Sunday, May 29, 2005

Reality Wrap-Up

It's going to be a long summer, and television networks have the solution...tons of crap-ass reality programming. After a few commercials, it's like they all blurred together into a lump that wouldn't see a second season. One writer in RNO posted a laundry list of new shows...and even then, he forgot about The Real World: Austin, which drops in mid-June.

Also, I flip around DirecTV, and made a discovery on Ch. 250: a network that has all reality programs. The bad news? It's Fox Reality. Aside from American Idol, name one genre show from Fox that didn't make you embarrassed to be watching. Worse, they're airing Joe Millionaire. Remember that show? It was about a multi-millionaire trying to woo ladies...except the guy made about $19,000 a year. Rememeber how huge it was? Bet you feel dumb for remembering that.

While I'm still recapping the Challenge and getting ready for the next one (Coral's back! Yeaaaaaa!), I figured I should take the time to close the book on two shows, and start a fight with my old site.

The Apprentice

As expected, Kendra got the gig of being Donald Trump's new apprentice, and Tana basically screwed herself over and over again. Suddenly, Tana is the worst person ever, at least on the message boards. For some weird reason, I can't join in on the dogpile. Is it some misguided form of pity? Is she too pathetic for my tastes? I like to think I have some perspective. Think about it...prior to Tana's nosedive (the Pontiac task), would she have been considered that bad? We had Brian the stout dumbass. We had Danny, whose "team morale" schtick and guitar basically said, "Please let me be the monkeyboy like Sam and Raj, then fire me." There was Kristen, the hatchetfaced harpy who could turn rivals into stone, and John the rock groupie/poseur. Remember Erin? Girl who looked kinda like Julie? She was so annoying, I wanted to cut her long locks off and shove it down her throat. Alex was the ambiguous tightass prat. Craig didn't step up to the plate enough, and he tried to abuse Kendra. Oh...and Chris. The humanoid volcano. If he had been fired earlier, he would have lunged over the desk and tried to choke Trump. And all of them are better than Tana now? Her humiliation was more public, true, but she still kicked ass before her fall. My only beef with her was that she apologized to her team for abusing them in the final task. I would never apologize to Kristen for anything, up to and including setting her property on fire.

And what's the big prize? Well, you're supposed to be running one of Trump's operations, but you're basically Trump's show pony, doing little of note. Kendra seems like a nice person, but the reward sucks. Tana could always get a better or more public position...maybe fill in for Mistress Juliya or Marianela on Fuse. A few days after the finale, I had an epiphany: why do I watch this show? On most reality programs, you find folk to identify with. Name the last candidate you fell in love with. Kwame? Bill? I know everybody dug Troy, but he's not coming back. All we get are people who are only as cool as their last mistake, and Trump overshadowing them all. Trump will blow the task results with one of his monologues. Trump will show us that his friends are rich, famous, or both. Trump has two advisors who are more bobbleheaded than most people admit. So I'm done with The Apprentice. No more Boardrooms, no more George & Carolyn, no more seeking out bitches and tools. That's it, I'm done, end of story. And I'm not even giving Martha Stewart's edition a shot this fall, not even if a fired candidate is thrown into a shiv fight with the domestic diva. The next time I see Trump, it'll be when he whines about not getting an Emmy again.

Survivor: Palau

Like the finale for The Amazing Race, we got a result that was great...but at what cost? Tom wins another immunity challenge, and everybody seems set to vote Jenn out. Jenn even seems at peace with taking a hike. Then Ian goes, "Man, if you hadn't won, it would've been tough to decide whether to vote you out." And Tom's all, "Wait a minute...where did that come from?" Suddenly, we got a father/son fight, culminating with a firemaking tiebreaker where Ian takes out Jenn. Then Tom and Katie keep tearing chunks out of Ian's soul. I like Tom, but it was painful to watch.

After the "remembrance of Survivors past" montage, we go into the final Immunity Challenge: grab onto a buoy for as long as you can. Katie bows out relatively early, and it comes down to Tom and Ian...for almost twelve hours. At this point, whatever marbles that Ian had are long gone, and he makes a deal with Tom: he'll fall, and Tom promises to take Katie with him to the final two. Tom wins, then makes a few token efforts to make sure his friend is thinking straight. Ian insists on that, and Jeff Probst forgoes Tribal Council to eject Ian.

The rest of the finale was typical...the jury unleashed a tidal wave made of sour grape juice. Tom ends up winning 6-1, with the lone dissenting voice coming from Coby, who has entitlement issues up the wazoo. The reunion was better than last season, even with Wanda doing her version of "Oh, Suzzanah." Oh, and Coby adopted a kid and named it after Janu. Alrighty, then.

A few days after the finale, I learned that Ian had been inducted into the Reality TV Hall of Shame. This is a sister site to Reality News Online. And for those just tuning in, that's where I recapped for over two years before getting dumped. Now, I didn't start this blog to critique every little thing RNO did. But in my mind, they dropped the ball with Ian. The kid was punch-drunk, his self-esteem ripped apart by Katie, as seen three days earlier. There he was, breaking down about not wanting to be the bad guy, possibly foreseeing endless photo ops with "Jonny Fairplay"...and honestly, who wants that? He spent almost twelve hours on that buoy. He once applied to The Amazing Race...it would be as if he spent that amount of time between legs on the buoy, as opposed to eating, sleeping, and mingling with other Racers. While his final decision cost us what could have been the greatest final day ever, I don't think he's HoS material.

How bad was this decision? Weeks prior, we saw Janu give up, becoming the second Survivor to lay the torch down during Tribal Council. Some time after that episode, I read a HoS article on why Janu was not inducted. Now, I didn't have much of a problem with her. I'm sure she's a nice lady, and she probably cleans up nicely. And her decay over 27 days shows what an unforgiving game this is, even when you're on the tribe that wins almost every challenge. But she could have rebounded. She could have shrugged off Probst's efforts to get her to drop the torch. In my mind, she probably wanted to quit after she was exiled on another island overnight on Day 26...but she saw the shame that accompanied Osten after his useless self quit (as well as Jenna Morasca and Susan Hawk, to a far less extent). She was begging the tribe to axe her, but they wanted Stephanie gone. So after Probst badgered her, she quit. And to me, this is more "shameful" that a half-insane Ian throwing in the towel.

From what I gathered, the Janu debate was fierce on both sides. And I'm guessing that the one for Ian raged on. But in Ian's case, RNO dropped the ball. Trust me...this isn't something where the boss just picks and chooses what's wrong and right. There has to be debate. To me, this is a group decision, and a poor one at that. If you don't agree with me, you can e-mail me, or leave a comment. If you have a comment to send to David Bloomberg and the RNO staff, their e-mail address is rno@pobox.com. I'd send my two cents, but it's obvious that my opinion no longer matters to them. Heck, it didn't matter much when I was there.

That's it. New episode of Inferno II airs tomorrow night. And if you're into cartoons, The Life & Times of Juniper Lee debuts tomorrow on Cartoon Network. It's from ex-RW cast member Judd Winick, whose work in comics has proven that reality stars can break away from the genre. Judging from this interview and the A-minus grade from Entertainment Weekly, it should be a blast to watch.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Inferno II Episode 12: Welcome to Walla Walla

Previously on Inferno II: The Unheroic Trio of Rachel, Tina and Veronica bugged Tonya until she snapped. The Bad Asses bickered in Riddle Me This, allowing the Good Guys to win, upping their bank account to $50,000. While Julie was excited to represent her team in the Inferno, Tonya’s nomination gave the Trio hope they’d be rid of her. Tina: “There’s gonna be a big fight tonight! Someone’s goin’ to hell!” I’m sorry, but I still like her.

There’s a full moon rising. Tonya talks to Julie about their impending battle. She thinks it will be a good match, since they’re both “crazy in the head and tough competitors.” Tonya may be crazy, but she ain’t Julie crazy. Julie interviews that it’s tough to be motivated against Tonya. “Put me against Veronica,” she adds, “at least I feel like I’m battling evil.” Maybe Matt felt the same way about Sarah before their Gauntlet. Julie adds that Tonya is victimized by her team.

Speaking of Tonya, she reads the sponsor text message: meet at Marina Portadela Navidad, wear team colors and tennis shoes, and be ready at 10 a.m. Tina interviews that the Good Guys killed her team last time. “I don’t even think there’s any redemption from this last disappointment,” she adds.

New day at the Villa. Rachel is fixing Tonya’s hair. Surprisingly, she’s not trying to yank it out. Turns out that on this day, the Bad Ass ladies have matching hairstyles and “Future MILF” t-shirts. Did Beth ever wear any crap “College Dropout” gear in her short time on the show? I’m just saying. Tonya tells us that her teammates are kissing her butt because they don’t want her to win the Aztec Lifeshield. “I see right through it,” she laughs. “I’ll play along with it, but I’m not stupid.”

Marina. Dave welcomes everybody to today’s mission: Time to Ride. The objective: drive a mini motorcycle through a course over water. There are two options. The shorter path is straightforward, using a 16-inch beam that is 45 feet long. The longer option has a four-foot-wide beam, around a winding course that totals 240 feet. This path is four times longer that the short option. It’s a variation of Razor’s Edge from Battle of the Sexes, only without Antoine rocking a scooter. Good times. Abram expositions that wrecking the bike or driving it into the water results in a disqualification. Landon adds that a DQ can be doled out for taking the feet off the pegs on the bike. Dave yaddas that the team with the fastest average time gets $10,000 for their bank. The players with the fastest time on their teams will get the Aztec Lifeshield. Naturally, Tonya wants it, and she’s prepared to go “balls to the wall” to get it.

Preparation time. Mike squats down on a bike, comparing it to a tricycle. Darrell makes noises on his bike. CT plans on going down the straight path. Mike plans on drawing a goatee and halo mustache with face paint. So he wasn’t lying to Dan in the second episode. That’s pretty darn scary. The Bad Ass girls line up on their bikes, trying to look bad. Here comes Mike, all painted up and begging to get his butt kicked by the local Hell’s Angels chapter. The girls laugh, taking their minds off their seething hatred of Tonya.

Abram goes first, telling Dave that he’ll be going down the middle. Dave warns him that it’s a little wobbly. Abram revs up the bike, interviewing that he’ll be okay if he gets top speed. Dave blows his whistle. Abram takes off, and we switch to an Abe’s eye view of his run...and his fall into the water. The Bad Asses look stunned on the sidelines.

Back from commercials, we see Abram fall into the water, and it is so funny. Landon interviews that his team will take the long path. He has also partaken in the face paint, slapping on muttonchops to go with his new hairstyle. Maybe that’s why we never see Darrell...because he doesn’t look like a total dope.

Mike takes the long route, interviewing that he’s 200 pounds heavier than the bike, and that it is hard to maneuver. He zips around the course, wobbles a little bit, and reaches the finish line. Actually, he zooms past it and into the water, earning himself a disqualification for his efforts. On the bright side, most of his paint has washed off. CT: “Mike comes barreling through the finish line and drives into the water like a meathead.” Heh...another guy called Mike a “meathead.” I smell a new nickname! CT adds that the Bad Asses have a second chance to win, and he’s taking the longer route. Sure enough, he takes his time and makes it across, clocking out at two minutes and 50 seconds. He’s thankful to make it across, and thinks it’s anybody’s game.

Landon takes the long route. He speeds along, being cautious at the turns, and finishes at 1:49. He interviews that he tried to go as fast as he could, and that it was as fun as it looked.

Tina takes the long route. She struggles, making Tonya wince on the sidelines, but manages to clock out at 3:29. She interviews about thinking being smaller would help, but she didn’t get the Aztec Lifeshield.

Shavonda takes the long route. She also doesn’t put her foot on the pegs, even as Mike yells at her. She finishes up, then acts surprised when Dave disqualifies her. She interviews that she didn’t mean to do it, but she was trying to keep her balance.

Dan takes the long route. Derrick: “Dan’s gonna look like such a klutz on this.” CT agrees, saying that Dan makes him nervous. It’s the gangly factor, I know it. Dan zips and wobbles, forcing CT to cover his face. He ends with a time of 1:46, bowing to his teammates. He interviews that his team is thrilled that he got a good time, since it would be hard for Tonya to beat him.

Darrell takes the long route, finishing at 3:16. Veronica takes the long route as well. Actual lyrics from background music: “Smell like a skunk, walk like a drunk, I’m a roadkill custard.” I think the editors are as sick of her as I am. Dan snipes at her to hit the gas, as she wobbles and takes her feet off the pegs. She finishes, but gets the DQ. She informs us that both teams are tied for DQs. Mike adds that the Good Guys need great times from Jamie and Julie.

Jamie takes the long route. Actually, she takes the bike off the path and into the water. The editors pipe in whimsical music and a goofy sound effect for her trouble. Tonya cackles, the Bad Asses laugh, and Landon has a good chuckle. Even Jamie laughs in the water as she apologizes. Dan: “She looks like a soggy wet cat. Just pathetic to see.” He adds that the teams got mad at those who messed up, but everybody still likes her.

Rachel takes the long route. She interviews that Tonya is going to the Inferno, and she’s looking to make sure she gets the Lifeshield. Rachel takes off, and Dave reminds her to keep her feet on the pegs. Soon, her front wheel goes off the path. She tries to rein the bike back, but she goes into the water instead. Once again: how is she a strong competitor? Both teams now have three DQs apiece. Dan snipes that if a player puts the feet down, that person will fall. And now, let’s listen to Rachel be oblivious to her own sucking of wind. “This is an unfamiliar feeling for me,” she interviews, “to have the game this close and this up in the air.”

Tonya asks Julie which path she’ll be taking. Julie: “The path to God is straight and narrow.” Alrighty, then. Tonya figures that if Julie falls, her team loses. Mike thinks that the team will be in good shape if Julie comes through. She tells Dave about her plans, interviews that if she pulls it off, the team will win and she’ll get the Lifeshield, making it a “double whammy.” She adds that she has to make the decision without her team.

Mike and Darrell look on, denying to themselves that Julie would go for broke. Julie: “The road to God is straight and narrow. The road to God is straight and narrow.” The Good Guys’ amusement turns to horror over what their looniest member is about to attempt, and they yell at Julie. “The road to God is straight and narrow. The road to God is straight and narrow.” Landon interviews that if she goes into the water, she essentially forfeits the mission for her team. She takes off...and gets about half the distance Abram did before taking a drink. On the bright side, her stupid grin stayed on until she hit the water. The Bad Asses laugh it up, and Julie tells us that at least she tried. Landon: “That was so stupid! That was so dumb!” No kidding. Do you guys need Coral and Melissa to come down and explain why letting Julie do whatever the voices in her head tell her to do is NOT a good idea? She interviews that her teammates might hate her, but she would have wondered if she could have done it, adding that she’s confident Tonya would do it. Jamie: “After the fucking score was evened out, how would you do that?”

Derrick takes the long route, speeding along the course and taking his time on the corners. He rushes the finish line at 0:57, getting a round of applause from his team. He interviews that he thinks he got the Lifeshield, and he plans on keeping his mouth shut and hope for the best. Dan chest bumps the smaller Derrick back a few feet.

Tonya gets ready to ride. She interviews that the only fun she’s having is making the other girls squirm. She takes the long route, taking her time on the corners, while CT and Dan yell encouragement. She skids to the finish line, her time unknown for maximum drama. Rachel interviews that Tonya could win the Lifeshield and send another girl into the Inferno.

Back from commercials, Dave awards the $10,000 check to the Bad Asses, increasing their bank to $70,000. Average times: Bad Asses 4:11, Good Guys 4:41. I tried to calculate what the penalty time was, but I eventually gave up. Abram interviews that it was nice to win again, and he wants to stay up. Dave awards the Aztec Lifeshield to Landon for his time of 1:49. Who gets the award on the Bad Ass side? Tonya’s time was 0:59, and that’s not enough to beat Derrick and his 0:57. The team cheers and chants his name, as Tonya gives half-hearted applause. Dave notes that since no girls won the Lifeshield, it’ll be Tonya vs. Julie tonight. Tonya is cool with going, and it was fun for her to make the other girls squirm for a short time.

Flame segue! Inferno! Flames and barbed wire! Dave welcomes everybody to the Inferno. Julie stomps onto the stage, while Tonya nonchalantly walks in. Tonight’s event is Patch Work. Both players will wear suits with 27 patches from the opposing team. The objective: rip off the patches from the opponent. With this news, Tonya jumps up and down like a lunatic. Landon: “Tonya’s freaking out! Tonya’s freaking out!” Once order is restored, Dave states that once a person loses all of her patches, the match stops. In a twist, the players must deposit their spoils in a basket. The person with the most patches in the basket wins. In addition, the players will be attached to bungee cords for bouncing action. Dave tells the players to keep it clean, with no kicking or scratching allowed. Tonya: “I know this girl plans dirty! I’ve seen it before!” Landon yells that if she’s not playing dirty, then she’s not trying to win. Veronica interviews that both girls are prepared to rip each other’s eyes out. Dave ends it with the usual spiel: winner returns to the team, loser goes home.

Both players suit up. Tonya: “Julie’s outta here, and if she plays dirty, she’s gonna wish she didn’t.” Julie: “I feel really cool, I feel really confident. If I lose this one, it’s seriously a fluke.” Feel free to circle that in red ink. Tonya: “She’s staring at me like I’m the devil. And I’m staring at her like she is Veronica. I want to eat her for lunch. I want to kill her.”

Dave bangs the gong, and we are underway. Both players lunge, ripping off patches. Tonya maneuvers on top of Julie. I’m guessing that the cords were brought it to prevent an one-sided affair. Landon and Mike get their roid rage on, screaming for Julie. Both sides deposit patches in their baskets. Dan: “It’s just a catfight. You can just see fingernails and hair. It’s vicious.” Julie screams as she rips patches from Tonya. Landon: “Julie, you are a dirty girl! We love it!” Like I need to hear “Julie” and “dirty girl” in the same sentence. Both dump their patches. Tonya goes for her basket, allowing Julie to score a few more patches on her own.

Dave bangs the gong again, signaling the end of the game. Tonya interviews that this is the Inferno where they don’t know who won, and that it will come down to a few patches. Julie tells us that she did the best she could have done, and she wouldn’t have done it any differently.

Judgement time. Dave announces that Julie got 22 patches. Tonya? Got 23. Excuse me for a second...

BBWWWWWWAAAAhahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! HHHAAAAAAA ha ha ha! HA! HA! HAAAAAA!

Wow, that felt good. Okay, I knew Julie was toast the moment Tonya didn’t get the Aztec Lifeshield, since the extended teaser from a few weeks ago had Tonya buried up to her next in sand. Still, I hate Julie. She has skills, but she is batspit insane. In her mind, nothing she ever does is wrong...from picking fights with the likes of Emily and Coral, to acting like a little brat during missions, to urinating on the bed of somebody whom she doesn’t like.. I know lots of people hate Coral, but did she deserve that? And using her religion to try and look like a good person is laughable. She should have Genesis’ “Jesus He Knows Me” as background music all the time. After seeing Jodi and Brad walk the plank, I needed this. And with Tonya winning, we got the underdog plot that was missing in Battle of the Sexes 2. But more importantly, Julie is gone, and that never gets old. Hallelujah!

Back to the action: Tonya jumps around, as the Bad Asses celebrate. To her credit (or discredit, depending on your tastes), she doesn’t curse out her team the way Katie did after her victory over Julie last year. Julie looks all right with the development. Tonya yells that she wasn’t going home. A highly selective edit shows the other Bad Ass girls looking downcast. Check the tape...they were celebrating before. “I’m just overwhelmed with how I feel,” Tonya interviews. “I knew I could do this and I did it. And the fact that people saw it feels that much better.”

Farewell time. Julie apologizes as she hugs Shavonda, interviewing that the disappointment on Shavonda’s face was “almost more than I can take.” More sorrowful hugging. Julie adds that she’s sad to not be there for her team. “I really, really feel bad that my girls are so upset,” she continues. “They’re going to be fine. Honestly, they don’t need me! I’m not that big a deal!” While she says that, there’s a nicely synchronized double bitchface from Shavonda and Jamie. Julie: “It’s a long hard battle with many casualties along the way, but you will prevail in the end, because good does prevail over evil.” Shut up. I’m glad the only prize you’ve won in your last three Challenges was a year’s worth of movie rentals. She stops at the door, does a little curtesy, and steps through. If there’s any justice, Rachel or Veronica will take that walk of shame in four weeks.

Outside, Tonya composes herself. Tina interviews that Tonya is still in the game, adding, “How much does that suck?” As opposed to her gone, Julie staying, and the BA ladies running roughshod on the fellas? It doeesn’t suck that hard. Tonya is on the cell phone, asking if her teammates will be going back to the villa. Dan interviews that Tonya thinks the others are out to get her.

Guess what? We’re back at Jarro! Tonya has a drink with Dan, Darrell and Derrick, and has a dance with the smaller guy. “She went in there like a bad ass bitch and whipped some ass,” Derrick interviews. “I am completely happy that Tonya’s back.” This guy still hasn’t gotten on my nerves. Way to go, Derrick! Tonya dances with Darrell, and lap dances on Dan, who is wearing a huge sombrero.

Villa. Tonya comes back from a night of revelry. “I know I’m going back to a team that ultimately thinks I won by one patch,” she interviews. Hey, it wasn’t as big a fluke as Katie beating Julie at the jumprope. “But I want to flip them off. I want to tell the girls to eat shit and leave me alone.” She adds that she won’t do that...not because she can’t stick up for herself, but because she proved it to herself. Failing that, there’s always the pool. If Veronica packs as much makeup as she did in BOTS, that stuff would take forever to retrieve. “Go ahead, put me in the Inferno again,” Tonya continues. “I want to be here, I believe in myself, and that’s the difference.”

Tonya enters the bedroom, but nobody is awake enough to jump on her self-esteem. Veronica offers half-hearted congratulations. Tonya says that they’re stuck with her for one more week. Veronica: “Tonya, you’re stuck with us the same way.” D’oh! Cut to outside the Villa. Tonya: “Please be nice to me.” Veronica: “Oh, Tonya.” Fade to credits.

Next time: the kids have to mimic a room’s arrangement. It looks like a cross between the Treehouse mission from BOTS1 and the bizzaro version of Wreck 'n Roll from Inferno. Jamie reminds us that half of the Good Guys team is gone. Dan interviews that he sees three guys desperate to win, and he’s not desperate. CT: “See ya later. Peace, homey. Thanks for the cash.” CT vs. Dan? Wake me when there’s somebody worth rooting for.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Inferno 2 Episode 11: Have a Cow

Previously on Inferno II: Derrick and Landon got a little too physical during a wrestling match. Landon blew the What a Drag mission for the Good Guys, and the Bad Asses increased their bank to $60,000. Mike got out of the Inferno by winning the Aztec Lifeshield, and Brad’s name was picked out of a hat to replace him. And since karma seems to be asleep at the switch this season, Abram defeated Brad in the Inferno. Mike hoped that his team could bounce back.

We’re back at Jarro, with the usual drinking and dancing. Landon looks like he’s drunk already. Hopefully, everybody around him had the sense to hide any and all knives from him. After a blurry/drunken POV shot out of the bar, Landon and Derrick start scrapping. Landon interviews that he gets competitive day and night. “With Derrick,” he adds, “I’m trying to rev his engine a little bit and piss him off.” Good plan. Landon slurs, “Your sister was enjoyable!” Rachel interviews that the guys bring competition with them wherever they go. The pair grapple in the street. “I’m very confident,” Derrick interviews, “in fighting someone that’s bigger and stronger than me. I have no problem with that.” Derrick manages to push Landon into a car. Darrell: “Landon and Derrick, in the street, wrestling, grabbin’ booties again. I don’t get these two cats. They need to stop playing.” Derrick feels his bloodied ear, doubting that he needs stitches. “Landon, I’ll admit it,” he says in an interview, “you can beat me in a wrestling match, but you’re gonna regret it.” Landon appears to taunt Derrick, and Derrick responds with a middle finger.

Back at the Villa, Dan watches an impaired Landon stumble up the stairs. Dan tries to guide him up. He gets distracted for a second, and Landon almost falls down the stairs. Happily, Landon manages to locate his bed. Mike interviews that the guys decide to mess with Landon, since he’s “blackout drunk.” Darrell starts by hitting Landon with a pillow. Mike ups the ante, whipping out a marker and writing “ENTER PENIS HERE” above his waistline. Real clever, Miz. Darrell draws what appears to be a heart, along with “KARAMO BEEN DERE DONE DAT.” If I’m saluting Karamo, I’d draw a dotted line around Landon’s neck. But that’s just me. Soon, Landon’s back is filled with third-grade humor. Tonya writes her piece, then kisses his neck. Derrick arrives with his ear bandaged. He interviews that he got stitches for his troubles, but the night isn’t over yet.

Derrick goes up the stairs, seeing Landon and the “novel written on his back.” As the editors pipe in classical music in the background, Derrick shaves off a clump of Landon’s hair. “If I’m gonna have the little Dumbo ear for a little while,” he interviews, “I think he should have something back.” CT and Derrick have a good laugh while Landon sleeps. “Now he knows what happens when you fuck with the Bad Asses.”

Morning! Landon is in the bathroom getting freshened up, telling us about the stuff on his back and his missing hair. He deduces that it was Derrick did it for payback on his ear. Derrick gets a good laugh from this. Landon examines Derrick’s stitched-up ear, finding that he doesn’t remember everything from last night.

Time for a radical scene shift. Remember Tonya? Blonde, little self-respect, passing resemblance to Tonya Harding...ring any bells? She interviews that the unholy trinity of Veronica, Rachel, and Tina are still on her case no matter what she does. She stands outside a room, listening in to their latest gripe session. Rachel blathers about Tonya getting sensitive. Veronica thinks Tonya is ready to crack. Rachel: “She’s going into her crazy mode. But we need to nip this in the bid right now.” Tonya interviews that they think she’s the weakest link. Is “weakest” the same as “most fragile”? I still think Rachel is a liability in missions. “I know what I got in me versus what they think I have,” Tonya goes on, “and I’m still capable of doing this Challenge regardless of what they try to pull.” In another room, Julie tells Tonya that she hopes they lay off her. She interviews about feeling bad for Tonya becoming a sacrificial lamb.

Elsewhere, Mike and Darrell urge Landon to get a skullet. Or they tell him to “skull it.” He interviews that he doesn’t want people to think he’s going bald at 25. No, I’d think he hangs around with dummies who mess with him while he sleeps off benders. I can’t adequately describe the new hairstyle Darrell and CT give Landon, which leaves him with two tufts of hair on the front of his head. I can say that I’m pining for the return of Abram’s Mohawk, and that ain’t right. Derrick laughs that his mother will be happy he’s not getting that. Dan: “It’s like a landing strip for Dumbass Airlines.” Yeah...and you would be the flight attendant. Landon likes it, and he thinks it’s intimidating.

Sponsor clue! Derrick reads it off: be ready for the next mission by 11 a.m., wear team colors, swimsuits and sneakers. Mike: “The thing that amazes me is that he can actually read.” Where did that come from? Dan with a shocked look.

Mission site. The players arrive in slow-motion, noticing a rowboat, a life-sized cow figure, and a wolf pinata. Dave welcomes everybody to today’s mission: Riddle Me This. Everybody bow your head in memory of Frank Gorshin. The objective: solve a riddle. Abram interviews that he has no clue what they’re about to do.

After commercials, Dave lays out the rules: each team has a rowboat, a stack of hay, a cow, and a wolf. The players must read the riddle first. They can only use their hands and arms to power the rowboat on the water. The team that solves the riddle and transfers all three items to the island wins $10,000. Mike shouts about knowing the answer, and his teammates have to shut him up.

The Good Guys gather to go over the plan. Turns out Julie sees the riddle coming from a mile away: the wolf cannot be left alone with the cow, and the cow can’t be in the same place as the grass. Meanwhile, the Bad Asses disagree over methods. CT interviews that the team does well in missions. “However,” he goes on, “there’s a lack of communication on our team.” Dan adds that everybody talks over each other like they’re all wrong. “Well, we’re the problem,” he finishes, “except for me.” Dan bitches to the others about being quiet. CT: “They’re always yapping, always complaining, always pointing the finger.”

Dave blows his airhorn to start the mission. Both teams uncover the riddle. Jamie confirms that Julie was right in her assumption, and that she’ll read it over while Jamie and Shavonda grab the cow. She adds that it will come down to how well they work as a team. In other news, today’s forecast calls for a 100 percent chance of falling anvils. Both sides get their cows in the boat and start paddling. The Bad Asses reach the island first, putting their cow down and piling back into the boat. CT interviews that everybody is stepping on each other and into the boat, and the boat is taking in water. The Good Guys take the lead, grabbing their haystack. Shavonda tells us that her team has more logic than the Bad Asses. Speaking of which, their boat is a mess. Veronica screams, asking her team if they know how to row a boat, even as she paddles with one arm. Abram: “I am in a boat full of screaming idiots, and it’s horrible.” Veronica screams some more, and Derrick switches sides on the boat. Abram: “Everybody is scooping handfuls and splashes of water into the boat. Stop splashing water into the boat!”

Both teams drop the hay off on the island. Julie reminds us that the cow cannot be left alone with the hay, so it has to go back to the mainland. The Bad Asses lag behind picking up their bovine. Meanwhile, the Good Guys swap out their cow for the wolf. They launch as the Bad Asses come in with their cow. Shavonda interviews that the main problem with her opponents is that they yell at each other and get personal. Both teams rush towards the shore for the final leg. “I swear to God,” Tina interviews, “our boat is rockin’ back and forth. You would think a hurricane just hit us!”

The teams come for their cows, with the Good Guys in the lead. Veronica interviews that her teammates are reacting instead of thinking. The Bad Ass boat gets tilted, as Rachel tells us that the game is far from over. As the Good Guys unload their cow, Rachel interviews that the Bad Asses have decided to block their path. Landon: “I’m about ready to throw CT or Derrick off the raft because of how pissed off I am.” Doesn’t he need a drink first?

Following the commercials, Shavonda reminds us that her team can’t get on their boat. Dave yells from the shore, seeming to wave off the Bad Asses. They unload their cow, while Tina screams about the water in the boat. The Good Guys eventually pile onto their raft and start paddling. Dan interviews that every time his team gets into the boat, it takes in water. “One minute, the boat [is] floating.” he continues. “The next minute? Not so much.” The boat ends up submerging, and the Bad Asses are forced out of it. The camera then pans to Julie whooping it ip on her boat, flashing devil horns. While I’m a fan of Bad Asses getting humiliated, I don’t particularly like the price we have to pay for it this time. “They look like little flounders in the water,” Julie brags, “flapping and gasping for air.” Tina and Tonya yell at their teammates. Nice to see those two on the same side. Tina interviews that karma is a bitch, since they tried to be bad and suffered for it.

Dave blows his airhorn, giving the Good Guys their victory. The Bad Asses paddle their submerged boat back to shore. Mike notes that his group worked well as a team, while Landon thinks it’s embarassing that the Bad Asses tried to cheat and lost. “The team is fucked up!” Tina exclaims in her interview. “Everybody is egotistical, everybody wants to be a leader, and everybody wants to be the hero.” Abram adds that there cannot be one leader on the team, because the personalities don’t mesh. Veronica and Tina snipe, and Abram tries his best to rally the team together. The team keeps squawking, as Abram says, “One, two, three, team.” As opposed to Mike and his cheers, this had nothing. Veronica speaks for us all when she says, “Well, that was real.” Rachel interviews that the mission failure was a long time coming for her team. “We have been arguing and managing to win for a while now,” she tells us, “and this was a slap in our face.”

Denouement. Dave reviews that the riddle wasn’t the hard part, but teamwork was. He awards $10,000 to the Good Guys, increasing their bank to $50,000, ten grand less than the Bad Ass bank. Landon feels good to have won, especially after the Bad Asses cheated. Dave orders the teams back to the villa to nominate two women into the Inferno. Rachel notes that Tonya and Julie have been talking a lot, and that Julie was the “mastermind” behind the vote switching. Wait...so the Bad Asses knew it was Julie’s idea, and they dumped on Jodi anyway? Man, that sucks. What’s wrong with breaking Julie down until she bawls?

Good Guys Deliberation Meeting. Landon asks if Tonya is easier to beat than Veronica. Julie thinks Veronica is weaker. “I want to go into the Inferno with Veronica,” she interviews, showing all her front teeth. “Bring it on. Let’s do it. Right now.” Jamie and Shavonda (wearing one of Rachel and Veronica’s “Future MILF” t-shirt) say that if they go into the Inferno, they’d want to go up against Tonya. Jamie tells us that she wants somebody she would be “super confident” to face in the Inferno. Landon votes for Veronica, figuring that any of the girls can beat her. I’m still miffed nobody’s gunning for Rachel. Julie tells us that since the Good Guys won today’s mission, they pick their nominee second, and she might be tempted to switch her choice. She never learns, does she?

Bad Asses Deliberation Meeting. Veronica feels that if the team acts like it did today, they would lose the final mission. CT cites a lack of communication. Tonya throws in her two cents, saying that the other girls haven’t included her in their conversation, and they want her to go home. While she says this, Veronica gnaws on an apple, CT lies back, and Dan rolls his eyes. I guess being Tonya’s friend didn’t do Dan any good. Tina asks where Tonya’s conspiracy talk is coming from. Tonya interviews that Veronica is gunning for Julie despite being intimidated by her, and that it’s shady. “Julie’s the toughest competitor in my opinion,” Tonya goes on, “I really feel like in the final mission, if we don’t have her there, we have more of a chance to win.” Dan thinks Julie is tougher than people think. Veronica: “Julie is not to be trusted, and she’s not a person to be believed.” Pot, meet kettle. Everybody on the team votes for Julie. “It has nothing to do with consensus or that the girls are comfortable with it,” Abram smirks. “I just don’t like the bitch!” Was this before or after she straddled you in the pool, Abram?

CT brings up the switch issue again, then Julie might flip her vote for Veronica. Abram adds that Julie is out for Veronica’s blood. Veronica admits to being nervous about the prospect. We flash back to Julie coming up with the plan, and Jodi implementing it. Rachel is also nervous, and she goes to the Good Guys’ meeting to make sure the flip doesn’t take place. CT notes that flipping isn’t against the rules. Rachel snaps that it’s not him getting picked every time. Looks like we’ve found the dominant partner in the Rachel/Veronica relationship.

Sure enough, Rachel ambles over to the Good Guys’ side, asking if they’re still changing votes. The team denies this, but Julie smirks at Rachel, interviewing that she’s tempted to switch. Rachel blathers that she doesn’t want shadiness or personal vendettas. I’m sorry...what show is she on? Landon assures Rachel that there will be no tomfoolery this time. Rachel walks away happy, while Julie flashes a big grin. Rachel fills Veronica in on the meeting, adding that Julie walked away. “All I know,” Rachel adds, “is that she’s really fired up, and she will rip your eyes out.” I think a blind Veronica would still show up for her Challenges. She interviews that everything is crumbling around her. If only, girl.

A flame segue brings us to the announcements. Dave goes to the Bad Asses for their pick. CT announces Julie’s name, and she shows off the teeth as she gets up. Dave asks the Good Guys for their choice. Veronica instinctively gets up before Shavonda announces that it’s Tonya. Julie: “When Veronica stands up and starts walking towards me, I just want to say, ‘Sit down, sweethaht, it’ll be next week’.” Ew...Julie tried to do a Boston accent! As Julie and Tonya place their figurines in the Mininferno, Dave reminds them that they can bail themselves out by outperforming their respective teammates to win the Aztec Lifeshield. Somebody shouts out “eating mission,” which is kind of funny. “This is a great match-up,” Tina enthuses in her interview, as we see Tonya and Julie walk away together. “The devil versus Jesus. And I can’t wait to see some blonde hair being ripped out!”

Next time: Dave welcomes everybody to the mission: Time To Ride. The mission involves navigating scooters over a course above water. As for the Inferno? We got Julie and a girl who may or may not be Tonya, both attached to cords, as they seem to be grabbing stickers off each other’s bodies. Dan: “You can just see fingernails and hair. It’s vicious!”

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

TARCon: The Good Stuff

Previously, I went on about how dopey and neurotic I was last week. Tonight? The fun stuff.

Once again...the only way to see the season finale of The Amazing Race is with as many people as you possibly can, preferably somewhere with an open bar and free video games. After helping out with incoming visitors, I got a seat and milled around for a spell. I would meet two forum posters whom I've known for a while. One of them posts in some of the places I do, including the thread I set up for X-Play. The other shared a table with me at TARCon 5 and had called me a "Melissa apologist." Anyway, both had wondered where the heck I went, since somebody else was doing my thing at RNO. So with as much gusto as I could, I told them the story, including the stuff which I never talk about here, since I don't want to sound like a total tool. I had taken the time to bring index cards, so I could write my URL and pass it off to them. Maybe I am a tool.

(Rewind...while at the table, I poke around for a pen, and I come up empty. I end up getting out of Play by Play, going down to Penn Station, and hitting a Duane Reade for pens. The funny part? I ran smack-dab into a throng of purple-robed graduates. I guess they had their ceremony at Madison Square Garden. Then when I get back, one of the dopes from American Idol was singing "Money" by the O'Jays, best known as the theme song of The Apprentice. Weirdness.)

The episode itself was chaotic, and I can remember bits and pieces without help. They ended up in Jamaica...the pit stop was at the same place from the original Battle of the Sexes. Uchenna & Joyce got a flat tire, finished last in their leg, and got stripped of their bags and money before the final leg. Would've been easier to have gone in with four teams like last season and push back Gretchen & Meredith's ouster back a week. Seriously, while the lead times (minutes ahead of U/J in memory serves) went off to chop onions, the Agus had to cage a ride to the airport and beg for money. Painful stuff. While this is going on, I notice a number of ex-Racers popping in. There's Lenny (TAR1), Drew (TAR1 frat) and Avi (TAR6). Also stopping in is Darwin Conner from Mole 2. Something buzzed in my head...Lenny, Drew and Darwin were balding. Avi had hairline issues. Was this a sign favoring bald Uchenna and Joyce? I don't remember if Ken (TAR3) came in during the episode or afterwards, but it was an encouraging sign.

The episode was a blur, as the Agus caught up to Ramber (BOOOOOOO!) and Ron & Kelly (BOOOOOOO!!!). The magic of bunching, y'all. I think most of us despaired when U/J seemed to miss a critical flight to Miami, then cheered when the plane backed up for them. Once again...this kind of thing can happen in "real life," so there was no fix. These are the things that I tell myself. Anyway, while Ramber's luck runs out trying to find a cigar shop, and Ron & Kelly take a wrong turn in Puerto Rico, Uchenna & Joyce went to Fort Lauderale to the finish line. But they ended up begging for money to pay the fare. Tense stuff...would've been better if the teams drove themselves. But that might have been begging for trouble. I imagine a newscopter covering a 15-car pileup in the highway, with two specially marked cars causing the accident. Then they'd zoom in on all the other Racers waiting for the end, being forced to scatter to avoid spoilage. Long story short, Uchenna & Joyce got the funds, paid the driving, and made their run to collect $1 million. At the time, I treated this as good vanquishing evil. One week later? More like the luckless triumphing over the terminally overexposed.

Now came the waiting game...when would the Racers show up, and which ones? Last time, we had nine out of eleven teams; Lori & Bolo (the wrestlers) had a prior engagement, and Freddy & Kendra were just plain yeller. The local CBS affiliate interviewed the Agus at the cast party, which was uptown. Us ordinary folks talked and hobnobbed with ex-Racers. It was weird...I don't think a team of two was there amongst the alumni. We had Lenny, Drew, Avi, Ken, Zach, Al and Steve. That last one was a surprise, given he's from Chicago. I babbled with him how I have from there who used to live in NYC, but now she's in the Windy City, and mad at me for not turning her onto the show before she left. That's what I do...either I drown Racers in glee, or babble like a madman. I don't confort anybody...it's more a matter of taste than cowdradice. Besides, the unpopular folks will have shit heaped on them by hundreds of others. So why should I join in?

After what felt like an eternity, the Racers came. I don't remember the order, though. The folks were cordoned off behind a rope so as not to cause a total mob scene. You take your pics, call your absent friends, and shake hands. It's cool in a geeky way...you see these people on screen week in and week out, and here they are, right in front of you. Also, I had read that they didn't even know about TARCon...Phil Keoghan filled them in. Wotta guy.

When I had my camera drama, I had to wait out Uchenna & Joyce. I applauded, did the touch thing, then ran like hell out to find batteries. Once I got some Duracells (next to useless with digital cameras), I ran to the lobby...and smack into Ryan & Chuck. I don't remember if I went on about how I wished they had beaten out Ron & Kelly in the first leg right then, or if I did it when they came up. That's gotta suck, right? "Man, too bad...you could've spared us some beauty queen drama!" Still, the boys seemed happy...I heard they drove from South Carolina for the finale. While a reunion show would rob us of the Racers, at least CBS would freakin' fly people in.

Between my tastes and the lateness, I only got to talk to Ryan & Chuck and Uchenna & Joyce. It was funny...I told Joyce I wouldn't have shaved my head, since I've had hair since birth. She figures I would have if I was racing. Ended up losing Brian & Greg. Missed Meredith & Gretchen entirely. I don't think I would've had the guts to tell Ray that I compared him the the Cobra Kai sensai, even though he seems to have spun things his way. On the plus side, I missed Lynn & Alex, and their little hissy fit in the lobby. I remember talking with Phil...longest I've chatted with him. I told him how weird it was seeing so much of him on No Opportunity Wasted. Also met Drew and his newlywed wife Rose at the bar.

Before I left, I found out that Ramber had made it. Sure enough, they were at the bar. What could I say? "Hey, guys! Thanks for ruining the show!" "Hey, Rob! How does it feel being 0-3?" I just took a pic and left. Had a similar tact with Ron. Didn't find out until transferring the pics to my laptop...he was wearing a "FREE RON!" button. Cool guy. Too bad he looks and sounds like Ace from The Real World: Paris.

I went home...took the train to the ferry station, the ferry to the terminal, took another train to my car, then home. Was up until 4:30 online...and I ended up waking up at 7:30. Since I taped the finale, I also felt the burning need to record The Early Show and the TAR segments. After that, I went online some more, then headed back to the city for another tradition: DimSumCon. The day after the finale, the lovely Pseudostudent supervises a lunch get-together at Jing Fong on Canal St. That's the only time I ever have Dim Sum...which is stupid of me. Nothing's more fun than picking at stuff baked in flour with chopsticks. This time was more uneventful that in Feburary. Back then, DimSumCon fell on Chinese New Year. The joint was packed that day, with drums, paper lions, and kids dressed up for the occasion. This time, I chatted up my tablemates, and subjected them to my horrid "Boston Rob" impression...except I didn't think it was horrid. Oh, well.

Even with all the drama I had, all the drama on the screen, I still can't think of a better way to celebrate the end of the season...and come November or December, I'll be there for TARCon 8.

Quick Link

I'm halfway through my TARCon essay...which is mostly positive, by the way. I was poking around online, looking for clips to submit to would-be employers, and I found my latest article, dealing with a philosophy course taught at the local museum. I worked on it last month, and I had a few problems with it. On the up side, the subject manner was kickass stuff. Seriously, back when I was at Wagner College, there was one philosophy professor. I had trouble with the course in my freshman year, so I bailed. In my final semester, I wanted to take a Bible course...not that I wanted to be that down with religion, Problem was, the professor was on sabbatical. So where did that leave me? Right...back with philosophy and a D-minus grade. This guy makes things interesting...total opposite of my professor. I hope you enjoy the story.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

TARCon: Neuroses in Paradise

It's been almost a week since last Tuesday and TARCon7. You might be wondering why I didn't get to it right away. The truth? I didn't have as much fun as I would've wanted.

This isn't a slam on the organizers. They do a fab job with the passing of each season. Heck, one of them drafted me to check in people take reciepts...and she didn't seem too bothered when I created a logjam. Here's the thing: my brain is screwy. It's like I can't be totally happy at any given time...like the other shoe has to drop. And it did.

Before TARCon 6, I needed help. The batteries in my digital camera got drained all the time. I remember TARCon 4, where I had to hit a Duane Reade for fresh batteries, and ran right into John Vito. I asked around, and got lithium batteries. I took lots of pics that night, even though the outcome was horribly depressing (Freddy & Kendra winning and not bothering to show up). The only other pics I took between then and last week was at the fencing demo. And wouldn't you know it...they went dead on me. Worst feeling in the world...to have Brian & Greg on either side of me, to have the camera die, to end up losing those lovable lunkheads. So there I was...waiting out Uchenna & Joyce, so I could make a run to Penn Station to see if anything was open. No go. Good news? Found a vendor outside. Bad news? Six bucks for two packs of AA batteries, and the first pair got drained. So there I am, taking a pic, popping the batteries out, waiting for an photo op, popping the batteries back in, setting the time and date, taking the pic/getting the pic taken, lather, rinse, repeat. Not a good time. Here are the usable pics. Just so you know, I wasn't faking the smile

I think another part of the malaise is the Uchenna/Joyce backlash. Some folks are not liking them winning the Race...some seem them as ungracious winners, what with the "hey, the good guys DID win!" talk. It's like I need something along the lines of a Chip & Kim victory...something where we can cheer for out conqueroring heroes for slaying the two-headed dragon from Texas. You know what? Screw it...hooray for Uchenna & Joyce. I heard Ramber got paid big-time just for showing up. Those two shouldn't have been in the damn Race to begin with. Back when I was recapping, most of my collegaues didn't see the harm. I can't say that I saw Rob's luck coming. But it was bascially everybody versus those two. Hell, I'd be whispering "Uchenna & Joyce, Uchenna & Joyce" at the finish line just like Patrick. Those two get their happy ending, Ramber has their wedding, and the producers will think twice stripping a team of their stuff before the final leg. Weirdly enough, Survivor: Palau ended the same way: the fan fave wins, but not in the best possible way.

Next post, I'll hit the fun stuff. Rambling talks about shaving heads and me having hair my whole life. Running into a graduation party at 8:30 p.m. and two fellas from South Carolina at 1 a.m. Wall-to-wall bald and balding ex-reality stars. Oh, and two readers of mine who went, "Dude, where didja go?!?" That always put me in a good mood.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Reunion Predictions

Six more hours until the Survivor: Palau finale. Eight until we find out who gets the million bucks. While I'm too big of a wuss to predict a winner, I can guess what will go down at the reunion.

  • Most likely to get exactly ten seconds of attention from Probst: Ashlee and Willard.
  • Wanda will sing. Oh, God, will she sing. And we'll be reaching for whatever alcohol we didn't consume during the finale. Also, Jonathan will get as much time as Wanda, since they only went two days in Palau.
  • If Probst gets bored, he'll circle back and ride Janu about quitting, even though he basically talked her into it. By the way, I hate how some folks dumped on her. Not like she was a total wussy like Osten.
  • James will often a half-sincere apology to Ibrehem over the whole "Your God ain't gonna help ya now" interview. But he'll still look like a rat, figuratively and literally.
  • "Ibrehem" will be misspelled the first few times we see the name.
  • Jeff & Kim and Gregg & Jenn will get grief over their relationships, but not that much...unless Jenn wins. Then Probst will try and pull for a Ramber redux, asking Gregg if he has a ring to give. "C'mon, she's got a million bucks now! Make your move, dude!"
  • Angie will wear something "punk rock" enough for us to compare her to Frankie Abernathy from The Real World: San Diego.
  • Coby will try to kill himself and others as he lunges in front of the cameras.
  • Survivors not in the final four that will get the most applause: Stephanie and Bobby Jon.
  • Biggest party: the fire station where Tom works. Time permitting, they'll show him with Ian and Gregg at the St. Patrick's Day parade.

What the hell...I'm going with Tom to win. An alpha male and fan fave winning will be the biggest shock of all. Now that I've said that, he'll get purple rocked to death, Katie will win, and that'll be the worst finish since Jenna Morasca won The Amazon.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Inferno 2, Episode 10: Melvins & Meatheads

Previously on Inferno II: The Good Guys won Never Ending Climb, increasing their bank account to $40,000. The team chose Abram to go into the Inferno, as Julie thought he would be caught off guard. The Bad Asses stuck with their plan to keep picking Mike. Tina said it wasn’t personal, and the stage was set for the most anticipated Inferno yet. Thankfully, Dan’s hissy fit doesn’t get repeated

We’re back at the Jarro Video Bar. Our characters dance around, as well as “swapping lips and smacking bellies,” in Darrell’s words. Four girls grind on Julie. I’m not even going to ask.

In the Good Guys’ van, everybody is loosened up. Mike gives Brad a wedgie over the car seat, pulling the waistband over his head. Brad seems to be into it...at first. “Now it’s a necklace!” he yells to the camera. “Do you like that?!?” But then he interviews that it took him time to realize that “this bloated son of a bitch just ripped my underwear from my pants,” and now he’s angry. Brad gets out of the van, pants around his calves. Not a good scene. Jamie interviews that Brad was laughing before, but he snapped and became “Mean Brad.”

Brad rages around, while Derrick pours a drink on him. In the Bad Ass van, Dan just shakes his head, as Brad shoves Derrick into a van. Derrick: “We are definitely too old to be giving each other wedgies. We are not in seventh grade anymore.” How is Derrick the most mature Bad Ass? Well...when he’s sober, anyway. Brad hulks out some more, banging on the van while his teammates laugh. Mike interviews that their reaction just pisses him off more, and they think it’s a big joke because they’ve never seen anything like it.

Back at the villa, Brad is still furious towards Mike. Mike tells Brad to calm down, which Brad does not want to hear. Mike says that he’s had wedgies before, and every guy get one “atomic wedgie” once in their lives. As traumatic as my childhood was, I didn’t get that done to me. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have repressed the memory, either. Brad thinks it’s a big joke to the others that the elastic was ripped from his underwear. “I definitely drank too much,” he admits in an interview, “but I don’t know where he gets off thinking we’re cool enough where he can grab my underwear, and it’s going to be a joke. But the fact is it’s not that cool.” Mike asks why he’s so upset. Brad proceeds to curse out Mike. Mike tries to calm Brad down, and he eventually succeeds, even as we see a close-up of Brad’s bruised knuckle. “I’m really not intimidated by Mike and his acting like he’s this big tough guy,” Brad interviews, “because to be honest with you, I’m not impressed by that. Congratulations, you’re a meathead, son, but you know what? Don’t ever put your fucking hands on my underwear.” Words to live by.

Text message time! Landon reads the instructions in the hot tub area: catch the bus at 9:30 a.m., wear sneakers and team colors. Darrell interviews that his team has won two missions in a row, and hopefully they can get it together to win a third.

A flame segue brings us to a new day. Mike interviews that he’s planning on winning the Aztec Lifesaver to get out of the Inferno, or to win the Inferno. He adds that this is the most anticipated Inferno yet: “Miz vs. Mini-Miz.” I’ll settle for “Bozeman Bozo” for Abram. Oh, and Mike reminds us that he beat Abram in the Gauntlet, and now Abram’s out to get him

Flames! The players pile out. Abram notices the “sweet-looking hot rods.” Cut to champagne glasses stacked on the road. One hot rod revs up and...oh, good Lord. Dave Mirra is behind the wheel! I’m impressed...does Jeff Probst ever test out a challenge? Or Phil Keoghan compete in a Roadblock? Dave peels out, driving really fast. Abram makes his usually chimp noises in an interview, adding, “I’m just gonna drive right through those motherfucking things! Yeah!” Dave hits the brake, stopping short of the glasses.

Back from commercials, Dave welcomes the players to today’s mission: What a Drag. Sad title for a cool event. The players will be going head-to-head in a “good old-fashioned drag race.” The competitors will drive two cars at the same time. Time will start once Dave blows his airhorn, and it stops once the front tires cross the plane of the finish line. Dan expositions that the line is set up a few inches from the margarita glasses. The goal: cross the line, but not hit the glasses. Dave adds that if a player breaks the glasses, they will be given the slowest time, plus a five minute penalty. Tina: “I’m a horrible driver. My insurance is ridiculous because of all the things I’ve hit.” The team with the fastest average time gets $10,000. “I came here to win the game,” Brad interviews. “I don’t like ripping people’s underwear. I don’t want to make too much noise and screw up my situation in this game.” Dave adds that the players with the best times get the Aztec Lifeshield. What, no sponsor prizes? Abram interviews that he wants the Lifeshield, since he doesn’t want to go into the Inferno.

Heat One: Shavonda vs. Dan. Dan interviews that the odds of him winning the Lifeshield are slim, since he’s not a good drive. Dave sounds his airhorn, and both players peel out, slowing before the finish line. Times: Shavonda 14.86 seconds, Dan 15.54.

Heat Two: Jamie vs. Rachel. Rachel 15.48, Jamie 15.67.

Heat Three: Julie vs. CT. CT sits in the driver’s seat, holding a team flag out of the window, and smoking a cigarette. Oh, he’s such a bad boy. After Dave blows the airhorn, Julie takes off. CT, on the other hand, is stuck. “Leave it to CT to break his car,” Dan interviews. “Seriously, how is it that CT can get into a perfectly working automobile, press on the gas, and the thing breaks? It’s the reverse of King Midas, where everything he touches turns to crap.” Oh, I would’ve loved for him to say that to CT’s face. CT: “It’s not the car’s fault that it overheated. It’s juts that it gets hot inside when I step in.” Sure it is, fella. Dave tells the players that the car broke down. He adds: “I guess CT had too much muscle for that muscle car.” Anyway, we’ll be going with single heats now.

CT still has a flag out of the window, and he’s still smoking. He brakes at 14:46. Julie tells us to buckle up for safety. She stops short of the line, lurching forward at 15.50. Average times: Bad Asses 15.16, Good Guys 14.99. Tina slows down near the end at 17.93. Darrell stops, then lurches for a time of 16.16. Average times: Bad Asses 15.85, Good Guys 15.54.

Tonya’s turn comes up. “I am the worst driver in the history of the world,” she interviews. “I hit everything, including my garage.” She takes off, stopping short at 19.16. She’s thrilled enough that she hugs Rachel. Veronica interviews that she, Rachel and Tina decided to be cool with Tonya, because they don’t want her to be dramatic. “Good job,” she enthusiastically tells Tonya, “and you didn’t fuck up!” Such a kind, gentle soul.

Brad interviews that the Inferno is a risky place to be, and he has to beat Mike’s time in order to not go into the Inferno. He winds up with a time of 14.16. Veronica ends up nudging the glasses, but they miraculously sway back into position. Her time: 16.83. She tells us that she’s lucky not to have lost the mission for her team.

Mike interviews that this is the third time he’s been nominated for the Inferno, and he has to win the Lifeshield to save himself. He takes off, and hits the brake at 14.01. He tells us that she’s confident with his time, but it’s too close to call. Derrick slowly approaches the finsih line, and has to lurch twice. His time: 25.10. Average times: Bad Asses 17.78, Good Guys 15.06.

Landon interviews that he plans on coming out faster and waiting longer to brake. He ends up hitting the brakes hard, causing the wheels to smoke as he knocks some glasses over. Mike curses, while his teammates turn away. Landon’s time: 5:25.10. He slams the door, while the Bad Asses celebrate. Jamie interviews that Landon has handed $10,000 to the other team. He interviews that his penalty has taken him out of the game. Julie: “We need a miracle at this point.” Sorry, Julie...those are reserved for infertile couples this week.

Abram interviews that all he has to do is get the Lifeshield. Tina: “Abe, keep your head on, don’t try to go balls to the wall. Your only goal is not crashing through those glasses.” Abram races off. Tonya yells for him to slow down, and the others join her. He hits the brakes, stops, then lurches towards the line. His time: 14.80. Derrick celebrates the win, while Tina thinks Abram won the Lifeshield.

Dave congratulates the Bad Asses on their win, handing the $10,000 check to Tonya. The current tallies: Bad Asses with $60,000, Good Guys with $40,000. After the massacre that was Battle of the Sexes 2, it’s nice to see two teams pretty much even. Dave awards a Lifeshield to CT, for his time of 14.46 seconds. Abram interviews that he’s going to the Inferno. Dave dramatic pauses before announcing the Good Guys’ best performer with 14.01 seconds. After close-ups of Darrell, Brad and Mike, Dave hands the Lifeshield...to Mike. Damn. It’s like he gained Coral’s ability to dodge elimination. Of course, Mike jumps around like a tool, challenging the Bad Asses to keep picking him. He goes into Miz mode in an interview, bragging about getting his third Lifeshield. In case you’re wondering, he picked one up in Run For Your Money. Landon interviews that this sucks, since one of the other guys has to go in Mike’s place. Dave wraps things up, telling the kids that he’ll see them at nightfall. Tina interviews that she doesn’t know how the Good Guys will pick somebody. “If they lose one of their guys,” she adds, “their team is seriously crippled.”

The Good Guys have a quick meeting. Mike playfully asks for volunteers. Julie suggests that they pick names from a hat. That is the dumbest way to send somebody off. It sucked when Kina got picked off by that method in Road Rules: X-Treme. Darrell thinks that if they do that, his name will pop up. Naturally, Mike likes the idea, and he tells those who would take his place to go into the Inferno and take care of business. The names are put into a hat, and Mike selects one as we head into commercials.

We rewind a bit, as Mike picks the name. And our lucky sacrifice is...Brad. Yup, this has not been his episode. He interviews that he had a feeling it would be him. “It’s never a good situation,” he adds. “You can’t predict what you’re going to be going up against.”

Now let’s get a word with Darrell. “I feel kinda bad in a way,” he interviews. “I’ve been performing the poorlest out of the whole team as far as the dudes, but I can’t volunteer myself.” Here’s my problem: Darrell has won two Challenges, and he hasn’t gone into an endgame in either one. Meanwhile, Landon won an Inferno, and Brad got screwed over by the men’s team last season. I get upset, since any time I think of The Gauntlet, all I can hear from Darrell is “I know Sarah gonna fail, piddy tah dinky foe get yo ass up, girl.”Also: “poorlest”? It’s official: our favorite mushmouth is back. Anyway, he doesn’t want Brad to go, and he hopes Brad can whup Abram’s ass. And I’m sure that’s something we can all get behind.

Nightfall. Inferno. The players enter, as we see balls on the side, as well as a cannister in the middle of the floor. Dave welcomes everybody back, pronouncing tonight’s event to be “the most intense Inferno yet.” He calls out Abram and “Mike the Miz.” Just say “Mike” or Miz,” Dave. Since Mike has tonight off, he’s wearing a buttoned shirt and good pants. Dave says that Abram didn’t win the Lifeshield, he will be competing tonight. Wait...there’s no questioning of CT? I guess the only guy he’ll bail out is Drama David, his buddy from Boston. Dave continues, asking Mike which guy will replace him. Mike announces that Brad will take his place. The Good Guys cheer as Brad walks to the lower level. Rachel calls this “the biggest Inferno yet,” because the loser would put his team at a huge disadvantage. Mike and Brad share a man hug before Mike goes to safety outside the Inferno area.

Dave tells the players about tonight’s Inferno: Balls In. Each player gets five balls. The objective: outscore the opponent. One player defends the basket in the middle of the circle, while the other tries to score. Once a player enters the circle, he cannot leave. If he does, the ball is dead. The ball is also dead if it’s knocked out of his hands. Abram whips himself into a roid rage, interviewing that Brad is tough, but he thinks that he can beat him. He adds, “I’m just a cocky motherfucker, I guess.” Wouldn’t be the first thing I’d call him. Brad tells us that Abram is a great player, so he’ll have to send him home.

Abram gets in position to score, while Brad defends. Dave bangs his gong to get things started. Abram bulldozes Bad into the sand, dumping the ball in the basket for his first point. He fends off Brad’s pushing to get a second point. “You want one more?” Abram snarls. “You want one more, bitch?” I would agree with Bill “Sports Guy” Simmons about testing these guys for steroids, but I’m scared that they’re like this without any drugs. Landon yells for Brad to stop taking crap. “I’m a really peaceful guy, I really am,” Abram tries to convince us. “I mean, there’s flames going here in a fiery pit of sand with a cage around you. Flip that switch, and you can say, ‘I’m gonna fuckin’ just kick your ass.’”

On the third try, Brad shoves Abram to the ground, resulting in a dead ball. Dan: “Abe has this whole alter ego unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Abe just kind of manifests himself into this creature where losing is not acceptable, and he’s just going to rip you to shreds.” Hate to break it to Renzi, but that ain’t an alter ego. Brad manages to get Abram into the sand and outside the circle. The Good Guys go nuts at this stop, and Veronica interviews that the boys are not joking around. In the final try, Brad wraps himself around Abram, but he gets too close to the basket. In the end, Abram has three points. He interviews, “This is one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had in a very sick and very wrong way.” And I thought that was from an exit interview. Brad reminds us that he needs four points to win, and that he’d be lying if he said he wasn’t nervous. Abram: “Bring it on! I’m gonna fuckin’ eat you alive!”

Brad’s turn. He gets stopped by Abram and tries to lob the ball into the basket. Dead ball, no points. Tina and Darrell urge their respective teammates on. Brad charges, fends off Abram gets his first point, then shoves him away. On the third try, Brad slams into Abram, but drops the ball trying to get it in. Abram: “Get the fuck out, bitch!” Brad slams Abram to the side, getting the easy score. Brad interviews that his adrenaline is kicking in, and he realizes what’s on the line. “I’m just going to have to buck up,” he adds, “and do what I gotta do to win.”

Final attempt. We go to sporadic slow-motion. Brad slams into Abram, getting spun back. Both sides wait in anticipation. Brad makes his attempt, slamming the ball...off the side of the basket. Game over, Abram wins 3-2, and I feel sick all over again. Why don’t I check off Rachel for an Inferno win two weeks from now and get it over with? Anyway, the Good Guys are dejected, while the Bad Asses celebrate. Tina gleefully interviews that her team knocked out another strong Good Guy.

You think Abram would be a gracious winner? Well, you’d be wrong. He yells to the Good Guys, asking who wants to mess with him. Suddenly, Darrell finds his spine and takes Abram’s rancid bait, interviewing that he doesn’t like taking crap. “Send me tonight, you little poodle!” he hollers at Abram. “You so tough? I ain’t fat!” Wow...somebody from the cast remembers Donell. “I’ll beat your bitch ass, and you know it! I see it in your eyes!” Dan looks away, while Veronica just stares. This is so beneath them, you know. Abram: “I’ll fuck up your ass, you stupid bitch!” Darrell: “Keep sticking it up, cuz you my bitch! You my bitch!” Mike has to lead Darrell away, while Tina and Dan clap for Brad. I guess that bucket of pig’s blood will have to wait for a more deserving Good Guy. Abram man-hugs Brad, saying that he wouldn’t want to compete against anybody else like him.

Denouement. Dave congratulates Abram and send him back to his team. Abram roars like an ass while his team enables him. He interviews that his team is happy to see him because he helps them win money. Dave tells Brad that he hates to see him leave, and adds that Brad had heart. The Good Guys go downstairs to say goodbye. Jamie hugs Brad through the bars. “It really hurts when one of your real friends goes home,” she sobs in an interview. “If there was one person who deserved to be here, it’d be him, and I’m just gonna really miss him.” I’m a sucker from intraseasonal love. Landon gives Brad a hug. Brad feels that he let himself down, as well as the team. Mike gets his hug in. The back of his shirt has the word “socialite” in silver. Yeah, I don’t know. “Losing such a great competitor is really gonna hurt our team,” he interviews. “You can’t look at a good side to this one. Brad was one of our best players.” Brad walks through the Door of Shame. Poor guy. Maybe he could start a support group with Theo Gantt for Challengers who always get screwed over.

Postscript: After this episode, I thought the worst would happen on the season finale of The Amazing Race; that evil would triumph, and Rob & Amber would get another million bucks. Well, I misread the episode...turns out Brad losing was about an Italian guy coming up short, and darned if Rob didn’t do that. The best part? With the controversial way Uchenna & Joyce won in the end, some of the goodwill expended by fans got withheld. My hope is that the good energy/mojo/chi affects the Survivor finale, and Tom Westman becomes the Sole Survivor. Seriously, Katie and Jenn are annoying, and Ian’s a big dolphin-loving dope. Go, Tom!

Next time: Two guys get into a fight. Rachel: “These guys take competition wherever they go.” Landon gets his head shaved. There’s a mission with rowboats and cows. CT thinks Julie would push for Veronica if she thought that she’d go in. Abram: “She’s stated clearly that she wants your blood.” Maybe Julie is a vampire who needs the blood of those as bad as her to survive.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Reality Revue

I got almost 20 pages of Challenge notes, and I'll get the recap up tomorrow. In the meantime, let's go to the magical world of Burnettland.

The Apprentice

Tana screwed up. She dismissed her employees, had a few snafus, and disrespected Kendra being single. I'm looking at the forums now, and damn near everybody on her love train is jumping off. So how come I'm not?

Don't get me wrong...the first half-hour of the finale will be dedicated to throwing her on the train tracks. The only person at the reunion who would stand up for her will probably be Omarosa. And maybe Ivana, if she keeps her bottoms hiked up. It's just...I still like her. She's not going to be an Apprentice, but is that a bad thing? While Kendra had halfway decent employees Erin and Michael (along with Danny, who will probably media whore it up somewhere), look who Tana had:

Brian: thought that what a run-down hotel needed was new toilet seats. One look at him, you get the urge to throw him down an alley and into pins.

Chris: a human time bomb. Trump kept Chris in the game because he would've killed him upon being fired. Instead, Chris suffered loss after loss, and his spirit was too broken to put up a fight. Possibility he'd go King Kong into the crowd at the reunion.

Kristen: she ruined Murder In Small Town X, and she left a black mark on this show. Zero sense of humor. Thinks that dating a director qualified her to direct a commercial. Got fired, even though the other team's ad involved homoeroticism and a cucumber.

I ask you...if you had these three dopes in your corner, wouldn't you be itchin' to grab a crowbar? I'm sure that Tana can go beyond the world of Mary Kay and kick some ass, as opposed to doing menial work like Bill and Kelly, and being trotted out like a pony for the new kids. Good luck, Kendra!

Survivor: Palau

Color me confused. Conventional wisdom says that the remaining women (Jenn, Caryn, Katie) band together to oust Tom and Ian. This isn't about gender warfare...both fellas were integral for Koror in challenges, and both had spilt individual immunity. Tom knew enough to tell Ian that if either of them won a reward challenge, that that person not take the other, so that the others not align against them. That killed Burton in Pearl Islands and wiped out Gregg last week (no clue why Rob & Amber didn't get screwed in a similar deal during All-Stars. Oh, right...Jenna, Rupert and Tom were dummies). Anyway, Ian wins a shiny new car, and he gets to take one person with him to a posh resort. And he picks...Tom. Tom?!? Now I started to hate Ian, because if Tom was voted out because of this? I'd kick Ian's ass...lovable dolphin trainer or not.

Honestly, the episode was a blur. Ian and Katie had a fight. Tom gets called for Jedi mind tricks by forum posters, which I don't get. Tom ends up winning immunity...because he's Tom, and thus good at everything. At Tribal Council, there are several blowups, and Caryn revealed lots of stuff...and for that, she was voted out. In her exit interview, she reverted back to the snippy thing from the first few weeks. Good riddance...at least she's guaranteed to be dramatic come the Final Council.

Bottom line: if Ian or Tom don't win the $1 million, this season will be a disappointment. But it's a credit to Palau that it elevates Survivor as a contender to ursurp The Amazing Race at the Emmys.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

TARCon: The Short Version

What is the legacy of the seventh season of The Amazing Race? TAR5 was about the underdogs: Charla running seven legs despite her short size and annoying partner, Linda & Karen setting a mark for all-female Racers and having a blast along the way, and Chip & Kim running on their love for one another and for others (particularly Kami & Karli, but it's best to forget that). TAR6, on the other hand, was a dark pit, where good Racers got taken out early. Karma had to be balanced after Chip & Kim's win, and if that meant Lena & Kristy had to be stuck on the hay bales while teams whizzed past them, so be it. The ending was a bummer...fan faves Kris & Jon couldn't get the good flight, and Freddy & Kendra cruised to victory. To add insult to injury, the winners didn't show up at TARCon, even though they were in the city to pick up the cardboard check.

As for TAR7? Part of it was about luck. Who had the bigger horseshoe up the yin yang? Rob, whose thickly accented siren call could bring forth eager helpers? Or was it Meredith & Gretchen, who managed to race better than at least one other team each leg despite going at a snail's pace and a banshee's wail? Or maybe Joyce's shaved head in India paid off in the head. Watching the plane pause before allowing her and Uchenna on board was one of the most unbelievable moments in reality television history. At that point, it was their Race to win...a little karmic nod to Ramber boarding the plane full of folks who freakin' ate the four pounds of meat.

The other legacy was the hunt for Ramber. Much like Rob Cesternino in Survivor: All-Stars, those two had targets on their backs from the first second. Unlike poor Rob C., they could control their destiny. From what I've heard, most of the teams hated them. Naturally, the team that was represented as the prime player haters by the editors were Lynn & Alex...who would deny ever hearing of Ramber before. It was like, "You wanna be like these jamokes? Go soak yer heads with Lex and Big Tom, while everybody else loves those lovebirds." I know that Rob didn't invent the notion of underhanded techniques on this show (hello, Guido Wedge!). I know Amber isn't totally useless...she just seems like she needs an ampersand before her name ("Rob & Amber," "Jerri & Amber," etc.) Most of the time, it felt like they got the big breaks when they needed it, and that drove me crazy.

In the end, as Uchenna & Joyce completed their improbable run – a feat that eclipses upsets like Sarah Greyson's five Gauntlet wins, Katie Doyle's two victories in the Inferno, and Lillian Morris making it to Day 39 in the Pearl Islands despite being voted out of the game one month prior – the crowd at the Play by Play went ballistic. It was a feel-good moment for most people. Some people on the boards tsk-tsked the win, saying that the plane getting called back was rigged to level the playing field. I just chalk it up to luck. And others have been bugged about the Agus saying that good people won. In the big picture, it's not that Rob & Amber are evil. Look at Uchenna & Joyce...laid off by bankrupt companies and unable to conceive a child. Maybe they felt that they needed a break, that karma would ride in like Santa on his sleigh. I'm happy that they won. Your mileage may vary.

As for Ramber? Every time I thought or Mariano, I thought of the negatives. I remembered the slacking off at Maraamu camp, the booting of overachiever Hunter, the slacking off at Rotu camp, and the rattling of John. I remembered the axing of Cesternino, the celebration of Susan Hawk quitting after she felt violated by Richard Hatch, the playing of other contestants whose intelligence couldn't light up a closet. But he was a good racer, and so was Amber. I can't deny that, and I'd be a fool to do so.

As for TARCon? I had my ups and downs. On the positive side, I met old friends, got to meet new people, and had a good seat for the action. On the down side, I sucked at admitting people into the joint, and I had major league battery drama, resulting in the fewest pictures taken by me at a TARCon. It was enough to send me scurrying out at 1 a.m., looking for a race to get batteries, which I knew would get sucked dry by my camera. But it was worth the crappy stuff...with its kinetic nature, The Amazing Race is ideal for group outings. If you couldn't make it to a TARCon this time, try again in December.

I'll be going over the details in the coming days. I spent seven hours at the Play by Play, so I have a lot to recall. I'll go over stuff such as the real reason Uchenna & Joyce won, the rousing ovations of incoming Racers, and DimSumCon. Heck, I might even go over the episode of Highway to Heaven with Chip in it (two words: "Satan's Helpers.") Hope you'll enjoy reading about it as much as I lived through it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Countdown to TARCon: Best Week Ever

Every show has its own period where nothing can go wrong, and the streets are paved with gold. People might differ on what's the best and worst season ever, but they can agree when they had it good. The Amazing Race has had some great seasons in the past, but nothing can beat one week and change way back in 2004.

Tuesday, September 14

It started out like any other episode...overachievers Colin & Christie were out in front of the field of four to start, and Colin rocked a climbing Roadblock. They were the best team, the Yankees of TAR5 in terms of ability and being hated. They were good enough to get the breaks and finish first in most of the legs. But this time, they missed a connecting flight to Manila, and the other teams caught up to them. And thanks to some amazing luck, they fall behind the other teams...and when they get to the next task, they find themselves Yielded by Chip & Kim. The Yield was used once during the season...and boy, was the timing sweet. While the other teams assembled jeepneys, Colin had to grit his teeth and wait until an hourglass ran out. In case you never saw TAR5? Colin was one intense cookie. It was "I'm packin' it!" this and "We have to beat the midget!" that with him.

Anyway, the lead teams ended up getting to the Detour, and they all opted to have an ox plow through a field and pull up a clue. All three teams figure out how to do it: one person works the yoke, the other leads the ox. While that's happening, Colin & Christie are losing their minds en route to the Detour...especially with Christie muttering to her jeepney driver, "Mush drive faster...[hand to his face] because they Yielded us!" and encouraging him to run people over. In other words, they've lost their minds. So...Colin gets behind the yoke. Christie? Is doing nothing but yell at him. The ox is going every which way, since he has no clue where to go. Colin: "Oh, my God! My ox is broken! This is bullshit!" I can't do that scene justice. It's one of the greatest moments in TAR history. Long story short: they're in last place. Good news: it's the final nonelimination leg. Even as Phil relieved them of their funds, they were still the odds-on favorite to win.

Saturday, September 18

Before I go out to a comic book show, I check the mail...and there's the latest issue of TV Guide. I flip through it...and I'm floored by what I see. They had a preview of TAR6, complete with pictures, biographies and Racer commentary. I focused on the oddballs, like wrestlers Lori & Bolo, and "entreprenaurs" Jonathan & Victoria. In the fall preview issue, one writer said that Jonathan would make the infamous Team Guido look like pussycats. In retrospect, I guess he did. When I got home, I looked up names online. I found Gus (called "Gustavus"in the article) had flown around the poles, Hayden had played in the Lingerie Bowl, and that Avi graduated from the same junior high school I did...a few months before I entered it. I was pumped for a season which wouldn't air for a few months. Sad, right? Especially after we saw it play out.

Later that night, Mad TV opened their season. They had a sketch called "The Amazing Presidential Race," with Bush & Cheney facing off against Kerry & Edwards. They got the music right, as well as the head-turning in the credits. The skit was assisted by TAR5 media faves Charla & Mirna. I admit to being turned off by people drooling on Charla since she's short, but whatever. After reenacting their dancing in the opening credits and running over Ralph Nader with a golf cart, the cousins cut loose...especially at the Roadblock. Mirna read off the details: eat an ostrich egg and chocolate on top of caviar...while carrying meat on the back. And just like in real life, Mirna palmed it off on Charla. It was a good sketch.

Sunday, September 19

Emmy night. I don't really care about it, but fan pride was on the line. TAR won a reality Emmy in 2003, and the show was poised to win again. The main competition: Survivor, which had a good season in Pearl Islands, and a carwreck with All-Stars; and The Apprentice, Mark Burnett's breakout show on NBC. Also nominated were American Idol and Last Comic Standing. I still don't get how mediocre comics make for a good show.

Anyway...things weren't looking too good...especially after Star Jones called Phil Keoghan "Bill" in the E! pre-award show. Omarosa and Rupert showed up to pump their shows, while we got Phil, Colin & Christie and (natch) Charla & Mirna. But we got a happy ending, as TAR won the award again. I'll say this...the theme music sounds great played by an orchestra. And the TWoP message board was flooded with happiness. Even better, Donald Trump openly bitched about not understanding how a low-rated show could beat his yooooge juggernaut.

Tuesday, September 21

This was it. For the first time, four teams would go into the final two legs: Chip & Kim, Colin & Christie, Brandon & Nicole (the religious models), and Linda & Karen (the lovably loud bowling moms). TARCon was rockin' the Play by Play before the episode aired, with Kevin & Drew filming stuff for ESPN2's Cold Pizza. The finale for Big Brother 5 played out on mute, and few people cared. Since I'm pressed for time, I'll go over the highlights:

- The teams had to find an island with a flag of the Phillipines. Chip took out binoculars, and we got the usual POV. Brandon did the same thing, but one of the lenses was capped...and we got half of the POV.

- After getting followed to a wrong island, Chip decides to fake out Brandon by pretended he chose wrong again. How does he do it? By looking at the clue, finding out he was right, and shouting "SHUCKS!" I'd love to see him play poker. When the models (Godels?) find out, they are pissed that Chip lied. Guys? RAAAAAAACE!

- Meanwhile, Colin/Christie and the Moms are in the trailing pack, and the Moms break off on their own, guessing a flag correctly. That puts C/C in last place, in danger of elimination.

- Brandon & Nicole get to the Roadblock first, and Brandon ascends up a cliff. They end up finishing first. Chip struggles with it, and the Moms catch up. All this time, everybody is hoping Colin & Christie don't show up...but they do. After Chip nails his Roadblock, Karen has a chance to finish up at third. But men are from Mars, women are from Venus...and Colin's from friggin' Krypton. He goes up, comes down, and he and Chrsitie get one more leg.

- The Moms' elimination? Nobody was crying at TARCon. Really. It was...unusually dusty, and allergies were acting up. Yeah, that's the ticket. They went out as a team...the highest placement by an all-women team.

- The mid-show interviews, mostly to the tune of "Oh, I know we're gonna win." Chip: "It's on like Donkey Kong now, baby!"

- For the final leg, the Race hits Calgary, the first-ever visit to Canada. There's some Olympic events, including Nicole wiping out on a bike while going down a slope, and Chip & Kim wipe out on the luge. Bottom line: C/C and B/N make reservations for Dallas, where the Race will wrap up. Colin has even acquired the services of the best cabbie in that area. Looks like we're not getting that happy ending.

- In one of those cool plot twists, Kim finds out that the lead plane to Dallas is going to be delayed...big time. So Chip & Kim get the next flight out. There's stuff with bags, but I won't bore you.

- The ending: Chip & Kim futz through a maze, getting out just as Colin & Christie get in. Our heroes run smack into traffic. Meanwhile, Colin manuevers the maze like a pro, and his cabbie has zero problem with driving on the shoulder to avoid traffic. But in the end...Chip & Kim won. The reaction at TARCon? Pandenoium. At long last, a fan fave team won the Race.

The rest was a blur. Some of the teams made it to TARCon, and all were recieved warmly...even Colin, who had to check out folks wearing t-shirts they said "My Ox Is Broken!" Now that's a good sport. The following morning on The Early Show, he proposed to Christie, and she accepted. Yeah, they do deserve each other. Chip & Kim got their check, and appeared on The Late Late Show, Live With Regis & Kelly, and The Larry Elder Show. And for TAR fans, it was great. At least until the nicer teams got eliminated early in TAR6...and Adam & Rebecca started sniping at each other...and we were left with one halfway-decent team in the homestretch...and Jonathan & Victoria...and heck, you get the picture.

As I prepare for TARCon tonight, I hope that once we get past the finale and next season's "family race," we can get back to the glory days. For one week in September, The Amazing Race was king. Hail to the king.

PS: Right now, I got about 10 minutes before I have to go. I'll end up editing this entry if needed.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Ill Omen

Less than 24 hours until the TAR finale. I needed something good to take from tonight's Inferno II episode. What do I get?

1. Mike winning the Aztec Lifeshield again, bailing out of his Inferno date. Honestly, I want him in there. I'm tired of him, period. Oh, and he gave Brad an atomic wedgie, which sets Brad off. Dude calls Mike "bloated sonofabitch" and "meathead."

2. Since nobody volunteers to take Mike's place, they pick names out of a hat...and Brad gets picked. You can see the vultures circle his head, stomachs still full of Jodi.

3. Meanwhile, Darrell flat-out admits he's performed poorly, but he doesn't volunteer. Now, would I be considered unreasonable to hate him for that? I look at Landon...he won an Inferno already. I look at Brad...he got dinked by his teammates in the last Challenge. I look at Darrell...he's already won two Challenges, and has never gotten close to getting eliminated. Send his ass in there. Oh, and he said he performed the "poorlest." Oy.

4. Of course, Abram beats Brad in the Inferno. Why not? I might as well have Rachel winning in two weeks. It's been that sort of Challenge, where the true pains in the ass stay on. I'm sick of Abram. Hate him, hate his 'tude, and the boy acts sober the way Brad does drunk. Still can't believe that Coral would go out with him.

5. As for Brad? Sucks that the Italian guy I like has to go, and the other one can continue to shine his medallion and head, and continue to talk trash. You know what would've been funny? If CT had dropped the cigarette while driving the hot rod, burned himself, lose control of the car, and run a few people over. Smoking and waving a flag out of the window while driving? Classy!

Oh, I guess I should say this right now...I knew Brad was going home. Why? Because somebody who reads this blog commented that Brad was on his way out. I don't do spoilers, and I sure as hell don't want people finding out about stuff that hasn't been shown. If it happens again, I will fix it so nobody comments here. I've had issues with moderators in the past, and I hate being the bad guy...but I will do it.

I do have something to cheer you guys up. I watch a show called X-Play on G4...which is weird, since I don't own a video game console. Anyway, cohost Adam Sessler went over one of the weirdest intros ever...Jonny Moseley Mad Trix. In case your out of the loop: Jonny was a Olympic moguls skier AND host of three seasons of the Challenge. If you can watch that episode, do it. Basically, it's Jonny partying, acting like a dork, and it made my head hurt from the laughter. Check it out if you got G4.

That's that. I'll try and squeeze in one last pre-TARCon column out tomorrow. The Challenge recap (tenative title: "Melvins & Meatheads") might take a while, what with all the TAR hoopla. Just so y'all know.

Countdown To TARCon: Viewer's Guide

We're about 26 hours away from the season finale for The Amazing Race. I'll be recording it at home while I'm at TARCon, since some stuff does get lost while cheering/booing/flipping off the TV. I've got every season finale from TAR2 on tape...and recently, I've recorded some other stuff to go along with it. Last time, I got home around 3:30 a.m., went online to post, went to sleep...and woke up around 8 a.m. to record Freddy & Kendra getting their check on The Early Show. Turns out they had an interview before I woke up. No big loss, really. They were so well rested from not showing up to TARCon the previous night. What? Me bitter? Naaaaaaaah.

Here are some shows you might want to check out after the finale:

The Early Show (Wednesday, CBS)

Live awarding of the check and casual grilling of the teams.

Live with Regis & Kelly (Thursday, syndicated)

Ordinarily, Reege and Kelly have the winner on two days after the finale airs. But this time? Rob & Amber. I won't lie...as I saw the listing, I hypervenilated. Then I remembered that those two have their big wedding special on CBS in a few weeks, and I managed to exhale. The show airs in Disneyworld, so if Ramber doesn't win, the winning team might not show up for a while, if ever.

Best Week Ever (Friday, VH1)

Proceed at your own caution. While the network's C- and D-grade talking heads do chat about TAR, it's been mostly about Ramber as of late. They had a segment after the TAR5 finale, with Chip & Kim doing commentary (Chip: "Oh, I can buy the Best Week Ever!") Last season, I saw little clips on that week's shows...but no commentary.

And finally, I have something that TAR5 fans might be interested in...

Highway to Heaven (Tuesday, TV Land)

The synopsis: "A gang threatens elderly actors and an aspiring boxer." And who plays the boxer? Chip McAllister. That's right...two decades before the caviar, the ostrich egg, the twins, "Return of the Prodigal Son, Return of the Prodigal Son," and so on, Chip was an actor. And thanks to some weird coincidence, you can watch this episode right before the finale at 8 p.m., as well as an earlier showing at 3 p.m.

That's it. If I have time, I'll tell you guys about the REAL best week ever...broken oxen, devious cabbies, staged proposals, and a certain lady named Emmy who loves Phil Keoghan more than Mirna.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Conned

What if you went to a comic book convention...and you didn't do anything?

Last year, Hawthorne High School hosted a con to raise money for their art department. It took me forever to get there, since it's not exactly off the New Jersey Turnpike. I ended up getting comics, got a few sketches, and had some fun.

So what happened today? There were three dealers. Just three. With nothing I wanted. And there wasn't anybody there I was hellbent to get a sketch from. I looked around, went out for pizza, looked around again, then left. It's no slam on the high school. I just have particular tastes, that's all. At least I took the trip.

I ended up going to a comic shop in a nearby town, since today was Free Comic Book Day. It's an annual thing...publishers great and small put out books for no charge. Since my dealer doesn't because in that (folks come in and never come back), I went to the place. It was nuts...complete with a local news crew filming stuff. I was given a chose of a few comics...in contrast to last year, when I went to the city and hit several shops. But I'm cool with it. And I only ended up getting lost a few times along the way. This is in stark contrast to last year, when I asked a worker at McDonald's what the address was, so that I could use a Net kiosk...and she kept pointing to the bathroom.

Next month looks more promising...between Wizard World Philladelphia, the MoCCA show and the Big Apple Con (with Ex Macchina creators Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris), I'll be having a busy three weeks.