Monday, October 4, 2010

I Want My Mom

Akwaaba to Ghana! West Africa's Warrior King. A land of 47 local languages, tropical sweltering heat, and overly discerning sunglass wearers. It's a country rich in history, colorful textiles, and mesmerizing war dances. Ghana's tourism site claims it's not only the Land Of Sunshine, but the friendliest nation in Africa. I'm thinking Kenya and Egypt might take issue with that statement, but, you know what? That's what makes Ghana so fascinating. They're a proud people with horrible traffic and Flintstones style tv antennas yet they think, or rather they know, they're nothing short of awesome. Home to hippos, crocodiles, and the world's largest artificial lake Ghana wants you to come visit and frolic on it's beaches. No offense Ghana, but no thanks. I'm scared to death of needles and your lovely country requires a Yellow Fever vaccination. Yellow and Fever are so not my colors. Also, your website brags about a "reasonably good health service". Hell to the nuh uh! The only thing I want "reasonably good" is an installment of the Real Housewives not my health care. I think I'll watch the Anthony Bourdain episode that takes place in Ghana instead of visiting in person. I do thank you though for hosting a most interesting episode of the Amazing Race last night. Let's recap, shall we?

Before we can get to Africa, we've got to get the hell out of England. Teams are instructed to head to Heathrow and board the 6 hour flight to Accra. As Team Jack & Jill (Jill & Thomas) were the first to finish, they're now the first to depart. They head to the airport, high on their Express Pass win, and are quick to discover that there's only one flight a day servicing Ghana. Jill kicks some English cobblestones and begrudgingly waits for all the other teams to arrive. Meanwhile, back at Eastnor Castle, Brook of Team Blood Diamond (Brooke & Claire) is busy making out with locals in exchange for directions to the airport. Potato-y Claire stands on the sidelines with visions of watermelons bursting in her head. After Brook services a lonely English farmer - in his tractor no less! - she wipes her mouth and declares "A kiss saves the day!". Yes Brook, a kiss saves the day and chlamydia is an epidemic. Just sayin'. After Brook collects her sixpence, she and Claire Au Gratin make their way to the airport with Team Gleek (Connor & Jonathan) and Team Spike (Katie & Rachel) in tow. How Brook became the head of this odd collection of weary travelers is a mystery to me. Actually, who the hell am I kidding? Brook and her overbearing overbearingness are enough to lull anyone into quiet resignation. Just look at Claire. Poor poor Claire of the Order of the Poor Claires. (name the movie in the comments and you're a big weiner!)

OK so everyone gets on the plane and lands safely in Accra, Ghana. Waves crash on the African shore, children dance in the streets, market vendors prepare their wares, and a gaggle of unruly Americans come bursting in to muck it all up. Hands waving maniacally, teams yell and scream for taxis and frantically make their way to some Memorial Park. Brook looks out the window of her cab in overexaggerated awe. The sight of people carrying things on their heads is just too much for her. She wants to kiss them all and maybe sell them a cracked ruby or something. In another cab, Chad of Team Fisticuffs (Chad & Stephanie) finds the trash littering the roadsides "unbelievable". Stephanie nods in submission and mumbles, "It's amazing."

Over in Team Gleek's cab, it's not all magic and wonderment at the new sights and smells. As a matter of fact, it's a scary knee wobbling bowel leaking bit of a clusterfuck. A local man approaches Team Gleek's window asking for money and Connor or Jonathan (who really cares who's who) tries to swoosh him away with apologies and forlorn faces. Jonathan or Connor curls up into a ball and mutters, "I feel unsafe." The strange man wanting change spits on the duo (probably giving them Yellow Fever) and in response - in what has to be the funniest moment of the entire episode - Team Gleek holds hands, closes their eyes, and belts out in unison, "Please driiiive faaaasteerrrrr." When it happened last night, I had to pause my tv and allow ample time for laughter. Watching it again this morning... more pausing, more laughter. I could almost sympathize with Team Gleek in that moment because on my very first trip to New York City, back when Time Square was a hotbed of hookers and not a Disney amusement park, a homeless man banged on our windshield wanting money. I clutched my purple unicorn purse, checked that my baby sister was ok, and begged my mom to run him over so we could get to the Marriot Marquis already. Ok so I might not have been the most sympathetic 8 year old, but I had musicals to see and Bloomingdales to discover. Priorities bitches, priorities.

Eventually, all the teams make it to the park and are then instructed to make their way to Makola Market to find their next clue. Brook yells at Claire to pick up her french fry legs and get a move on. Team Don't Abort Me (Andie & Jenna), on the other hand, is in last place and they couldn't give a fig. Andie, with her tired eyes and oddly botoxed chin, mosies like she's out picking strawberries for a fruit salad. All she cares about is that she's there with Jenna - the daughter she left on the steps of the orphanage in the thick of night. Look, it's lovely that you want to make up for lost time and all, but why not go to a mountain retreat together and get to know one another? You could hike, ride horses, take a few pictures and, you know, have a conversation that doesn't contain the words "pit stop". I never understand these teams who go on the Amazing Race to "get to know each other". Who do they think they're fooling? You want to win a million dollars, be on TV, and see the world for free. Stop pretending like it's one big therapy session.

Teams begin to arrive at Makola Market where they discover it's not exactly Whole Foods. Hell, it's not even a flea market at a fairground. It's a giant maze of thousands of people with baskets on their heads, merchants in tiny stalls selling produce, and weavers working in the hot sun making colorful garments. Papa Wu of Team Woo (Michael & Kevin) is no stranger to this kind of market. As a kid in Taiwan he probably spent many days of the week in such a place. I, too, am no stranger to this kind of market. I've been to the Bahamas. That Nassau Straw Market can get crazy on a Saturday in July let me tell you. I challenge anyone to escape that place without their hair braided or a new beaded anklet. Sarcasm aside, the Makola Market is overwhelming to say the least which makes it the perfect place for a Road Block.

Teams have to compete in a sea of vendors to sell $10 American worth of sunglasses. Brook hears the word "sell", pushes Claire into a ladel of gravy, and is off to do what she does best - make out with locals. Brook's Bordello is open for business and she begins to charm the men with promises of kisses and happy endings. Papa Wu took a different approach targeting the older women in the market. He said please, they said yes, and that was it. Baby Wu, who for an internet "sensation" is proving to be a gigantic bore, is shocked his father actually did something right. Off in another section of the market, Chad is taking a page from Brook's handbook and using sex to sell. He flirts with the young women doing lots of eye winking and ass grabbing. I'm thinking he's no stranger to sexual assault charges so it's all good. Snotty Jill, overwhelmed by all the, you know, foreign people isn't having any luck selling her glasses so she gets mad and mutters, "It's not faiiiir." Oh shut up, Veruca. You piss me off.

Back en route to the market, Team Miss Depends (Gary & Mallory) have clearly angered some sort of ancient god that rules over all things mechanical. Once again, they've broken the car they're riding in and I have to wonder if perhaps they're cursed. In England they got a flat tire and in Ghana they just simply busted the entire cab. If these two chuckleheads ever visit your part of town, do NOT let them borrow your car. I'm envisioning their front lawn littered with all sorts of car parts and tire sculptures.

Kat of Team Propofol (Nat & Kat) stands with her rack of glasses and whispers, "Glasses for sale." Good luck with that honey. Meanwhile, Veruca (that's Jill's new name) begins to make some headway with a large robust smiling woman with her new glasses on. Fortunately for us, girlfriend likes to dance and pose. Unfortunately for Veruca, homegirl ain't got no cash. Veruca grabs her glasses and golden geese and curses the happy Ghanians out to have a good time.

After telling a black woman she looks just like Paris Hilton, Brook grabs her dough and her potato pancake (Claire) and heads to the June 4th area where a Detour awaits at the Peace Motor Spare Parts store. Teams can either Tune In or Check Out. In 'Tune In', teams have to make their way to an electrical parts store and pick up a television antenna system. Once they've properly installed the antenna to the homeowner's satisfaction they can receive their next clue. In 'Check Out' teams make their way to a woodworking shop where coffins are created to represent the lifestyle of their eventual occupants. Once they pick a coffin, they have to transport it through the back streets of town to a show room. It was here that I began to wonder what my coffin would look like. I decided on a 1920's bathtub with ornate cast iron legs and a giant paddle oar sticking out the side. I'm pretty sure my bathtub gin business is what I'm most famous for.

OK so Team Blood Diamond decide to do 'Tune In' and Brook wastes no time getting to work. You see, Brook is the only one doing anything on that damn team. Latke Claire spies a child stirring porridge and tries to steal a spoonful from the pot. Brook reprimands Claire telling her to focus. Claire pouts running her fingers through her hash brown hair as the child grabs her only pot of food for the week and runs away from the scary deep fried Claire. Brook climbs on the roof, hammers away, crawls underneath rickety beams, runs wires here and there, all the while delivering customer service with a smile, and what do you suppose Claire is doing this whole time? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. She just sits there and sweats barbecue sauce or some shit like that. I may not be able to stand Brook or her raspy sugar coated phony voice, but the girl is a go-getter and I can't hate her for that. Claire, on the other hand, is a casserole. A useless lumpy tater tot casserole hastily put together at the last minute and topped off with left over dried up cheese.

The other teams begin to finish the sunglass challenge and most are choosing to do the antenna challenge which I don't understand because it not only sounds hard, but I'm sure electrocution is possible. Thankfully, Team Spike chooses 'Check Out' and I was able to fulfill of fantasy of seeing a keyboard shaped coffin carted through the streets of Ghana. It wasn't the easiest of challenges, but it beats setting fire to a shanty town or frying your fingers off. There are two things in this world that frighten me: carnies and electrocution. Carnies are weasly trouble makers with small hands and electrocution will most definitely result in a bad hair day so yeah... neither for me thanks.

Back at the market, Veruca has earned back her name Jill as, much to Jack's (Thomas') dismay, she's pointing out scratches on the glasses to potential buyers. I don't understand this girl at all. She gets mad when the locals try to smile at her yet she blows a sale by apologizing for the condition of her cheap plastic sunglasses. Honey, those are TJ Maxx glasses. They're Marshall's glasses. You buy a bundle, lose them in your car and at restaurants, and then you buy some more. No big deal. While Jill is deciding on a personality, Nick of Team Dumb Ass (Nick & Vicki) struggles. He shifts uncomfortably, shows off some tattoos, and then wanders around hoping maybe the whole sunglass challenge will just magically disappear somehow. His heart wasn't in it at all and it was infuriating to watch. He just stood there! Look, you're never going to see these people again. Just suck it up and sell. The locals were fascinated with his tattoos. Why he didn't capitalize on that is beyond me. I really wanted Team Dumb Ass to wow me or at least mutter some more stupid stuff for me to laugh at. Instead they were boring. Bo-ring! Hayden Moss boring, if you will.

At this point, Team Blood Diamond has finished first winning a 10 day trip to Hawaii. Hey Brook, do me a favor and drop Claire off in the center of a big giant active volcano while you're there. I think I recall Tori Amos mentioning one called Pele. I wouldn't be surprised if Pele likes potatoes. Team Spike finishes second with Team Woo rounding out the top three.

Back at the antenna challenge Team Gleek is having a hard time putting a nail to wood so they flat out give up and leave a family without the gift of televsion - the cruelest gift imaginable if you ask me. Connor even has the audacity to ask the child of the televisionless house for a high five before he skedaddles. The child gives Connor the stink eye and regretfully looks forward to a life without Nickelodeon and cartoons. Over at the coffin challenge, Team Gleek continues to wreak their reign of terror over the once happy country of Ghana as they stop traffic with their giant fish coffin. Cars crash around them, locals hurl insults in 47 languages, and Ghanians everywhere decided to never ever sing again.

Nearing the end of this sweaty Ghanian mess, we find Mallory smearing her eyeliner all over her face, Andie catching a nap in the back of her cab, and Team Propofol yacking about how they tied surgical knots. Look, we get it. You're doctors. We know. But it's not like you're surgeons. You give people gas. I once met a guy at a Phish concert doling out Nitris in giant balloons and he wasn't all that special so neither are you two bores. Let's wrap this up shall we cuz I'm getting annoyed. Team Don't Abort Me is the last team to arrive and they're eliminated from the race. Good. That's all I got... "Good". Now they can trot off to the Elimination Station and stop talking about how much they want to know each other and instead actually, you know, get to know each other!

So, what did you guys think of last night's episode? Does Claire serve any purpose whatsoever? How the hell does Baby Wu have a million suscribers on youtube? Will that little televisionless boy ever forgive Team Gleek? Comment it out bitches and have a great day!

I've got 2 Elimination Stations for you today. Please to enjoy: