Monthly Archives: June 2011

TAR Australia: ‘It’s just like Where’s Wally’

Well, once again I went into the latest episode of TAR: Australia feeling pretty confident it would be a non-elimination leg. Once again, I was wrong. To be honest, this wasn’t the best episode of the season, though it had its good parts.

Firstly, teams had to make their way to the awesome-looking Dancing House in Prague and search for a marked vehicle, which was an antique Czech Sedan. I really do appreciate that teams are doing most of the driving in this season. You may remember how a number of teams – including Gary & Mallory and The Cheerleaders – got screwed over because of bad taxi drivers. Also, it’s fun to predict which team will have problems with the car.

This time, that team was Matt & Tom. Not only they failed to open the trunk, but they also had a hard time trying to get the car to start. If that wasn’t enough, over the course of the episode they got in trouble with the police not once, but twice. Still, they – and their comments – were more than funny, and that made the episode entertaining. I really hope they at least make it to the Final Three.

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Aussies on ice

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After finding their cars, teams had to drive to a Ice Hockey Rink and score a goal. My initial thought was ‘Why only one?’, as I was sure all teams will speed through this challenge. What do you know, it probably was the hardest challenge of the episode. All teams struggled, both with trying to score and keep their balance. The ‘Most & Best Falls’ award has to go to Anastasia, with Dave coming in a close second. Although Dave seriously hurt himself – to the point where he and Kelly considered taking the four hour penalty for not completing the task -, Anastasia kept finding newer, better, faster ways of falling. Surprisingly enough, she had a smile on her face the entire time. I still don’t like her team, but I have to admit that over the last two legs, they’ve been unusually happy and cooperative.

The Surfers finished the task first, followed closely by the ‘Lovebirds’. The next clue instructed them to drive to St. Nicholas Cathedral, climb to the top of the tower and photograph a ‘person of interest’, who would be waving a flag. The catch was that there were two men waving flags and teams had to figure out that the one with the yellow and red flag was the one they were supposed to photograph.

Now this may be just me, but I thought that was quite obvious; of course the flag would either have the Race’s colors or a clue written on it, or something. But Jeff & Luke arrived first and photographed the wrong person. Tyler & Nathan made the same mistake. Then Chris & Anastasia. Then the Cowboys. I mean, seriously?

For taking a picture of the wrong man, teams had to go back to the base of the tower, climb again and count all the stairs to receive their next clue. After getting their clue, the Cowboys met with Sam & Renae, who arrived just then. In what was an unexpected gesture of kindness, they warned the girls not to ‘take a picture of the guy with the big flag’. But Sam & Renae actually found the person with the right flag and when they got the next clue, they assumed the Cowboys had lied. They then went on an adorable mini rant about how it’s every team for themselves. But that was clearly an innocent misunderstanding; both the Models and Cowboys have proved their integrity already.

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Easy as 1-2-3 or Mission Impossible?

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Okay, now to the bad part of the episode: I was really disappointed with the Detour this week. One side was unbelievably easy, while the other one was incredibly hard and kind of gross. Stack Up required teams to basically put beer cartons on top of each other. For Stack In, however teams had to eat 18 traditional Czech sausages made from various parts of a pig’s body. By the way, do you remember this moment? Those were the days…

I was surprised by how many teams actually went for the sausages. If you have seen other seasons of this show, you know that usually when a food challenge involves meat you are almost guaranteed a negative outcome. Jeff & Luke arrived first at the Detour and wisely chose Stack Up. Chris & Anastasia were second, but they opted for Stack In. Chris took one bite, decided Anastasia will not be able to do it and so they switched. Tyler & Nathan did better – they each took a bite before deciding to switch. The Cowboys were the best, however – they each took a bite and swallowed it (Tyler spitted his back on the plate). Sadly though, this put the Cowboys in last place.

The Roadblock this week was, plain and simple, lame. The team member performing it had to climb to the ceiling of a church and then abseil down. A choir was singing in the background. If this hadn’t also been the very first challenge of this Race, maybe I would have been more impressed.

Since Luke and Jeff got lost on the way to the Roadblock, Chris & Anastasia took the lead. In a bizarre, scary twist of fate, they arrived at the bizarre, scary Pit Stop first. But surprise, surprise! This is a Double Leg and you’re still running! I know I’m evil, but I hope they don’t get any prizes and get eliminated instead. Apparently next week we’ll get a lot of tears, frustration and a possible setback for Tyler & Nathan. Here’s hoping that will make up for the two horrible challenges of this episode.

ABBA’s Waterloo: A loss or a win?

After the release of the Ring, Ring album, ABBA started to prepare for the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest. They had two songs in mind as possible entrants: Hasta Manana and Waterloo. Because the former saw Agnetha sing lead vocals, the four feared this would give the world the wrong impression of the group. Consequently, they decided to go with Waterloo, which had both girls share vocals.

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This proved to be a wise decision. Not only did they win – first the Melodifestivalen, then the actual contest -, but the single did remarkably well in the charts and introduced the world to the phenomenon that was to become ABBA. Waterloo topped the charts in several countries such as the UK, Norway, Ireland and South Africa, while also reaching #6 in the US. To this day, it remains the only Eurovision song to reach the US Top 40.

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I love ABBA. I really do, but this album may be my least favorite. The main reason is because it doesn’t feel like an album, it feels like a collection of songs thrown together and they don’t work as a whole. Also, this is the only album on which there are songs I actually, sort of… dislike. Of course, there are enough good and great tracks as well, but they’re not enough to save the album, I’m afraid. For example, Waterloo – it’s a great song, very catchy. But it’s also the opening track and it sets quite a high bar; upon hearing it you expect a great album. Yet that great album never comes. In fact, the second song – Sitting in the Palmtree – has Bjorn singing about a guy who sits in a (surprise!) palm tree, ‘among my coconuts’.

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The problem is that Sitting in the Palmtree is not the only not-that-great song on this album; What about Livingstone is another that I feel was recorded just so that the album would have enough tracks. And while I have grown to like Watch Out, that took quite a while – maybe because it’s very different than most of the other ABBA songs.

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Nevertheless, the other songs are enjoyable – don’t let my mini-rant fool you! Dance (While The Music Still Goes On) is wonderful; probably my favorite song in which Bjorn sings lead vocals. With a melody and lyrics that are just a little bit sad and reminiscing, this is definitely one of the albums’ strongest tracks. Also worth noting is Hasta Manana. While the group opted not to enter the Eurovision with it, it remains an innocent, bittersweet ballad in which the attention to details once again impresses.

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A more joyful song – and with lyrics like I feel like I wanna sing,/ When you do your thing, maybe not that innocent – is Honey, Honey. Agnetha & Anni-Frid once again share lead vocals, and the outcome is another great song, one that will most likely put a smile on your face because it’s just so much fun.

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So while the album has a few duds, there are hidden gems as well. Besides, it’s an ABBA album nonetheless; at least one listening is required.

TAR Australia: ‘The last team will spend the night in the dungeon’

How much fun was the latest episode of TAR Australia? We had great tasks, a lot of hilarious moments and most importantly, Sam & Renae escaped elimination. I have to say, going into the episode I was pretty sure it would be a non-elimination leg. But when Alana & Mel checked in last and were sent packing, that took me by surprise. Sadly, I can’t write the usual recap this week, so you’ll have to do with some random thoughts.

  • Firstly, teams had to fly to Amsterdam, The Netherlands. However, when they got there, each team member had to eat two doughnut-like pastries. After that, they took a train ride to Prague, Czech Republic. I’m sorry, did I miss anything? What exactly was the point of going to Amsterdam?
  • Over the course of the eighteen seasons of the American TAR, there have been plenty of teams that walked right past the clue box; Fran & Barry (S9) and Kami & Karli (S5) are two that come to mind. Even so, did you see Tyler & Nathan’s cab stop right near the clue box? Did you then see them get out, wonder around and then go into the nearby tower? I mean come on, how could you have missed that?
  • The Detour this week was awesome. The choice was between Chivalry and Delivery, with Chivalry being the easier side. All teams had to do was dress up as knights, ask people in a square for a key and then bring it to a damsel in distress sitting in a balcony nearby. She would, in exchange for the key, lower them the clue. As I had anticipated, nobody had major problems with it. However, I was somewhat surprised by how many teams chose to do Delivery, which involved carrying a small princess in a royal sedan chair. Alana & Mel’s motivation was particularly strange: they only chose it because the two other teams in front of them (both stronger) went for it as well. What was that?
  • The Roadblock was pretty cool as well; one team member had to hit a target in the archery range twice. Also, were they to hit the bullseye, they would get a $50 card to use on the Race. Chris & Anastasia got it (and surprisingly, didn’t fight at all during this leg), as well as Dave & Kelly and Jeff & Luke.
  • In the end, Tyler & Nathan once again came in first and Alana & Mel were eliminated. I wasn’t their biggest fan, but still I was saddened to see them go. Hearing Mel talk about that being the right time for them to go, because Alana had finally learned to take control was kind of awkward, but sweet.

So what did you think about the episode?

Ring, Ring – ABBA calling!

In 1972, ABBA – or Bjorn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid, as they were known then – released their first single, People Need Love. At that time, all four members were involved in several other projects, yet because of the potential of the girls’ voices combined with the boys’ songwriting abilities, they decided to record an LP.

In 1973, they entered the Melodifestivalen (an annual Swedish competition which determines the country’s representative for the Eurovision Song Contest) with the song Ring, Ring. Despite coming in third and missing out on that year’s ESC, the song became quite a hit in Scandinavian countries, so the four decided to work as a permanent group from there on and proceeded to record their first album – Ring, Ring. Said albumwent on to enjoy a fair amount of success in South Africa and parts of Europe – especially Belgium, where it topped the albums chart.

This album contains a lot of lesser-known songs of the group, most of which don’t have that ‘timeless quality’ of many other ABBA songs. An interesting thing about Ring, Ring is that it features Bjorn and Benny as lead singers on quite a few of its songs; She’s My Kind of Girl may be the one song where the lack of softness usually provided by the girls’ voices is most apparent. Still, hearing the boys sing more than the usual backing vocals could hardly be deemed a bad thing. The album is more unique because of it and their voices do fit these songs. Probably the only common denominator this and the other ABBA albums have is the clever use of backing vocals and arrangements. I have always appreciated the care and attention this band allotted for those.

An interesting song from this album is Disillusion, which stands out asbeing the only ABBA song Agnetha co-authored. A haunting melody and lyrics such as ‘Wishing, hoping, chasing shadows…/Did I see your face somewhere in the crowd?‘ make it the best of the (few) ballads on this album. From the more gleeful songs, worth mentioning are People Need Love and Love Isn’t Easy (But It Sure Is Hard Enough) – both are testimony of the group’s energy and love they had for each other.

Still, the two gems of the album are He is Your Brother and the lead single, Ring, Ring. The first one sees all four members share lead vocals. It has a lovely melody and conveys a great message, summarized best by the lyrics: Treat him well, he is your brother,/ Love him that’s the only way. While Ring, Ring‘s lyrics aren’t unheard of (they are about a woman waiting for her lover to call her and wondering if he still loves her), they give the song the universal appeal that ABBA was after. That, coupled with the great beat and harmonies make it quite an addictive song. I like to look at both songs as a foreshadow of what was to come from ABBA – in terms of musical composition, lyrics, vocals.

To sum it all up, Ring, Ring is a good first album: joyful, enjoyable and sprinkled with awesome tracks.

I am curios, what is your favorite song from this album? Also, a review for Waterloo should be up in another few days, so keep an eye out for it.

TAR Australia: ‘The woman-ness to realize where you went wrong’

Wow, wasn’t last night episode of TAR Australia intense? Sam & Renae are by far my favorite team and given they were at the back of the pack pretty much from start to finish, I was on the edge of my seat most of the time.

Have I already said how much I love this version of the show? (Most of) The episodes are longer, there are more challenges and we get a better insight into the teams. The teams themselves are quite interesting and I love that the host seems to care about them, especially the eliminated one (‘It was a devastating goodbye’, ‘It’s been a pleasure having you on the show’). The editing is slowly improving as well – I was pleasantly surprised by the use of ‘may be eliminated’, instead of ‘will be eliminated’, which ruled out the possibility of a non-elimination leg in previous episodes.

Now, to this leg.

Teams had to fly from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town and take a taxi to Dolphin Beach, where the next clue awaited. On the way to the airport, Chris & Anastasia had another fight – had it not been for the earlier clips announcing Chris would lose his temper, this would have been great foreshadowing.

 

‘I thought you were in a race’

 

Sky diving in Cape Town

For this week’s Roadblock, one team member had to complete a tandem skydive. The other team member had to light a flame and direct them to the landing zone – which was sort of pointless in my book. Also, why they had a challenge so similar to the one last week is completely beyond my power of comprehension. The most exciting part of it was that, for the first time ever, we were going to see Alana perform the Roadblock. It is unbelievable it took her five legs to do one. She couldn’t have had a better Roadblock, though – she has a fear of heights. ‘No need to rush’, she told the instructor that was preparing her. I do think she was lucky Mel didn’t hear her.

There were a few other people who were afraid of heights: Renae (who along with Sam arrived at the location in seventh place, in an unfortunate twist of fate) and one of The Moose (who completely freaked out on the plane), but eventually everyone finished the task – even Alana.

 

Four heads are better than two!

 

My boys, the Cowboys, were the first ones to complete the Roadblock. However, upon arriving at the next location, they were forced to wait for another team. Because there’s an Intersection! The last time we’ve seen one of those was in the 16th season of the original Race, so I was quite happy about seeing it again.

For the Intersection task, the Intersected teams had to load two trunks with gifts and deliver them to an orphanage, after which they would receive the next clue. This type of challenge is always enjoyable – how can

Need I write a caption?

you not like two dozens of children with huge smiles across their faces who want to kiss and hug everybody? Oh, these allergies of mine – I think I’ve got something in my eye.

The Cowboys teamed up with the Perfect Couple, with Tyler & Nathan and Jeff & Luke right behind them. Dave & Kelly teamed up with Alana & Mel, which ended up being pretty hilarious to watch because they’ve managed to lose one another on the way to the warehouse.

The only sad thing was Sam & Renae were in seventh place. That meant they would have to wait for The Moose to show up. As much as I like them, are not the fastest or strongest team in the Race. But the girls were really gracious in how they dealt with the situation – they never yelled, they never complained. ‘They’re not the sharpest tools in the shed, which is fine – they’ve got other fantastic qualities’ is what Sam said at one point. Apart from that, Renae got a police car to show them where the warehouse was. Renae asked the police car to escort them there – how cool is that?

 

Guns vs. Whine

 

The Detour this week was a choice between Guns (shoot 9 moving clay tiles) and Rosé (carry an empty barrel and then fill it up with Rosé). Three of the four leading teams went for Guns: The Cowboys, the Surfers and Luke & Jeff and all of them finished at the same time. While the Cowboys had somewhat of a head start, they missed quite a few tiles, thus allowing the other two teams to catch up. This was how things were supposed to happen, since the Cowboys were the only ones who had been around guns their entire lives.

Chris explaining himself

Chris & Anastasia went for the barrel-filling task. There, because Anastasia dared not to listen to Chris and fill one bucket of wine, he went on a ten minute rant about how she’s an idiot and she never listens to him. Admittedly, Anastasia was unable to turn off the tap. Still, I just can’t stand the guy, he’s got that medieval ‘I’m a man, you’re a woman, make me a sandwich’ attitude. As a result, Anastasia shed a few tears and refused to help Chris anymore.

The Sisters, The Models and Dave & Kelly also went for Rosé, but none of them had as many troubles as the lovebirds. The Models struggled a bit with the transporting of the barrel, but they eventually worked it out. ‘The Moose decided to try and shoot a gun and finished remarkably quickly, which meant going into the final challenge of the night, Sam & Renae were in last place.

 

Sands of time

 

Final challenge which was awesome. Teams had to drive themselves to Cape Town Dunes and each ride an ATV around a marked course. On the course, there would be fifteen baskets and teams would have to search them for their next clue. But only three baskets had clues underneath them – the others had different sized hourglasses. If a team uncovered an hourglass, they would have to turn it over and wait for the sand to run out. Tyler and Nathan, Matt & Tom and Jeff & Luke were again the first three teams to get there, yet they opted to search the first three baskets. I wonder what made them think that with 15 baskets to choose from, the producers would hide clues under one of the first three ones. Come on.

I hoped Chris & his bimbo would get the huge hourglass. While that did happen, that also honor went to Jeff & Luke and later, The Moose. Chris & Anastasia had other problems to overcome as well. Firstly, Chris lost the car keys and so they lost so time looking for them. If you ask me, it’s a miracle that they found them at all. After that, Anastasia took a short flight over a dune. It was actually quite frightening – she screamed for a few seconds, hit her head and fell off the ATV. By the time a doctor had given her a green light, only three teams remained: The Models, The Moose and them.

Sam & Renae did what I would have done, which was drive right past the first few baskets. They only got one small hourglass before their next clue. Chris & Anastasia and The Moose soon found theirs. Another problem for The Lovebirds arose in the form of their car keys, which they couldn’t use. Sam & Renae once again showed character by helping them: how many teams, knowing they are in the bottom three, stopped to help another team? The possibility people won’t return the favor next week already makes me angry.

This was the final leg for the Moose.

Ultimately, The Models checked in Sixth, with Chris and Anastasia right behind them – by the way, their placements so far are: 7, 3, 7, 3, 7. That meant The Moose were eliminated from the Race. I am a bit sad, though I’m glad it was them and not Sam & Renae who got the boot.

Till next time.

One year of ABBA

Exactly one year ago, my younger self listened for the first time to an ABBA song. Given that since then this band has grown to be my all-time favorite, I thought a short blog post was necessary to celebrate the event.

Why short? Because in this one, I will only tell you about general stuff (e.g. how I discovered the band, why I like it so much). The next nine or ten posts, in which I will review each and every album they had ever released, will come up sometime during the next few weeks. This should be fun and at the same time easier than putting together a list of my favorite twenty songs, which was what I initially wanted to do.

Left to right: Agnetha, Benny, Frida, Bjorn

Just in case you’ve been living under a rock until two minutes ago… ABBA was one of the most successful music groups of the ’70s, consisting of Agnetha Faltskog, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad. They explored diverse musical genres and styles during the ten years they worked together; from pop to disco, they have spawned numerous hits that climbed the charts all over the world. It is also worth noting that they are the first band coming from a non-English-speaking country to enjoy constant success in English-speaking countries. For example, in Australia their popularity equaled that of The Beatles at one point.

In other words, they are awesome; they are the ones who gave pop music a good name. At a first listening, their songs seem simple, catchy and easy to remember. But the more you listen to them, the more you become aware of their complexity. Agnetha and Frida’s voices blend perfectly and they make great use of backing vocals as well. This, along with the use of clever arrangements are evident from their first compositions (such as in I Saw It In The Mirror). Through the lyrics, Bjorn and Benny always tell so much using relatively simple words. While they get better and better over time, their talent also shines through in their early songs (Disillusion, Waterloo).

I am somewhat ashamed to say I did not know of the band’s existence until a year ago. And I have to thank Lady Gaga for this, actually. The music video for Alejandro was released around then. I was talking with someone about it and at one point she mentioned it had a similar sound to ABBA’s (statement with which I disagree completely now). Now, I don’t remember why I decided to look them up at that time, considering I am not -and never was- a Lady Gaga fan. It doesn’t even matter, to be honest; all that matters is that later that day, I went on Youtube and typed ‘Abba’. The first video that came up was the music video for The Winner Takes It All. That one song was all it took to hook me (and it hadn’t been enough, I then listened to SOS). A few days later, I borrowed the ABBA Gold: Greatest Hits compilation album from my brother. From then since somewhere around January or February, I kept on discovering and falling in love with other songs until I had nothing else to listen to. Then, I just started all over again. The only reason it took me so long to make my way through their discography was because most of their songs are so good once I had listened to them, I couldn’t stop and had to play them over and over again. It was not uncommon to listen to the same few songs for weeks before moving on to others.

There really isn’t much not to like about ABBA. They were (and still are) role models; they never did drugs, they were never photographed drunk in clubs at five in the morning and they never performed in their underwear. They were sweet, kind people who tried to do what they knew best: create masterpiece after masterpiece.

Perhaps the one thing one could complain about is their reluctance to sing live. Nobody that has watched ABBA: The Movie or a DVD of one of their concerts can say Agnetha and Frida can’t sing. They always gave

A concert in 1979

riveting, powerful performances. However, because of Agnetha’s fear of flying, they only had a handful of concerts. On top of that, most of their TV performances were playbacks – although you can find enough in which they actually sing live. But the thing is, there still are not as many live versions of their songs as one would like.

That would be pretty much it… for now. My review of their first album – Ring, Ring – should be up next week.

TAR Australia: ‘A town that was 15-20 letters long’

It’s been a while since I’ve watched two episodes of The Amazing Race in the same day. Admittedly, after the elimination of Anne-Marie & Tracy, I wasn’t that excited about the second one. However, I’m pleased to say it was rather enjoyable.

Nine teams had to fly to the city of Port Elizabeth in South Africa and search the parking for a marked car with a clue. Very little happened before the teams got there. No one said anything funny either, not even The Cowboys. One Moose threw up on the ferry and then the team apparently discussed whether or not they would continue racing. Really? Would you actually consider doing that, just because you have sea sick?

The next clue instructed teams to drive to Camdeboo National Park and search the Valley of Desolation for their next clue. When Alana failed in her attempt to drive the manual car, Mel looked like she was ready to rip her head off. And it’s hard to blame her, really; Alana has not, as far as I can remember, done anything so far in this Race. Despite this setback, the sisters, as well as everyone else arrived at their destination only to find out the Detour was in the city they’ve just left – Port Elizabeth. Mel was frustrated, yelling ‘Amazing Race, what are you doing to us?’. Nothing brings me more joy than watching her fume. OK, I can think of a couple of things.

 

Against the world

 

The Detour this week was a choice between Smash and Bash. The first one required teams to smash four pots by throwing traditional knobkieries – it seemed to me this was more of a luck challenge. Sure, it involved some skill, but at the same time you had just as many chances of hitting them if you didn’t pay any attention to how you threw the sticks. For Bash, teams had to build a giraffe feeder – this was the safer option of the two; going in, you knew you would finish sooner or later.

Both sides of the Detour would take place in a park. In that park there were animals. So I have to ask, why can’t we have a challenge involving a live giraffe, for example? Make the teams ride one or something. Or a lion.

Obviously, the Park is only open on the day after all teams get there. Richard & Joey arrived first and by now it became clear all other teams hate them. When teams approached a muddy (really muddy) portion of the road, the following part of a post-leg interview was shown:

 

Teams are not stopping for Joey & Richard

Richard: ‘We’re first, the pressure’s on, we just didn’t…’

Joey: ‘Think.’

 

Those funny lines described how Team ‘Focus-Believe-Achieve‘ got stuck in the mud, while everyone else laughed. Matt’s laugh was the scariest, by far. Instead of helping Richard & Joey, The Surfers (followed by everyone else) drove right by them. For a second (just one) I felt sorry for them: they were dirty, they were trying to dig up their car and seemed to be getting nowhere. But that second passed.

Meanwhile, Matt & Tom and Nathan & Tyler sped through the Smash side of the Detour. Either one of these teams could end up winning it all. Even though the Cowboys are, well, cowboys, if I had to, I’d put my money on The Surfers. Of course I like Matt & Tom more, but as of now, they’re not that great with directions. Jeff & Luke and The Moose weren’t this lucky with the challenge and had to switch. Everyone who went for the giraffe feeder finished pretty quickly, as I had anticipated.

 

Caution, U-Turn ahead!

 

That’s right, this episode saw the first use of an U-Turn ever on TAR: Australia. Personally, I would have preferred it to be a (1) Yield or (2) Double U-Turn. To this day, the only effectively U-Turned teams that survived the respective legs are Brook & Claire (S17) and The Globetrotters (S18). And the only reason they weren’t eliminated is because they weren’t the only team U-Turned that leg.

Matt & Tom were the first ones to get there and chose not to use it – clever. The Surfers were second and chose to use it on Richard & Joey – not clever. First of all, you are in second place: you don’t need to U-Turn anybody. Second, everyone hates Richard & Joey. You know everyone hates them. Why don’t you leave someone else to use up their U-Turn and save yours for later on? Makes sense?

Everyone was more than happy to see who was U-Turned. Dave & Kelly in particular took a moment to celebrate. Joey & Richard were quite bitter about it, though. What happened with that positive attitude, fellas?

 

The great not great Roadblock

 

The Roadblock should have been exciting, but as of now I’ve seen so many people bungee-jump on The Amazing Race that it just doesn’t do anything for me anymore. Nobody panicked, nobody had any problems with it, the packing order wasn’t changed… I do want, however, to thank Nathan for granting my wish of seeing someone bungee-jumping without screaming. I never quite understood why you have to scream like that: you know you’re not going to die. So close your eyes, shut up and enjoy the jump. Quietly.

After the Roadblock, teams headed out to the town of Nomathamsanqa, where they had to catch a goat and deliver it to the local witch doctor. None of the team had an easy time with the goats, which were very stubborn. Despite being pulled over by the police, Matt & Tom ultimately beat The Surfers for the first place in a tight race to the Pit Stop. I was more than happy about them. Chris & Anastasia checked in third – this, on the other hand, did upset me. Chris is such an idiot in the way he treats Anastasia and she’s and idiot for allowing it. Jeff & Luke, Sam & Renae, Dave & Kelly and the reunited sisters checked in fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh respectively. I was impressed with Alana & Mel. A seventh place finishing is not that bad when one team member does nothing (Honestly Alana? We’re four legs into the Race and you have yet to complete one Roadblock?).

Focus, believe and leave

In the end it came down to Richard & Joey and The Moose. Moose which are having the same kind of luck Andrew & Dan had, on season 13. Once again, that kept them safe as they merely beat the bold couple. Still, I have to give credit where credit it due: they managed to make up a lot of time and at one point I thought they might beat the friends. That said, I’m not sad at all to see them go. They screamed, yelled and shouted way too much for my taste.

 

I know I will not miss them, but will you? What did you think about this episode overall?

TAR Australia: ‘We’ve got pain, but we’ve not lost any weight’

More technical problems yet again prevented me from watching The Amazing Race: Australia until earlier today. Here’s hoping this was the last time, though!

Apart from that, The Amazing Race is slowly perfecting the art of making me feel both happy and sad while watching an episode. This third one had lots of funny bits, but at the same time it was pretty much painful at times.

 

 

Fortune Cookies

 

The ten remaining teams were instructed to fly to Hong Kong and catch a ferry to the Jumbo Floating Restaurant. Insight was provided into most of the teams while they made their way to the airport. We were treated with a montage in which everyone talked about how they are more than they appear to be. Apart from the fact we didn’t really learn anything new, it was all good.

Much more entertaining was when Mo & Mos, while waiting for a taxi, were approached by a bunch of ladies who then proceeded to ‘fondle our chests’. That was the weirdest, most awkward thing on this Race so far!

Joey & Richard finished first!

Once teams arrived at the restaurant, they had to bite through over one thousand fortune cookies, one of which would lead them to their next clue. Initially, I thought this would be a simple challenge and only one fortune cookie will have a message inside. But no; all cookies had messages, which considerably slowed down the process.

Particularly annoying to watch were Joey & Richard, who took the motivational quotes a little too serious. They [Joey] read them with such passion and force you’d think the words would come alive and start cheering for them! Did I mention they were both wearing T-Shirts reading ‘Crush it’?

 

Your inner Tomb Raider

 

Amazingly enough and despite being in the last group to arrive at the restaurant, Richard & Joey actually finished first. Besides the Detour clue, they also found a Fast Forward in their envelope. I would like to take a moment and complain about that. The host explained that it was the ‘first and only Fast Forward hidden on the entire Race’. Then why are you offering it on Leg 3, for crying out loud? Are you worried nobody would go for it on Leg 6, for example? It would have been more exciting, had the producers opted to save it for later.

The Fast Forward required both contestants to have their heads shaved. Team ‘Crush it’ chose to do it. I secretly hoped Joey would freak out and beg Richard to do the Detour instead, but she was actually excited to do it. And I thought she actually looked quite nice with her head shaved. In the end, she and Richard fast forwarded to first place and won 10,000 $ (OK, this is the second time you have had this prize so far. What about a car? Or a trip? No?).

The Moose also went for the Fast Forward, only to have their dreams crushed at the sight of the ‘Fast Forward Taken’ sign.

Roar!

The Detour this week was a choice between Lion Dance and Kung Fu Stance. I was sort of hoping for the Lion Dance to involve a live lion, but I wasn’t disappointed to see it required teams to dress up in a lion costume and perform a dance routine. Kung Fu Stance had teams perform a series of Kung Fu moves and then break some tiles.

Anne-Marie and Tracy were the only ones who chose to switch Detours. They initially opted for Kung Fu Stance, but decided it was too hard and went for the dance. The challenge they had to overcome there was not necessarily the dance itself, but trying to stop laughing. They were hilarious, adorable and finished relatively quickly; it only took them two tries!

 

Vegas, Baby – in Macau!

 

 

After the Detour, teams had to make their way to Macau, find the Venetian Casino and win ten rounds of Baccarat to get their next clue. Honestly, I’ve never heard of this game. Having watched ten teams play it, I still have no idea what it is or how to play. Apparently, neither did some of the teams themselves at the time: several of them kept on winning without even knowing what they were doing. Still, it was nice seeing the teams wear formal clothes – the models looked, obviously, amazing.

Speaking of Sam & Renae, they were actually the second team to finish the Baccarat challenge, yet they made quite a bad mistake on their way to the Roadblock. When their taxi driver took them on ‘windy roads’, they freaked out like nobody. They went all the way back to the hotel, took another cab and were shocked to find out they were heading the right way the first time. OK, the girls are actually one of my favorite teams, but what was that? Can you at least wait and see if you end up in the right place?

The Roadblock, however, was pretty cool (despite the fact it resembled the one we had in Unfinished Business…). Teams had to solve a puzzle and determine the right order of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac. I thought that was a great challenge, though it would have been better if working together had been prohibited. Mel & Tyler teamed up and their teams landed in second and third. Kelly actually figured it out herself and finished fourth. The Cowboys and Jeff & Luke came right behind. Then came Anastasia & Chris, leaving two teams I adore in the bottom three.

Sam & Renae ended up using their Express Pass and finished the leg in eight place. Then, the Moose decided to take up the four hour penalty for not completing the Roadblock, at which point I began to breathe more easily. I thought for sure the Workmates would keep trying and eventually get it right. But luck has not been on my side from the beginning of the episode. It was sad that they gave up, since it only meant one thing: they were eliminated.

Last leg for the Workmates!

I knew from the start this would happen sooner rather than later, but I couldn’t help but wish for just another episode with them. They enjoyed themselves and it’s not fair that teams who scream whenever they get stuck [Dave & Kelly] or fight with each just for the sake of it [guess who…] are still in it. And I know this is wishful thinking, but maybe, if they will ever do an All-Star season…

 

Was anybody else sad Anne-Marie and Tracy got eliminated?

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