Amazing Race Recap: Welcome to the Jungle

this river made for one fun episode!

this river made for one fun episode!

So, the teams are finally leaving China!  They’re off the Malaysian Borneo and only two flights will get them there.  Brenchel completely loses their lead in traffic and ends up on flight number 2 with John & Jessica and Joey & Meghan, 3 hours behind the other six teams.

The first stop in Malaysia is Kiansom Waterfall, for the Road Block.  One teammate has to repel ten stories down the waterfall to retrieve the clue.  I would love to do this one!  Would you?

After the waterfall, teams have to built a raft and then are faced with a Detour: River Delivery or Run Through the Jungle.  In River Delivery, teams take produce on their rafts and deliver it to a chief midway down.  In Run Through the Jungle, teams raft all the way down without the stop and have to shoot blow darts at bird targets at the end.  I would’ve gone Run Through the Jungle. What would you have chosen?

“We’re like Huck Finn and Oliver Twist!” the blondes say when the see the raft task.  I hate them so much for saying this.  So, so much.

Dave and Connor, who chose River Delivery, accidently rafted all the way down and had to run back to make the delivery.

Leo and Jamal’s raft fell apart on the rapids, and the Cowboys passed them while they worked to reassemble.

Margie and Luke’s raft falls apart too; they have to use Margie’s shirt to tie it back together.

By the time the second plane lands, Joey and Meghan are still in last and make the fatal mistake of not making their taxi wait while they repel down the waterfall.

Group two has an equal amount of difficulty with the rafting.  I’m not sure how John and Jessica’s shoddy construction stayed together!  Brenchel’s fell apart at least twice.

The checkpoint for the end of this leg was Kota Kinabalu.  Here’s how the teams finished… (more…)

Amazing Race Recap: Baby Bear’s Soup

Picture 2

Going into this week’s race, I was super nervous for Team Youtube, who finished just shy of being eliminated last week.  The great thing about this race, though, it you can go from first to last in no time, and vice versa!  I’m not quite sure how the order was determined for the teams to depart, but I was glad Joey & Meghan weren’t last.  The first clue let the teams to the Chen Clan Academy.

The first big slip up of the episode started here.  Jet and Cord completely misjudged the distance of the academy from where they were.  In trying to run it while the rest of the teams grabbed cabs or took the metro, they lost their first place lead.

Picture 1

Chen Clan Academy presented some really lovely synchronized martial arts.  The master stamped the next clue on racers foreheads.  This clue let them to the Roadblock in toyland.

ROADBLOCK: one member of the team assembles a toy car for children.  Yeah, this would not be a Roadblock I would do.  I don’t even like assembling things when the directions are in English, let alone Chinese. Are you the mechanic that would take on this task?

The blondes, Caroline and Jennifer, manipulated Jet and Cord into giving them their extra Express Pass here so they could skip the Roadblock.  One threw a hissy fit for having to assemble because “it’s for boys,” and the other shamelessly flirted.  Meghan’s right; this is a total slap in the face to girlkind.  The last two assemblers are Meghan, with Joey to cheer her on, and John, with Jessica in the wings.  Meghan completes the task, then selflessly moves on the help John finish too!  What a sweetheart!

Next the teams are to take the cars for delivery to the children’s cultural center.  Here’s where the much hyped moment comes where Mallory abandons Mark’s backpack.  They do indeed go back to get it.  You’ll see before if it affects their rank!

The Detour is up next.  The teams have a choice between featherball, a Chinese hackey-sack equivalent, and a Chinese remedy using glass bulbs to remove toxins from the body.  All teams choose featherball.  Me, I’m intimidated by athletic feats requiring coordination; I probably would’ve gone remedy.

Featherball acted as a great equalizer, and the teams headed for the Pit Stop on  Shamian Island.


Amazing Race Recap: Back in the Saddle

Sunday marked the start of a new season of Amazing Race: All Stars!  I actually started watching this show when Youtubers Joey Graceffa and Meghan Camarena announced that they would be on it a couple seasons back.  After watching their season, I got super into this show thanks to Hulu.  This is the 24th season, so you probably know the drill by now, but just in case: teams of two people with some relationship to each other race around the world completing challenges as they go.  There’s a lot of Amazing Race lingo, but host Phil Keough explains it, along with some cultural facts, as we go.  It’s an exhilarating, athletic, international experience.  When Meghan and Joey announced that they would be on this newest all star season, I knew I’d be watching and recapping for you!

The teams: mother-son team Margie & Luke, Harlem Globetrotters Flight Time & Big Easy, cowboys Jet & Cord, newlyweds Brendon & Rachel, twins Natalie & Nadiya, country singers Caroline & Jennifer, father-son team Dave & Conner, engaged couple Jessica & John, Youtubers Joey & Meghan, cousins and “Afghanimals” Leo & Jamal, and best friends from Kentucky Bopper & Mark.

The show starts out with a sad announcement— Bopper has pancreatitis, and is not recommended to race.  It was super emotional to just see his partner’s face at the announcement.  I cried!  Mallory, also representing Kentucky, steps in as Mark’s partner.

The race starts off at UCLA.  Phil announces they are going to Guangzhou, China.  To be on the first flight, they must find the symbol for Guangzhou on the hats of the UCLA marching band members.

Picture 5

And they’re off!  For those of you who watched Meghan & Joey’s original season: Meghan didn’t fall this time!

The teams on the first flight are Dave & Conner, Leo & Jamal, Nadiya & Natalie, and Jet & Cort.

In Guangzhou China, the teams look for their first clue in the wedding dress district, which I actually think every city should have.

That clue leads the teams to Canton Tower, where the next clue waits in the ferris wheel of rotating bubbles.

Picture 7

The clue was only in even numbered bubbles, which shook things up even more for the teams.  The even-numbered cars let them know to search the stadium below them.  In the stadium below, it’s time for the Road Block!

This Road Block challenges one teammate to get up on the high wire and do 5 flips.  Once the Road Block is completed, it’s on to the Pit Stop at the Opera House– the end of the first leg of the challenge!  The last team there is eliminated.  Below, you can see the results.

Because each team member is only allowed to do half of the Road Blocks, I always play a little game with myself and chose whether I’d be the one to do each one.  I’d totally do this Road Block!  Sure, heights can be scary, but the ones that don’t require strength are the ones I’d have to do.  Your turn: would you perform stunts on the high wire in China?


Foreign Friday: Ipartment

Picture 18

Now that Top Chef season 11 is sadly over, I have no more recaps for you.  Instead, today is Foreign Friday!  I love languages, and although I only fully understand English, I’ve never let a little language-barrier stop me from enjoying TV!  Most of the foreign TV I watch is English language, either British, Australian, or Canadian.  I’ve enjoyed many a Japanese show, both live action and anime, so I’m used to hearing that.  I’ve studied French and Italian, so romance languages don’t sound foreign to my ear.  This time, however, I tried something completely different: Chinese.

I stumbled upon Ipartment when searching for Friends— allegations that this Chinese sitcom ripped off Friends and various other American shows are all over the internet.  As an avid Friends fan myself, I was intrigued.  I initially pronounced it “ip-partment” (as in chip, minus the ch), but wikipedia set me straight: it’s eye-partment, the i standing for “ai,” meaning love.  The Chinese name of this show is Ai Qing Gong Yu, which means Love Apartment.

When watching foreign television, you not only have to get used to the language, but also the cultural differences a show may portray.  Admittedly, I don’t know anything about Chinese culture.  I didn’t know what to expect.  As aforementioned, I’m used to Japanese shows so I modeled my expectations on this, assuming that the Asian cultures would share some elements.  Mostly, it felt very much like an American sitcom.  Ipartment is a fast-talking show, packed with comedic moments and pop-culture references that even an American can understand.

Ipartment is about 7 young people, 3 women and 4 men, who all live in the same apartment building in Shanghai.  The first episode features the wedding of a couple who met in the apartment building.  As a wedding gift, the building is renamed Love Apartment at their request.  All couples in love receive free water and electricity, and half off rent.  This of course leads to some deception for a good deal.  Here’s what I was able to understand about the characters:

Zhan Bo

Picture 11

After studying computer science abroad, Zhan Bo returns to China.  (Wikipedia says he went to MIT— woo Boston!)  His sister, Yi Fei, already lived in Love Apartment and he moves in with her.  He meets Wan Yu on the bus and falls for her.  He’s a little socially awkward.

Wan Yu

Picture 14

The daughter of a wealthy banker, Wan Yu ran away to avoid an arranged marriage.  She was supposed to go to music school in New York.  She’s pretty happy-go-lucky and that attitude seems to serve her well.  After meeting Zhan Bo on the bus, she moves in with him and his sister at Love Apartment.

Xiao Xian

Picture 8

One of the only characters who lived in Love Apartment before the start of the show, Xiao Xian is the host of a late night radio show called “Your Moon, My Heart.”  He seems to just pop into the others’ apartments Kramer-style, which leads to many moments of comedy.

Yi Fei

Picture 6

Zhan Bo’s older sister, Yi Fei is a PhD graduate who works at a university.  She is a very strong personality— forceful, competitive, and bossy.  She seems to be a meddler, thinking she knows the best recourse for many situations.  She’s the other Love Apartment resident who lived there prior to the show.

Zi Qiao

Picture 13

Wikipedia calls him a “freelancer,” but he’s more of a swindler.  He shows up at the wedding in the first episode trying to sell his health supplement.  When the priest falls ill (he might have actually died?) in the bathroom, Zi Qiao takes over his duties to make a few bucks.  There’s a great moment of him pretending to speak English here.

Mei Jia

Picture 3

Zi Qiao’s ex-girlfriend, Mei Jia also shows up to the wedding uninvited… looking to gorge on free food.  After hearing about the couple’s discount, she and Zi Qiao pretend to be a couple and move in together, despite their dislike of each other.  Mei Jia is a silly girl, who loves cute things and tends to scream with delight.  She falls for Guan Gu as soon as she sees him.

Guan Gu

Picture 12

A Japanese man who is tricked by Mei Jia and Zi Qiao into moving in with them to share the burden of the rent, Guan Gu doesn’t show up until the second episode.  The fact that Chinese is not his first language is a source of humor in the show.  He is a manga artist, specifically the artist of Mei Jia’s favorite manga.  I dig Guan Gu, especially for the several Sailor Moon posters he hangs in his room, but his name bugs me— it definitely sounds Chinese and not Japanese.

I was only able to watch two episodes with subtitles, and I really wish I could keep on watching!  I started the third, but the subtitles dropped out after the first 10 minutes.  While you don’t have to understand every single word to enjoy the show, it simply isn’t feasible to keep watching with no idea what they’re saying.  Still, throughout the first two episodes, I laughed many times.  I’ll definitely scour Youtube to see if I can find more subbed episodes.  As for the allegations that Ipartment has ripped off American sitcoms… don’t all sitcoms do similar things?  I think it’s par for the course.

The two episodes I watched are on— I recommend checking them out!

Do you have any suggestions for my next Foreign Friday?  Let me know!