The ATC Report

“In Control” – Vol. XIV, No. 2

First things first. Thanks for all of the comments on our last column. We really do appreciate it, and it means quite a bit to us to know that you're reading. To all of you who read and took the time to type a little something in the forums - Steve & Dave promise to be your BFF. (Note: we're not really sure what that means, but we see it a lot these days. Steve thinks that it means "big fat fellows", while Dave is convinced that it stands for "brawny fellow fans". It doesn't matter which of the two of us got it right, they both apply in this case. What difference does it make anyhow? It's not like we're volunteering to be best friends or anything.)

To those of you who read our column but didn't take the time to comment, we still like you - just not as much as we like some of the others. (It's not too late to get back in our good graces though...)

To those of you who didn't read and commented anyhow we say, "Yes dear, I'll take the garbage out as soon as I get done here. No, I don't think that dress makes you look fat dear. Yes dear. No dear."

To those of you who didn't read and didn't comment we say, "Ha! You suck! Our dads can beat up your dads! Nyeah, nyeah, nyeah!!!"

To those of you who didn't read and didn't comment we say, "Ha! You suck! Our dads can beat up your dads! Nyeah, nyeah, nyeah!!!" (Don't worry - they don't read our stuff - they will never see that.)

And finally, to those who didn't read because they haven't learned how to yet, no matter HOW precious their mother makes them out to be, and no matter HOW many times their mother claims that she had nothing to do with a purported "column", we say "Hiya littlebean! How are you?"

Enough of the thank-yous. We were starting to sound like an Oscar® winner there, anyhow. We got a lot of comments on the "secret alliances" that we mentioned last week. (Not really, but if we didn't say something like that it would make no sense to segue back into a bit we just did a week ago.) ((Did any of you just catch the preliminary segue into this week's episode? We've done it twice now...))

It seems that a bunch of you folks want to know how to identify when two teams have a secret alliance. Well, short of observing film of the teams making said secret alliance, there are a few things you can look for that will help you in your search.

One of the most obvious ways to identify a secret alliance is when one team does something to blatantly hurt a second team's chances of staying in the race. When you see something like that, those teams are probably secretly aligned.

We already mentioned it, but we had a secret alliance with Monica & Sheree in our season. Right off the bat in episode #1, careful observers should have seen the clue that pointed to our secret alliance. We talked Steve & Josh into buying seats for us on the first flight out of Los Angeles, which prevented Monica & Sheree from getting seats on that plane. Bingo! There's a secret alliance.

Now some people might say, "couldn't the secret alliance have been between Steve/Josh and Monica/Sheree?" Normally, you might be correct in thinking that. But on that same episode, we saw Josh direct the girls to the last ticket for the second bus out of town that night. He later even bragged about doing so in his end-of-leg interview. Once you see a team act in a friendly way towards another, you can pretty much rest assured that no secret alliance exists.

Remember when Steve insinuated that some tires might somehow become flat? There was a dead giveaway that a secret alliance existed between Tian/Jaree and us. What you didn't see (as it ended up on the cutting room floor) was the big argument that we had immediately afterward. Dave was worried that most of the other teams would now know about our secret alliance because of what Steve had done. Steve had a few recriminations of his own, but they mostly involved Dave not giving him €2 so that he could buy a bag of Doritos.

Another recycled picture from our Art & Special Effects Department. Apparently they haven't believed the memos telling them that we are back.

Another usual tip-off that teams might be secretly aligned is their general demeanor towards each other. If teams converse politely, are usually friendly, and occasionally help each other out - you certainly have no secret alliance. In fact, you may be observing an actual alliance, but definitely not a secret one. Teams that are in secret alliances are rude towards each other, usually try to keep their distance, and NEVER share information with or provide help to each other.

Remember the Weavers from TAR: FE? (Yea, we know, you quit watching that season after episode three just like everyone else). The Weavers remain the classic example of a team that went a bit overboard with the secret alliances, as they had one with almost every other team.

We have really GOT to get those guys down in Art & Special Effects to start reading the memos. We don't know what this one is about either.

The one question that everyone seems to want answered is, "OK, so I get the whole secret alliance thing, but exactly what is the benefit?" Right off the bat, the answer is obvious - you have an alliance that no one else in the race knows about. Why advertise the fact that you are in an alliance? You just make yourself a target. All of the non-aligned teams will be trying to eliminate all of the teams in an alliance to better their own chances of winning.

Look at our case. We had a secret alliance with Monica & Sheree. We finished in 8th, they finished in 7th. OK, bad example. How about Tian/Jaree and us? You're right, 8th and 6th. OK, another bad example.

As we look back on it, maybe this whole secret alliance thing isn't all that we thought it was. In fact, maybe secret alliances don't really provide the benefits that we've been espousing all these years. In fact, they seem downright stupid.

As far as tonight's episode went, we were routing for a triple or quadruple elimination. Between teams getting lost, arguing with each other, getting stupid because they left the pit stop near the front of the pack, etc., we figured that at least 3 of the teams should have been dropped - and maybe a fourth. We guess we'll have to wait to see them eliminated one at a time, as usual.