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Sunday, September 27, 2009
 
We're Racing Again!

Some of you may recall my posts on several series of the Amazing Race. After a little burnout on the show, I'm back to cover this season of TAR.

Initial impressions:

1. Interracial couple
2. Poker Players (yay!)
3. Asperger's syndrome guy
4. Songwriters/Christians
5. Harlem Globetrotters (!)
6. Gay brothers
7. Farmer & Son
8. Yoga N The Hood
9. Fiery Colombian Gal
10. SF Internet Couple
11. Blonde Beachers.
12. Obnoxious Lawyer and Girlfriend (Wife?)

Show starts off with a license plate challenge; teams have to locate one of 11 license plates from the area of Tokyo where they are going. The big clue is a symbol at the top of the clue, but surprisingly nobody notices it at first, and so almost everybody picks wrong at first. As it happens, the Obnoxious Lawyer team and Yoga N the Hood are the last teams, but the Lawyer's Wife locates the final plate. Bye-bye, Yoga!

The remaining teams are flying to Tokyo on two separate flights. The Poker Players are pretending to be gals working with the homeless, because they know this will help them seem more sympathetic than if they admit they are poker pros. And suddenly I recognize Tiffany as Tiffany Michelle, the final woman left in the 2008 Main Event. She was pretty obnoxious in that tournament, so I can't root for her any more despite our poker connection.

The teams arrive in Tokyo virtually simultaneously, despite the fact that the first flight was supposed to leave a half hour early. They have to locate a TV station in the base of the Tokyo Tower. It turns out that they are all part of a game show called "Wasabi Roulette". The host spins a giant roulette wheel and the contestants have to eat whatever sushi turns up in front of them. But if it's a Wasabi roll, they have to finish it in two minutes and if they do, they can leave. The first couple of contestants manage it easily, and embarrassingly, the Oriental gal who's part of the Poker Player team is unable to finish in time. Hilariously, and predictably she gets the Wasabi roll again the next turn, and we get the first of this season's "I can't do this," moments. But when we come back, she chows it down.

The teams then have to lead 20 of the people at the game show (all wearing one color hat) through the busiest intersection in Tokyo, and then to a shrine, where the pitstop for this leg is located. Everybody seems to have trouble locating the shrine, but the Blonde Beachers win, and the Poker Players manage to lose two of their audience members. After doubling back and quarreling about how Tiffany was supposed to keep them together, they finally decide to head to the mat. There, Phil advises them that they will have a two-hour penalty. Say what? Yep, this is a non-elimination leg. Apparently they have gotten rid of the old requirement that people give up all their possessions and all their money for the next leg, however, so we don't get to see Tiffany and Maria begging on the streets of Tokyo.

Next destination: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. They all get on the same plane, so the Poker Players have already made up their two-hour penalty, although they have a special task they will have to perform. Once in Vietnam, the teams have to travel by bus to a small fishing village on the Mekong. The first bus leaves an hour and 15 minutes before the second one, but guess what? Neither of them arrives early enough for the task (involving a ride up the Mekong), so they're all stuck until the next morning. Incidentally, the guy with Asperger's does a very kind thing on the bus ride and gives his jacket to one of the peasants on the bus.

One amusing little subplot; the Poker Players and the Gay Brothers are cooperating, getting taxis together and the like. Tiffany and Maria think the GBs are hot, but of course the GBs are not really interested, although they play that way. So both teams are conning each other. The Poker Players have been revealed, by the way, by somebody who approached them in line at the airport in Tokyo.

The next task is to ride up the Mekong and spread mud around a fruit tree. Tiffany and Maria have their separate task of preparing a meal for the harbor master. Fortunately Maria knows the meal well, and he is pleased and gives them their clue, so while they are in last, they are not hopelessly behind.

The mud task provides its quota of slips and falls but everybody seems to leave in roughly the order they arrived. Next task: go back to the harbor and do some duck herding. Apparently the peasants use the ducks to clear their rice paddies of insects that would destroy the crop.

Not surprisingly the mixed-gender teams all decide to use their female members to handle this part, which means we get much shouting and berating on the part of the male team members. The guy with Asperger's Syndrome (a mild form of autism) is the duck whisperer; he seems to glide through this challenge. The Farmer's son kicks a little duck butt, and Tiffany Michelle had ducks while she was growing up, so she does well also.

The final task is to run to a boat on the river. This proves to be a real challenge to locate at first and to everybody's surprise, the farmer and his son (with pink hair?) win the leg and are awarded kayaks. At the end it's a race between the interracial couple and another couple (I think the one with the fiery Colombian Gal) and the interracials win out.

I'm rooting for: Asperger's Syndrome Guy and his buddy.
I'm rooting against: Obnoxious lawyer.
Watch out for:

Eric the Viking Pundit also has up his account of this episode of TAR.

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