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Tuesday, November 22, 2005
The Amazing Race Update

The early part of the episode continues with the Arizona theme. The teams travel first to Monument Valley, in the northeastern corner of the state. Actually most of the part they show is in Utah, but only accessible from the Arizona side. It's one of the most beautiful areas on earth, but it's a long way from where I live. The only time I saw it was in 1989 or so with my parents when we met up in Albuquerque and went from there.

No drama here, so the next stop is Moab Valley, which is well known among mountain bike enthusiasts like me as a terrific ride. Some possible foreshadowing with the Weavers bored with the scenery that everybody else marvels about.

Unfortunately, I could tell right away that a six-mile ride versus a rappelle down a beautiful arch was an easy choice as to which would be faster. I've done both and there's no way the rappelling could be slower than riding a mountain bike. Although they did go pretty slow. The Linzs are determined to win this week. They choose the rappelle, while the Weavers, arriving shortly after, take the bikes. But it doesn't seem to make a big difference as the teams leave that stage though in pretty much the same order: Linz, Weaver, Branson, Godlewski. At some point in here we hear that the Godlewskis fell behind because of a dead battery.

Next is a campground for the night, with timed departure differences of 15 minutes. The next morning the teams have to drive to a town in Utah and find "Bart". Bart turns out to be a trained grizzly bear. The families have to walk down close to him, although the trainer stands between them and the bear the entire time and actually takes the clue from the bear's mouth. Yucchh!

At any rate, I certainly wouldn't be doing what all the families do, which is exclaim how beautiful and nice the bear was as they strode briskly down the hill. Of course, if that's the "human" training, I would, but otherwise I would approach that bear as slowly as possible. Which is to say, I'd try coming around from the other side of the world.

But this is not like that wonderful incident earlier this year in Kansas where a high school class decided to be photographed with a tiger, who promptly killed a girl. (Hell of a photo, though, I'm sure). Nobody is eviscerated by Yogi.

Next up is a yield and a roadblock! The Weavers know this means almost certain doom for them. The teams have a choice of an apparent shortcut or a longer way by interstate. Of course, those of us who live in the southwest are aware that shortcuts don't always turn out that way and interstates are the way to go when you can. As a result the Weavers are the last to arrive at the roadblock and predictably they have been yielded by the Linz family.

But a funny thing happens. They take it in good humor, and sit down to enjoy a fast food lunch. And much of the bad karma that they had been giving off the whole episode seemed to disappear. Suddenly they weren't the evil team anymore, they were the family that had survived much and deserved another chance.

The roadblock is to ski down a waterjump into a pool. It looks challenging from above but when you see the people doing it, it looks like nothing. I can ski and waterski. And in the end we see only the thrill of victory, no agony of defeat from the jump.

So there is zero drama tonight except whether it will be an elimination leg. But when everybody starts hoping it will to eliminate the Weavers, I'm guessing strongly it won't. Sure enough Phil just takes the possessions from the Weavers and leaves them in the game.

Comments: A little too obvious with the emphasis on the apparent boorishness of the Weavers (exclaiming that Mormons live in Utah, for example) versus the Linz family, who marvel at the scenery. At one point we are served up the contrast of the Linzes seeing a spectacular waterfall, with the Weavers talking about a boring hillside, followed by one of the other families spotting a terrific rock formation. Okay, we're not supposed to like the Weavers, check.

Still I like their chances. These reality shows are reverse-engineered. That is to say, once they've found out who wins, they highlight the things that show why that team deserved to win. And the Weavers have done a lot to show that they earned it. And I can't see anybody else that they're setting up as deserving. Who's overcome the obstacles they have?
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