Category Archives: Racing

Amazing Race 20 – Ep 3 – What’s With This Show And Watermelons

For the first time ever, the Amazing Race made its way to Paraguay. And when it got there, it decides to tune its funny bone by providing some comedic challenges, some unexpected hard core gameplay, and a fabulous game of “what curse did she say?” It also gave us one of the more interesting examples of parallel screw-ups in which a team who thought they were doomed, turned out to be safe.

Comedy – In Task #1, the teams randomly had to find a clue in an equipment warehouse which looked like the most densely-packed playground ever constructed. Of course, not many playgrounds also come equipped with grills for the children to whip up some steaks and hot dogs. At least none that haven’t tragically burned down in a charcoal tragedy. The teams were forced to go down slides and maneuver around in an awkward manner. I’d personally like to know what kind of bizarro company keeps their merchandise stored in such a manner.

In the Detour, we got the funniest moments of the episode as teams were required to either stack watermelons into a giant pyramid, or to go an string and tune a harp. Neither task was easy, as the strings were tangled up in a little ball making that side even harder. However, it was the melon task that created the most stress. JJArt rocked it, but few others did. That pyramid would get built, but thanks to the oddly oblong shapes of watermelons, the structure was hard to make sturdy. And it would collapse. And collapse. And collapse. Several teams elected to flip tasks. Army Wife even burned their Express Pass on this one. Stalker provided the most interesting dynamic as the two of them struggled and struggled. And struggled. But Vanessa refused to switch tasks. She even said that they were going to keep at it to set an example for his kids. What example is that? Blindly and stubbornly doing something you know is not the right decision? The only thing that saved them from their own stubbornness was the ineptitude of another team. But more on that in a bit.

Bottom line – The Amazing Race does watermelon humor better than anyone this side of Gallagher.

Hard Core Game Play – It came from Bopper. Make no mistake about it – despite their down home good ole boy persona, these guys are here to play. Just ask the Mathletes/Cousins. The ladies arrived at the watermelon challenge after the Boppers had given up after tons of melon collapsing. But they didn’t realize that the boys were leaving after much failure, not after completing the task. The guys didn’t miss a beat and told them the task was simple, and the Mathletes went right in there. And the guys actually swiped their cab to boot! Damn. After realizing they were duped, they wrote a note that said “All Bets” and told us, the viewer, as they ripped it, “All bets are off.” Nice.

Was this a smart move by Bopper? Well, not really sure. It was smart, but it seemed a bit pointless. As I have said before, on the Race you don’t have to be nice – there are no consequences as the other teams cannot really do anything about you. It ain’t Survivor. However, it was pretty cool.

What Did She Say? – I mean, seriously, Baby Rachel is so very annoying. I mean, she takes being annoying to incredible levels. Annoying people are watching and asking her to tone down her act. And yet, there she is not only doing rather well in challenges, but getting Mean Girled by Vanessa.

Attention show – stop making me feel badly for Baby Rachel! In the latest edition of Really, I Don’t Want To Like This Woman, Vanessa mocked her during the melon challenge. Not for anything that she did or said – no, apparently Baby Rachel’s leggings are a bit worn around the crotch. We could either see her full bum, or we could see her full Sharon Stone. Hard to tell because of all of the bleeping, but instead of telling her, Vanessa chose to actually tease her. Like it’s middle school or something. Ahem, you’re a grown woman. Is this how we interact with each other now? The classlessness on this season is starting to pile way too high.

Editing Dream – I was really hoping that due to her attitude that Stalker would go home. And it looked great – they couldn’t stack the melons, and thanks to her, they were just going to keep going. Night fell, and they were still going at it. I mean, what could really go wrong – it’s not as if the musician in the Race would fail to string an instrument properly. Oh wait, what’s that?

That’s right – Elliot. Or Andrew. I don’t know. The musician just couldn’t string the damn harp. So they were doing the Detour deep into the night as well. I don’t know what to tell you – these guys got about 40 seconds of screen time and didn’t do much with those seconds. You knew they weren’t getting out of South America. Well, they couldn’t do the harp. So both teams were simultaneously sucking at two tasks. And while the editors were clearly having fun, I knew what was going to happen.

The twins got to the Roadblock first, but long-haired Elliot had a lot of trouble balancing the bottle on his head, especially after getting soaked the first time. This allowed Ralph the chance to catch up, and pass the boys. With the Pit Stop accessible on foot, it was over. No one could be stupid enough to screw up finding the Pit Stop . And again, despite the editing drama, I knew Stalker was safe. Why? Because the show spoiled itself in the first episode by showing clips from upcoming eps, they focused a great deal on the Baby Rachel/Vanessa clash. There was no chance they were going this early.

The Amazing Race, Mar. 4 – “Hotter Than New Love”

The unfortunate window-shattering in a bus headed to Buenos Aires ended the Clowns, Dave and Cherie’s, time on The Amazing Race. I’m glad to not have to hear the line about “tears of a clown” every week, but I’ll miss their cheerful nature. Cherie’s cartwheels was a nice respite from bickering teams. From the previews, it seems we’ll be back to that tonight, as Rachel seems to prove she not only can’t get along with people on two seasons of Big Brother, but also can’t get along with people on The Amazing Race. Nevertheless, you would be hard-pressed to find a better overall competitor. If she could fix her social game and let go of the emotional breakdowns, she’d be a shoo-in to win every time.

The first team to leave the pit stop yet again are Blonde Rachel and Dave at 12:22 AM. Their clue tells them to fly to Asunción, Paraguay. There they will board taxis and head to an equipment supply to get the next clue. Once again, they are worried about being a target after winning the first two legs of the Race. Dave figures the others will see that they’re playing aggressive and are competitive.

Border Patrol agents Art and J.J. leave just three minutes later, and are excited to go to another Spanish-speaking country where they can really dominate. While starting behind Dave and Rachel, they recognize they’re a good team, and that they all think alike, interested in protecting America. J.J. mentions their plan to hang tight with Dave and Rachel to dominate the Race.

Rachel and Dave reach the airport first and see a flight headed to Asunción at 8:45. Border Patrol arrives, and they share the news of the 8:45 AM flight. Trying to buy tickets on the flight, Dave and Rachel are told the flight is full at the present moment. They ask to be put on standby, but have to go to another counter. They follow up on this, as do Border Patrol.

Instead of seeing the other teams leave and the time difference, we see all the others arriving at the airport asking to be put on the standby list. Common sense would tell you everyone isn’t going to make it from standby, and that the later teams should just find another flight to begin with. If the next flight fills up early as well, they’ll be first on that standby list, before the earlier-arriving teams.

Of course, everyone was tipped off to this by the “Teachers,” Nary and Jamie. J.J. is quite irked, and what he doesn’t know is that the Teachers are really Federal Agents and have more in common with them than he figures. Nary explains their lie, saying everybody likes teachers, so they hope the other teams will like them. I think J.J. would have liked them better as federal agents. J.J. is questioning the same thing I am, how all these people think they’ll get tickets off standby. He complains, saying everyone following their lead just isn’t going to happen anymore.

The other teams try to get the ticketing agents to not give priority to Dave and Rachel and Border Patrol, asking him to switch the order on the list. He tells Andrew, “That is not possible, Sir.”

A ticketing agent then walks over to the area where Dave, Rachel, and the Border Patrol are sitting and announces they have found seats for only the four of them. How often do agents do that instead of just announcing your name and telling you to come to the desk? Of course she said four people only, but we know it’s double that amount to also hold the producers and camera men. The “Teachers” and Kentucky team of Mark and Bopper are also told they have seats for them. Mark says it’s “Team Kentucky coming loud and proud,”

The other teams are told they did not make the standby flight and now must start scrambling. Again, perhaps they should have been researching this, or even buying these, earlier, realizing the slim chance they had of all of them making the standby flight. The agent tells them a flight leaving at 10:40 can guarantee them some seats.

Rachel says she’s not calm and that this is the Race. She’s “not about to lose it to some Do Heads.” Doo Heads? Due Heads? Dew Heads? What exactly is that? Elliot states the obvious, that it’s frustrating to be two hours behind. Vanessa talks about the rug being pulled out from underneath them and their hearts dropping to the floor, while her teammate, Ralph, says they still intend to play hard.

The first flight lands in Asunción, and the teams race to pick up cabs. Border Patrol is the first team out, calling themselves the ones to beat. Kentucky sets out to follow them, pulling a Brendon and Rachel move. Border Patrol hits the equipment supply first and go down slides yelling, “Wee!” reminding me of that little piglet in the commercial.

J.J. finds the clue, a Detour – Stacked Up or Strung Out. In Stacked Up, teams will make their way to the largest fruit market in the country, find trucks of watermelons, then stack the fruit in perfectly-formed 10×10 pyramids, just like the local vendors. In Strung Out, teams will make their way to an auditorium and choose a harp. After watching a demo, they’ll attach thirty-six strings.

Border Patrol wisely chooses the best task for them, Stacked Up. Mark and Bopper arrive and decide the same. The “Teachers” find the clue before Dave and Blonde Rachel and decide to do Stacked Up. Rachel and Dave decide on the same.

Border Patrol is the first team to find the watermelons and start planning out right away how to do the stacking the most effectively. J.J. explains after catching all the bad guys, they know they can do the manual labor. They’re not afraid to get dirty, slimy, and grimy, and gut it out. Rachel and Dave arrive, followed by the “Teachers” and Kentucky.

Bopper has never stacked watermelons before. Dave calls this a particularly draining task, especially considering the humidity. Bopper finds it “hotter than new love.” Bopper thinks they should tighten up their stack of watermelons, otherwise they’ll fall, but Mark doesn’t see that as a problem. He hits Bopper in the head with a watermelon, and the local kids find this hysterical.

The Amazing Race, Feb. 26 – The Importance of Math Skills

Sorry for the late edition of The Amazing Race recap this week. I was gone for the weekend and celebrating my in-laws’ 50th anniversary. A good time was had by all, but now I need to get back into it and find out what happened on the Race this week!

The first team to leave the pit stop in Argentina are Blonde Rachel and Dave at 2:46 AM. Their clue tells them to drive themselves to the Cafayate Town Square and wait for the “chasqui,” a mounted postman, to give them the next clue. Rachel knows they have a target on their backs after coming in first, yet they do have the security of the Express Pass. They don’t anticipate using it unless it’s absolutely necessary. When she has a hard time pronouncing chasqui, Dave tells her to use her Spanglish.

Brendon and Redhead Rachel leave two minutes later, with her saying this game is super-different from Big Brother. You’re constantly on the go and you have to be super-fierce competitors. She has to say this is tougher. Yeah, I’m pretty sure they’ll be eating something much worse than slop, baby food, and bok choy.

Border patrol agents Art and J.J. leave one minute later and ask a local what a chasqui is. J.J. predicts Brendon won’t make a decision and will just wait for them to go, then follow. Art figures it’s because Brendon is a UCLA student. Rachel and Dave land at the Town Square and ask about the chasqui. They’re told he won’t arrive until sunrise, making them realize they just lost whatever lead they had.

Nary and Jamie leave at 3:21 and admit that they haven’t told anyone that they’re federal agents, and instead have told everyone they’re Kindergarten teachers. They could probably get away with that for awhile, as they look more like teachers than agents. Brendon and Rachel asked about their occupation, but since they know the Big Brother team is tough, they plan to backstab and U-Turn them.

Vanessa and Ralph leave ten minutes later, and she, too, is asking what a chasqui is. Elliot and Andrew leave at 4:21, and Team Mississippi, Kerri and Stacy, leave more than an hour later at 5:23. All the teams are arriving at the town square, sitting around and waiting for the chasqui, and Vanessa asks the dog laying around panting if he’s a chasqui. Someone mentions he’s probably not bilingual. Right, because he’d know what she was talking about if he was.

The Clowns, Dave and Cherie, leave at 5:27 AM, with him saying he thinks the other teams underestimate them. He’s had LP Hodgkins disease twice, and with her by his side, he’s been cancer-free since 2001. This makes her do the happy dance. She’s pretty sure they can win the Race.

Team Kentucky, Bopper and Mark, leave two minutes later, with Mark saying as long as one team is behind them, they’re fine. They can work their way up and are in no hurry to get to first. They’ll get there sooner or later and will shock the world. Trying to figure out what chasqui is, he says they speak country and no other language. That must be why the closed-captioning can never figure out what they’re saying, as I still keep using that trying to help me decipher what they’re saying.

Joey “Fitness” and Danny are the last to leave at 5:35 AM. Remember, they’re only still in this because the sisters couldn’t see Phil across the yard from where they were looking. Joey is looking for them to become the Comeback Guys. Everyone is still gathered around the dog who is kicking around something on the ground. Someone suggests he’s kicking around the clue. Well, he wouldn’t be able to read the clue, because he’s not bilingual.

At 6:35 AM, all the teams run out to meat the chasqui who arrives on horseback. He hands them the clue, a Detour – Boil My Water or Light My Fire. In the water challenge, teams will be required to visit one of three isolated villages and will supply them with a means of cooking. They’ll take a basic solar kitchen from a pickup truck and assemble it using a picture from the box. They’ll then position it in sunlight and place a tea kettle on the dish. Once it comes to boil, the solar panel expert will hand them the next clue. In Light My Fire, teams will gather firewood and clay by the riverbank, load it ono a donkey, and transport it one mile to a pottery workshop to get the next clue.

Border Patrol is upset by Big Brother yanking the clue out right away. All the teams seem to be choosing to Boil My Water, except Border Patrol, who choose Light My Fire. Blonde Rachel thinks it’s a beautiful day for solar energy, yet Art is saying if you try to boil water with solar energy, it’s going to take forever, as the sun’s not even up yet.

Rachel and Dave are the first ones to the solar energy challenge, followed by Nary/Jamie and Vanessa/Ralph. The Clowns arrive as well. They miss that there are directions on the side of the box. Vanessa is following the picture dutifully, and Jamie says she has never made anything like this before, as they’re pampered and use a stove. Vanessa is hoping these solar kitchens will help the village get power.

Mississippi arrives at one of the solar panel locations and wonder why they haven’t seen Art and J.J. They’re still driving to the location for “Light My Fire.” Kentucky are a little behind, and once again Big Brother is following someone; they’re following Kentucky. I’m not sure why, but Bopper mentions putting the noose around someone’s neck. It doesn’t seem to be aimed at Big Brother. Joey and Danny arrive to start assembling the solar power.

Amazing Race 20 – Ep 2 – The Episode Where We Watch Water Boil

That’s right. This week, on The Amazing Race, the millions of fans of the show sat back to watch teams watch a pot of water boil. In fact, the show was centered on two tasks which featured boiling water and long division. Who said TAR didn’t provide excitement! Tea and math. So, your Aunt Mary and Mrs. Luftig, your fifth grade teacher, could have made an excellent pair this week! And yes, I have several Aunt Marys and my fifth grade teacher was Mrs. Luftig – best teacher I ever had.

Oh, let’s not forget that with the boiling water and math, we also got a montage of teams sleeping. We really did.

In what was likely the lowest rated TAR episode in a while, as many fans were likely watching Billy Crystal host one of the lamest Oscar telecasts in recent memory (seriously, Letterman gets crap for his turn in 94, but in retrospect it really wasn’t so bad). I guess it would be the best time to have a boiling water episode when the fewest people were watching.

I kid, Amazing Race, because I love. The second consecutive episode to take place in Argentina (a recent trend on the show to cut costs – multiple eps in one country), also gave us a quick equalizer to wipe the slate clean from last week. Gone was the three hour lead Army Wives had over the Dumbbells. One note – Joey Fitness sure likes to tweet and retweet (and thanks to Nary from the Fed Agents and JJ from the Border guys for their retweets this week). The Agents are also revealed – through a hilarious graphic x-ing out their Federal Agents tag and replacing it with Schoolteachers. They are pulling a Team Peyton and lying about their profession to take the so-called target off their back. Not exactly sure why being Federal Agents would put a target on their back – none of these teams are trafficking drugs or are part of terrorist cells (we assume).
And, why Amazing Race teams feel that having targets on their back really matter is beyond me. Survivor, yes. Guatemala’s Gary had to lie about being a former NFL quarterback. Russell had to lie about being a rich oil man. The other people in your tribe hold your fate in their hands. On the Amazing Race, your fate is in both your own hands, and subject to the will of the race course. Very rarely can teams gang up on you – it can happen from time to time, but really, your biggest concerns are from your own decisions, ability to complete tasks, and avoiding the random pitfalls along the way. You know, like exploding bus windows.

That’s what this week’s Race came down to – an exploding bus window, and one team’s inability to perform a task. Throw in a surprisingly wise decision by the Dumbbells to join forces with the Twins at the math challenge – identifying Dave the Clown’s failure to do long division – as a perfect opportunity to move ahead in the Race. That team-up was one way teams can conspire, but it was focused more on convenience – Dave was there and tripping up – rather than on fear of the New Clowns’ abilities. The bus window tumbled the middle of the three buses to Buenos Aires – containing Stalkers, New Clowns, Dumbbells, and the Twins – into last place. Nothing they could do about that – and since the window seemed to remain broken, I’m not all that sure how they wound up so far behind. What did they actually do to that bus in all that time?

The other big thing this week was my – and many non-Big Brother fans – introduction to Brendon and Rachel. I said last week that I was going in with an open mind with them – but after this week, I can see how they irk BB fans. I am actually stunned that she won that show. Is it possible that BB is actually more ridiculous than I thought it was in the first place? They are just – strange. As a PhD student, you would assume that he’s a relatively intelligent guy. So what is he doing with this woman who is clearly still a child emotionally? When she chose to do the challenge and it turned out to be a math task, she whined incessantly, “But I’m baaaad at math!!” And then she ran away in what appeared to be a hissy fit.

Seriously, I have seen kindergarteners do that exact same “whine, run and flail” move that she did on national television. She claimed to be “just a girl” and “not as smart” as her partner. These are not things a grown woman utters. At least not one with even a speck of self-esteem and respect. I find myself puzzled at what he sees in her – unless it is that age old thing that many guys see in some women.

All I have to say about that – she’s not my cup of tea.

So, Team Army Wife, JJArt, and BB continue to have some good results early on, and the rest of them waver. Based on early edits, I don’t expect to see much from the FBI Schoolteachers or the Twins – they have really gotten the short end of screen time. Team Bopper had a good week – and I have a feeling they will be up and down all season long. I’ve been somewhat unimpressed with the vast majority of the teams so far in two episodes – but there is plenty of time left for the nine remaining to show something.

Amazing Race 20 – Ep 1 – The Dumbest Move in Race History

Season 20 of the Amazing Race is off and running! Incredible for a show that was once not expected to last longer than four seasons. And even more incredible is that the premiere episode of Season 20 provided us with one of the weirdest Pit Stop moments ever, which was also arguably the dumbest move in the history of the show. This wasn’t a wrong turn, or a challenge mistake, or a poor flight choice – those are understandable – this was, well, jaw-droppingly ridiculous.

But we’ll get to that in a moment so there aren’t too many huge spoilers up at the top of this column. We also got a cool Roadblock twist, some delicious piñatas and we got to know the latest group of Racers – and boy, they are an eclectic group.

Dave/Cherie – Married Clowns – They sure seem nice, if a little slow. Of course, we have already had Clowns (S4’s Jon/Al) and they were awesome. New Clowns have a large legacy to live up to.

Bopper/Mark – Best Friends – Following in the tradition of Big Tom from Survivor , we have some hillbillies whose English requires subtitles. Using Race lore, we have our latest version of David/Mary. They come from poverty, so more than most any other past Race team, the dudes really need the prize money. And one’s name is Bopper – I wonder if he knows the Day the Music Died?

Misa/Maiya – Sisters – And golfers. They are shown doing golf tricks where they tap the ball in the air and swat it with their clubs as if it was a baseball. They are small and rather cute. They also claim there will be no crying from them – SPOILER ALERT – they are lying.

Brendon/Rachel – PhD Student and Event Hostess – Oh, and apparently a past Big Brother power couple. He says that they won BB12, and she corrects him that it was she who actually won the show. Full disclosure folks, I don’t care for Big Brother and I don’t watch it. Which is good in a way – when a polarizing couple such as this one shows up, I come in fresh. So far, I have seen little to dislike – except perhaps for the green sparkly blouse.

Joey “Fitness”/Danny – Trainer and Club Promoter – Oh my. I know the Amazing Race panders somewhat with the casting – see the previous team – but really? We had to go with Jersey Shore wannabes? As a former New Yorker with an Italian family, I have met these guys before. Well, not literally these guys, but tons of guys just like them. They are in amazing gym shape – which does not always translate into real life strength – and you have to give them credit for that. But they are also as dumb as dumbbells.

Nary/Jamie – Federal Agents – Here’s a team for the fetish groups – girls with guns. Seriously, we get to watch them carrying and firing gigantic automatic weapons, along with an amazing camera angle of the spent shells flying off the weapons. To be perfectly honest, we didn’t get much from this pair this week – a very quiet edit – and in fact, I had to look up online which one of them actually participated in the Roadblock. We’ll see.

Rachel/Dave – Army Wife and Combat Pilot – He’s an Army major who served in Iraq, and she is his wife. They have spent little time together and it shows. Their Mat exchange at the end of the episode is rather awkward for a married couple. They are using this to reconnect – and that is often a dangerous thing to behold.

Elliot/Andrew – Twins – Not identical, thankfully, but still, they are two young good looking dudes. So I will have some issues telling them apart this season. Eliot is a musician, and Andrew is a professional soccer player. We already have one pro soccer player in our CBS reality shows – and he’s got a lot to live up to next to Ethan Zohn. And totally not gay, or so says Elliot.

Kerri/Stacy – Cousins – They claim to be typical Daisy Duke country girls. I remember Catherine Bach – and well, not exactly Daisy clones, but the shorts do match. They run around with chickens to further sell the stereotype.

Vanessa/Ralph – Dating Divorcees – Oh, I think we know our season’s villain. Vanessa seems to be quite a piece of work. She says that she stalked him – but he was married. Nice. He got divorced but she was married. Then she got divorced, and now they are together. And I am sure there is nothing more to that story. It is hard to get on board with a team whose first moments involve stalking and broken marriages.

Art/JJ – Border Patrol Agents – Their names are so short; I may not need a nickname for them! They are part of a 40 man team that patrols the coast line. And if you don’t see what is really wrong with our immigration system with that sentence, then I don’t really know what to say. These guys seem like fun – although there may some border crossers who disagree with me.

Challenge #1 – The Starting Line challenges continue with 100 balloons tethered to the ground with 11 of them holding clues. They have to pull them down one by one to check. So, here we go, in Minute One we have a needle in the haystack challenge. The show has been using Needle challenges way too much in recent years – time to wean them off the Needle. The Twins find it first, followed in order by – Stalkers, Dumbbells, Cousins, Big Brother, Army Wives, Feds, New Clowns, JJArt, Boppers and the Sisters way behind. In fact, it takes the golfers an hour and 45 minutes to find a clue.

Travel from Santa Barbara to Santa Barbara – Nice one, Show. California to Argentina. Stacy can already taste the burritos. Because, you can’t find burritos in California. And, not exactly one of the Argentinean signature dishes. Despite the Sisters’ troubles, all of the teams get on the usual two flights – separated by two and a half hours. Sitting in the slower plane – Boppers, Sisters, Dumbbells, New Clowns and the Cousins. I would not cry over any of them leaving – although the Sisters are easy on the eyes.

The Amazing Race, Feb. 19 – “My Uterus Is In My Throat!”

The Amazing Race, Feb. 19 – Of course the most talked about team on this season of The Amazing Race is Brendon and Rachel from Big Brother fame. I might be in the minority, but I hope they make it kind of far. Everyone has to admit they make good TV, even if they sometimes make you want to throw things at the screen. They can stick it to Ethan and Jenna from Survivor if they make it further than the second week.

The teams make an unusual start to the Race this year. They arrive in Santa Barbara, California, via bicycles, as if on a bike race. I like the change of pace, but it’s hard to really get to see what the racers look like so that we’ll remember them later. The teams are:

Dave and Cherie – Married Clowns. He goes by the adage “what goes around comes around,” and hopes because of their karma they have built up, it will turn around and work in their favor.

Bopper and Mark – Lifelong friends from Kentucky. They explain they’re from the “other side of the tracks.” They’ve never had anything and don’t expect to. If they don’t win, they can’t help their families, so they’re going to to win the money.

Misa and Maiya – Sisters from San Diego. I can tell I’m going to have a hard time keeping them apart until much later in the season. They’re golfers, and while some people think they may be dainty and prissy, for them there will be no crying. As athletes, they know what it takes to win the Race.

Brendon and Rachel – Engaged from L.A. They met on Big Brother and fell in love in the hammock. They proved to be good competitors, and Brendon thinks they showed that by winning Big Brother 13. Rachel disputes this, saying “she” won. They’re not here to make friends; they’re here to win a million dollars. “Nobody comes between me and my million dollars.” I have to hand it to her or the producers, whoever came up with that. That’s good.

Joey “Fitness” and Danny – Best friends from Long Island. They’re all about the hair, the muscles, and the tattoos. People may think they’re the typical Jersey guys, but while Danny doesn’t have a “Situation,” he explains he has a “Solution,” as he raises his shirt. He says there’s a lot more going on over there than they think, and points to his abs. I hate to tell him, but that is what everyone thinks. He would have made us think twice if he pointed to his head.

Nary and Jamie – Federal Agents from L.A. There aren’t a lot of women in their field, and you have to be tougher to do what they do. Nary explains doing this Race “is going to be cake to us.” Jamie likes cake. Oh brother.

Dave and Rachel – Married from Madison. He’s a Major in the Army and has been in the military for sixteen years, being in Iraq for one year. She just realized the magnitude of how much you change when you’re apart. They’re hoping the Race will be the catalyst for reconnecting to reconcile their marriage and friendship and common bond. How can you not like these two?

Elliot and Andrew – Twin brothers from Scottsdale. Elliott is a musician in a rock band, and Andrew a professional soccer player. They’ve always been close and best friends, Elliot explains it by saying they’re like partners, but not gay. Andrew tells him he can’t say that. I’m thinking they belong with Joey and Danny.

Kerri and Stacy – Cousins from Gulfport, Mississippi. They’re the typical Daisy Duke country girls, and explain they do look a little different, but at the end of the day, they’ll be in the mud getting dirty with the rest of the boys. “We’re packing a little punch behind this little drawl.”

Vanessa and Ralph – Dating from San Antonio. They’ve been dating for about a year, but have known each other about fifteen. She used to stalk him, but he got married, and she stalked him some more. He got divorced; she got married. She got divorced, and now they’re dating. They’ll keep the racing to going around the world, and not down the aisle. They seem fun.

Art and J.J. – Border Patrol Agents from Southern California. They’re supervisors of a 40-man unit that controls the coastline. Many times it’s life or death, so they need to be teammates. They’re going to laugh, rib each other, and have fun. Art believes he’s the brains and J.J.’s the braun, as J.J. jokes it’s like thinking you’re the Beauty from Beauty and the Beast.

Done with their bike ride, the teams meet up with Phil on a lush meadow. There will be twelve legs on the race that will push them like never before. The winners of this leg will win the Express Pass that can be used before or during any challenge they don’t want to compete, but it has to be used before the end of the eighth leg.

The first clue is up in the air in miniature hot air balloons. The teams need to run into a corn field and start pulling them down to find the clues. There are only eleven clues in the one-hundred balloons. Finding one with a clue, they can get into a new Ford Taurus and continue racing.

Amazing Race 19 Commentary – Finale – Recalculating … Recalculating

Those words are your GPS’ way of saying F U to you as you mess up its properly mapped out directions. We have all been there. I feel like a scolded child whenever Brenda (that’s what we have named our GPS’ voice) condescendingly (yep, I said it) tells me she is recalculating to make up for my dumb ass driving. It’s very frustrating. And that’s just when I can’t find the ice skating rink where my son’s classmate is having her birthday party. Imagine how frustrating that can be when you are on your way to the End Mat of the Amazing Race!

Well, that’s where Control Freak found themselves. In the cab, barreling along the Atlanta streets looking for the Finish Line, when Brenda started to scold their cabbie. Recalculating. I think I would have lost my mind. They had no idea they were about a month ahead of Jeremy 2.0. We knew, but for all they knew that recalculating was costing them the Race. I am surprised we didn’t see Cindy’s head explode right there in the cab. Just like when Marvin’s head blew up (I’d link to the Pulp Fiction reference, but between the blood and the cursing, I don’t want to sift through the angry letters).

But it really didn’t matter in the end. Control Freak may have had the biggest blowout in the final leg of any Amazing Race. When you see the lighting changes between the arrival of Control Freak, Jeremy 2.0 and the Peytons at the Mat, you can see that a decent amount of time passed. Control Freak deserves a lot of credit as they made the right decisions and banged out the challenges rather effectively. Peytons’ struggle with the first challenge in Atlanta basically took them out of the running, while Jeremy 2.0 messing up the next set of directions put them far behind. The only chance that anyone had was Control Freak either messing up a challenge, getting wildly lost, or both.

The recalculating GPS just smelled of editing room enhanced drama to make the final stretch not a Secretariat-like blowout. But that’s all it was – and Control Freak crossed the Finish Line with the win. The Race only has so much control over the action on the ground (or in the air), and cannot always have a close finish. Many Races have been exciting at the end. AR2 with the footrace of Good vs. Wil. AR8’s saving grace – the one minute separating the Linzs and the Bransens. AR6 and the ill-timed train. AR1 and the deflation of poor Margarita. AR11 and the Danielle as gossip challenge.

This one – not so exciting. But at least a fairly deserving team won. Control Freak had been one of the more successful teams all season long. Jeremy 2.0 had a good penultimate leg, but mostly had been shaky throughout. Peytons had the same leg each week – bad start, nice comeback. This time, bad start, no comeback.

Perhaps the Peytons just fell victim to the Home Town Curse. When it was revealed that the final city was going to be their home city of Atlanta, I was surprised that the other two teams didn’t jump for joy. I mean – have they watched the show before? Teams that go home to their city on the final leg just don’t win. Margarita’s deflation came from the fact that they were mega-confident that they could win in New York over the LA lawyers. They were wrong. Wil thought that his home in San Fran was an unbeatable advantage over the Boston guys. He was wrong. Colin and Christie were thrilled to be going to Dallas – they lost. It is the Survivor Car Curse.

As far as challenges are concerned – these at least required some skill and thought. That is something I want to see on each leg, but especially on the final one. The flight simulator task was not complicated – it was just hard. And cool. Who wouldn’t want to do that? And as it was pointed out by Amani, it is supposed to be hard. Pilots should be trained extremely well for flying planes, and landing them. They should not be former NBA players or secret pedophiles.

The next task – finding “The Dump,” which was a reference to the home of author Margaret Mitchell. By this time, the Peytons were all but done as Marcus failed again and again to land the plane. The Race was won by Control Freak at this point, and I’ll give credit to Cindy, because she deserves it. It appeared that Cindy had the wherewithal – perhaps the Control Freak part of her brain – to get on the cabbie’s phone and call for help. Sounded like she was on with Atlanta tourism or something, another wise move. She found out the location. Jeremy 2.0 asked some random extra from the Dukes of Hazard what it was and got sent to a furniture warehouse somewhere in Macon (I don’t know for sure where it was, I just have friends in Macon. Holla!). This time difference was never made up, and in fact, seemingly made worse by Jeremy 2.0’s inability to bail on the warehouse quickly. Or maybe they just needed a new living room set.

The Amazing Race, Dec. 11 – Wake Me Up When It’s the Finale

In the beginning of The Amazing Race, no one would have figured on this particular final three teams. Perhaps Amani and Marcus, and maybe Ernie and Cindy, but definitely not Jeremy and Sandy, and definitely Andy and Tommy would have figured somewhere in the mix. This makes the finale just seem to have a completely different feel to it.

The first team to leave the pit stop in Panama are Jeremy and Sandy at 12:04 AM. Their clue tells them to fly to Atlanta, Georgia, which she says “sucks.” There they will make their way to Flight Safety International and find their next clue. She knows they have to be perfect this leg and continue to work together as a team. He feels they need to put the pieces together, the ones they’ve learned throughout the Race, figuring they have a good shot at it. However, they don’t have any experience in Atlanta, while Marcus and Amani live there.

Ernie and Cindy leave at 12:05, and she, too, says finishing the Race in Atlanta is a huge advantage for Marcus and Amani. In regards to their time on the Race, she feels it’s been the ultimate pre-marriage counseling and that they’ve learned so much about each other. He gives the taxi directions … with an accent … making her laugh. She feels this has been a really strong bonding experience.

Marcus and Amani leave at 12:06 and are definitely stoked to be going to their home city. They feel they deserve to be in final three, and he, of course, compares it to being in the Super Bowl with home field advantage to be going to Atlanta.

Jeremy dickers over the price of the cab, while Sandy tells him to just give it to him. The other teams meet up with them, and everyone starts getting their tickets. They all get on the 8:30 flight to Atlanta. Marcus calls it amazing to finish this around-the-world trip in their home city of Atlanta. Ernie is ready to work some magic today, while Cindy sys she’s been doing it the whole time. Jeremy is ready to run and jump in front of people. Marcus says they’re playing at home with the ball on the ten yard line with four plays to get it in.

Jeremy and Sandy have an easy time finding a taxi, Marcus and Amani grab one next, and Ernie and Cindy struggle to find someone to take them. Once they find a driver, he wants an address, which of course they don’t have. She promises to pay him a lot and asks to borrow his phone. This time Sandy tells the driver to not tell the other taxi drivers where he’s going. The obviously want to make sure what happened to them last week doesn’t happen again. Amani tells their driver to listen to how hard she’s breathing as proof of how serious the Race is.

Jeremy and Sandy get to Flight Safety first, followed closely behind by Marcus and Amani. Teams will learn the intricacies of a Learjet Flight Simulator, then will successfully land their aircraft, being pilot and copilot. When the flight instructor feels they’ve earned their wings, they’ll get the next clue. Ernie and Cindy arrive when everyone else is already inside.

All three men as as pilot/captain. Marcus doesn’t like flying even, but calls this new and fascinating. Sandy thinks she might throw up, and Amani suggests she and Marcus take a motion pill. All three teams are flying the simulators. Cindy and Ernie argue while they’re driving. The instructor tells them they were driving so slow, they would have been falling out of the sky. Marcus is told his landing was a bit harsh, while Jeremy and Sandy get it on the first attempt.

Jeremy and Sandy get another clue that tells them to go to “The Dump,” home of Margaret Mitchell, to get their next clue. They’re excited to see the other two teams’ cabs still waiting. Sandy wants the driver to get out his phone to check what The Dump is, while Jeremy wants to get out and ask people.

The other two teams are trying it again, and Marcus screws up by asking permission to taxi before he’s even landed. Ernie and Cindy get it right the second time and get the clue to head to The Dump. Cindy asks for their driver’s phone to find itp, and also wonders why they don’t see Jeremy and Sandy’s taxi. Apparently fourth time needs to be the charm here for Marcus after another rough landing. He screws it up again. I’m feeling Brian and Ericka at Cirque do Soleil from a few season back all over again.

Sandy is now wanting to get out and ask somebody while CIndy is calling around. Jeremy and Sandy are given the wrong info, that it’s the old Home Depot store, while Ernie and Cindy are finding that it’s Margaret Mitchell’s home. Jeremy should have listened to Sandy and borrowed the driver’s phone, as they’re about to embark on a wild good chase.

Ernie admits he’ll be disappointed to not win the million dollars. It wouldn’t have been so disappointing to lose to “the boys,” but will be to one of the other couples, as he compares it to losing to his brother. Sandy thinks she’ll need to get on Prilosec when she gets home. Cindy compares losing to the other two teams to C students losing to A+ students. They need to lose for that comparison.

Amani and Marcus are trying to land again, and miss it once again. Ernie and Cindy’s driver tells them Jeremy and Sandy left a good fifteen to twenty minutes ahead of them, and she knows that’s not good. Jeremy and Sandy find a store called The Dump at the old Home Depot; it’s now a furniture store. They run in.and can’t figure out why this store is “the former residence.” Sandy asks a worker if it’s the former residence known as The Dump, and he says it still is The Dump. They look around the store, looking for the marker. She wants to be methodical amongst the rows of furniture to find it.

Ernie and Cindy get to the right Dump first and find a Roadblock. One person from each team will need to use an old-fashioned typewriter to type out their next clue. They need to realize that these old manual typewriters don’t have number ones, so they’ll have to use a lower case L. I knew that! That’s either good on knowledge, or makes me old. When it’s typed to perfection, they’ll get the next clue. Ernie says he’ll do it right away, then opens it up to find out it’s typing and is immediately disappointed, as she types about “1000 words a minute.” Ernie asks if they’ll get support on how to work the typewriter, but only gets silence.

Amazing Race 19 Commentary – Ep 11- Holy Balls, Cabbies Strike Again

I am not saying this is good, nor am I saying this is bad, but once again non-Racers decided the Race this week. If anything, one of the biggest influences on Race performance in the 19 seasons of the show has been local cab drivers. It is in the fabric of the show – it is completely unavoidable if you want a Race that is exciting, authentic and feasible. As much as I love seeing teams take public transportation – ample options do not exist in many locations around the world. As much fun as it is watching teams navigate, it comes with spoon fed transportation.

Cabs mix elements of both – local flair and navigation. However, it also mixes in another element. The driver. Often times, the driver is amazing, a slice of life from the region of the world. The Dudes’ cabbie in Panama was reaaaaallly enthusiastic, for example. Fun stuff. Cabbies can also be elements of drama – such as Colin’s near Tanzanian incarceration, or Uchenna begging to pay his cab in Miami. They can also decide the end of the game – several Races have come down to whose cabbie navigates the streets better – or become directly responsible for elimination.

Never before do I recall an instance where the cabbies of the other teams became the reason for another team’s elimination. Until now. The Dudes were done in by a giant error on their part, that’s true, but they appeared to be poised to potentially overcome their own mistake. They never got the chance.
Due to a big lead following the Roadblock and the Detour, the Dudes arrived at the last challenge. Several dancers were doing a routine at Cathedral Square in Panama City. Interwoven into the ornate dress of one of them was the location of the Pit Stop. In addition, etched in the medallions worn by the many dancers was an image of the building they had to find. Racers had to locate either clue to find the right location. The Dudes failed to do it. They instead found Balboa’s name – no, not him – and pursued that as their lead. Wild goose chase is an apt description of what followed.

Meanwhile, the other three teams appeared at the challenge at about the same time. When all was said and done, none of them found the clue on the dress. Control Freak and the Peytons made the same error as the Dudes. It was Jeremy who found the secondary clue. He drew the building on a pad and was able to get it figured out. So, only Jeremy 2.0 had the correct clue. That should have meant and easy win for them, and a game positioning of the Dudes returning from their wild goose chase to the challenge, with the other two teams beginning to embark on their own. With all things being equal, it should have been Control Freak vs. Peytons for elimination.

But things were not equal. The cabbies for Control Freak and Jeremy 2.0 had been working together, and at the challenge met up with the Peytons’ cabbie. On their own, Jeremy 2.0’s cabbie informed the other two of the correct location of the Pit Stop, so they all just followed them there. Boom. Boom. Boom. 1-2-3 is decided. The Dudes are out, victims to their own lead.

I think their demise despite winning six legs (although three of them were due to others’ errors) is akin to some other teams’ losses at fourth place. Kevin/Drew in the first Race’s going to the wrong entry point to the park in China. The Wonder Twins’ getting deceived by the snarky brothers in AR3. The Clowns’ airport error in South Korea in AR4. The BQ’s going the wrong way after the Yield drama in AR10. Toni/Dallas’ lost passport in AR13. Kisha/Jen’s pee break in AR14. The Trotters’ problems with a five-letter word puzzle in AR15. There are others, of course. But the Dudes’ loss is unique as it is really the only one caused by outside forces.

The wildness at the end of the episode made up for a fairly predictable first 40 minutes of the show. We had more product placement, we had an airport bunching. We had challenges where positioning is barely altered. But it sure ended interestingly!

The Amazing Race, Dec. 4. – Panama Not Just for Van Halen

It seems no one wanted to say goodbye to Bill and Cathi last week. They had a good run. Amend that … they had a great run. If any older couple could have finally won, it seemed it would have been them. And I still say that woman has an awesome body for her age … even for a younger woman she has a good body. The bodybuilding judge that told them they obviously work out I think was mainly talking to her. It will be a little different race without them, probably much more competitive. The funny thing about The Amazing Race is that you never know who’s going to fall behind when. It really could be any of the final four leaving this week.

While everyone else is sleeping in the Atomium, the site of the last pit stop, Andy and Tommy get to customize their Mustangs they won. They leave in first place once again, and leave Belgium at 3:46 AM. Their clue tells them to dress as two characters from the Adventures of Tin Tin comic, and figure out they are detectives known by three different sets of names. They’ll locate the mural in a picture and tell Tin Tin, a man in a blue sweater, what they’ve learned to get their next clue. Andy laments that comics were not his speciality. They ask locals at this time of the morning how well they know comics. One local suggests they look like Charlie Chaplin.

Jeremy and Sandy leave at 4:20 AM, and she mentions that they never thought they’d make it this far, as they had some really bad legs. Yet after the last two, they’re happy with where they are. They’re goal is final three. I’m guessing that’s everyone’s goal. He tells her she looks like a “darn hot man” dressed like this. Andy and Tommy research the comics on the Internet and mistakenly think the Charlie Chaplin guess is right.

Ernie and Sandy leave at 4:35 AM, and she’s concerned that they always leave a pit stop really strong, but make some type of error, and lose first place. He compliments her on her mustache. Jeremy and Sandy are walking the streets asking who they are. They get a local to tell them they look like they’re from Tin Tin. Andy and Tommy have figured out TinTin, but don’t know who they are. Tommy is stuck on the Charlie Chaplin thing. Ernie and Cindy are told they are detectives from TinTin. This local doesn’t know the names. Another local does. Andy is trying to figure out the connection between TinTin and Charlie Chaplin.

Marcus and Amani leave at 4:40 AM. He compares this leg to a conference championship in football terms. Assumably that makes the finale the Super Bowl. He’s played in three championships and never got to the SuperBowl. He thinks this time he’ll make it. He asks her if her mustache is too big. He laughs at his own joke, then wants to stop, as he doesn’t want his mustache to come off.

Andy and Tommy get out of the cab to look for the location, as do Ernie and Cindy. Marcus and Amani ask locals who they are, and they look to the be the same locals some of the other racers talked to. They are told they are detectives from Tin Tin and given names. Jeremy and Sandy are the first to find the local wearing the blue sweater and tell him they are detectives going by the names Johnson and Johnson. They get the clue to fly to Panama City, Panama, where they will take a boat up the river to Parara Puru. Great, now I’ll be singing Van Halen for the whole hour

Ernie and Cindy find the man in the blue sweater, and she correctly identifies their names, and says they’re detectives. She adds that they are stupid, and he’s the smart one that helps them solve all of their cases. Andy and Tommy tell the man in the blue sweater they are Charlie Chaplin and he can only shake his head no. They try Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd and know they have to go back and find the answer online.

Amani and Marcus find the man in the blue sweater and correctly identify themselves as Johnson and Johnson, two detectives. They get their next clue and move on. Andy and Tommy find out the error of their ways while searching the Internet. Marcus/Amani and Ernie/Cindy walk together, and discuss Andy and Tommy getting it wrong. The snowboarders get it right on the second attempt.

All four teams make the same train to get to the airport, and Sandy knows that means they can’t make any mistakes from hereon out, or they’re going home. Their train takes them to Amsterdam, where they all catch the same flight to Panama.

It’s a mad dash at the airport as everyone catches cabs to the river. Andy and Tommy have a driver who is celebrating with them. Jeremy and Sandy ask their driver to go “rapido.” Marcus has a handful of rocks that someone told him to give to Andy and Tommy for good luck, but he “forgot.” He just throws them out the window, saying “no bad luck here.”

Andy and Tommy are the first to arrive at the river, in the dark, followed by Jeremy and Sandy. They get in their boats that look like long canoes, and race across the river. Ernie/Cindy and Amani/Marcus are the next to arrive and take off in their respective boats. They talk about how dark it is and that they can’t see anything. Jeremy and Sandy’s driver gets their boat stuck in a sandbar, and she pronounces, “We’re done.” It’s only temporary, though.