Wednesday, May 17. Sometime after 10 p.m. I was feeling miserable...I was unable to find a seat at Stitch, had to eat my chicken quesadillas standing up, and two total posers won The Amazing Race. And I didn't even know that I had screwed up the timer on the VCR back home, missing the first hour's worth of coverage.
So...there I am outside of Stitch, bitching to a sympathetic ear about how much I hated BJ & Tyler, complaining that Ray & Yolanda had to share third-place "honors" with such teams as Adam & Rebecca, Ron & Kelly and (errrk) the Weaver family. I'm bitching, I'm bitching, and BOOM! Enter Ken & Gerard Duphiney, third-place finishers in TAR3. And just like that, my mood perked up.
I'm not a total reality groupie. Even with the SRO status and fans of the "hippies" coming out of the woodwork, I couldn't imagine staying home for the season finale. Sure, attendence from Racers is never guarenteed...but past and present, they come. For the most part, Racers are a saner breed than folks from other shows. The latest contestants are usually treated well...hey, Jonathan Baker is still breathing, right? For the most part, they're good sports...like Colin Guinn going up the escalator at Play by Play back in 2004 and running into fans with homemade "My Ox Is Broken!" t-shirts. Flo Pessenti not only came to TARCon 3, but she popped up a few more times, long after her televised cryjinx first aired. For the most part, local Racers come back to have fun...like the Duphineys, circus clowns Jon & Al, and the Paolo family (no reports of young Brian getting messed with by the clowns this time).
I didn't keep track of who came in at what times, so I'm just going by memory.
Ken & Gerard
I think Ken (the big, gay, single brother) missed his first TARCon in December. I was honestly surprised that Gerard (the smaller, straight, married brother) came over, especially since he has two sets of twins back home. All I remember is telling Gerard about TARCon 7, when I took the bald and receding heads (including Ken's) as a sign that the bald Uchenna & Joyce would win. They have at least a tie on being the fan fave team for their season, and are among the best teams never to have won.
The Gaghan Family
Didn't really say "hi" to them...it just feels weird to gush to little Billy and Carissa, you know? I read that both kids (along with kid sister Kelly) were supervised, but it was weird seeing them run into the crowded Stitch. I had a temptation to come up to Bill or Tammy and say, "Are your kids claustrophobic? [switching to Linda Weaver shrill voice] THEY WILL BE!!!!!!!" I guess I'm still a bit of a wuss.
John Vito Pietanza
I was bowled over, since I hadn't seen this guy in so long. Along with Jill Aquilino, he was one of five Staten Islanders to be on the show. The bad news? No Jill. I knew they spilt up, but I didn't want to say anything. By his side was Erika Shay, best known for being first out of TAR5 with Dennis Frensos. Oh, and the naked skydiving, but I forgot about that. Jonh Vito made my night when he told Erika that he framed an article I wrote about him and Jill back in 2002. Up until that moment, I never thought my stories were frame-worthy. John Vito also nudged me to the direction of...
Danielle & Danni
I was going to say "hi" to them anyway, since a. they're also from Staten Island, and b. Danni graduated from Wagner College. One word to describe them: grabby. Verrrrrrry grabby. Oswald & Danny grabby. I don't know if they did that to everybody or just me. It would've been cute if I was used to getting poked and touched like that. Still couldn't tell them apart.
Dave & Lori
So there I am, seeing Lori with Dave seemingly nowhere in sight. I introduce myself to Lori, making a lame "from Mahattan to Manhattan joke," since she's from Manhattan, Kansas. I ask where Dave is. Turns out he was there...he just had his hair cut, got contacts, and lost forty pounds. I was bowled over...check out their page on CBS.com. Now look at them from that night. Like he got made over during Beauty & The Geek, right? I also showed off my "Communing With Mr. Wizard" button, one of three I managed to grab that night (the others being "Dagnabbit!" and "It's Not Over Until The Phil Sings").
Ray & Yolanda
Ended up catching these two outside, roughly eight hours before Ray proposed to Yolanda. Turns out that they were far enough behind to warrant Yolanda getting waved past the final Roadblock. She laughed and agreed with me about how being labelled the "fighting daters" in commercials for the finale wasn't a good thing. I also found out that her years being a teacher gave her a sense about when somebody would flip her off behind her back...which she called Ray on in one of their rougher legs. Nice couple...if Ray screws it up, I'm sure Yolanda will have no problem finding somebody cool.
I finally got to talk with the better half of the TAR3 champions. Honestly, I would have greeted Flo, but she wasn't there. Six seasons is too long to hold a grudge, especially since I've seen far worse than her since then. Anyway, Zach was working for NBC Sports, and now he's doing work behind the scenes on MTV's Made. Now I have to check the credits for his name whenever I can remember. Speaking of MTV, I forgot to ask if he was mad at the Zach from The Real World: Key West for ripping off his name and bushy hair. Maybe next time.
Here's the thing about Phil...to us fans, he's Elvis. On his CBS.com blog, he figured that he got fifteen feet inside Stitch. See, even when the show goes into the dumpster, even when the more hatable teams last longer than they should, even when we face a race with a giant chair, go-karts and Bart the movie bear, we still have Phil. And if he ticks us off, like when he encouraged the Weavers after a non-elimination leg, we'll forgive him. All I remember talking to him about was the show's move to Sundays at 8 p.m. He called me "brother" at one point. He's very recognizable...as opposed to show co-creator Elise Doganieri, where I had to read her nametag. I felt embarassed, since she and husband Bertram van Munster (also present) were on the first season DVDs which I got a few months back. I chatted with her about the move to Sundays.
I never get to chat up Jon & Al, even though they've been at every TARCon that I can remember. I also saw Steve the Air Traffic Controller again...did he fly in from Chicago, or did he move? I also saw Avi, but I just shook hands with him. Nice guy...been to every 'Con since his season, and his partner Joe might be coming back this winter. I did break my string of TARCons where I'd have my picture taken with the winning team, with the highest-placed team there, or with one person from the winning team...I didn't want any part of BJ & Tyler. From what I heard, BJ had a light-up belt buckle...big fat whatever, right? Eric & Jeremy were there...passed. So were Lake (clean-shaven) & Michelle and Joseph & Monica. I meant to get to Fran & Barry, but they left before I could ask Barry if anybody had ever mistook him for Uncle Leo from Seinfeld. Turns out we were one Scott away from having perfect attendance from the entire season.
Meanwhile...out in Orange...
The following night, I saw coverage on Reality Remix on the West Coast party. Thankfully, Fox Reality didn't have the budget to send Lynn & Alex to TARCon. Instead, they interviewed past Racers about the finale. From what I heard, Chip rocked as an emcee, and I'm happy for the big fella. The bad news? Linda & Karen wore t-shirts that had "BJ" and "Tyler" on them, after the "hippies" wore "Bowling Moms" tees similar to those both ladies wore during TAR5. After a happy "T-Tow!" yell, Lynn & Alex gushed about how "the good guys won." Shut the hell up, broke-ass Team Guido.
The Next Day
Got about four hours of sleep before waking up at 7:30 a.m. to record TAR segments from The Early Show. Given my run of bad luck, they held off until 8:30, meaning I could have had an hour's worth of sleep if I had known. They interviewed the final three teams, while the others looked on. Dave reinforced his geek rep by recording the show on his camera. After BJ & Tyler got their checks, they flipped it over to Ray. I knew where this was going. It happened with Kevin on Rosie, it happened with Colin on TES, and it happened with Aaron after he and Hayden were eliminated from TAR6. It's getting really old, fellas.
I decided against taping BJ & Tyler on Live with Regis & Kelly, opting to freshen up and go online before heading back into the city. It's another tradition: day after TARCon, go to Jing Fong in Chinatown for DimSumCon, the only time I ever get my Chinese food off a cart.
As usual, it was packed. I found a table and dug in. We set a record for the most Racers at a DimSumCon with Danielle, Lori, Joni, Lake & Michelle, Joseph & Monica and Wanda & Desiree. It got to the point where some of the Racers ended up eating on a stage. The night before, I was distressed to see that I missed Wanda & Desiree...but I got to meet them. I also heard Joni and Lori tell a story about playing Truth Or Dare at Sequestersville in Portugal, and Dave was asked to do something with his thumb that he wouldn't normally do. I ended up flipping a coin in my mind, and I correctly guessed Joni's name. I heard she was wild the night before...if she was recovering from that, I wouldn't have guessed. I had fun, as my tablemates made "T-TOW" signs with their chopsticks, which was the one thing that I can remember.
To sum up...even with the crappy ending, I had fun. Who needs an hour's worth of show on tape, when I have my friends in snark? Barring a major move from CBS, I'll be back in December. And who knows? One day, I might end up being one of the rock stars coming through the door. In the meantime, enjoy my pictures from both Cons.