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Birdcages and Locals Prove Duke and Lauren's Undoing on "The Amazing Race"

I have to say that I've been really impressed by the locations that the contestants have travelled to this season on The Amazing Race, including Beijing, Mongolia, and Vietnam. It almost (almost!) makes up for the lameness of The Amazing Race: Family Edition. Anyone remember that trip to the giant chair?

Anyway, this week find the teams in Hanoi, Vietnam, a place loaded with symbolism for many along the race, including Duke, whose number was never called for the draft but who lost many friends over there, and David, whose father served in the military in Vietnam. A trip to the infamous prison dubbed the Hanoi Hilton results in a task to find the uniform of Senator John McCain, who was imprisoned there. Yet the only team who pauses for even a microsecond to honor the memories of the American POWs are Erwin and Godwin, who take a moment of silence to show their respect ... even if it means ending up in last place as a result. However, Earl would be proud as the brothers seem to understand the notion of karma (even without Carson Daly's help); they end up arriving at the rice paddy pit stop in first place.

I've actually begun to like Erwin and Godwin lately. While they seemed like they would get Phil-iminated fairly early on (they nearly didn't make it through the first leg, in fact) and they prove with this week's episode that they might even be contenders, if they can remember to not be so cocky about their financial skills (doesn't come in so handily when selling flowers on the street in Hanoi). I'm loving David and Mary and hope that her twisted ankle doesn't slow them down too much. And Sarah is a personal favorite; too bad she's saddled with such dead weight in Peter. Rob and Kimberly irk me to no end. I thought I'd hate Tyler and James, the models/addicts, but they're actually far calmer and cooler than their predecessors, the loathed Eric and Jeremy from last season.

Note to self: Hanoi appears to be a confusing city to get around. Nearly all of the teams had problems with navigating the city. Kimberly is nearly run over by a motorbike attempting to cross the street to the bus station; David and Mary leave behind one of their packs; Sarah and Peter are told to board the wrong bus. Meanwhile, Tom and Terry don't follow their specific directions and jump on the backs of two motorbikes, despite warnings that they are forbidden to ride them in Vietnam. They're nearly eliminated as a result, thanks to a 30-minute penalty that puts them smack in last place. So remember: when in Vietnam, avoid the motorbikes. They look to be really quite dangerous.

I was saddened by Duke and Lauren's elimination last night. I thought that they were a great time and had really grown from this experience so far, with Duke becoming more and more accepting of Lauren's lifestyle as time went on. I just hope that returning to the real world doesn't derail the huge leaps they've made in their relationship and that they continue on the path of acceptance that they've started on. It was also really nice to see a father-daughter team that was an actual challenge for the rest of the other teams. I'm going to chalk up the loss to the confusing back alleys of Hanoi and the fact that making a traditional Vietnamese birdcage takes a hell of a lot longer than making coal bricks.

Well, that and the fact that you NEVER wait around for a local to show you where something is, especially when you've only got $11 to your name and they want to take you a half an hour outside your way to use you as a personal taxi service. I wanted to slap Duke just for suggesting that they wait around for this woman and for the fact that they didn't clarify exactly where they were going before allowing this stranger into their taxi. Personally, I'm amazed that the taxi driver accepted the measly $11 they offered and that there wasn't another surprise elimination at the prison, but I'll chalk that one up to karma again.

One of the funniest moments in last night's episode comes from a, um, showdown between the Beauty Queens, Dustin and Kandice, and gay couple Tom and Terry. After waiting in line for a travel agency to open its doors so that the teams could purchase airline tickets to Vietnam, Tom and Terry wander right past an available ticket agent and the Beauty Queens jump at the opportunity to gain any advantage, leading Tom or Terry (not sure which) to utter the immortal phrase, "They are not going to win a beauty pageant of kindness." Were any truer words ever spoken?

Second funniest moment: the aforementioned Beauty Queens arrive at the Hanoi Hilton and are confused as to why the doors won't open. Um, ladies, it's closed until tomorrow morning. Thanks for reasserting that annoying stereotype of the dumb blonde. Apparently, they are not going to win a beauty pageant of intelligence either...

Next week on The Amazing Race: Rob and Kimberly's relationship hits a new low as they go from squabbling to full-out fighting whilst in a boat and Sarah is disgusted by how easily Peter wants to give up during the same aquatic challenge.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: The Class/How I Met Your Mother (CBS); Deal or No Deal (NBC); 7th Heaven (CW); Wife Swap (ABC); Prison Break (FOX); Desire (MyNet)

9 pm: Two and a Half Men/The New Adventures of Old Christine (CBS); Heroes (NBC); Runaway (WB); The Bachelor: Rome (ABC; 9-11 pm); Vanished (FOX); Fashion House (MyNet)

10 pm: CSI: Miami (CBS); Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC)

What I'll Be Watching

9:30 pm: Old Christine.

I can't tell you why I like watching this traditional sitcom, but Julia Louis-Dreyfus is like a warm blanket of coziness after a long Monday. On tonight's episode ("Come to Papa Jeff"), after learning that the guy she's dating (Scott Bakula) is new Christine's dad, Christine learns tonight that he's also a grandfather. Ouch.

10 pm: Weeds on Showtime.

Season Two of Showtime's suburban-set pot dramedy is in full swing. On tonight's episode ("MILF Money"), Nancy and Conrad make their first sale but Peter tells Nancy that the DEA must make a bust. Meanwhile, Heylia learns what Conrad has been up to.

10 pm: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

Still haven't gotten around to watching the second episode, but I'll TiVo tonight's installment all the same. On tonight's episode ("The Focus Group"), a network focus-group scares the execs into thinking that the ratings high for Matt and Danny's first show was merely a fluke.


Anonymous said…
Didn't Tom and Terry also take a momemnt at the POW prison?
I always love the "Race" (well, maybe except for the Family Edition) but I think this season may turn out to be one of my favorites. As you said, the locations have been amazing (no pun intended) and the teams have provided a nice mix of drama, comedy, and exhiliration.
cpowers said…
I just started watching the Race from this current season, and I am impressed with it so far. I also sort of regret not watching the last seasons of that show.
Anonymous said…
I am catching up on your blog!

I was bummed to see Duke and Lauren go, as well.

Also, I really like Erwin and Godwin, when once I didn't. They are my favorites, I think.

I also love "coalminer and wife"

I do have to disagree w/you on something - "'They are not going to win a beauty pageant of kindness.' Were any truer words ever spoken?"

While Tom and Terry's comment was funny, I am sorry - they are in a race, and they are just bitter they didn't notice there was an open agent. BQ didn't do anything wrong - they saw an opportunity and took it. Sarah has certainly used her leg to her advantage when she needs to, yet no one would look at her as unkind. T&T made a mistake. That's on them.
EuropeanTop said…
Hello and thanks for the opportunity to read and post on your blog.

I’ve just posted an article related to travel tips for seniors on my blog and I thought maybe you’d be interested in reading it. Here is short preview of some of the areas I covered:

- Prefer a backpack on wheels instead of a suitcase, you could pull it behind you when your back hurts or you are exhausted.
- Consider checking your bag in with the airlines, because it would become an unnecessary burden to be dragged all over the airport or the city if you are going to have a short visit.
- You could stay outside the city, in a hostel maybe, because it is cheaper, less crowded and the air is much fresher, but you have to walk or use the transport more, to get in the city or to the station.
- Most museums, some concert halls, railways, airlines, bus lines, ferry and shipping lines have a discount policy for seniors.
- Electronic devices are useful but sometimes they can give you a lot of headaches. You could help yourself with a micro-tape recorder to record your notes. It would be easier than to write and you would put them down on paper later, to share your notes with your family.
- If you bring a camera with you to keep the beautiful images alive along the time then make sure you know how to handle it or you might fail to record them not only on that camera but also in your eyes.

For more resources on travelling to Europe you are welcome to visit my blog, where you can also get acces to some excellent maps of Stockholm and maps of London, together with information on hotels and restaurants.

Best regards,

Michael R.

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