LET’S VOTE! (CHALLENGES AND CONTESTANTS)

It’s only Wednesday – still 4 (!) days till the next episode of The Amazing Race! So – to make time fly faster, let’s do some polls again.

I find polls quite enlightening. Take my last poll, for example – “Which team do you want to see eliminated next?“. As of now there are 31 votes of which 14 (= 45.16%) went to Max and Katie and 8 (=25.81%) went to Joey and Meghan. So – these are the teams that you seem to dislike the most.

Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly) – the only two teams who didn’t get any votes are David and Connor and Chuck and Wynona.  So these seem to be your favourites so far. Good. I am on the same page here.

Let’s take 2 more polls now.

1. “Brains” vs “Brawn” – which challenges on The Amazing Race are more enjoyable to you : mental or physical?

2. “Looks” vs “Personality”  – what type of teams  you prefer: good to look at or fun to watch ?

“BRAINS” VS “BRAWN”:

“LOOKS” vs “PERSONALITY”:

Do vote early and often! (kidding about the “often” part. One person = one vote)

And here you can find the most up-to-date links on all things The Amazing Race:

http://www.sirlinksalot.net/amazingrace.html

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LOOSE LIPS SINK SHIPS, LACK OF SWIMMING SKILLS SINKS THE TWINS (Recap Of Episode 2 The Amazing Race Season 22)

The opening of the Episode 2 is a visual delight – we are treated to gorgeous shots of Bora-Bora with its turquoise water and spectacular beaches. I bet even racing there would feel like a great vacation! And in true vacation spirit our teams now must go by water taxi to a resort nestled in a charming picturesque cove –Hilton Bora-Bora.

The only thing that spoils this Polynesian idyll is the uncertainty surrounding the fate of the Second Express Pass. See, John (of  John and Jessica team) is in no hurry to part with it because he greatly enjoys when people are sucking up to him in hopes to obtain the said Pass. So John wants to prolong that pleasure for as long as possible.

I don’t know about you, but I personally hate sucking up to someone and hate being sucked up to. There is something very demeaning about it. I also begin to hate this whole Second Express Pass twist – watching someone’s race depend on someone else’s whim is not as much fun as watching the race depend on one’s resourcefulness, great attitude and even luck. So – “nay!” from me to the Second Express Pass twist.

Diving for oysters

After being blessed by a local priest at the Hilton resort (aren’t they all blessed already to even be in this paradise?!), the teams have to choose between 2 tasks of the Detour: “Pick a Pearl” or “Take a Trunk”.

“Pick a Pearl” involves multiple free dives to retrieve ribbons of oysters and shucking the oysters to search for ones containing red pearls inside. Once you got 2 red pearls – you can get your next clue. “Take a Trunk” involves putting on a scuba-like gear and being transported to the ocean floor.  Once there, the teams should open one of the trunks on the bottom and – using the supplies inside – assemble a picnic table under water.

Only Team “Roll-A-Derby” (Mona and Beth) choose “Take a Trunk”; everybody else goes for diving. Team “Survivors” (David and Connor) are in the lead, but they forgot their snorkels on the beach, so they decide to return. I don’t know why they didn’t choose to dive without snorkels – sure, it would have been less comfortable, but at least they wouldn’t have wasted time. However, in the long run their little forgetfulness didn’t slow them down too much.

Take A Trunk Detour

Team “You-Tube” (Joey and Meghan) – as annoying as they are – managed to come up with great strategy: one was diving to retrieve the ribbons of oysters while the other one was shucking them on the boat. The strategy paid off and they finished the Detour first. The rest of the pack was pretty much neck-in-neck, except Team “C-Section” (twins Idries and Jamil).

Apparently our twins are deathly afraid of diving and seriously discussing taking a 6-hour penalty instead. Seriously, guys?! Why did you choose this Detour then, why didn’t you go to set a picnic table while comfortably breathing through some scuba contraption?! Oh, please – no more penalties this season!

Speaking of penalties – the two remaining teams that chose penalties last time – Team “Barbies” (Jen and Caroline) and Team “Honeymooners” (Max and Katie) – now got their 4-hour penalty reduced to 1.5 hours. This happened because the teams that departed earlier had to wait for several hours for the beginning of working hours for water taxis. Now, I don’t terribly mind when The Amazing Race production “equalizes” the teams now and then, but I do mind very much that the teams that skipped the Roadblock in lieu of 4-hour penalty ended up  with only 1.5 hour penalty! It is very unfair to the teams that completed the Roadblock and, frankly, very unfair to the viewers!

Anyway, the “Honeymooners” and the “Barbies” agree to work together to keep an eye on each other. Max tells us that his “diabolical” mind devised this plan. Pleeease, Max – you sound pathetic rather than diabolical! Besides, no really “diabolical” mind keeps going around prattling non-stop how “diabolical” it is. Actions speak louder than words. And so far you and your bride are coming across as losers that couldn’t even finish a Roadblock – not some evil masterminds.

While the “Barbies” and the “Honeymooners” get their blessings from the priest and run together to complete the “Take a Trunk” Detour, our doctor twins are finally mastering the courage to get into the water. But! I couldn’t believe my eyes – they are not picking ribbons of oysters like everyone else did, they are picking individual oysters, one at a time! At this rate, guys, you will still be searching for 2 red pearls by the time the next season of The Amazing Race comes to this part of the world! To their credit, they quickly realize this and switch to the other Detour. Only why in the world didn’t they do it from the beginning? – It baffles me completely.

Meanwhile, the front-runners hop into jet skies and – with maps in hand – navigate their way to the Roadblock. All except Team “Quadruple Boredom” (Pam and Winnie, who no longer fit the nickname “Double Trouble-Double Fun” because even though they seem to be in trouble, they are definitely not fun). Team “Quadruple Boredom” are currently lost at sea.

Stilts Roadblock

The Roadblock  is to hop on stilts along the beach while simultaneously propelling a coconut to the “finish line”. Most teams finish it within minutes from each other, so – there is not much drama there. Team “Hockey-Pokey” (brothers Anthony and Bates) are the first to the Pit Stop,  followed by Team “Survivors” (father and son David and Connor). The father, however,  seemed to have injured his leg. He is still in the Race, but I wonder how serious it might be.

Team “You-Tube” comes next, then Team “Hillbillies”. Chuck seems ecstatic with his 5th place and gives his wife a tender kiss. I’ve noticed he is generally very good to her – tender, and helpful, and loving. How sweet.

Between the Roadblock and the Pit Stop we are “treated” to Meghan’s (Team “You-Tube”) annoying shrills; we also are shown the process of false teeth removal by one of the hockey brothers.

A note to The Amazing Race production: this is supposed to be a family show, so please don’t scare little kids with those false teeth! And while we are at it – please, be mindful of the viewers who would like to watch the show while eating – such “visuals” can call for antiemetics!

A note to Team “Hockey-Pokey” (Anthony and Bates): if you guys happen to win that million dollars, may I suggest investing in permanent teeth implants?

The rest of the episode is uneventful – the “Barbies” arrived to the Pit Stop next, then self-proclaimed evil masterminds , the “Honeymooners”. Then “Quadruple Boredom” (Pam and Winnie). Team “C-Section” (Idries and Jamil) are the last to arrive and the second team to be eliminated from the show.

The twins keep parroting standard clichés about not giving up but giving their best, about teaching their kids something, and on, and on, and on. If you want to teach your kids something, guys, – how about teaching them to swim? Or at least – how to prepare for the tasks they would like to undertake?

I had such high hopes for you, Idries and Jamil! You were one of my favourites, but you know – I am not very sorry to see you go.

Idries and Jamil at the Pitstop

I get it that you grew up in a single parent household, in an inner city where swimming lessons were hard to come by. But once you learned that you would be on The Amazing Race (not to mention – once you decided to apply) – why didn’t you try to work on minimizing your weakness? And once on The Race – why couldn’t you exercise a better judgement about your weakness and choose an easier task for your abilities?

So, too bad but you probably deserve what you got.

What about you, guys? Do you feel the twins deserved their fate?

Do you think it’s unfair that a 4-hour penalty was miraculously dwindled to 1.5 hours with no effort whatsoever from the penalized teams?

Does toothless mouth of a hockey player gross you out?

Will Dave be able to race or his injury is way too serious?

Who do you want to see the next to go?

Do comment and have a great day.

And here you can find the most up-to-date links on all things The Amazing Race:

http://www.sirlinksalot.net/amazingrace.html

Photos – courtesy of CBS:  http://www.cbs.com/

LET’S VOTE! (Predictions for Episode 2 of The Amazing Race Season 22)

VOTESo…It’s only Friday – 2 more days until Episode 2 of The Amazing Race22 will be on the air. To make the time fly faster, let’s do a little poll here. And since 2 polls are better than 1, let’s do 2 polls here:

1. Which team you predict will be eliminated next

2. Which team you would like  to see eliminated next

There is a difference there. Things not always happen the way we like. But we can hope, can’t we?

Anyway, as for me,  I think that Team Barbies (Caroline and Jen) will go next ( (such a devastation for the budding romance between them and the hockey players!)

As for whom I would like to see going next, at least at this point – probably Team You-Tube (Joey and Meghan):  their ADHD personalities annoy me.

But you might see everything in a different light.

DO vote – early and often! (kidding about the “often” part!)

1. Which team you think will be eliminated next?:

2. Which team do you want to see eliminated next?

And as always you can find the most up-to-date links for all things related to The Amazing Race here: http://www.sirlinksalot.net/amazingrace.html

DON’T BUILD CASTLES IN THE AIR IF YOU CAN’T BUILD ONE IN THE SAND (Recap of Episode 1, The Amazing Race Season 22)

Episode 1 TAR-22

The long-awaited day finally arrived, the 22 chosen hopefuls gathered in Griffith Observatory of Los Angeles, Phil said his famous “Go!”, and The Amazing Race Season 22 has officially began. And most of us – TAR fans – have already seen Episode 1. Time to take my twisted scalpel and dissect the episode.

What disappointed me from the very beginning was the absence of a pre-race challenge. Remember how in Season 18 at the Starting Line, teams had go through a million paper airplanes in search of the few with the correct airline name written on them (Qantas)? The order in which they brought it to Phil determined the order in which they departed for the airport.

Or remember the beginning of Season 19 when they had to search through lots of paper umbrellas for those with the correct set of letters – a clue to their destination (Taipei, Taiwan)?

Or how in Season 20 teams had to search for their clue in 100 air balloons?

It was fun to watch! Besides, pre-race challenges can minimize the advantage that the LA native teams might have in getting to the airport quicker (which means getting on the first and not the later flight). This season there are 3 teams from the LA area – 3 teams that most likely knew the quickest way to the airport. Two of them got on the first flight. Only Team You-Tube (Joey and Meghan) – who by the way both list “moving to LA” as their biggest accomplishment – managed not to make the first flight.

This season The Amazing Race went to a place they have never been before – Bora-Bora, French Polynesia. I loved to see the new destination, and even their first challenge – sky diving from a helicopter – was visually spectacular. What I liked less was that except for visual effects, sky diving was not really entertaining. Nobody was much afraid of heights, and it seemed this whole task was designed for the pleasure of the participants rather than for the pleasure of the audience. Yes, Meghan (Team You-Tube) kept squealing all the way to the ground and Connor (Team Survivors) shouted “I love you, mom” before falling off the helicopter. But her squeals were more out of “hyperness” than fear. And I would find even something like “OMG, I’m gonna pee in my pants!” more entertaining than Connor’s declaration.

Now off to the roadblock happily we go. In this challenge our contestants had to search through 400 sand castles to find their next clue. In a way this challenge is similar to the one they had in Season 6 (and revisited in Season 15). Only back then they had to look for their next clue by unrolling hundreds of bales of hay. Unrolling bales of hay was physically more demanding, but at least the contestants didn’t have to roll them back. In the sand castle challenge, however, they had to rebuild each sandcastle they destroyed in search for a clue.

I hear many viewers didn’t like this challenge. Maybe it’s a sadist in me, but I really enjoyed watching it! True, it had an element of blind luck (I don’t mind it that early in The Race though), but it also tested their patience and perseverance. And sure enough – three teams failed that test and chose a 4-hour penalty instead of completing the task. One of the three (the firefighters, Team Aw-Shucks) paid for that failure by being completely eliminated from The Race, and the other two teams (The Honeymooners and The Barbies) will pay one way or the other when they start their next leg 4 hours later than the rest of the teams. At least I hope they’ll pay – I want justice!

Business in the Front, Party in the Back

Now remember that “2nd Express Pass” twist that is introduced this season? The winners of the 1st leg of this Race (Team Perfect Hair – John and Jessica) in addition to their own Express Pass won a second one – to be given to any team of their choice. On the flight to Bora-Bora, however, they made an agreement with 4 other teams (David & Connor, Chuck & Wynona, Jamil & Idries and Pam & Winnie) that whichever team wins the Express Passes would give one to the team that arrives second. But the team that actually arrived second (Team Hockey-Pokey – Anthony and Bates) was not part of this little agreement. So it remains to be seen if our winners would give it to them regardless, or give it to the second team from their alliance (which happens to be the team that actually arrived third – father and son), or give it to yet another team altogether.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t really like this twist. It is confusing, and it makes people suck up to each other, and it makes someone worthy at mercy of someone who might not be, and it is just not fun.

Well, now let’s see if in just 45 minutes that this first episode lasted we managed to learn more about our lucky 11.

They did actually show us various dead animals on the walls of Chuck’s house – so we did learn that he fondly preserves the memories of his past dinners. The stuffed dinner reminders on the walls look quite macabre, but Chuck himself (Team Hillbillies, Chuck & Wynona) seemed even sweeter on the Race than in his interview (and a doting husband, too!).

The twin doctors (Team C-Section, Jamil & Idries) looked even more alike on The Race than on their photo, and wearing the same t-shirts did not help – you should have color-coded, guys! We can’t tell you apart!

Ditto for the Team Barbies (Jen and Caroline), even though they are not twins. But despite them being unrelated to each other (yet related to  famous dead people) – it’s hard to tell them apart. Their hopes are just as alike as they are – to find themselves nice husbands on the Race!

That’s where Team Hockey-Pokey (hockey-playing brothers Anthony and Bates) might find their purpose – from Episode 1 it seems they are becoming Kens to our love-searching Barbies!

Jessica (Team “Perfect Hair”, John & Jessica), on the other hand, is not in search of a husband – she has already found a perfect candidate. Now, if only the “white dress” comes soon enough!

For Katie and Max (Team Honeymooners) that “white dress” stage is in the past. Now if only they could show the world how evil they are! Oh, and also how smart they are – after all, Katie has a doctorate!

Listen, as someone who happens to hold a doctorate degree as well, I can tell you – one doesn’t  need to be an Einstein to earn one. Just your average intellect plus hard work and persistence is all that is needed. And from what I have seen – persistence is not Katie’s strong quality, or else she would not have taken a penalty instead of searching for a clue. As for being smart and evil – that still remains to be seen.

The alleged You-Tube sensation (Joey and Meghan), on the contrary, are far from “evil”. But they are awfully close to “certifiably crazy”. “Crazy”  in that “what have you been smoking?!” way. Maybe it’s part of their supposed You-Tube appeal, but they still don’t appeal to me.

The father and son (Team Survivors, David & Connor) keep talking about their experience in surviving testicular cancer. It is touching and inspirational when you hear this for the first time, and even for the second time. But when you hear it time # “I lost count, and this is only episode 1” – the story produces the opposite of its intended effect, it makes you go like “ok, ok, let’s move on”. Maybe it’s not their fault though, maybe it’s how the overzealous editing presenting them to us.

Team Roll-A-Derby (moms Mona and Beth) are evoking this same “ok, ok, let’s move on” with their clichés. “We want to show our kids you can do anything you put your mind to”  Please! You can show it in many more meaningful ways than being contestants on a reality show. Just be honest: “Mommies want to have fun!” Or be brutally honest: “Mommies want to win that million dollars!”

Judging from Episode 1 Team Double Trouble Double Fun (Pam & Winnie)  is a candidate for a new name – Quadruple Boredom. I am not giving up and still hope they can be entertaining, but the chances are slimming significantly.

And Team Aw-Shucks (the firefighters) – oh, well…aw-shucks…for them The Race is over. Nice guys, but not memorable. Maybe if they didn’t choose to take that penalty they would have been luckier. Or not.

Who’s next? Do you think the quitters of the roadblock (Max & Katie and Jen & Caroline) would regret choosing that 4-hour penalty? Do you like that 2ndExpressPass twist or hate it?

Share your thoughts, and I promise to chime in. See, none of my friends and family is into The Amazing Race – shame of course, and I am working on putting them on the path to enlightenment; meanwhile, this blog is all I have to vent about The Race. So – do comment, please! And – in true spirit of The Amazing Race – the clue to the “comment” button: it’s in teal color, at the very end of all the tags. Hit it and voila!

And also enjoy some TAR-related links:

http://www.cbs.com/shows/amazing_race/

http://www.televisionwithoutpity.com/show/the-amazing-race-1/

http://www.sirlinksalot.net/amazingrace.html

http://insidetv.ew.com/2013/01/23/amazing-race-22-new-cast/

Countdown to the Start of The Amazing Race Season 22

Countdown to the Race

The Amazing Race

Well, there is only a week left between now and February 17th when Phil Keoghan’s “Go!” will send 11 lucky teams on The Amazing Race around the world.

I know they all hope to win. The fans and viewers have their hopes, too. I can not speak for every fan, but I am sure my hopes would echo at least some of them.

I hope – above all –  to be  e-n-t-e-r-t-a-i-n-e-d.  The nature of the show is such that even when the cast is boring – the exotic locations, clever challenges and fast pace of the Race make up for it, at least to some extent. But it’s a million times more exciting and fun to watch when the cast is entertaining. I so hope they will be. Remember, guys, you are given this opportunity not because you are so special, but because we, the viewers, exist.

I also hope to see more challenges that involve “mental strength”, not just physical. Memory challenges, knowledge-based challenges, things like this.

A simple 4th grade math problem caused a lot of frustration (and got one team eliminated) for the contestants on TAR 20 (2nd leg, where they had to calculate the average weight of cows in Argentina). But for some kid dreaming to run The Amazing Race one day, seeing such a challenge might be an inspiration to do his math homework diligently.

Or remember those Ivy League a cappella singers Connor and Jonathan (TAR 17) who couldn’t find the country they were racing in on the map?  That embarrassment might not necessarily result in all Ivy League colleges making geography a compulsory class for the undergraduates, but maybe it can prompt at least some of us to learn more about the world. Geography is a good start.

And I hope the knowledge-based challenges are always present during the final leg of the Race – they let the most deserving ones surge forward. Some can be lucky and avoid U-Turns or delayed flights. Some can be super athletic and beat others to the pit stop. But everything that is important in life and success as well as in travelling – ultimately depends on your mental strength and your mental depth. Let it be encouraged on The Amazing Race.

I shall return with my recaps once the Race begins.

And meanwhile – what team are you rooting for?

Meet The Cast: TEAM “HONEYMOONERS” (Max and Katie)

Team Honeymooners

Katie and Max

And last, but not least – please meet Max and Katie Bichler – newlyweds from Buffalo, N.Y.

I am quite intrigued by this team. Spending honeymoon on the (all expenses paid) Race – are they cheap or adventurous? Or is it their way to postpone the mundane part of the marital bliss that inevitably comes after the wedding?

In their video Max and Katie say that they will be an evil team. I swear in an earlier version of the video I saw Max brandishing a big fat cigar – no doubt to reinforce the “evil” image. The cigar has been edited out since (I guess cigars are not PG 13 anymore!), so the only clue to their evilness that we are left with is Katie’s “pageant-queen-ish” golden locks with a big girly flower in them. Very subtle, I must say!

But evil or not – I think they might be fun to watch on the Race. And other teams might like them – newlyweds always evoke warm fuzzy feelings. Besides, Katie is a pharmacist – so who knows? She might bring along a “goodie bag” – free Prozac for all! Then our Race will turn into one happy merry-go-round. If I were her though, I would consider  Ambien instead. This way – while the other teams are dozing off – our newlyweds can leisurely walk to the pit stop.

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

You can watch their video here:

http://www.cbs.com/shows/amazing_race/video/vIuVxSmeBHWBD9_eGDD9Crj4CDOaov1M/the-amazing-race-meet-katie-and-max

Meet The Cast: TEAM “SURVIVORS” (David and Connor)

Team Survivors

TAR 22 Team Father and Son

Our next team is David O’Leary and Connor O’Leary – father and son from Salt Lake City, Utah.

My nickname for this team refers to the fact that they both are cancer survivors and  not  yet another hand-me-down team from “Survivor” the show. Although one of the “Survivor” hand-me-downs was actually a cancer survivor, too (Ethan Zohn, TAR 19).

I know it might be touching and inspiring to see cancer survivors on the Race. I can see how The Amazing Race production wants to send a positive message, provide a good example and all that. But to me – this by itself is not sufficient to become a chosen team. And with David and Connor I unfortunately can’t see anything that would make them stand out beyond that.

Sure, they are likable enough, and they seem close and devoted to each other. And if there is a bicycle challenge along the way, they will definitely ace it (since both are avid cyclists, and the son is even a professional one).

But other than that – not much. And somehow I don’t see them going far in the Race either. We shall see.

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

You can watch their video here:

http://www.cbs.com/shows/amazing_race/video/sL8teAq5nMKbcTetUo5WwiWnf8onizvb/the-amazing-race-meet-david-and-connor