Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Rowboat Rows in cROWatia

Engagement Announcement

So I have carefully reviewed my meticulous recaps and I am quite certain that in Episode 1 of Season 12 of The Amazing Race, Phil explained that 8 of the 11 legs are elimination legs. This would imply – no – mathematically assure, that 3 of the 11 legs are NOT elimination legs. After tonight we are down to 5 teams, so we are running out of chances here. I know there are rumors on the internets that there will be no elimination legs this season, but as I said, Phil did actually say there would be. He also continues to say that the last team to arrive may be eliminated. Do you think we’ll ever know?

Well anyway, here we are, back at the Aukstaitija Windmill near Vilnius, Lithuania – the fifth Pit Stop in a race around the world. Phil wonders whether Nate can alter his behavior under stress and prove to Jen that he is the guy for her. Well, the guy to spend the rest of his life cheating on her, at least. Then The Hippies sit down at a laptop with their Travelocity gnome and pull up the Travelocity website to scope out their Travelocity vacation that they won for coming in first on the leg sponsored by Travelocity. And now that Travelocity has squeezed in their final Travelocity plug, The Hippies get their clue and are off to Dubrovnik, Croatia to travel to the base of the Fort of St. Lawrence to find the next clue.

"Travelocity worked for us!"

Jem and Rio leave second, right on The Hippies’ heels and suggest that they all do some research together. They climb into the phonetically spelled taxis and head off to the airport.

They anticipated the Americans.

The Hippies tell us that all of their mellow coolness is more than just a clever strategy, it’s who they are. It’s also good for their state of mind and their relationship. You guys should share your “secret” with The Babies. They need to calm way down. Jem and Rio are wearing pink Rodeo Barbie hats and tell us that part of their strategy is to be kind and encouraging to one another. Oh that, and they want to come in first. And they try to distract the other teams by wearing bizarre accessories.

"I'm fearsome in my pink hat."

Moronald and Christina are off and they tell us that their progress in the race is reflective of their progress in their relationship. Then they start arguing. Well, more accurately, Moronald starts shooting down all of Christina’s suggestions. They decide to stop at a hotel to use the phone and check for flights to Croatia. Moronald is very polite to the woman at the hotel desk and Christina implores him to be that nice to her, too, but apparently what Christina doesn’t understand is that she is a complete idiot and Moronald must discipline her or she’ll never learn.

The Siblings leave next and Hendekea tells us that Azaria is a bit of a control freak. No! You’re kidding! Like the time he punished you for going to the bathroom? You don’t say. Moronald and Christina have managed to reserve tickets by phone at the hotel and will be on a 6:25 AM flight to Dubrovnik that arrives at 11:20 AM. Good thinking, guys! And now The Babies are setting out from the Pit Stop. Jen tells us that she thinks the race has been amazing – imagine that, an Amazing Race – but she regrets that she and Nate have fought so much. Now the rest of the race will determine if they can make it as a couple. So forget the cheating and forget the last two years and forget the first five legs of the race, it’s the final six legs that hold the elusive answer to that eternal question: Is Nate the man for me?

Hendekea is in a taxi telling us that she has a Bosnian friend, and therefore she knows a Croatian phrase. That makes no sense, but whatever. What’s your phrase, Hendekea? “There’s a party in my pants.” Oh lovely. You’ll feel just as at-home in Croatia as you did in Africa, you weirdo. There’s a party in my pants. Just as long as you don’t have to use the bathroom.

Nicholas and Grandpa Donald leave last and say that being in last place has motivated them to kick it up a notch. Meanwhile Moronald and Christina arrive at the airport and Moronald has ironed his stupid letters on to yet another shirt – this time a red sweatshirt, asking “Who’s Your Daddy?” Ugh, is he aware of the sexual implications of that phrase? Do we really need two teams with incestuous tendencies? They get in line with the other teams waiting for the ticket offices to open up just in case anything goes wrong with their phone reservation. So once everyone arrives at the airport all the teams line up in front of Czech Airlines except for Rodeo Jem and Rio, who are planning to use a travel agent and call the rest of the teams “sheep.” Moronald and Christina decide to share their special phone number with The Siblings since that’s the only team they completely trust. Incest must have a private language.

As Rodeo Jem and Rio successfully book tickets through a travel agent, the other teams notice and start trailing into the agency office after them. Moronald bursts in and wants to start asking the travel agent some questions, but Rodeo Rio tells him to wait in line and let her finish helping them first. Well! All Moronald wanted was to find out what time the office next door opened, so clearly this was an epic overreaction from Rodeo Rio. Moronald wants to know what the big deal is and why can’t everyone just relax and who do you think your daddy is and on and on.

"See, you have to know how to talk to people."

Christina nudges Moronald out the door and apologizes to the room. Rodeo Jem says, “It’s okay, I have a dad, too.” Aw, Rodeo Jem is a kindhearted soul. I mean, look at who she’s dating. Moronald runs to The Hippies to commiserate, but Christina moves him right along, hushing him up. The Hippies have stuck to their original plan, man, and they are still first in line at Czech Airlines and since everyone else scattered, Nick and Grandpa Donald are right behind them. Solid.

The Siblings are over at an Information booth trying to use their secret incest code to call Polish Airlines and get on Moronald and Christina’s flight, but they are unable to successfully place the call. Hendekea decides it’s time to give up and go back to wait in the Czech Airlines line with the other teams. Azaria grabs her by the neck and walks her along growling through gritted teeth, “Don’t give me attitude, okay? Do you understand that?” Whoa! If anyone besides my parents ever talked to me like that there would be a large price to pay. Hendekea just submits. Sibling love. Domestic abuse. It’s just another leg of The Amazing Race.

Hendekea is grounded.

The poor Czech Airlines lady arrives at her job to be mobbed by a bunch of grubby Americans demanding flights to Croatia. The Hippies immediately get a flight through Prague that arrives in Croatia at the same time as Moronald and Christina’s Polish Airlines flight. The Babies, still ticketless, have wondered back over to Czech Airlines to watch what everyone else is doing instead of taking care of business. The Siblings are very last in line and Hendekea is sad that they left to try and call Polish Airlines. Azaria says, “Just remember who works his ass off, all right?” Whaaaat? He stands there telling her off, saying just because he made one bad decision (to leave the line), she can’t sit up on a throne and look down on him. Hendekea just sits there. Okay, so Azaria is mean and insane. Who wouldn’t want such a brother/boyfriend?

The Siblings leave the line again to go and spy on Rodeo Jem and Rio, who are still trying to get tickets figured out with the travel agency. Hendekea calls over their shoulders “How many tickets do you have on that?” And Rodeo Rio once again puts his foot down, telling The Siblings to wait until they have finished their transaction. Go cry to Moronald, Siblings. Rodeo Rio did the same thing to him. The Hippies finish with their tickets and Nick and Grandpa Donald are right behind them. Moronald and Christina head for Polish Airlines to collect their tickets, but the office doesn’t open until 5:30 AM, which isn’t for another 20 minutes. Rodeo Jem and Rio have decided with the help of their travel agent to go on Polish Airlines with Moronald and Christina. The Siblings are next and as they book their tickets, Azaria continually shushes Hendekea and tells her to relax. I would have punched him out by now. What a jerk.

Nick and Grandpa Donald get tickets for the Prague flight and The Babies step up to the counter next, only to learn that check-in for that flight is now closed and they are out of luck. They start flipping out and blaming the ticket agent, who is of course, part of a grand conspiracy to ensure the failure of Team Babies, and then they run through the airport cursing fate. They find some other office and get some other tickets. Are we still at the airport? Sheesh!

The Siblings approach some new counter to try and finagle seats close to the front of the airplane only to learn that – dun, Dun DUN! – they have purchased BUSINESS CLASS TICKETS! This is against all the rules in the Amazing Race and the CBS waivers, and this could be grounds for serious punishment. They tear back up the stairs to the travel agency and beg for economy class seats. Hendekea is near tears and telling the agent, “Please ma’am, you have no idea how important this is.” No, Hendekea, I dare say she doesn’t. I also dare say that after this morning, this poor woman is going to suffer extreme panic attacks any time an American comes near her travel agency. Well, too bad for The Siblings because there are no more seats. Azaria starts to pace around the office in pent up hysteria and we go to commercial.

"How does she not get how important this is?"

To the credit of the frazzled travel agent, she remains very calm and takes care of a few other tasks before sitting down to deal with the distraught Siblings and gets them on a flight through Frankfurt – economy class. Then she tells The Siblings that the flight through Prague will be delayed, so their competitors aren’t going to make it on time. The Siblings find a glimmer of hope in this. Sure enough, once in Prague The Hippies and Nick and Grandpa Donald discover that they have missed their connecting flight to Croatia and are now left to wander the airport in search of another flight. And so we learn once again that it does not always pay to be on the first flight out in The Amazing Race. The Hippies get on a flight that has to stop in Vienna – where I would leave the airport, quit The Amazing Race, and stay forever – and Nick and Grandpa get a flight through Zagreb. Either way, they both have connections and I’m thinking they’re going to be way behind.

Polish Airlines lands in Dubrovnik at 11:20 AM sharp and Jen once again comes leaping out of the airport in search of a taxi. This time Nate is with her, instead of screaming at her to chill out.

"Chill out, you crazy ho!"

Rodeo Jem and Rio are right behind them, followed by Moronald and Christina. Wow, the drive down to the harbor is absolutely beautiful, but The Babies mistake a random flag for a clue stand. Ha ha! And Rodeo Jem and Rio follow them! Moronald and Christina get to the clue stand first and learn that it is time for a Road Block! “Who has a builder’s eye?” Phil!

"Check out THIS builder's eye."

Phil explains that only one person can perform this task, which is to assist in renovating the Dubrovnik city walls, which have been damaged by repeated bombing during the Yugoslavian civil war in the 1990’s. That sounds like quite a task until we learn that they only have to put one stone in a wall, but the trick is finding the correct stone out of a huge pile. A Croatian stone mason will tell them when they’ve got it right and give them their next clue.

I’m so glad Moronald takes the roadblock because that way we don’t have to listen to him badger Christina through the whole thing. Moronald does it pretty quickly and the next clue tells them to go to the roof of the Fort of St. Lawrence, which is right in front of them. At the top, they will ride a tandem zip line over the ocean and across to another fort and get the next clue. They scurry off while The Babies and Rodeo Jem and Rio are still looking for the Road Block clue. As they strap into the zip line, Christina keeps asking if they are safe because they did sign those waivers and then she warns Moronald not to close his eyes because he will never see a view like this again. They scream their way across the zip line and get the next clue. Detour! Short and Long OR Long and Short. That’s a little confusing. Where’s Phil?

"There's nothing short about me."

So here’s how it is. Teams have to choose between two ways that foreign armies might have tried to invade Dubrovnik. In Short and Long, teams rappel down a tower, then follow a marked path to the city wall and climb up it on a rope ladder, then navigate through confusing streets to the next clue. In Long and Short, teams do another tandem zip line into the ocean, then swim to a fishing boat and row around the city walls to the plaza where the clue awaits. Got it!

Moronald and Christina decide to do the rowing option. Just now the second two teams are finding the Road Block clue. Nate and Rodeo Rio take the builder’s eye task, so immediately Jen starts nagging at high volume, while Jem stands supportively by, saying this is just like Tetris. Huh? Nate finishes first, and by now Moronald and Christina have zip lined to the ocean, selected a fishing boat and begun arguing about the proper way to row. The Babies do their first zip line and decide to row as well. Rodeo Rio finishes the Road Block, and The Babies have progressed into their Screaming Time in the Rowboat. Moronald and Christina have worked out a way to row as a team, but The Babies have only worked out a new environment in which to hate each others’ guts. Jen is at the end of her rope, she hates Nate and she’s never going to be with him ever again. Plus he cheated on her. Nate’s response? “Good.” If only we could all find relationships like this one.

From now on, Jen is REALLY deciding about Nate.

Jem and Rio trade their Rodeo Barbie hats for rappelling helmets and hop down the tower. It seems that Jem’s father is in the military and has taught her all kinds of survival skills along the way. Moronald and Christina row their boat into the harbor and The Babies are hot on their trail. They’re looking for the town square with the clue and Jem and Rio are getting ready to climb the rope ladder up the city wall. That looks really hard. Rowing doesn’t look so hard, but apparently it’s quite stressful – especially when you’re expecting your boyfriend to help. My friend has a boyfriend-kayaking story you wouldn’t believe. Anyway as Jem nears the top of the ladder, Rio yells, “Little pink kitten, you’re at the top! I’m coming up right behind you!” Hmm. Okay. As Rio climbs the ladder Jem calls him “a little Goth action figure.” Let’s move on.

The Babies and Moronald and Christina reach the clue box almost exactly at the same time and this is the final clue! They are to travel four miles by taxi to the edge of the city and find the Stone Cross Overlook. The last team to check in may be eliminated. The Babies hail a taxi, but the driver won’t let them get in because they’re wet. More hysterics. Even more when Moronald and Christina, who are also wet, are allowed into a taxi and whisk past. Jen is morphing into Lorena, whining and screaming and yelling at Nate instead of just finishing the task at hand. She’s pacing around in the middle of the street pulling her hair and crying. Nate says it’s okay, and she says, “No it’s not okay, our relationship sucks!” How did we go from being too wet to get into a taxi to their relationship sucking? Well, it does suck, but right now we need a car. They find some civilian who agrees to drive them to the cross and hop in. I guess he doesn’t care if his seats smell like wet Babies.

Jem and Rio close in on the town square clue as The Hippes are just barely landing at the airport. Moronald and Christina run up the last flight of stairs to the Stone Cross and a mischievous Croatian official of some sort fires off a huge gun as they approach, scaring them to death.

"It's funny when they scream."

They make it to the mat where Phil informs them they have won this leg of the race! When the old Croatian man welcomes them to Croatia, I could swear that Moronald responds with, “Hola.” Um, no. They win a 12.5 foot catamaran to fight on.

"Gracias, amigo!"

The Babies get startled by the gun and run up to Phil, who tells them they are in second place, but they cheated. They did not take legal transportation from the last clue box to the mat, so they have to go all the way back down and get a taxi back up. Jen goes, “Thanks,” in the snottiest voice you’ve ever heard and they pout their way back to the road. Jem and Rio find the last clue and get into a taxi – you know, legal transportation. Meanwhile The Hippies are just barely starting the Road Block builder’s eye challenge. The teams really spread way out this episode. Rachel decides to do it and TK tells her to take her time and enjoy the weather. I can’t believe these two won last week. Jen is still in snot mode, rereading the last clue in a really ticked off voice and then stomping over to find a taxi. When she sits down in the car she bursts into tears – again – saying she can’t do this anymore and she doesn’t want to be here anymore. The feeling is mutual, Jen.

Jem and Rio arrive at the Stone Cross, scream at the gun shot, and take second place from The Babies. Jem has ended this leg back in full gear as Rodeo Jem. The Hippies continue their journey, zip lining, then rappelling, and smelling the roses every step of the way. The Babies re-arrive at the mat as team three and they are none too happy about anything – least of all each other. Jen tells us privately that it may be too late for the two of them. Oh honey, don’t you know that ship sailed long ago?

Well, look who’s landing! It’s Nick and Grandpa Donald. Because of the way everyone spread out, they are completely isolated and have no idea where any of the other teams are. The Siblings land last and frantically try to complete the mission. Surprise, surprise, Nick makes Grandpa Donald do the Road Block. Then as Grandpa lifts and carries heavy stones back and forth, Nick nags at him to hurry up and remember it’s a race. He tells us privately that Grandpa is too methodical and takes too long to finish challenges. Oh Nick? Was that Grandpa or YOU last week who took an entire afternoon to find a hair salon? I seem to remember you standing helplessly in the streets of Lithuania without a clue in the world. I think you’d better remember who’s gotten you this far and quiet down.

Nick helps in his usual way.

Rachel is sipping a soda as TK climbs the rope ladder and then they meander off to find the town square. No hurry, guys. Grandpa Donald finds the right stone before the Siblings get there, so it’s off to the zip line. From their perch on the zip line before they launch, Nick and Grandpa spot the Siblings behind them, so now their goal is to at least stay ahead of that one team. They decide to row so Grandpa Donald can rest. Little do they know… Azaria does the Road Block while Hendekea repeatedly chants that they are still in this race.

The Hippies duck the gunshot and celebrate at being team four to arrive. Azaria finishes the Road Block, then The Siblings zip line and decide to row. Grandpa Donald is in his boat “resting,” or as I call it, rowing while Nicholas sits there. He finally hands the oars to Nick and makes him do something, but Nick isn’t very good at it and The Siblings gain on them. There are families floating in inner tubes as the last two teams approach the harbor. The next couple of minutes are the standard suspenseful editing, making it look like the teams are just inches away from each other in their race to the Pit Stop. Nick and Grandpa get lost looking for a taxi and Hendekea says “Azaria” more times in three minutes than I hope to in a lifetime. Nick and Grandpa hit a traffic jam and Hendekea goes into histrionics. But alas, just as I suspected, Nick and Grandpa Donald have a pretty safe lead and end up in fifth place. The Sibling Lovers, however, are not so lucky. They are last and Phil is sorry to tell them they have been eliminated from the race. Every week I think this has to be the one where they don’t get eliminated, and every week, someone goes home brokenhearted. I mean disappointed. Hendekea says what sucks is that it’s not that someone else beat them; they beat themselves. Actually Hendekea, the other five teams beat you, so… They decide that their relationship will just get stronger from here on out and then they have a little snuggle and watch the Croatian sunset together. Yech.

"Cheer up, Snookums. We still have each other."

It looks like we are taking a break next week, but in two weeks Grandpa Donald gets really flustered and Rio threatens to jump out of a moving car while Jem is driving. A Gothic confrontation? I’m intrigued.

So, are you relieved to see The Siblings go? Or will you miss their Strangelove ways?

Thanks for reading!
-Honey Gangsta

No comments: