Monday, September 26, 2011

Color Me Stupid

Off the southern coast of mainland China lies the mountainous island of Taiwan - our first stop in this insufferable race around the world. Yup, The Amazing Race is back - like a nasty case of the herpes, it's back. Phruity Phil, with his vast array of chokers and Members Only jackets, will once again be our Pit Stop manager and for the next 875 weeks we'll have the joy of watching him crush the souls of 10 wide-eyed and eager duos. If we could only add a shotgun element to the eliminations... "I'm sorry to say you have been eliminated from the race *click, click* Boom!" So, yes, TAR with it's sweepingly majestic musical score is back. The drums, the strings, the harps. Harps? Yes, harps! Why not harps? I've got a harp in my gin room so why not have one on this godforesaken show? Alright travelers, I've left my passport up the road at the 7-11 between the rack of corn nuts and the Slushee machine so I think that's our cue. Let's recap, shall we?

Out on the streets of Los Angeles, whipping dangerously around corners, a giant Bret Michaels Rock Of Love bus is making it's way to the Hsi Lai Temple. It comes to a stop and out tumble our 11 shiny new teams. Amongst them - old people, siblings, twins, friends, couples, athletes, Survivors, showgirls, and beards (oh my!). Phil welcomes everyone to the race and I'm immediately thinking to myself, "How badly is Phil going to botch his 'Go!' this time?" If you'll remember, last season he curtsied the start of the race while farting out a meek little "Go!" Maybe this time it'll be a hiccup. A sneeze would be funnier though.

Like last season, the first team to complete this leg of the race will win the highly coveted Express Pass which lets said team bypass any challenge they want up to the 8th leg. For their first challenge, teams must find an umbrella that has 6 letters and then 3 letters and then 3 more letters that may or may not spell WANPAI or maybe they'll spell TAI TAI. Add TAI TAI to WANPEI and somehow you'll end up with TAI PEI. Who the hell knows? All I know is it's 10 AM and I've got a hankering for some lo mein. Basically, teams, just start picking random umbrellas and come next Sunday you may find the right one. The last team to complete the challenge will receive a new penalty called "The Hazard" *thunder claps in the distance* It's pretty much the exact same penalty as when last place teams have to perform both sides of a Detour only this one is much scarier with menacing music.

Alright, is everyone ready? The helicopters are swishing by, the music is getting louder, Phil is bending over and... *eyebrow raise* GO! *gasp* Did you see that? That was Evil Phil! Evil Phil is a child of the corn and not one to be trifled with. He's a rarity and sometimes shows up at Pit Stops to taunt the teams and make them cry before he either eliminates them or tricks them into thinking they've been eliminated when really they haven't been. Never have we seen Evil Phil at the start of the game before. Maybe there will be shotguns after all!

Since the instructions were about as crystal clear as a glass of Kahlua, the teams willy nilly pick umbrellas and start taking them to Phil. "No!", "Wrong!", "Incorrect sir!", "Ha! You kidding me with that?" Over and over again Phil denies umbrella after umbrella. Eventually, Team Snowbunny (Andy & Tommy) finds their umbrella and off they jump into their Ford Explorer and head to LAX. They're quickly followed by Team Armani (Amani & Marcus), Team Parent Trap (Liz & Marie), and Team Survivor (Ethan & Jenna). The first 8 teams to get their plane tickets will end up on the first flight while the last 3 teams will end up on the second flight departing 20 minutes later.

In first place, Team Snowbunny heads to a gas station to ask directions to the airport where a kindly gentleman, Mr. Map, tells them to get on Route 605. If that were me, because I'm evil, I would have totally given them the wrong directions. Why the hell should I help someone else win a million dollars? I'm just a blogger with a chip on her shoulder. Besides, it's just better TV to make them go the wrong away. What's important here is not to remember that I'm terminally in a bad mood. What's important to remember is that Mr. Map actually exists. He'll, very suspiciously, come into play again a little later on in our story.

Back at the umbrella stand, we have Team Aniston (Justin & Jennifer) and Team Pink Ladies (Kaylani & Lisa) bringing up the rear. As the last team to finish, Team Pink Ladies will now have to complete the dreaded Hazard. *thunder claps* Frustrated that they're in last place, the Pink Ladies head to the aforementioned gas station and ask the convenience store clerk inside how to get to the airport. He tells them Route 605 so the girls skip back to their car and Kaylani, who inexplicably had her passport in either the pocket of the hoodie wrapped around her waist or somewhere in her ponytail, drops the passport right outside the car door. Somewhere, at that exact moment in time in a dingy apartment scattered with beer bottles and fantasy football post-it notes, Justin Kanew popped a bottle of champagne and removed the "I Lost My Passport On The Amazing Race" dunce cap he's been forced to wear for the last two years. Congratulations Justin. You're free.

The girls speed away and at home I just laughed and laughed and laughed. Knowing how much passports go for on the black market (not really), I figured someone somewhere would snatch that thing up and some lucky Croatian woman would become an American citizen in the very near future. It's not like a CBS camera man conveniently left behind at the Gas & Sip would pick it up and interfere or anything. Nooooo. No way, no how.

It takes Kaylani merely minutes to discover that her passport is missing so Lisa pulls a U-ey and back they go to the gas station. The lone cameraman (and thus at least a 3 person TAR crew) is still there yet mysteriously no one has turned in the passport to the guy holding the giant camera, the guy waving around the boom, the guy driving the TAR crew vehicle, or the person behind the convenience store counter. Kaylani looks at Lisa and shrugs her shoulders. They decide to head to LAX anyways in the case that maybe another team (all of whom left before them) or a Passport Fairy flutters to LAX and drops off the passport for them. Hey, stranger things have happened.

At LAX, Lisa is fuming. She's screaming at Kaylani in the middle of the terminal, "You lost your passport! This all your fault! I wish you were never born!" Meanwhile, Team Survivor is hiding in a bookstore thinking they'll keep it a big secret that they were both on Survivor and both happened to win a million dollars. Survivor, the biggest reality show ever. Survivor, the show on a huge network that has stuck Ethan in PSA after PSA - they'll keep that a secret. Okey dokey then. Let's check in on another group a players and see what they're talking about. Oh, fancy that. They're talking about Ethan & Jenna winning Survivor. I think the only secret keeping going on here is the one that the universe is keeping from Ethan & Jenna - the one where millions of people watch Survivor!

In the middle of everyone calling Team Survivor greedy CBS whores, a voice comes over the loud speaker. "Will Lani Kaylani Luau please go to the information desk?" It was magical. Rainbows darted through the terminal, butterflies fluttered, woodland creatures came out and giggled, and a Passport Fairy glided in and handed Kaylani her missing passport. The music swelled and glitter fell from the sky. Children danced around a unicorn while puppies played with golden bones. BULL. SHIT. I call bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. To hear this douche Ryan Storms tell it (Yes, he's a douche. Just look at his Twitter.), after giving Team Snowbunny, who was in first place mind you, directions to the airport he hung around the gas station apparently filling up his 18 wheeler truck with a neverending amount of gas and when Team Pink Ladies, in last place, arrived, he found the passport and took his magical find where all people take their magical finds - to Twitter. He didn't take it inside to the convenience store guy. He didn't give it to the TAR crew. He tweeted about it and one of his followers told him to drive to LAX (a huge airport where parking is a bitch and there are no less than 9 terminals to choose from) because those Pink Ladies would definitely be needing it. Right. And I'm the Queen Of Atlantis who can breathe fire and shoot gin out of her nipples.

So it's happily ever after and now the teams are off to Taiwan. On the first plane we have: Team Gilligan (Laurence & Zac), Team Snowbunny, Team Survivor, Team Armani, Team Bert & Ernie (Cindy & Ernie), Team Ambien (Jeremy & Sandy), Team Aniston, and Team Stewardess (Ron & Bill). On the second plane we have Team Parent Trap, Team Pink Ladies, and Team Geritol (Bill & Cathi). Whoosh, splat, kerplunk! Here we are in Taiwan. Teams must now make their way by bus to some commercial district where they'll have to look up to see the giant red and yellow TAR clue on a billboard.

I would describe the scene of looking for the billboard clue in one word: clusterfuck. Some teams went this-a-way. Other teams went that-a-way. And Team Geritol, well, they went to Dubai. You see, the clue distinctly said, "Look up." Clearly, that means that the clue is in a skyscraper and since Dubai has really really tall skyscrapers, they might as well look there. And, since they've never to Dubai before, they'll squeeze in some shopping and camel rides while they're in town. Eventually, all the teams (save Team Geritol) figure out that the billboard is indeed the clue. After asking some locals to translate it, teams discover that the clue says Confucious Temple.

Confucious says: Road Block. Who's ready to play telephone? In this Road Block teams will call 1-800-CONFUCIOUS and listen to a proverb. Without taking any notes, they must recite the proverb word for word to an angry monk. Teams Ambien, Bert & Ernie, Armani, and Aniston get to the temple first and all send their women to do the challenge. Sandy wanders over to an ATM machine and starts to tap on it, "Hello, is anybody there?" Umm, Sandy, that's not a telephone sweetie. Bert, however, goes right up to the monk and asks him in Chinese where the phone is. The monk stares back in stony silence and Bert is forced to scurry off and find the phone herself. Eventually, she finds it, makes the call, and gets the phrase that pays: IF ALL THINGS SUCCESS DEPENDS ON PREVIOUS PREPARATION AND WITHOUT SUCH PREVIOUS PREPARATION THERE'S SURE TO BE FAILURE. Winning Numbers: 1, 6, 22, 42, 69, 83

Bert makes her first attempt and leaves out a couple of words. Jennifer tries next and doesn't even get the first five words right. RonBill (clearly not one of two lovers, but one half of a second set of twins as I can't tell them apart) makes an attempt and he's weaving all sorts of fascinating tales... "If all things that could make you successful would do it with some good old fashioned studying and hard work then surely some sort of preparation is involved"... WRONG! Armani tries her hand at it, but sprinkles umms and uhh's all over the place. De-nied! Ethan gives it a go and makes sure to e-nun-ci-ate every word verrry carefully. The only problem is homeboy is turning singulars into plurals and plurals into singulars. Sorry! ATM princess Sandy is up next and says, "You have insufficient funds." Nope!

With the sun beating down and the monk getting angrier, the players begin making silly mistakes costing themselves precious time and creating unnecessary anxiety. ATM Sandy begins pushing on the monk's nose trying to get money to come out, Jennifer is kicking the poor guy in the shins, and RonBill is half dead from dehydration. Finally, Bert gets it right and Bert & Ernie are then instructed to travel by taxi to the Dajia Riverside Park and search under the bridge for their next clue. Jennifer delivers her phrase correctly as well so Team Aniston is right behind them. Miraculously ATM Sandy also gets it right and off Team Ambien go.

Meanwhile, Team Pink Ladies and Team Parent Trap are still refusing to believe that the giant red and yellow billboard is indeed their clue. Eventually, they figure it out and tell each other, "We need to think smarter." Speaking of thinking smarter, let's check in on Bill & Cathi. Oh look, they're in an elevator. Cathi's wearing a new scarf she picked up at the market and Bill mumbles through a mouthful of dumplings, "This Chinese food isn't the same Chinese food we have at home. Color me stupid." I thanked him kindly for my title and then I called my mom to see if dementia runs in our family. Maybe I can start some sort of preventative alternative medicine therapy now as opposed to when I'm 60 and thinking the supermarket is an airport or New Orleans is New Dehli. I don't know. Maybe leafy greens and blueberries will stave off the sad sad decline that comes with aging. Eh, I'll think about it tomorrow.

OK, so Bert & Ernie are now at the Dajia Riverside Park where teams have to join a professional dragon boat race team. From what I can tell, dragon boating is a lot like what the Winklevoss twins did in The Social Network only there's a drum and lots of Asian people. Anyhow, one team member has to paddle while the other one has to keep the beat on a drum. Is it a merengue beat? I don't know. The beat was never specified, but something Latin or maybe a 9/8 Turkish rhythm might be fun, but I digress. Bert decides to play drums while Ernie decides to paddle. Bert climbs into the boat, bangs her drum, and surveys the scene laid out before her. "I feel so Asian right now.", she declares.

Meanwhile, back at the Confucious Temple, Armani, Gilligan (Zac), and RonBill are all finally getting their phrases right. Stoner Guy #1 from Team Snowbunny has told the monk everything from how to use a vaporizer to how to make hash with a coffee grinder. Eventually, he gets his phrase right and off he goes. At this point in time Bert & Ernie are done boating and are now well on their way to the Pit Stop with Teams Ambien and Aniston hot on their heels

By this time, the Pink Ladies and the twins have finally shown up at the Confucious Temple. Miracle upon miracles, Lisa gets the phrase right on her very first try while LizMarie, bless her heart, has a tiny bit more trouble. She goes up to the monk and says, "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?" The monk looks at her sternly and shakes his head. LizMarie goes back to the phone a second time. That bitch on the phone talks too fast and LizMarie is all flustered now! She puts on a brave face and tries again, "She sells seashells down the seashore." The monk spits in her face. At this point LizMarie on the sidelines is freaking out, "LizMarie, pay attention! Focus!" LizMarie replies, "Oh shut up LizMarie! This is hard!" LizMarie paces impatiently while LizMarie makes another attempt, "Moses supposes his toeses are roses, but Moses supposes erroneously. For nobody's toeses are posies of roses as Moses supposes his toeses to be." Oh, close enough. Just give her the clue asshole.

While LizMarie and LizMarie are busy beating the monk to death for the clue, Kaylani and Lisa now have to do the dreaded Hazard penalty. *thunder claps* One of them must bungee jump inside of the huge Mall Of America - which is strangely now in Taiwan. On a personal note, never in my life have I had a spontaneous bladder accident, but I know, I just know, that if I were to ever to bungee jump, I would 100%, without a shadow of a doubt, tinkle on myself. This, and because I don't trust anyone and I'm sure they'd give me an old bungee cord from the 90's, is why I will never ever ever bungee jump. I'll also never skydive - again, it's the fear of tinkling. There's no way to gracefully recover from an accident like that. Best to just avoid it altogether. I may not be a fan of Kaylani, but kudos to her for jumping. Apparently, she jumped once before and the harness almost came off! Insanity. In the end, she jumps incident (and tinkle) free and moves on to the dragon boats.

Back at the temple, the monk is dead. RIP MonkMan. LizMarie and LizMarie carefully wipe the blood off their brows and silently cover him up with his robes. They tiptoe away and then once safely out of the temple area, they take off running to the dragon boats. It's ok girls. I won't tell anyone.

Over at the Pit Stop, it looks like we've got ourselves a winner. Bert & Ernie come in first place and are awarded the Express Pass. Team Ambien finish 2nd with Team Aniston right behind them in 3rd. We've got Team Survivor in 4th followed by Team Armani, Team Gilligan, Team Snowbunny, Team Stewardess, and Team Pink Ladies. Team Parent Trap rinsed their bloody hands off in the water at the boat thing so Phil is none the wiser and they finish 10th. Poor Team Geritol. All the sights and sounds and smells of the Orient were much too distracting for these two. Besides, Bill forgot his Centrum Silver and Cathi hasn't taken her Cod Liver Oil in almost 48 hours. Fare thee well Team Geritol. We hardly knew ye, but take care.

Oh, but hold on there cowpokes. Guess what Phruity Phil does? "Team Geritol you are the last team to arrive HOWEVER..." No! You bastard Evil Phil! "... this is a nonelimination leg." Can you believe it? Those two Rascal users are actually still allowed to compete. Blasphemy. Well, at least we get a double elimination next week. So, what did you think? Who are your favorites so far? Who chaps your ass? If you don't know why I gave certain teams the names I gave them, go look back over my pre-season bios. I've changed quite a few, but some are the same. In the end, it comes down to efficiency and what's easiest to type over and over again. Anyhow, comment it out bitches and have a great day!