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.

1 comment:

CB said...

Huge fan of TAR!

How does one get to attend a TARcon?