The ATC Report

"In Control" - Vol. XIII, No. 7 & 8

Some of you may have noticed that we decided to take last week off. We suspect that the number is pretty small, though. We could claim that it was because Steve wanted to relax a bit after he decided against accepting the new contract his post-FAA job offered, and is now re-retired again. We could add to that story by claiming that he finally kow-towed to their weak offer and was busy filling out the reams of paperwork and is UN-re-retiring. You probably would have believed us if we claimed that it was because Dave bought "Resistance 2" and "Call of Duty: World at War", and has been holed up in his game room with his PS3 ever since. Hell, we could even have claimed that it was because we were both exhausted after celebrating Obama's win.

We could claim any or all of those things, or we could have just made something up. But the real truth is, we just didn't feel like writing a column last week. We actually started a column based on the Holi celebration featured in Episode 7, but neither of us really liked what we came up with, and we decided to abandon it. Trust us - the column was going nowhere fast. We felt tapped and unenergetic. (Don't believe us? Here's the first draft of a picture that we were going to use):

Recognize those two in the lower right and left corners? Do you have this sense that they look vaguely familiar, and you should probably know their names? Steve and Dave oftentimes use this cheap gimmick of adding pictures of TARflies contributors to columns to stimulate responses when we feel unloved and unread.

We can already hear you, "Oh no, not again!"

That's right! It's your favorite time of year when Steve and Dave beg for feedback!

It's pathetic, we know. Seven years of therapy and we backslide like this. Shame hangs from us like the drippings of a freshly killed vampire from True Blood. Trust us when we say we're not proud as we once again bare this weakness to our manly, almost George Clooney-like characters. Begging for attention like this is embarrassing, but we rationalize our behavior with the fact that we have not moved to California (cough KyntandVyxsin cough).

So, prove to us that you read the column by posting any inane, insulting, deprecating, pro-mini-Gaghan or fat-joke comments. Better yet, use the talent you garnered from 6 years of (wasted) college English classes and pen a fantasy about how much you looovvve Steve and Dave. Inclusion of magical ponies, pepperoni pizzas, Tony Orlando (sans Dawn), and South American beachwear will be much appreciated, and granted extra credit.

 And as always, we'll pretend to offer lovely gifts to the cleverest posts. We know that there are a few of you who have amazing imaginations. We've seen those posts in the Politics forum about why you thought McCain would have been a great leader.


 So, take a few minutes and throw the elephants (see - fat jokes are easy) a few peanuts. We'll savor them for future columns as we get back to the real task at hand, getting another mention in the Chicago Sun-Times.

On to this week's show.

Teams traveled from Delhi to Almaty, Kazakhstan - where they would spend the rest of the leg. In a strange twist of fate, Almaty is very near where Steve and his wife adopted their daughter. Remarkably, the three of them have actually strolled the Zelyoniy Bazaar looking for local trinkets (which now line their shelves at home). Even more remarkable is the fact that their new daughter came from the same chicken farm featured on this leg. In an even stranger twist of fate, they were going to name her "Rosebud" before they settled on Olivia. (Of course, "Rosebud" has nothing whatsoever to do with this leg. There hasn't even been a "Rosebud" this season...yet. But, we've said too much).

We certainly hope that this week's Fast Forward wasn't an indication that TAR is returning to "Fear Factor" type challenges. We would also like to point out that it was quite stupid for Terence to race to the FF location, order the food, complain that it was meat, eat part of it, and then...give up. Guess what? The first bite you took of your sheep's ass-fat reset the vegetarian clock buddy. You might as well order yourself a big steak while in loser lodge. Giving up didn't just cost you the Fast Forward, it cost you the race. Cha-ching! Million-dollar mutton.

 Along those lines, we are getting pretty tired of Nick and Starr. So tired, we hope that they get eliminated soon - but we're not counting on it. (Once again, perhaps we've said too much...). In another strange twist of fate, Dave has never been married to a "Starr", but he did date a "Nick", once. And in an even stranger "that has to be made up" twist, Steve dated someone named Pete Best, but dumped him right before his big break on The Amazing Race.

We were rather inquisitive about why the cast had to ride in crane trucks from the Road Block. We suspect that there was either another clue that was edited out, or that the Mongol warriors were added as a last-second replacement for a stunt that failed to materialize when the race actually arrived in Kazakhstan. Based on our experience with the race, we figured that the cranes were used to lift the cameramen and sound guys to an upright position after they had spent the preceding evening slathering themselves with cheap Russian vodka. When the producers realized it broke the "fourth wall", they edited it out. Delivering the clue via falcon was way cool, though.

Cameramen - $500.00 per day
Soundmen - $400.00 per day
Russian Vodka - $1.25 per 5-liter bottle
Pictures from resulting party - priceless!

Dan and Andrew: we really want to like you two, but you are making it very difficult. Could you possibly whine a little more? You're swiftly approaching Marshall and Lance territory. And losing you shoes is only going to make your feet hurt - bringing you one step closer to reaching their famous "quitter" status. While you're at it, how about insulting the local populous more than you do? You know how that endears you to the TAR faithful.

Could this season set a new all-time record for teams failing to read their clues? We suspect that this might be the first exposure to The Amazing Race that many of these teams have had, since this season is lousy with poor clue reading. In this episode alone, we saw that Ken and Tina's failure to read the clue cost them a second-place finish, and that Andrew and Dan's failure to properly read a clue almost cost them the race. We do wonder about the decision to send them back to complete the clue properly. Shouldn't they have just incurred a time penalty as another non-clue-reading team did earlier this season?

Our guess is that if they had simply given them a time penalty, they couldn't have made the finish seem as close as it appeared. We're guessing that Terence and Sarah were pretty far out of it.

Finally, how can you possibly get lost finding the Pit Stop when you have been there, went back, and went there again? Why didn't they use the race-provided GPS unit that the others used? Once again, maybe we've said too much...