Amazing Race 15 : predictions

Okay, now the cast is out. 12 teams, one of which doesn’t make it past LA (except to go into the Elimination Station — which is usually, when you think about it, a strange sort of free vacation in a resort area). After reading the bios, seeing the interviews, and flipping coins, here’s who I see in the finals :

Ericka & Brian Kleinschmidt (She’s 2004 Miss America, the requisite beauty queen)
Sam & Dan McMillen (the requisite exemplar gays, this time they’re brothers)
Herbert Lang & Nate Lofton (Harlem Globetrotters, trotting the globe for TAR)

Meghan Ricky & Cheyne Whitney have a shot at the third finalist slot.

I think they’ll finish in that order. I am, of course, kinda partial to Ericka…:)

I wish they’d have a season where no one from California was chosen. It would take three or four such seasons to make up for their overcasting CA. Next best would be to take every ‘requisite’ category (the ones that show up season after season) and bar all of them for a season. All by itself, that would make the casting more interesting.

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TAR 15 — from an Unexpected source

It seems that a relative of one of the women I know from Stony Brook U is in Tokyo Japan. The woman said that two pairs of Amazing Racers had run past the relative. Didn’t say where or what they were doing, so it’s not quite a true spoiler. And there were pix, but not shared. Also, she’s a Big Brother fan who despises TAR. (:P)

That got me thinking: with the wireless technology and the prevalence of Twitter worldwide, can anyone hide anything anymore? In the case of Amazing Race, the TAR Detectives get such incredible detail on everything, long before anything airs. I don’t read spoilers until it airs, but I’m sure Chateau has the airport covered and the camera angles figured, Apskip’s got the flight numbers and arrival times, and Neobie’s got the leg mapped out. It’s incredible. But fortunately, they’re fans. They love the show and they’re sane (as far as any fanship is ‘sane’…) Think what would happen in the hands of people who are, er, less supportive and less sane, like, say, someone who’s stalking a star, or trying to undermine a rival, not to mention terrorists or spys or Big Brother fans. Go to a mountain in Tibet, some monk’s Twittering from the next mountain over. Or a tundra location in Yakutia in Siberia — the bears have their own YouTube accounts. The amount of evidence can be astounding, and that makes chasing it down for a live event so much fun.

But it’s also just a bit scary. Technology has redefined privacy in a way that makes it impossible to hold as a near-absolute right above all else. It has become what it really was all along – a right to be held in the context of all other rights, and defended as such. And it is dealt with in the breach more than in fact, in typical human fashion. How to handle it from there, I don’t know.

Amazing Race 14: the finish line

Tomorrow is the last segment for the Amazing Race season 14 (TAR 14).

They’re finishing up in Hawaii, on a golf course on Maui no less. (I hope no golfers try to play through…)

There’s always a task in the finals where the racers have to remember what happened in the previous legs of the race. From the preview, it looks like that will be tied to making a surfboard wall.

Who will win? I can’t see how it can be anyone else but Tammy and Victor. They’re just too good at it. Besides, I’m figuring Jamie (of Cara and…) will have to keep dealing with the fact that taxi drivers are not human slaves, even on the rare occasion they speak her language (rare even here in the US!) And after this, Margie will get a well-earned rest.

The TARflies (fans) will be meeting again in New York to see the finale, in what’s called “TARcon”. I’d love to be there with them (it’s only a 1 hr. trainride away), but I can’t because of family commitments. Hopefully, it won’t be as noisy as when I went last — the night the Giants beat the Packers to get into the Super Bowl. They might be able to hear each other speak this time. I’m also hoping Phil Keoghan feels well enough to attend; he’s been on a difficult bike ride across the USA to raise money for MS, with of course the usual promotionals along the way for GNC stores and TAR. (At least he didn’t have to carry a Travelocity Gnome around, like the racers…)

I will be watching, though. Go Tammy!

Obama, and other notes

I’m still debating in my mind whether to keep celebrating Barack Obama’s victory, or cringing in fear of what could be happening before his January 20 inauguration. That’s two months in which W. is still the President. He’s already disapproved sensible Democratic economic proposals, continues to speak against any particular regulation of businesses, still thinks nothing of ordering strikes into other countries, and has done nothing to keep track of how the bailout monies are used nor to make the banks use it to give out loans. Also, I wonder who’ll be on his list of pardons; every administration puts up a bad pardon or two, but I smell a raft of them for folks involved in government cover-ups and business corruption.

It won’t be fun.

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As usual, I stunk at guessing the baseball playoffs. I’ve picked the winner twice in five years, 3 times in the last eight. This year was my usual miss. Next : football playoffs and NCAA basketball. I do a lot better with football, though I was as surprised as everyone else at the Giants’ rise last year. I got to watch their conference championship game against Favre and the Packers last year on a big-city bar’s big screen. (Even though I was more interested in the Amazing Race finals, which was what I was there to watch.) The Giants look even better this year. So far, so do the Titans — however, they get to face Favre and the team that used to be known as the Titans. The Jets should use the throwback uniforms in this game, to add more to the battle of the Titans. Except that would be titanic. Which would give us that sinking feeling.

Re the Race : Nick and Starr vs. Toni and Dallas. (And the winner is : Starr and Dallas??) The rest don’t count. This year’s crop had many poorly-picked teams, but really great tasks and locations. I know some TAR fans are sick of seeing India, but it is probably the single most different, strangest, and most varied country in the world. They could go there every year, and not exhaust the many facets India offers. I hope next time they go there, they try Chennai. Frankly, I’m sick of Moscow, their next stop. Let’s hope the tasks stay this good.

The Amazing Race (TAR) notes

Now that Season 12 has ended, it’s time to take note of a few things.

I was pleased to be at this season’s TARcon in New York. That’s where the big fans of the show get together to meet each other and watch the finale together. It was a strange-feeling schmoozefest at first, in that for the first hour most of those who I approached weren’t at all talkative. The Race started while the Giants game was on, but fortunately the screens all shifted to the Race when it came time to start.

Anchorage, Alaska! I briefly saw a picture of a snowy, icy place earlier in the season, so I thought something like that was up. But I didn’t think it would end there! Seeing TK in there with the crabs, trying to find the one with the TAR flag, I was ouching with him. Then to see all three teams at the final puzzle task together, that was tense. I was trying to figure out the puzzle myself as it unfolded on the screen, but no luck. They had to take items from each leg of the Race and put them in place according to a set of specific rules. There were, of course, more items than were needed, so it took a lot of thinking it through. They all struggled with it, apparently for about an hour, before Rachel put it all together, apparently by figuring out that the cleaning man, as a human being, counted as an ‘animal’. As she had throughout the Race, her pluck and preparation paid off — to the tune of a million bucks. (It turns out that the taxi ride to the final mat was bollixed by the cab drivers, but fortunately it didn’t change the order.)

The Racers arrived at TARcon — first Jennifer of Shana/Jennifer. Most people thought she was Shana at first, but soon figured out she was the ‘other blonde’ and that the guy with her was, I think, her husband. (Shana was in California, at a viewing party there.) But they stayed mostly in the background, because arriving at about the same time were Kynt/Vyxsin, the self-proclaimed Goths, and when they arrived all the attention went to them. No mistaking it — their striking physical appearance, with the makeup and the black-and-red outfits, makes them the center of any circus, which is what PR appearances are. Kynt was, to say the least, very promotional, with the pre-made photo prints for signing and the red business cards. I wonder what he’ll do when they start fading from view? Vyxsin was trying hard to be attention-grabbing too, with somewhat startling photo poses, but one got the sense that she’d rather get this phase over with. She’s taller than me by a good bit, but I didn’t realize how much until I stood next to her. I’m picturing her, say, twelve years from now, showing these pictures to her children, as their eyes shine with wonder.

Next, it was time for the winners, TK and Rachel. They were in New York City for the end-of-season winner’s event on CBS’ the Early Show, and also the next day for Regis’s show. They walked in just as the Giants won the football game, causing a big combined cheer. This hullabaloo is something new to them — he was a NCAA competitive swimmer, her a flower shop operator with her parents, neither of which prepares you for the burst of PR activity and the showering of love from adoring Race fans at TARcon. (Not to mention a half-mill each.) But they were handling it the same way they handled the Race, with calm collectedness and lots of praise for each other. (Maybe I’ll post the photo of them with me, if I can get the darnded thing to upload.) They’d known each other from childhood (their mothers knew each other well), and went to the same high school (the same school as two other Season 12 Racers, Nate and Staella). But they’d only been dating for four months when they decided to get into the Race. They communicate with each other very well, even in a month or so of Race and a mob of fans. They were uncomfortable, yet eager to operate outside their comfort zone. During the Race I was especially impressed with Rachel, who was one of the best Racers they’ve had, as I see it. She has a level of focus and determination that tells me we’ll hear from her again eventually, accomplishing something worth noticing that has nothing to do with flowers or winning money. In person, she was as I pictured her, except even thinner.

Last, of course, was the Amazing Host, Phil Keoghan. Totally at ease in a crowd, he went straight to the back and started telling stories, answering Race questions, and posing with a lot of people. He earned a reputation as an adventurer even before TAR, and appears on those cable channels that show adventurer-types. Those who think this stuff is not an adventure don’t know how tired these people get, nor have they ever enjoyed sleeping in an ATM enclosure with a bunch of other teams. It’s not easy for Phil, either, but “not easy” is his normal.

There’s something that I find odd. TK/Rachel won by way of quiet determination and mutual supportiveness. Yet they are both quick to say good things about the team whose constant hateful words, poor communication and poor teamwork was the very antithesis of theirs, Nate/Jennifer. Especially when some of those not-nice words were directed at them and their approach to the Race. On that front, TK/Rachel let their victory speak for itself, while telling us how great and fun Nate/Jennifer were to get along with. They even mentioned some happy moments the two teams experienced together in Italy and Croatia. It seems the Race isn’t all that TK/Rachel are winners at. I can only wish them the best on the road ahead.

Music notes

(1) On Dion DiMucci‘s newest album, in amongst the blues songs from Skip James, Willie Dixon, Robert Johnson and such, he has an original named “The Thunderer”. It’s about, of all people, St. Jerome! (The guy who translated the Bible in Latin, the translation known as the Vulgate.) Check it out!

(2) On The Amazing Race 12, there is a team of a grandson and grandfather, Nicholas and Donald. Apparently, they’re the son and father-in-law of Robbie Fulks, the sometimes-country recording artist. If they’re anything like him, then I’ll guess that the show’s editors must cut out an awful lot of FCC no-nos, because does Fulks ever spew them!

Just another note on Cold Case

…and what is typical of so many shows, especially those of Jerry Bruckheimer, but most typical of Cold Case.

Once again, as it has done repeatedly over the years, time and again, the show writers of this Sunday’s segment once again made absolutely sure to trash marriage. Once again, romantic affairs are portrayed as a healthy way out of a stymying marriage. This has been said by so many show biz sources that many people are actually beginning to believe it. And it may well be true in a few instances. But here in real life, whether in the 1930s (the show’s setting this week) or today, the vast majority of the time affairs don’t make people stronger, they make people more foolish. They don’t make people’s lives more real, they play into people’s fantasies. They don’t build up, they destroy. Far, far more often than the other way around. And we always think of ourselves as the exception, when we are really the rule.

An affair is not someone standing up to break their chains. Much more often, it is a surrender to our own worst enemy, which is usually ourselves. But do you think a Bruckheimer show will ever say that? And am I being a [male tool] by asking that they start being real about it?

I’m almost mad. Can’t get really mad, though. I met Allen Toussaint on Saturday, saw the Patriots win Sunday on TV, and then saw the return of Amazing Race !!