Berets And Baguettes Are Beckoning…

Leaving for Paris tomorrow…

Upon my return from this week-long trip, I shall  resume my tireless efforts to dissect, make fun of, bitch about and otherwise introduce  the cast of The Amazing Race Season 22 from my slightly twisted perspective.

Au revoir, soyez-sage!

Berets and baguettes are beckoning!

Beret and baguette



Meet The Cast: TEAM “DOUBLE TROUBLE-DOUBLE FUN” (Pamela and Winnie)



Meet our next team of the Season 22 cast of The Amazing Race – Pamela Chien and Winnie Sung. They are best friends from Los Angeles, CA.


TAR 22 Team Badass

So, Pamela and Winnie…You know what scares these girls the most about travel? – it’s bathrooms in the foreign lands! I mean – really?! – there are foreign prisons, train wrecks, terrorist attacks, earthquakes – and the scariest thing is bathrooms?! Or are they just super high maintenance girls that plan to spend a lot of time in bathrooms?

I raised my eyebrows (can’t do just one eyebrow like Phil Keoghan) once at this “bathrooms” fear, but I chuckled more than a few times while reading their bio and watching their video interview. You can tell that these girls would be snappy, bitchy and loud. They would also be crazy and fun (or crazy fun, if you prefer!).

I have high hopes for Winnie in particular since she compares herself to Chelsea Handler.  So – you better make me laugh a lot, girl!!!

It’s one of my favourite teams so far. They seem to have boundless energy and zest for life like previous contestants Mallory Ervin (TAR 17 and TAR 18) and Brook Roberts (TAR 17), yet they don’t seem as annoying as those two were.

My early prediction is that Pamela and Winnie would go relatively far. And I hope its true – mostly for my own sake, not theirs: because I count a lot on them being my source of fun, laughter and entertainment. What can I say – I am selfish!

Good luck! The world is waiting for you!


You can watch their interview video here:

Meet The Cast: “TEAM PERFECT (HAIR AND ALL)” – aka John and Jessica

Team Perfect (Hair and All)

Our next team (in no special order) of The Amazing Race Season 22 is John Erck and Jessica Hoel from Huntington Beach, CA – a dating couple.

TAR 22 - Team Too Perfect

Well, obviously, the casting department was trying to kill two birds with one stone here – on one hand, they got a token “dating couple” for this season; on the other hand – they managed to successfully clone TAR-15 winners Meghan and Cheyne. And I bet that John’s sculpted coiffure “a la Cheyne” will stay pristine and intact through all the challenges of the race (I also bet that at least half of his backpack is filled with hair products)!

Although the question is – why do we need a clone of Meghan and Cheyne, a winning team that wasn’t really fun and exciting? Yes, just like them, John and Jessica seem to be a perfect couple (overachievers even) – risk-takers, surfers, scuba-divers, rock-climbers, marathon-runners, multiple-language-speakers, sky-divers…I probably missed a dozen other skills here. You name it – they’ve got it or done it. Even their friends say they are “perfect” for the Race.

The key word is “perfect” here.  Because perfection is boring, b-o-r-i-n-g! Yes, sure – they’ll be good in challenges, they’ll predictably win a leg or a few, or maybe even the final, most important leg. But I don’t sense any fun or excitement there nor do I expect to be much entertained by this team – it’s imperfection that is entertaining, after all (or rather – when imperfection is struggling for perfection).

But wait! One of John’s hobbies is quite exciting – it is… coffee! And speaking of coffee – it takes place # 1 among “3 words to describe you”. Maybe I am missing something after all. With all that caffeine flowing around, he might turn into the Energizer Bunny! Now that might be entertaining. Or not. Well, we shall see.

My prediction is that this team will go far, but I still hope to be surprised (I don’t like overachievers, maybe because I am not one of them).

Anyway – good luck!   The world is waiting for you!

See the interview with John and Jessica here:

Meet The Cast: TEAM “AW-SHUCKS” (Matthew and Daniel)

Team Aw-Shucks

TAR 22 Team Aw-shucks

Our first team of the Amazing Race Season 22 cast is Matthew Davis and Daniel Mossfriends and firefighters from Gaffney, S.C.

Well, looks like the casting department did their best to fill a certain “niche” I would call “Aw-Shucks”. If you’ve been watching The Amazing Race for a while now, I am sure you know the type – strong, quick, fit, but seemingly unsophisticated small town contestants with either charming or annoying (depending on how you look at it), self-effacing “aw-shucks” air about them. An example from a different season would be the “Cowboys” team (Jet and Cord McCoys from seasons 16 and 18).

I like young Daniel though. Ok, I wrote it too soon! – before I read what Matthew’s pet peeve about Daniel is – apparently Daniel “picks his nose in public a lot”. Would it be “aw-shucks!” or “Ew!”? – You decide.

Seriously though – it’s nice to see how Daniel’s eyes shine with sheer excitement at the prospect of the race, and I like that his answer to the question “what do you hope to accomplish by running the Race other than winning one million bucks?” is:  “to see the world”.  Not ” to show the world that___ (fill in the blank)”, not “to prove to the world that____ (fill in the blank)”, but simply “see the world”.  Aw-shucks, good for you, young Daniel!

Daniel’s partner Matthew, however, shows from the start that reading the clues might pose an insurmountable problem for him.  Answering the same question about things he plans to accomplish “other than winning one million bucks” he is totally oblivious to “other”:  “I obviously hope to win the million dollars. It could make a huge difference in our lives”. Well, buddy, based on your attention paying skills, I don’t think you will be the one.

My current prediction is that this team will not go very far, but I hope to be surprised. And overall they seem to be a likable team.

So – good luck!

And – as Phil Keoghan usually says at the beginning of the Race – The World Is Waiting for You!

See the interview with Matthew and Daniel here:

Season 22 of The Amazing Race Cast Has Been Announced!

Just a few days ago CBS revealed The Amazing Race cast for Season 22. Between now and the premiere on February 17 we can familiarize ourselves with the teams, pick our early favourites and roll our eyes over disproportionate number of contestants from (where else?) Los Angeles and vicinity – three teams to be exact (which equals to almost 30% of the cast!).

Phil Keoghan – our beloved and inimitable host of The Amazing Race – calls this cast the most diverse ever: “…tall, short, black, white, Republicans, Democrats…people who are fit, beer bellies…some of them with six-packs, some of them with no-packs…”. On the surface it does seem quite true – just take Idries Abdur-Rahman, for example (of Idries and Jamil team): he is an African-American, who is also an observant Muslim, who is also an OB-GYN physician, who is also an identical twin of his brother.

Yet despite being the “most diverse cast ever”, the majority of the teams still falls into same predictable “niches” that the casting department has been filling over and over again – you have your standard “cute look-alike blondes”, your “second-tier celebrities”, your “hillbillies”, your “father-and-son”, your “newly married”, and so on.

Contestants’ hobbies are also quite “diverse”. For example, Caroline Cutbirth (of Caroline and Jen team) says her hobby is “eating“. Winnie Sung (of Pamela and Winnie team) is more discriminating about food – her hobby is not simply eating, but “eating chocolate”. John Erck (of John and Jessica team) prefers drinking to eating  –  he says his hobby, to be exact,  is “drinking coffee“. Coffee can be quite strong, yet Katie Bichler (of Max and Katie team) likes something much stronger – her hobby is “drinking wine“.

Well, I certainly hope there are a lot of eating/drinking challenges during this race!

The new twist this season (to me at least) seems quite interesting – for the first time ever the team that arrives first to the Pit Stop at the end of the first leg will get not one, but two Express Passes! This team would be able to use one Express Pass for themselves and give the other one to any team of their choosing. Me likes this very much!

TAR 22 cast

The new twist will definitely help stir things up –  it can potentially be a valuable tool yet not without a price. Express Pass is an easy advantage though, and everybody who gets it – uses it. I always feel slightly disappointed when the contestants choose not to use other essential TAR “tools”  – such as U-Turns or Yields (from the past seasons). Yeah, they all talk about being afraid of karma coming back to haunt them. But guys! – stop being afraid – where are your guts, balls, spines and other relevant body parts?!  And after all, the show’s main purpose is to entertain us, the viewers. And we, the viewers, would like to see some evil now and then. Perhaps not as much evil as driving past the car crash of your fellow racers without even slowing down to see if they are alive (as “Boston” Rob Mariano did during 6th leg of TAR 7). But enough evil to make things interesting and exciting. So – dear contestants, do use those “tools” – they are part of what makes this race fun!

And my personal free (yet definitely unsolicited) advice to TAR production. Not that they will ever set their eyes on it (though they should!), but I still like to pretend that they are reading this.

Anyway – next time, guys, you can use more twists:

For example, at the end of the very first leg you can give the last team to arrive “special power” to reshuffle the order in which the teams will depart at the start of the next leg (I always feel sorry for poor hapless team that is unlucky enough to be eliminated when the race barely started, so why not sweeten up this bitter pill a little?).

Or – you can designate a leg of the race where a team that arrives at a predetermined place would get a surprise “special power” (let’s say, a team that arrives 4th at the end of the 4th leg would be able to use a U-Turn/Yield on any team of their choosing at any time during the next leg of the race).

Or – make one of those Travelocity gnomes extra special: whichever team happens to get the special one would be able to skip the next leg’s roadblock.

Some might find such randomness unfair. But life itself is often random and not always fair. Besides, it’s awfully boring to see one strong team dominating the entire race – you know ahead of time who will come to the Pit Stop first most of the legs. But this kind of randomness will spice things up.

Anyway, the possibilities are endless. But for now I’ll leave it at that.

I will have to make a week-long overseas trip in two days, but upon my return I will start sharing here my take on each of this season’s teams.

Meanwhile enjoy a few links to all things Amazing Race:

Meet the teams:

Amazing things you can make from January blues…

Ah, January! It comes with cold gloomy days, post-holiday hangovers, unrealistic New Year’s resolutions and January blues. Even my generally happy and sunny self – deprived of warmth and sunlight – succumbs to January blues: yet another year is gone, and I am not getting younger (nor thinner), and my life seems to be so predictable, and the new season of my beloved TV show TAR (The Amazing Race) will not start until February 17!

They say you should promptly make lemonade as soon as life hands you a bunch of lemons. What should I make then of these January blues? Some Blue Curacao-based martini perhaps? Blue Lagoon sounds delicious! Or maybe something else equally amazing. Hmm…a-m-a-z-i-n-g, like in “Amazing Race”…Eureka! – I’ve found what to do with January blues!

Seriously though – my real “Eureka!” moment came in a used book store where on a bleak January day I happened to spot a ray of light in the form of Phil Keoghan’s smiling face on a book cover! (For those ignorant few who don’t know – Phil Keoghan is TAR’s inimitable host). The book in question happened to be “NOW – No Opportunity Wasted” written by Phil himself! And sure enough it happened to be my purchase of the day. I am not into self-help books, but I found “NOW” upbeat and inspirational.

Phil Keoghan's book

Even more than that – I found this book to be a “sign from above”: maybe, after all, I should try to do something exciting, something amazing, something I didn’t dare dream about while subconsciously still wanting it and hoping for it – maybe I should apply to be a contestant on The Amazing Race! Not just passively wait for the next season to start and curl with some (unhealthy and high-caloric) snacks in front of the TV, but actually try to get to live this dream.

At first the very notion scared me, but then I thought – why not?  I would make a great contestant –I have all the right ingredients in all the right proportions (if you were to make a martini from them – it would be a killer one!). I can be entertaining and fun, too (and modest of course!). I hate to admit it, but I somewhat remind myself of Mallory Ervin (Gary and Mallory team, TAR 17 and 18) – same exuberance, and joy of life, and getting excited by the unknown ahead (minus the annoying part of her).

And – call me a masochist if you will – but I enjoy the feeling of being a fish out of water. And isn’t it what the race around the world would make you feel like?

So – it’s decided! I will need to get more fit and get a good partner, of course, which is not a small matter. It might take some time, so it won’t exactly be a race to the race, but rather a walk to the race. But! The first step – the decision – is made. Meanwhile, until I get everything in order, I’ll be blogging here about the upcoming season of TAR and enjoying vicariously what these lucky eleven teams get to enjoy in real life.

Stay tuned.