guy with the longest beard, meaning he needs the hardest design. Danny feels a little weird doing this, but figures it’s okay, as it’s for a million dollars. He thinks it’s a little like what he does at home. … To himself? Border Patrol arrive next and pick a beard right away. J.J. says it’s weird to curl another man’s beard with a curling iron.

Mississippi is looking for the restaurant, and Stacy tells Kerri to keep her eyes peeled as she’s just driving and doesn’t see any teams in front of them. Kerri them gets them to a spot that she thinks is wrong and asks Stacy, who isn’t very happy, to turn around. Yet, throughout this, Kerri says if they get straight to the place, she’ll feel very empowered.

The beard-styling is going on, and Dave believes his and Blonde Rachel’s beard model looks like a jovial man, like Santa Claus. Joey and Danny play around moving their model’s mustache up to their faces to try it out. Art thinks J.J. knows what to do, explaining J.J. has a whole backpack full of hair products. Danny wants to take their model out to a club afterwards.

Kentucky is on a roll and the first of their bunch to hit the restaurant. Before nabbing a gnome, they find their Speed Bump. They will need to yodel after listening to an expert yodeler. Vanessa and Ralph are the next to arrive, and she says it smells like heaven in there. They decide to style a beard.

Before beginning their yodeling training, Mark says they had no choice but to have a ball and just transferred into a kid playing in a candy store. They learn the routine fairly quickly and yodel away. The expert mentions the American way of yodeling, with Bopper pointing out it’s the country version.

Amazing Race 20 – Ep 4 – The Million Santa March

This week provided the Tale of Two Shows. On the one hand, we had one of the most amazing moments of charity, good will and sportsmanship seen on a reality show. On the other hand, we had a meltdown of a team so intense that it had to be fake.
Last week, I gave JJArt some crap for their super-confident bragging. It was getting to be too much, and still is. I said that I really wanted to root for them, but they were making it rather difficult. It’s almost as if they heard me. Now, they are still bragging about how the other teams get dumber and dumber, but they also did something unprecedented (that we have seen) on the show. Coming off a week where they finished almost five hours ahead of the second place team, JJArt again won the leg. Of course, this time it took a goofy Fast Forward to get there. Heck, I’m just thrilled whenever we get to actually see a Fast Forward. Anyway, it means they won again.

The prize was ten grand. Nice. Earlier, we learned that the guys had struck up a friendship with the Boppers. In fact, when the good ol’ boys arrived at the airport without tickets, the Border Agents told them to get back out there and find a travel agent. They expressed to us their affection for the Boppers. Well, it was too little, too late as the Kentuckians were two hours behind and only barely caught up with the Cousins later on. The Boppers were in last place – and this coming on the same leg we got to see Bopper talk about their reason for racing…his daughter’s health. More than most Racing teams ever before; these dudes really need the cash.
Upon hitting the Mat, Bopper was already in tears. He had failed. And then, all of a sudden, Phil called JJArt back over. Wha!?! They are going to split the ten grand with the Boppers. That’s $2,500 for Bopper to use to help pay some of those medical bills. Holy crap. Game show contestants and reality show competitors never, EVER give up prizes or cash. With few exceptions, of course.

I remember reading that Colin/Christie from Season 5 gave one of their trips to Dennis/Erika, the first team out that season. If you recall, Dennis gave them a cab before taking one for his own team. It spelled their doom and helped keep the eventual runners-up in the Race. But handing over cash on the spot – without any after-the-fact thinking – was an incredible gesture. That move earns JJArt some leeway with the bragging. For now.
Of course, with the non-elimination, I wonder if they want the cash back! I also wonder if there will be a crisis of conscience later for the Boppers in returning this favor in the context of the Race.

Meanwhile, out of nowhere, Team Big Brother started to implode. I’m not really sure, but I think the only reason they started to bicker was because Brendon wanted to pay attention to parking. That’s it. Baby started to whine about how he talked to her – and trust me, having watched 20 seasons of the Race, there are far, far worse examples of couples treating each other worse than what happened there. In fact, in another part of Italy, Army Guy and Wife were proving my point.

But the BB Bicker continued to the next task, and their inability to decipher the two-cent Euro clue – the next location was the building on the coin. In the car, during the parking, Baby had said that this whole thing was not worth the million and thus threatened to quit over a parking issue. Later, while agonizing over the coin, Brendon called her on, asking if she wanted to quit. Amazingly, she blamed HIM for wanting to quit. She said he says this about everything, and expected him to do the same with his Ph.D. He didn’t think it was worth this kind of meltdown, and she even called up how maybe their marriage isn’t worth it.

That’s right – she floated the possibility of break up because he wanted to park a car and because they couldn’t solve a clue. This team is a therapist’s dream. For a smart guy, he sure is making a dumb move with this person. And seriously, why is she mentally a 13-year-old girl? I’ve never seen a grown woman whine and run away more than this one.

This argument felt so scripted, as if they planned to make drama when they came on the show. Not that these two were capable of that behavior, right? Anyone?

It’s so bad with them that I find myself agreeing with Stalker about them, and that’s really bad because she’s a piece of work too. First, the Stalker Lady mocked Baby’s sparkly green blouse. Yeah, not too catty. Then she implied that Baby has lots of experience eating salami – and I am sure she was not talking about cured meat. This is one classy chick – do I really have to pick a side in this fight, or can I root for them both to go away?

The other case of winning behavior came from Army Guy – who was a Grade A, Season 6 Jonathan level, ass this week. The flip side of his treatment of Army Wife was that I am really starting to like her. First, after getting crap about her driving she pulled over and said, fine, you drive. Good for her. Next, after several teams had already beaten them to the box and JJArt was clearly gone to the Fast Forward, Dave wanted to go to the Fast Forward anyway. Because it mentioned flying and landing a helicopter. Because he’s a chopper pilot. Logical right?

Army Wife called BS on her idiot husband right away. First, another team was already there! Second, did he really think they were going to allow moron reality show contestants to fly and land an actual helicopter?!?! He passively and aggressively bemoaned this choice – and I hope he apologized to her afterwards upon learning that it was a toy helicopter. Meanwhile, she rocked the rappel challenge and enabled them to move up the pack.

It got better later when Army Guy decided to be a stereotype and decided he knew the best route to get to the Detour. In Italy. And he’s not Italian. Hysterically, teams deciphered the coin clue by asking a random group of about 100 Santas for directions. It led to some great visual humor – but it also led to a ridiculous car fight between the Army Couple. He said it was locked in his mind where to go, and she suggested that maybe they should follow the directions given to them by actual Italian people. “We should go where all the Santa Clauses told us to go.” HA! They got there- but we never really found out how well Dave remembered the directions; we just got the initial move in the wrong direction. At the end of the leg, they finished second and no harm was done in the short term. But in the long term…who knows.
Other than that, the rest of the leg was quiet. The teams went to the Olympic city of Turin, Italy, which is also Italy’s motor city. Imagine, that’s like us having the Olympics in Detroit. We got lots of car stuff – a car museum, a weird Escher-like building where they make cars, and a giant Ford Focus ad.

The Roadblock was to rappel down the garage of said building in two minutes to retrieve a hanging clue. If you failed, as several did, you had to run all the way back up and do it again. Army Wife figured out that using your legs on the wall was the trick to getting down faster. Danny also did the same. Meanwhile, Jamie and Vanessa failed but watched Rachel do it properly. Bopper later did it as if it was a ratchet wrench, which led to some visual humor. So, the task is done by Baby, Danny, Jamie, Vanessa, Army Wife, Stacy and Bopper

Fast Forward for first-arriving JJArt was to land a chopper. Cool!! But it was a toy. Not as cool. And the platform to land it via remote control was right on top of your partner’s head, as they wore a platform hat. JJ got to say, “Art’s gonna fly a toy helicopter around my junk and head.” Anyway, after many attempts they did it, and finished first.

Detour – the choice was Clean that Statue, where teams had to literally clean a statue using various tools, or Name that Salami where teams had to taste 14 salamis and then a half-mile away identify each one. This one should have been a no-brainer – clean the damn statue. But for some reason (perhaps the no brain part), BB chose the salami, later joined by the Cousins. This one just seemed so much more difficult to complete. The other one just needed elbow grease and patience.

Anyway, that’s the episode, and on to…

Route Markers
• I assume Team Dumbbell will just be talking about hot girls wherever the Race goes. Do they have more to say than that?
• That said, Fitness did re-tweet my article last week. As did several of the other teams – JJArt, the Cousins, the Golf Sisters, Elliot from the Twins. Thanks Racers!!
• Stalker Lady called the last leg the worst day of their lives. Really? Both of them are divorced – I am sure there were days worse than failing to stack watermelons properly.
• Baby said that she knows now why Italians hate Americans – we’re idiots. Well, you are partially right, you are an idiot. I think you may be confusing Italy with France – so there’s that.
• Cousins struggle driving stick. Sigh. Do I need to go on the same rant about learning stick before coming on the Race? Really?
• The in between task was to go to the Museum of Cars and find the 1916 Tin Lizzy. On the seat, were the coins. Most figured it out well – Brendon wanted to find a coin slot in the car. Because cars were coin operated 100 years ago, I guess.
• Stalker Lady – “Hey that’s my face, you know how much this nose cost?” Yay – vanity jokes!!
• The Santa Claus Pub Crawl. The Million Santa March. The Santa Convention. Nice job, Racers. Good ones. I personally would have gone with the Santa Clausterf*ck. But that’s just me.
• Mark expects Turin residents to speak English. Of course he does.
• Did Art really describe the Race as gnarly?!?
• It seems Danny likes dirty girls – and Fitness likes to make dirty girl jokes. I swear that these guys are reading from a script.
• BB called Vanessa and Ralph the Ogre and the Triflin’ Ho. Which is a long lost Grimm Brothers story. I wonder which one is the Ogre?
• Baby upon seeing the 14 salamis – “Let’s try the easiest one first.” How do you know which one is easy? You just got there.
• Loved the loose heads on the statues – led to some very funny moments as the air blasters knocked the heads right off.
• DiGorno!!! Well, it’s surely not delivery…

Next week – Bavaria and a fairy tale challenge. And Bopper yodels.

Don’t miss a single recap of this show or others. Check out our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter.

The Amazing Race, Mar. 11 – “Run Her Hard and Think Deeply”

The twins were eliminated last week after being indecisive on the Detour. You have to make commitments in this Race. It will cost something, even if it’s just positioning. Vanessa and Ralph barely came in before them, and hopefully they learned a thing or two. Perhaps it should have been more important to work on the task than make fun of Redhead Rachel. You think?

The first team to leave the pit stop in Paraguay are Border Patrol agents Art and J.J. at 5:10 PM. Their clue tells them to fly to Turin, Italy and choose a Ford Focus that they will drive to the Lingotto Building to get the next clue. After jokes that they didn’t bring their Italian loafers, Art thinks they should head to the travel agency to get their tickets. J.J. still doesn’t think they should ever be anything other than number one, feeling no one else has the intellect and strength that they do.

At the travel agency, Border Patrol hears about a flight that leaves at 9:15 AM and arrives the next day at 10:35 AM. Realizing this flight arriving the next day is the one that arrives the earliest, they know it will be a “mad scramble in Italia” as well. They arrive at the airport with plans just to get something to eat right away.

Big Brother team Brendon and Redhead Rachel leave nearly five hours later at 9:59 PM. They’re hoping this quick tour through Italy will be a nice preview of their upcoming wedding. Joey “Fitness” and Danny leave one minute later, and Danny admits he doesn’t know too much about Paraguay, except that “the girls are hot as hell over here.” Joey points out Italian girls aren’t too bad either, and Danny replies he’s not picky.

Kentucky team Bopper and Mark leave at 10:08 PM, as Bopper says, “We is going somewhere tropical!” He mentions that his 7-year-old daughter is very sick and on seven different respiratory medications, so this is the best opportunity he ever had to better her health. He jokingly asks Mark how many times a year he goes to Italy and hears, “Oh, about three or four.”

Federal Agents Nary and Jamie leave one minute later. They’re excited to go to Italy and decide to go to a travel agency to book their flight. Kentucky is headed to the airport and whistling at the pretty women while they go by, saying, “We’re not in Kentucky anymore.” Blonde Rachel and Dave leave one more minute later, and are also headed to a travel agency. Mississippi team Kerri and Stacy leave at 10:45 AM.

Brendon and Redhead Rachel are at a travel agency finding the same flight Border Patrol did. Joey and Danny arrive and are trying to play their game, just following them. The Federal Agents arrive, followed by Blonde Rachel and Dave. They discuss where other teams are, and he says he thinks Kentucky headed straight for the airport. Blonde Rachel figures they won’t get the same flight as the rest of them.

Kentucky enters the airport and eye up Border Patrol wanting to celebrate about going to Italy. They mention tickets, and Border Patrol gives them the bad news that they needed to get tickets at a travel agency first. They tell them to go all the way back. Art figures they’re great guys, and if they found themselves in a position to reciprocate, they would.

Vanessa and Ralph are the last to leave at 12:15 AM. and know they need to head to a travel agency. He refers to their last leg as the worst day of their lives. She never wants to see another watermelon as long as she lives. However, it’s given them a whole new appreciation for life today.

Back at the travel agency, Mississippi gets tickets for the flight. Vanessa and Ralph arrive and are told about two separate flights. She checks on the flights, and while she does, Vanessa and Ralph decide to pick apart Redhead Rachel’s wardrobe again. He asks if she’s wearing sequins, and in fact it does seem to be a glittery skirt over leggings. Vanessa makes mention of getting distracted by sparkly things, then says, “Holy disco thing, Batman.”

Kentucky enters a different travel agency and Bopper asks Mark to calm down. He says he is. Vanessa and Ralph make the same flight as everyone else, as Bopper and Mark celebrate with their tickets the fact that they’re going to Italy. Does this mean they didn’t get the same flight, but that we’re not being told about it yet?

Everyone is waiting at the airport, and they all start sharing tickets to compare seating assignments. Dave notices that Kentucky is leaving at 10:30, not 9:15 like the others. Danny tells them to see if they can switch their flight, but when they try, they’re told it’s full. They try to get on standby and are told everyone showed up. They bemoan being an hour an fifteen minutes behind everyone else and decide to pray, refusing to give up. Bopper knows they have to “run her hard and think deeply.”

The first flight arrives in Italy as all the teams rush to hop in their Ford Focus’. While he drives, J.J. complains about a lack of street signs. Brendon is having a hard time navigating the one-way streets, as Redhead Rachel remarks “Now I know why Italians hate Americans; we’re idiots.” Danny doesn’t trust Italian women, but Joey’s girlfriend is Italian, and he trusts here, so it seems to be an exception to the rule. Dave and Blonde Rachel argue over the visor being down, and he tells her not not be a wiseass. She pulls over and orders him to drive instead. Mississippi is far behind the others while they figure out the stick shift.

All the teams start arriving at the Lingotto Building at the same time, and it appears to be like a parking deck. The teams have to race up the ramp to the top, as Vanessa complains she’s going to die. The first team up is Border Patrol, and they find there is a Fast Forward. The team that completes it can skip ahead of all the other tasks and go straight to the pit stop. One of the team members must operate a remote-controlled helicopter while their partner wears a model of the Lingotto on their head. They need to land the helicopter on the hat. Border Patrol races for it.

and Redhead Rachel arrive next and seeing Border Patrol already going for the Fast Forward, decide to just go straight for the Roadblock. One member from each team must rappel down the inside of the spiral structure that resembles a parking deck and grab a clue within two minutes. If they fail, they must go back to the top and start over.

It looks like Redhead Rachel, Danny, Vanessa, and Jamie decide to do this Roadblock. I think that’s three in a row for Rachel. She did the cows, bottle dance, and now this. Border Patrol can’t believe this is all being done with a toy helicopter. Art is the pilot, and J.J. is wearing the building on his head.