Friday, September 22, 2006

Amazing Race Premiere Recap

Judy and I finally watched the dvr of Amazing Race 10 last night and I’m ready to send out my recap into the blogosphere. AR has always been one of my favorite reality shows (less the Family edition which was horrific) because the irony of going to amazing places around the globe but never having the time to see any of the sights just cracks me up. It’s like the vacation from hell for money—but without the fun sightseeing parts. I particularly enjoy watching teams melt down under the pressure of constant travel, strange food, and little sleep. I mean, can’t we all relate on some visceral level to the stress a relationship goes through while traveling?

On a personal note, I remember a notable occasion when my sister Karen had hysterics of giggles after I was reprimanded by a Canadian Police Officer for running a stop sign while at Niagara Falls. Hey—those falls are very distracting. The point is, I was mortified to the point of tears to have been so stupid and to have the police ream me out about it made it all the worse. Meanwhile, Karen thought it was the funniest event of the trip. To say I was mad at her would be an understatement—who else could I take out my embarrassment on? Family are always there when you need to vent.

Back to the race—this year's contestants were a rather eclectic group. In no particular order the mini-recap of information about the teams:

Team Bilal and Sa’eed: best friends from Cleveland; married with children; and Muslim. Did you know that Muslim's don't shake hands with people? I didn't. I don't know if Bilal wouldn't shake hands with one of the cheerleaders because she is a woman or if they just don't shake hands but he wouldn't and said it was for religious reasons.

Team David and Mary: married with children from Kentucky; he is a coal miner and she is a traditional homemaker; they’ve never been outside of Kentucky or Tennessee. They are a hoot. I love their accents and the way Mary talks to David when she feels he's not treating her right.

Team Duke and Lauren: a father/daughter pair from Rhode Island; they were briefly estranged because she is gay; she’s a Speech Pathologist (so I’m rooting for them). Parent/kid teams never work out because they can't overcome the whole I'm the boss of you vibe that the parent gives off even though the kids is an adult. I expect fighting from this pair.

Team Dustin and Kandice: best friends that are beauty queens—literally; one is the reigning Miss NY and the other is the reigning Miss CA. Pageants are cut-throat, I hear, so I'm expecting this team to be competitive.

Team Erwin and Godwin: brothers from San Fransciso; both have advanced degrees. Hot geeks. I hope they win.

Team Kellie and Jamie: best friend cheerleaders from South Carolina. Perky. 'Nuff said. I think one of them is having a show-mance with a "Win" brother--either that or a "Win" brother has a crush.

Team Lyn and Karlyn: best friends from Alabama; both are single moms. They tell it like it is--hope they kick butt.

Team Peter and Sarah: dating? or friends? It was unclear from the show; she is a athlete with an artificial leg; he is an expert in artificial limbs (he designs and builds them) from California. I'm thinking he's in this for the pr for his business--meanwhile--she thinks he might be the one. Sarah--he called you "Sister" when he was encouraging you at one point in the race. I'm pretty sure that's not a good sign in terms of romance.

Team Rob and Kimberly: dating and from Los Angeles. They were fighting right from the start. Rob thinks that Kimberly needs to learn--and will learn on the race that she can't control him. Newsflash Dude--she knows that already because I can't believe she's in favor of your Alfalfa hairstyle. Since she hasn't convinced you to change that weird sticky-uppy thing that's going on with your 'do--she knows you are hopelessly stubborn.

Team Tom and Jerry: Zounds—I'm gonna think of the cartoon characters pretty much every time I see those names together—dating from New York. Shock Shock, though--Tom and Jerry are not looking to make friends on the race. Strangely, when competing for large cash prizes few teams are ever looking to make friends. Go figure.

Team Tyler and James: best friends from Los Angeles, recovering addicts, models. Good looking and apparently, smart too. They appear to have determination and a history of overcoming difficulty on their side. On the other hand--I'm sick of seeing two guy teams dominate the race. But wait--what's the history here? How many guy-guy teams have won the race...Chip and Reichen...umm...shoot. I'm gonna have to Google this.

Team Vipul and Arti: married from Florida; the first Indian-Americans in the Race. Sweet.

The season’s race began in Seattle Washington. The unfortunate racers started out wet and as always, someone nearly fell after Phil gave the go for the mad dash to the cars. Also as always, several people could not figure out how to drive the newfangled cars provided. (You have the hold the brake down in newer cars in order to put the car into gear.)

The teams are headed for Beijing China. Woohoo. They are all excited—as if they will actually get to see anything for longer than five minutes. Tyler and James are first out onto the road. The racers who head for SeaTac Airport by way of Interstate 5 are quickly stuck in traffic because of an accident. Did I mention it was raining?

Anyway—David and Mary were among the last to leave the parking area. They had lots of trouble figuring out how to drive the new car—maybe they’ve never had a “new” car. I'm just guessing that 's a possibility. I don't think coal miners make huge amounts of dough. They also didn’t have a map. Uh oh. That could be a problem—but wait, they asked a local for directions to the airport. He suggested using Highway 99 and thus, David and Mary avoided the traffic congestion caused by the accident. Peter and Sarah were also clever and took side roads to get out of the jam.

Our first flight to China has room for six teams. They will have an arrival advantage of about one hour over the last six teams. Flight One: David and Mary, Peter and Sarah, Dustin and Kandice, Duke and Lauren, Lyn and Karlyn. Flight Two: Vipul and Arti, Bilal and Sa’eed, Tom and Jerry, Rob and Kimberly, Edwin and Godwin, Kellie and Jamie.

At the airport Edwin and Godwin brought out squirt guns which they playfully used on their competitors. Airport security did NOT find this amusing. They confiscated the toy guys and made it clear that they thought Edwin and Godwin were idiots for traveling with such contraband. Some teams were hoping that Edwin and Godwin would be arrested.

When boarding began on the first plane—Sarah and Peter were allowed to pre-board because of her handicapping condition. This caused consternation and annoyance among the teams because they immediately realized what an advantage this would be in the race. Lyn/Karlyn said, “She can run the ironman but she can’t stand in line?” Good point. But handicap access laws can’t be waived or ignored by the airlines just because ya’ll are in a race.

In China—man, that was a quick flight—the teams head for Gold House where they encountered their first Road Block. One team member had to eat a quantity of fish eyes which apparently is a commonly consumed food in China. I see this and realize how blessed I am to live in America where fish eyes are not considered a snack. In fact, fish eyes aren't even bait here, are they? The teams trundle in and choke down the eyes—most do it with little drama. David quaintly remarked to one team that Mary, “done got four or five of ‘em down already.”

Several teams got lost or had taxi drivers who took them to the back of the restaurant which caused confusion. Edwin & Godwin were the last to leave the restaurant. Once the teams completed the Road Block they were to head for ??? Hmm, I didn’t make a note of that in my notes. (Yes, I take notes—how else am I supposed to remember what happens? Don’t laugh, it’s a hobby.) Well, wherever they were supposed to go—they were trying to arrive to get the best departure time for the morning. Choices were 7:00, 7:15, or 7:30.

Teams leaving at 7:00 were: Peter & Sarah, Lauren & Duke, Lyn & Karlyn, Tyler & James. Teams leaving at 7:15 were: Kellie & Jamie, Tom & Jerry, David & Mary, Dustin & Kandice. Teams leaving at 7:30 were: Rob & Kimberly, Vipul & Arti, Erwin & Godwin…

and WHOA--New Twist—the first ever mid-leg elimination was performed. When Bilal and Sa’eed got to the departure time board the only placard left said “Last Team”. They were sent to see Phil. When they saw Phil, he told them they were eliminated. All teams were shocked and dismayed. Now running all the race well will count—not just managing to squeak in at the Pit Stop. Mary cracked me up because her reaction was that they were going to have to, “expect the unexpected.” Wasn’t that a Big Brother catch-phrase? CBS crossover promotion happening here folks.

The next morning, teams had to travel by motorbike to Northbank Road (in case you ever want to go there—you know—on your next trip to China) and there they faced their first Detour: Labor or Leisure. Teams had to choose between traveling two miles by Pedi-cab to participate in a Chinese Exercise/Dance which had to be performed in unison OR traveling one mile to lay bricks in a pattern. All but two teams chose to Labor.

Although Tyler and James arrived at the Labor site fourth—they finished first because they figured out that there were extra bricks that had to be laid around the perimeter of the design before the pattern design could be started. Once the other struggling teams saw what they were doing wrong, things moved along more quickly.

Teams Kellie & Jamie and Tom & Jerry did the exercise/dance. This worked out well for them because they arrived at the Great Wall of China before at least two other teams who had done Labor. Surprisingly, Tom & Jerry mastered the dance/exercise before the cheerleaders, which thrilled them.

After completing the Detour—teams were to go to the Pit Stop at the Great Wall of China and a specific gate—Juyongguan—where they had to scale the wall using ropes before they could jump on Phil’s mat.

The most amazing struggle to scale the wall was performed by Sarah (of the artificial leg). She and Peter arrived at the wall early on but didn’t pay attention to where to go. Peter (who seems to be a bit bossy) ran Sarah up a ton up steps only to arrive on the wall and realize that they had to go back down so they could scale the wall. It was weird that he made that mistake, too, because he was giving her advice on how to handling scaling the wall with her leg so he knew that they’d be climbing the side of the wall with ropes. Oh well. As you can imagine, she was extra tired out when she got onto the rope with the little loops with which you are supposed to pull yourself up. Aiiayaii. That girl worked like a dog. She banged into that wall again and again. She was at a serious disadvantage because her artificial leg had a curbed metal bottom that did not act like a traditional foot. I never did understand how she managed to get up that wall. It was agonizing to watch. She is one tough chick.

Of the other teams, Karlyn, as well as Mary seemed to have the most difficulty with the wall scaling. They did finally get up and over, though. Whew. The order of finish at the Pit Stop was:

1. Tyler & James—they won $20, 000 for their finish.
2. Duke & Lauren
3. Peter & Sarah
4. Dustin & Kandice
5. Rob & Kimberly
6. Kellie & Jamie
7. Erwin & Godwin
8. Tom & Jerry
9. Lyn & Karlyn
10. David & Mary

Vipul & Arti were eliminated by Phil. They seemed to come in last due somewhat to taxi woes, I think. I don’t remember—nor did I note any specific drama—just not quick enough with the bricks and a slow driver I think. Lyn & Karlyn, and David & Mary fell so low in the ranks just because they took so long getting up the wall. They actually were already climbing before the 5th-8th place finishers even arrived at the wall.

Next week--more stress, strange food, and travel in a part of the world that most people ever see. I anticipate Vietnam.

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