Monday, December 17, 2012

The Best Things In The World

Around Christmas I find myself a bit panicky at the amount of STUFF that comes into this house. There are four of us, three of which are grimly determined pack-rats, and our house isn't very big. The result is that I live in constant clutter, and that makes me a bit crazy. So I try to focus on the things that I really like, that make my life happy. And most of those things aren't things at all:

  • SLEEP. Man, is there anything, anything better than going to sleep? There's the drifty, floaty feeling after putting your head down on the pillow, the rolling over in the middle of the night to realize you still have hours, or the Sunday morning dozing where you slip in and out of conciousness while surfing the contents of your head. Sleep is my number one drug.
  • BABIES. The smell insanely delicious, their skin in like the warmest, softest satin and they have little corn-niblet toes that are the cutest things ever made. Plus, when they smile, that's your day, right there.
  • HOT SHOWERS. I think the single greatest accomplishment of the Twentieth Century is indoor plumbing, and hot running water in abundance is the greatest thing about indoor plumbing. Being clean is one of the best feelings ever (note: the shower you take after a camping trip or a day at the beach.), but the delight of stepping into that steamy shower is not to be taken for granted.
  • YOUR OWN BED. Really, doesn't everyone want to be home? And isn't home what's familiar and comfortable and safe and cozy? And isn't your bed all those things? I love to travel, but snuggling down into my own bed after a trip has to be one of the best things ever.
  • A GOOD BOOK. I love it when I get a book that is so good that I think about it when I'm not reading it, and can't wait to get back to it. (Preferably IN MY OWN BED.) No matter what is going on in my life, I can always count on a good book to give me perspective, make me think, educate me or simply entertain me long enough to forget my own problems. Books are indispensible.
  • SUNSHINE We live in a part of the world that gets a fair bit of cloudy weather, and boy oh boy, when the sun does come out? It's like everyone got a shot of Happy. You can see the collective mood lift and it is a serious game changer. Sunshine is nature's Prozac.
  • LAUGHTER One time, a client remarked on the Christmas decorations in the salon to the Mister by saying "I really like your balls". Which, at the time, made us all run into the staff room, where we laughed so hard I thought I might pass out. And then one of us would catch the other's eye and we'd be off again like a bunch of lunatics. We laughed all day about that.  A good, gut-busting, loud and honest belly laugh is one of the best things ever.
  • HUGS. Last year, when my father was very ill, and things were at their worst,  my good friend Big Liver Girl came over with some homemade soup and bread and gave me a full-body, rib-cracking, back-and-forth swaying hug. It was wonderful. It was comfort and care and acknowlegment and sympathy and  love, all in one package. How can you beat that? My friend Blair could hug as her day job, she's so good at it.
  • MUSIC. Few things in this world are as remarkable as music. Happy? There's a song for that. Sad? We've got that covered. It's a particular season or occasion? No problem. The possibilities are, literally, endless. And I'm willing to wager you have a song running through your head right now.
  • TAKING OFF YOUR SKI BOOTS. If you ski, you'll know exactly what I mean. If you don't, let me explain....You put on your ski boots in the morning out for a day on the slopes, and you dont' take them off until you are finished. Ski boots are heavy, and they don't bend at the ankle, so you clomp around all day in the equivient of bowling balls on your feet, looking and sounding like the Incredible Hulk. When you take those heavy, sweaty, rigid boots off, it feels like you are walking about 3 inches above the ground, and you are about to float away altogether. Plus, your ankles bend now, so getting something off the ground is not the production it was earlier.
  • CLEAN I hate cleaning, but man, do I love stuff clean. When I clean a closet or a room, I have to go back into it a couple of times and just admire my efforts and how fabulous it looks.
None of these things are particularly remarkable or out of the ordinary, but they make me the happiest. And maybe because they are not particularly remarkable or out of the ordinary, that's why they make me happy.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Amazing Race 21, Finale

At the beginning of this season, my money would never have been on Josh and Brent to win, that's for sure. But good on 'em; they certainly showed that the only leg you really need to come in first on is the last one.

I loved this season; great locations and tasks, constant switching up of first and last places, and very likable teams, and right up until the last moment you really didn't know who was going to win. That really was an amazing race.

I think I'm most pleased, however, that the Twins did not make the final three; they were pretty tiresome in France. I couldn't believe that they were so enraged that the Beekmans were "taking the place of other teams who really wanted to be there" when the only reason they were still there was because of the Twins own shenanigans with the Double U-Turn. Did they expect the Goat Farmers to slink off and go home?
Brent and Josh weren't my favorite team this season, but the Twins were so awful during that dog-feeding task that I actually found myself rooting for them.

Oh, Chippendales, I so wish it had been you. I felt so bummed for them; they were class acts all the way along.
I will love Jaymes forever for kissing that plow horse. (And did you see the French guy's expression? He was all "I know! I love that horse too!")
 And the way he said, in the politest way possible to their cabbie in New York "can you please hurry? You have no idea how important this is to us", instead of someone screaming and crying, or claiming it's an emergency. (I'm looking at you, Mirna and Charla.) I'm glad they won the car, though. I love those guys, I hope they get another shot at this in another All-Stars season.

While Trey and Lexi were not the most exciting racers ever, I have to give them props; for two kids who had never travelled before, they handled this like pros. I can't imagine a more stressful, exhausting and character-challenging first trip out of the country. And although the constant "babes" were a bit annoying, they never blew up at each other or sniped or took their frustrations out on each other; a rare thing among couples in this game. But Lex, honey, lay off the "I want a ring!" stuff; he's not there yet, and you're making the rest of us uncomfortable.

I'm a little depressed that only the Beekmans knew the symbol for the UN. Seriously? These people went to college, didn't they? I like that Lexi thought it was a target. But then again, she'd never heard of Houdini, either.

Those final two tasks were brutal. I would have had all kinds of trouble keeping my shit together getting out of that straight jacket anyway, let alone hanging upside down a mile off the ground. Holy shnikes, if they had played rap music and made me eat blue cheese, that would have been every single one of my nightmares wrapped up in one big world of awful.
And Thing 1 and I KNEW the hellos and goodbyes would figure into the last leg! That was pretty hard, too. I'm fairly good at languages, but I'd be so distracted at the mat waiting for Phil to tell me what position I'm in, I don't think I'd be paying much attention to the greeter. I'm with Jaymes when he said "I didn't know we were supposed to memorize hello and goodbye, I thought they were just being cordial!"

That pizza looked all kinds of awesome....why did Lexi say "I hope we don't have to eat any pizza!" I would have had trouble staying away from it.

Did you hear that the Ford Escape has a new thingy where you just kick at the back bumper and the hatch opens? Maybe it's just a rumor.

I'm not sure what has to happen for something to qualify as a "festival, but  The "Festival of Horse Work" sounds like the worst festival ever.

I like how everyone was pronouncing the French words like they were Spanish.

How come the only Talking Head at the Amazing Finish Line was Rob the Monster Trucker saying how he now understands the "gay lifestyle" and he can accept them as people? First of all, welcome to 2012, dude, and secondly, I cannot begin to tell you what a douchbag you are.

Note to Self: Avoid cities where the Amazing Race has recently been..... a natural disaster is going to come by and level the place shortly thereafter. Seriously, tsunamis in Thailand, earthquakes in Chile, hurricanes in New Orleans and New York; this show manages to just run ahead of whatever biblical-level nastiness nature can dish up. Just sayin'.

I've read that the next Race will start on Sunday February 17th (it's just finished filming.)
Until next time!!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Favorite Books of 2012

I never think I've read as much as the year before until I start making this list every December. These are the books that stuck with me this year, the ones that I keep thinking about long after I've read them.
In no particular order:

Only Time Will Tell and Sins of the Father by Jeffrey Archer. (Fiction) Say what you will about Jeffry Archer, I'm no fan of his politics and he has spent time in jail, be he's one hell of a storyteller. Both these books feature his usual themes; class divide, underhanded connivers, good people who are smart and resourceful. Always a pleasure to read his stuff.

Various Positions by Martha Schabas (Fiction) Coming of age stories are popular because they're the one thing that everybody can identify with, because everyone has to figure out their way through the world, whether they want to or not. And reading about someone who's doing a way worse job than you ever did is strangely compelling. This story of a young ballerina trying to figure out who she wants to be is stark and uncompromising, and you will remember how awful it was to be out of your depth and how far you've come since then.

Flying with Amelia by Anne de Grace  (Fiction)History is often one of the worst taught subjects in school, because it focuses on the big events, but not how people actually lived through those events. This book, a collection of short stories, really, tells history as it should be told, from the ground up. How people navigated situations that they didn't even realize were big events when they were in the middle of them. A working knowledge of Canadian history is helpful here, she doesn't do much background for you, but a quick Google search will get you up to speed on the more obscure events.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Fiction)I'm not much of a fan of post-apocalyptic, distopian fiction, but my kids said this book was terrific, and I read, reluctantly,  it because of then. I think I tore through it in about a day and half. Terrific pacing and all kinds of twists and turns, as well a love story and a bad-ass heroine made this one rollicking read. The next two books in the series, Catching Fire and Mockingjay didn't capture me quite as much as the first one, but I still HAD to find out what happened.

Mad Women by Jane Maas (Non-Fiction)Written  by one of the few women account executives on Madison Avenue in the 60's and 70's, this memoir of life as a woman in the working world before "women's lib" was utterly fascinating. For example, she said that any woman who wasn't a secretary would keep her hat on all day, to distinguish herself as a woman who wasn't a secretary. Loved this book.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed (Non-Fiction)After her mother died and her marriage broke up, Cheryl Strayed found herself alone and rootless and searching desperately for something to help her put her life back together. And she decided hiking eleven hundred miles alone along the Pacific Coast trail would do it. A powerful memoir, honest and funny and poignant and beautifully written.

11/22/63 by Stephen King (Fiction) I used to LOVE Stephen King as a young adult (The Shining still gives me the odd nightmare.) but stopped reading his stuff after a while because I felt it got too gorey and weird. But I read Bag of Bones a few years ago and really enjoyed it, and was willing to take a shot at this one because of that. Boy, am I glad I did; this book was one of the best I've ever read. The progagonist finds he can go back in time, to the late 50s....what if he just hangs around fro a few years and prevents JFK's assassination? Excellent story of time travel and love and suspense. It's a huge book, though, and I'm glad I read it on my e-reader.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Won’t Stop Talking by Sarah Cain (Non-Fiction) In a society that rewards people  hugely for airing their entire lifetime of dirty laundry on television, introverts get a bad rap. But this book explores not only what it means to be an introvert (news flash: it's not always the person at the party staring at their feet) but also how introverts have powerful talents that are often overlooked. This book gave me a new perspective on how other people are wired; a lot to chew on here.
The Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes (Fiction) Marian Keyes could write a grocery list and I would read it. I love her. LOVE her. Her books are all hilariously funny while exploring some pretty dark subjects (i.e. depression, domestic violence, drug addiction.) This was no exception.

Winter of the World by Ken Follett (Fiction) The second book in a trilogy about the twentieth century. The first book, Fall of Giants, dealt with World War 1, this one is about World War II and the next one I think is about the Cold War. Wonderful historical fiction which does what good historical fiction should do: brings you into the middle of things and tells you how people got through it. Not the happiest of reads, but well worth the ride.

A Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling (Fiction) Most of the criticism I read about this book was that it's "not Harry Potter". Of course it isn't; that story is over. But this really isn't anything like Harry Potter. It's set in the fictional town of Pagford in present day, and there's not one character in this book who isn't petty or mean or badly behaved at one time or another. She's a good enough writer that I'm willing to go on whatever journey she's offering, and after an intial slow start, I found myself reading this every chance I got.

One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper (Fiction) Jonathan Tropper is one of the few authors that I am delighted to find has a new book coming out; I love his stuff. His main characters are usually messed up men who, in real life, you'd fing yourself avoiding like the plague. But he makes these guys believable and sympathetic and very likeable. Not an easy task, but Tropper makes it looks easy.


Amazing Race 21, Episdode 10

I figured it was a Non-Elimination leg when no one at the front of the pack started shrieking about being in the Final 3. And you KNOW Lexi would have been the Top-Notch Shrieker of all time there.

I have to admit, I still sort of like the Twinnies, even though I don't like them very much. They don't blame anyone else for their bad performance, and they certainly don't dissolve into tears when they abuse each other, either. I don't think I'd want to spend a month in a racearoundtheworld with them, though.
I loved when they  them called themselves stupid in Spanish.

At first I was offended on the Beekmans' behalf when the Twins said "they're super prepared....they're gay!", but then I realized I call them the Gay Goat Farmers all the time, and seriously, most of the gay guys I know are hellishly well organized.

Why did they have Tall Goat Farmer do the tennis task when he had JUST got his ankle back in working order? Man, that was a Symphony of Whine, wasn't it? Little Goat Farmer said he sounded like Monica Selles, but all I could hear when he was playing was Olive Oyl.
Thing 1 and I would be screwed if we had had to to that task! I can do a LOT of things, but hitting a moving ball is decidedly NOT one of them. Thing 1 is no better. We'd still be there.

I laughed out loud when Tall Goat Farmer was complaining about his ankle at the airport in Amsterdam, and little Goat Farmer was telling him to "do Lamaze breathing"....the look Tall Goat Farmer gave him was precisely the look I see on my husband's face at least once every time we have a conversation. It's that "what the hell is wrong with you" look, and "please stop talking, for both our sakes".

Yay! Self navigation! We haven't seen anyone drive themselves yet on this thing! When stressed people drive unfamiliar vehicles in strange countries, hilarity ensues!
Seeing Natalie and Nadiya lurching around with that stick-shift was all kinds of funny. I remember my first stick-shift car; I'm pretty sure I actually hopped home once, when I first got it,  like a rabbit.

Lexi and Trey aren't my favorite team; they're actually a bit blah. But on the other hand, they're probably the most drama-free couple I've ever seen on this thing. I had to have some sympathy when she sliced up her finger....I've had root canals, and wisdom teeth pulled and an ear infection and given birth, and none of them compared to the pain I felt when I got a sliver under my fingernail. I think the worst part for her is that she didn't see it coming....that kind of injury, when it's a surprise, really hurts!

Even though I would actually be happy to see any of these teams win, I really do have a particular soft spot in my heart for the Chippies....they're just so nice. They even said "hi, horsey!" to Don Quixote's burro.

What the hell was up with the greeter? Were they in the Spanish version of Sleepy Hollow?

I could hardly concentrate on this episode, because there was a promo at the beginning of the show where Phil announced that there is going to be a Canadian version of the Race! Hot-diggity!! Even though it looks like it's just going to be a racearoundthecountry, and not leave Canada, I'm still pretty soon as I figure out how to apply, I'm in! Big Liver Girl said she'd be my partner, and I think we'd be in pretty good shape. She can do all the athletic stuff and I can eat anything. I imagine there could be cod-kissing in Newfoundland and igloo building in Nunavut and perhaps a challenge involving getting across the Lions Head Bridge in Vancouver at rush hour. I'm off to brush up on my French and find out where all the Tim Hortons are across the country!

Until next week!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Amazing Race 21, Episode 9

Because I am a mean, little person, I found that sort of delightful. Nothing against Abby, she seemed competent and resourceful and tough, but Ryan was such a douchebag, it was hard not to be a wee bit thrilled at their elimination. Especially when he kept going on and on about the Chippendales "true colours" and that they "cheated [us] out of two million dollars", when he cheerfully would have U-Turned the Goat Farmers in a heartbeat himself. The U-Turn is a legitimate part of the game; it's not "underhanded" to use it. And, newsflash, everyone wants to win this, not just you.

Allow me to get on my high-horse for just a minute here, and declare that it is a terrible state of affairs when someone has to win a reality show so that someone they love can get the medical care they need.

 Ryan and Abby didn't just have one bad leg; they've been struggling at the back of the pack for three legs now. They left the Pitstop in Moscow a full 23 hours behind Jaymes and James....U-Turn or no, they'd have to have counted on some serious bunching in the next couple of legs to get back in the game.

I'm not a fan of the U-Turn (except, of course, when it is used against a team I don't like.) because it's almost impossible to work your way back from, and I don't like the interpersonal drama it stirs up. I like the Race when people are out because they gambled and lost (like taking a one-hour connection in Frankfurt) or because they made some terrible decisions (like waiting at the pool with the last team to leave).

Wouldn't it have all kinds of awesome if Trey and Lexie had actually gone to Paris?

I am going to find a way to work the phrase "awesome balls!" into as many conversations as possible in the very near future.

Was I the only one shouting at the Twins during the Fast Forward: "shut up and EAT!" ( Somehow, I imagine their mother spent a LOT of time at their dinner table wearily moaning that phrase.)  Man, I thought they were going to run out of time simply because neither of them could not stop telling the other one how to do it .

How much do I love the Chippendales? About as much as I have loved any team ever on this show. I love that blond James (who reminds me more and more of a Golden Retriever) is so nice and happy and enthusiastic, and dark James is solid and competent and a good guy. I loved how appreciative they were about seeing Amsterdam on the boat ride. And I also loved that they pulled out the collars and cuffs for the organ grinding task. I loved that they brought the collars and cuffs. (I can just hear the discussion during packing for this: "....and a calculator, and hair gel, and my contacts, and some duct tape. Oh! And collars and cuffs, for sure!") Did you see that one guy who seemed to be filming them on his little camcorder for the whole thing? Creepy.

I'd have given Lexi a couple of Euros to stop screeching. Man, she has got one grating voice.

That day sure changed, didn't it? I know it probably was actually two days, it was hard to keep track. I wonder if the Twins and the Chippies were checked in before Ryan and Abby and the Goat Farmers even left Moscow? Because the first teams were racing in the summer, and the last teams were racing in the fall.

I felt a real kinship with Abby when she was tearing up hugging that mom-type woman who gave her the rest of the money. I'm okay with fighting through whatever stresses I'm facing, but all I need is ONE person to be especially nice to me and then I'm a puddle of tears.

Tall Goat Farmer has already checked out of this. I don't know if it's Killer Fatigue or just knowing that they are circling the drain or because he misses his goats, but I distinctly get the sense that he'd be very happy if they were Philiminated.
BTW, LOVED that Phil asked if they would have preferred if they be eliminated instead of Abby and Ryan. They'd whined enough at that point that I think even Phil was sick of them.

Next week: Tall Goat Farmer isn't good at something and collapses in a heap of despair. So, in other words, nothing new.

Until next week!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Amazing Race 21, Episode 8

It's always sad to see a team out of the race because of outside causes, but dammit, Long Hairs, you should have kept your stuff with you all the time. You're in Russia, for goodness sake, not Montessori school. I'm not sure quite what they could have done overnight about the passport, and I'm sure the editing had something to do with it, but man, they seemed to just wander aimlessly around Moscow saying "dude, where's my passport?" for freaking ever. I wonder if they just knew the gig was up and were just going through the motions at that point. (Just for the record? My "motions" would have included vodka.)
I really, really wonder what the Speed Bump was. It looked like it involved a priest and a hearse; it could have been awesome, and now we'll never know.

Why no start times at the beginning? I think there was some shenannigans with the last two teams and they wanted to gloss over the fact that maybe they didn't all start exactly 12 hours after check-in. Or they were trying to maintain some shred of suspense because the last team left 19 hours after the first one.

Oh, Ryan's mini-breakdown at the Time Zone challenge was delightful to watch, no? I don't hate that guy, certainly not as much as some other people do, but it was kind of nice to see his Alpha Male self get served a big ol' slice of humble pie. Thing 1 said "who's been pushed off his high horse now?" I thought it was interesting that Abbie figured out where he was going wrong before he did, but assumed that she was wrong about it.
Personally, I would have laid down and cried by, I don't know, Attempt 3....I suck at anything to do with numbers, the pressure to be fast would have cut me off at the knees AND the Killer Fatigue probably would have made me melt like the Wicked Witch of the West. I loved the Twins "Hell, no! Express Pass!" when they found out what the task was. Excellent use of the Express Pass, ladies!
I think I love that professor...."Pencils down!" is so going into the regular rotation around here.

Big props to the Gay Goat Farmers; they rocked this leg. After not even finishing the task the day before, to totally breezing through this leg, they were pretty impressive. I'm so glad someone did the "Historical Figures" task, I was hoping I'd get to see it. (Thing 1 and I would have smoked that task. Just sayin'.) Although, I'm pretty sure Lenin #3 didn't have to warn Josh to stay away from Russian women. That ship has already sailed.

I've not loved the Twins since the money taking incident, but I have to say, they've approached the race with an enthusiasm and good humor that I can appreciate. When the taxi driver wanted to take them to McDonalds, they thought it was hilarious, and when the one ripped her pants dancing, they both fell all over themselves laughing. (I especially liked the one soldier who saluted when Natalie had to go change. Like she was a fallen comrade, or something.)

This has so become the James and Jaymes show for me. I absolutley love those two. I loved the Blonde One saying "si" to the taxi driver, and then immediately commenting on what an idiot he was.
I also love how they said the sign at the Agricultural Academy looked like Beyonce 8:00, like Beyonce was putting on a show at 8:00.

This season is one of the better ones, I think. The teams are certainly more likeable and there's very little inter-team drama. There is a notable lack of camels, donkeys, rabbits or oxen, though. Uncooperative livestock always add to the race, I think.

Until next week!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Amazing Race 21, Episode 7

What??? "To Be Continued"??? What is the meaning of this? Either a team is out this week, meaning the schedule is still correct, or a team is not out this week and they have one too many teams for the episodes they have left. Or they are just messing with my head, which is entirely possible and far too easy to do.

So, if the Longhairs' cab driver has taken off with their stuff, does that mean he left without getting paid? Why would he do that? I know Russia is one crazy country when it comes to money and belongings and "the collective" and shit, but still, you'd think the cabbie would notice he hasnt' been paid yet. I guess Killer Fatigue got to the Longhairs and they left their stuff there because they're just so befuddled. I know when I travel, I keep my passport on me all the time and reassure myself that it's still there like a million times a day even though I look like I have developed a raging case of OCD for the duration.

I read somewhere on the internet this comment,which made me laugh out loud: "If their meltdown is karma-related, I'm thinking an incident involving cocaine and at least one dead groupie factors in. "

Both those Detour options looked like a bitch. I still think the Library task would have been easier, though, given that synchronized swimming is freaking hard. Have you ever tried staying upside-down underwater in a tuck position, all the while smiling like you're trying to break your face? Believe me, it's not for sissies.
I loved that the Chippendales gave it a shot, and I loved them even more that they were good at it. Plus, the little flowered swimming caps and the bow ties sealed the deal for me. (But really, they had me at "speedos".)
Jaymes (I think that's the blonde one) definitely has the best lines: "We looked like Mama, from Mama's Family." (Also, later when they were on the bridge and he shouted out to that random Moscovite girl: "Hey! What club you goin' to? This is Moscow! Club gear at 3 o'clock!")

Mostly, I am supremely grateful that Rob and Kelly were out by this leg, because what if they had done the swimming task? Rob in a speedo! Oh, the humanity!

I'm sorry, but Little Gay Goat Farmer's attempt at diving was one of the funniest things I've ever seen. Ever. We must have rewound that and watched it about 20 times. It never got old. It was like watching a Saturday Night Live skit.

It was nice to see Ryan, Mr. "I want more first place finishes than anyone else", get served a big old humility sandwich. One hour's connection time is really, really tight, and also, I figured if you get to your destination at a weird hour like 4 in the morning, there's more than likely an Hours of Operation bunch so no one gets too far ahead of everyone else, so gambling on a tight connection to get you there to hang around with the rest of the teams for a few hours doesn't seem like a good bet.

Maybe if the two last teams arrive on the Amazing Bathmat at exactly the same time, it will be like the Hunger Games and no one has to die.

So, they kind of gave away who's still in it in the "next week" previews. Ryan has a little meltdown during a task, so clearly, he's not doing that in a nice hotel in Acapulco. But I guess it's still up in the air who is out.
And, also, no one said the words "farm" or "Monster Truck" this episode, so I'm happy.

Until next week!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Amazing Race 21, Episode 6

I'm officially off the Twinnie train. I thought their keeping that money was just awful. Especially since the Rockers had plenty of time to figure out something to do, so it wasn't going to make much of an impact on their performance on the next leg, and because forcing people to beg in a country as poor as Bangladesh is really, really low. Particularly when we saw the legless guy in the wheelchair begging as Ryan and Abbie got into their taxi.

I thought the guy on the street ("you are my guest") and the cab driver who was so very proud of his countrymen, were just wonderful.

I did think that the Rockers handled their misfortune incredibly well; no drama, no blame, just figured out a way around it and got on with it. I'm pretty sure that money issue won't be their downfall, just as I'm pretty sure Abba's knees will be.

Also, aren't Trey and Lexie commited Christians? Is there a new part in the Bible I don't know about that says "Benefiting from someone else's crime is a-okay by Me."?

I'm glad Rob is out....his continued crowing about how much smarter they were than everyone else, and such individuals and thought for themselves and did their own thing blah blah blah  when it was clearly the dumbest move ever was getting annoying. You know why you don't see any other teams? Because they're all ahead of you.
Having said that, his exit speech on the mat was much sweeter than I thought it would have been. And Rob was definitely NOT the racer I thought would be dancing during this leg.

Wait, Josh and Brent lost their jobs at some point?? And have a farm? Why did they never speak of this before?
And they saved their whole town?? I hope they did it by putting on a show in a barn, and keeping Old Man Potter from ruining George Bailey's business and then dropping a house on a witch.

I liked this Speed Bump, mostly because the ice cream vendor was messing with them in such a delightful fashion. Can you see Ryan at that? He'd have just grabbed the vendors arm and manhandled that cone out of his hands. The only way that could have gone better is if Josh or Brent was lactose-intolerant and had to eat two ice creams.

I literally laughed out loud when Jaymes said "We have no idea where we are in the placings. Y'all are gonna have to look at the bottom of your screen to see what's happening."
These two are my favorites, and not just because I got to see them shirtless in the bathhouse.

Favorite LIne of the Night: Ryan snarking that the Twins are "so juvinile", and then following it with "They can suck it", like he's 12.

Nice to see Brent and Josh actually DO something when they were stuck in traffic. Mostly, their default reaction to adversity is to whine a bit and then try to figure out how the tall one is to blame.

I so wish the Amazing Race had a reunion episode, like on Survivor, when everyone gets together AFTER having seen the show....the Rocker's reaction after seeing the Twins keep their money would have been interesting.

Next week, James and Abba appear to lose everything. I've seen 7 year olds who are better at keeping track of their stuff.

Until next week!



I'm now disappointed that TAR doesn't have a reunion episode like Survivor. I'd love to see that confrontation

Monday, October 29, 2012

Amazing Race 21, Episode 5

We were due for a Non-Elimination Leg, so I'm happy enough that it came at the end of what seemed to be gruelling physical leg. As for the Gay Goat Farmers, they powered through a fairly rough day, and kept their cool, so kudos from me.
There's no team I'd dying to see go at this point, so every week will be "oh, that's too bad" from here on in, I think.

Trey and Lexi left the Pit Start a full four hours after the Long Hairs, so I'm betting there will be some major airport or Hours of Operation Bunching in the next leg.

If Ryan's "longtime goal" is to beat Dave and Rachel's record of 8 first place finishes (and remember, his "longtime goal" is from last season. Which started taping a month or or so before this season. I have canned goods older than that.) why didn't they take the Fast Forward in the last leg? Because that would have guaranteed at least on more first place finish, if not this leg, too.
 And does anyone else think that is the stupidest goal ever? Really, I'd rather get ONE important first place finish at the end of the whole thing, who cares what you do the rest of the time? Ryan's sour face at the Amazing Bathmat pissed me right off; you're the only ones who have a chance at TWO million dollars, buck up and stop yer snivellin', big boy.
And Abby rocked this leg, so he should stop with the pouting.

I thought it was funny that Nadiya thinks Ryan is a tool. He is, but so is she.

I love the Twins, I really do, but I can see how I would not want to be confined in a small space with them for any length of time. It's like they are both set on ALL CAPS ALL THE TIME! But I did like when the one got the little boy to shout "Go, Twinnie!" at the scale challenge.

That was a lot of eggplant. Even if you like eggplant. Which I don't, particularly.

Why, when it so was blazing hot, did Kelly wear two shirts, one with long sleeves? And long pants, too? I get that Bangladesh is a Muslim country, and to not stand out you might want to keep covered up, but A) one shirt probably would have sufficed, and B) there didn't seem to be any women hanging around anywhere; I'm pretty sure white, blond women with camera crews following them stand out in Dhaka, regardless of their attire.

Natalie and Nadiya bonking into the cameras never gets old. I liked the sound effects that came with this one, too. I'll bet the Amazing Cameramen do "rock, paper, scissors" every morning to determine who has to go with the twins. And they demand hazard pay.

I really felt sorry for the citizens of Dhaka who were going about their business as usual, only to be thwacked in the head with some bamboo by clueless Americans on bicycles. That cannot have been pleasant. Isn't it bad enough they live in Dhaka?

I love the Ja(y)meses. I love them. "If you're going to be dumb, you'd better be strong."

I swear to God, I'm going to start a drinking game whereby I take a shot every time I hear the words "monster truck" or "farm". I should be plastered by the first commercial.

Did Phil say that the Pit Stop was a "crack museum"? I could have sworn he said that.

The greeter's sari was beautiful. I love saris anyway, I love the materials and the colours and the drapey-ness and the whole "how to be comfortable in hot weather" thing. I wish they had put Phil in one.

I feel badly for Long Hair James and his family. That would be very difficult to hear that your father is terribly ill and you are so far away. But if it was my son or daughter on the race, I'd kill them with my bare hands if they quit and came home.

Until next week!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Amazing Race 21, Episode 4

Thank GOD that is finally over...Gary and Will dragging their asses across the world was never going to get any more enjoyable. I don't think those two had one moment of  fun the entire time, and I'd like to think that there were better "superfans" to cast than them. It was like watching Piglet and Eeyore in a mopearoundtheworld.

I think Dhaka was possibly one of the most challenging destinations they've ever had on this race. Between the heat, the crowding, the traffic and, I'm sure, the smell (dead rats and raw sewage!), I'm surprised nobody disintigrated like a cake left out in the rain. Given that this is fairly early on in the race for this sort of culture shock, and Killer Fatigue is starting to set in, I'm pretty impressed that there were no tears. Especially from Will and Gary.

That was one nasty Fast Forward. My cat is a pretty fierce hunter, and I'm used to dealing with a multitude of dead rodents that require disposal; but those rats are much bigger than the voles and mice I'm used to, and oh, my I'll bet they stink.
(Side story: we used to have a cat, named Luther, that was around when Thing 1 was born. When we brought her home from the hospital, Luther's killing spree of mice and birds and such was impressive; he really ramped up the carnage. He'd bring the poor dead thing over to our bedroom window and meow loudly until one of us admired his offering ("Oh, that IS a big one!"), and then he'd try to bring it in the house, which, as you can imagine, we discouraged. I asked a client, who was a vet, about this and she told us that Luther viewed the baby as a kitten who needed to be fed, and since he didn't see anyone of us bringing any dead mice for her, clearly, it was up to him to do the task. It was months before we could step outside in the morning without dodging 3 or 4 little dead bodies.)
I think I would still rather collect dead rats than shave my head, however.

"TWINNIE!" is the new "BABE!" I get that that sort of energy works for them, but I'm with Rob, I would probably haul off and belt them just to shut them up sooner or later.

On the long list of Things To Bring With You On The Race: (along with duct tape, a calculator, a nose plug, gloves, an axe, a Chinese-English dictionary), a Haz-Mat suit.

One of my very, very favorite scenes from this episode is when Jaymes and James were talking to the Goat Farmers about their drag queen days. Who could make this stuff up? How often does one get to work the phrase "when I was a drag queen" into regular conversation? Especially while sewing up a mattress in Bangladesh?? "Aquadesiac" indeed!

I think Monster Truck Rob is the only racer I really dislike at this point. What an entitled asshole. Apart from the fact that its YOUR clue, YOUR responsiblity to get to your destination, not some hapless local who probably can't read English, it's only Leg 4 of the race, you are still nowhere NEAR winning that million dollars; that guy didn't lose you a dime.
 Besides, it's all kinds of offensive when a rich American berates a Bangladeshi for not helping him win more money that that poor guy will ever see in 30 lifetimes. I've never seen Rob offer to split the money with any of the locals he's yelled at.
Has Kelly done a Roadblock yet?

I had no idea that Sprite has so many super powers! Disinfectant! Small engine repairs! Does it fight stains and whiten whites, too?

We should be due for a Non-Elimination leg soon.

Until next week!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Amazing Race 21, Ep. 3

Up until about 5 minutes before the end, I was hoping Will and Gary would be out, just so that we could all be put out of their misery. But then Caitlin and Brittany (and of course they are named Caitlin and Brittany. Just look at them.) got all Lindsay Lohan on their taxi driver's ass and in about 2 seconds I was fervently wishing they would be out. Thanks, Universe, I appreciate that.
But Gary and Will are circling the drain, and their whining about how badly they are doing is tedious.

No matter how much you yell, it will not teach other people to speak English. I get that it must be frustrating to not be able to communicate in a foreign country, but please, for the love of God, could you not behave as if the entire world is somehow a badly run subsidary of the US? Shrieking and screaming and hurling abuse at the locals is just rude.

That was one of the most ungracious out-going talking heads I ever saw. Telling yourselves that you are better than the racers that are left is somewhat negated by the fact that they are still in it and you are out. The two blond girls can bitch and moan about having been screwed by their taxi drivers, but they still bled a ton of time trying to pay their driver (because, I think, their bills were too big and no one had enough change.....I always ask for money in small bills when I travel.) and they wandered around looking for the U-Turn booth. Bad racing.

Thing 1 is a waitress at a diner; she'd have rocked that Roadblock!

Those twins are growing on me. In the first episode, they annoyed the snot out of me, but they have won me over with their enthusiasm and good attitude. Of course, I can be turned off at any moment, but that's a risk they will have to take. When the one twin ran straight into the camera, and didn't even bat an eyelash, and the other one didn't even notice,  I think I loved them right then. By the way, thank God for the 30-second rewind button on the PVR, because I think Thing 1 and I watches that about 20 times.

Also, when, during the Roadblock, the one doing it said "When Natalie screamed at me, that helped me to relax." This explains so much about these two. Screaming at me would have exactly the opposite effect, but now I know why the twins have their volume dialed up to 11 all the time.

The Chippendales are quickly becoming my favorites....the blond James in particular. They are so goofily enthusiastic about everything. "I'm tasting years of Indonesian culture. And it is not pleasant."
Also, Thing 1 and I had to rewind watching them fight their way into that little Indonesian pedi-cab a couple of was like watching toothpaste go back into the tube. "It's like we were on our honeymoon!"

I get that different cultures have many, many aspects that may be puzzling or unusual to our way of thinking, and that one has to be respectful and mindful that just because it is different doesn't mean it's necessarily bad, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that Indonesian music isn't actually music. In fact, it is the opposite of music.
Having said that, I have got to love a culture where one of their beloved traditions is to fry and egg on someone's head. I have no idea how this came about, or even why, but I'm a hundred percent in favour of it.
When they were at that task and the guy ripped apart the coconut with his mouth, Thing I and I both channelled my mother and bellowed at the same time "DON'T USE YOUR TEETH!!". Growing up (and indeed, even now) my mother had a deep and passionate abhorrence for us opening anything, anything with our teeth, even popsicle wrappers or bobby pins.  Probably because she paid the dental bills. Coconuts would have been compeltely off limits.

Next week, Rob berates a local for not helping him win a million dollars. In Banglasdesh. One of the poorest countries in the world. Asshole.

Until next week!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Amazing Race 21, Ep. 2

It always sucks to see a team go home entirely because of taxi luck. I really liked Amy and what's his head, and it's too bad they are gone through no fault of their own.

I read "Pudong Airport" as "Pudding Airport", and was momentarily reallly thrilled.

The bull racing task was more of a time-killer than an actual task. Other than "not falling off and being embarrassed in front of 10,000 Indonesians", the racers actually didn't actually have to do much. I manage to not embarrass myself in front of 10,000 Indonesians every day.

That had to be the most freaking adorable child ever giving that clue at the balloon challenge. It was the tiny Harry Potter glasses that got me.

And I have to say, the Chippendales were so delighted and goofy about working with kids, my Grinchy little heart melted a little. Those two may not be the brightest bulbs on the chandelier, but anyone who gets all that puppy-like enthusiastic about working with kids goes way up in my books.

Team Monster Truck needs to stop berating locals who are doing their best to get the job done. Gues what, Yellow Beard? Random Indonesian Taxi Driver is trying to make a living, he doesn't care that you are in a race with a bunch of other relatively rich Americans to win a boatload of money. Stop trying to make him care by yelling at him.

The Twins redeemed themselves somewhat from last week's screaming bitch-fest, but Mother of God, could you please turn down the volume? You don't need to SHOUT OUT EVERY SINGLE THOUGHT IN YOUR HEAD, you know.

"Kick-Ass Sri Lankans". Band name!

Who knew that "tying balloons" would be another skill one has to put on the "Things I Need To Master Before Going On The Race"?

I want to root for David and Goliath, I really do; any "uber-fans" of the race have a soft spot in my heart but, RACE, dammit! Saying "we're not going to run" makes it very difficult for me to root for you.

Favorite Line of the Night: "If there's one thing gay guys are naturally good at, it's making balloon animals." Words to live by.

That preview for next week didn't tell me a damn thing about what's going to happen next week.

Until next week....

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Giving Thanks

It's Thanksgiving here in the True North Strong and Free. Canadian Thanksgiving, unlike American Thanksgiving, is in October and has nothing to do with Pilgrims. We just thought we'd like an opportunity to have a long weekend about 6 weeks after school begins, and a good excuse to eat ourselves into a food coma in sufficient time to recover enough for Christmas.

I am thankful for many things in my life:

  • Velcro. Velcro is magical.
  • Coffee. A legal drug, cheap and widely available. That first cup of coffee in the morning always, always gets a minute of my time to appreciate it.
  • My PVR. Being able to record shows and pause them while watching them and then watch them without commericals is nothing short of fabulous. Plus, setting a PVR to record is so much freaking easier than VCRs used to be. Back in the day, you would take a half an hour to set up your VCR to record a show you really wanted to watch, and then you'd come home to find you'd managed to tape an hour of the Weather Channel. It would make you weep. With the PVR you do not have to pay the teenager next door to come over and  make sure you have everything set up ok. And, there's no annoying "12:00" flashing endlessly at you, either.
  • Universal Health Care. My dad was pretty sick last year; he had three surgeries in 5 days, 3 stints in the ICU and spend four months in hospital. He had exceptional care; surgeons, nurses, respiratory therapists, physiotherapists, doctors, social workers and every specialist you could imagine, all wonderful.  And he's alive today because of that care. And we never had to worry for one second if we could afford it or not; all we had to pay for was the parking.
  • My husband doesn't spit. I regularly see men walking down the street who hork up a loogie and spit it out on the sidewalk; its disgusting. I am ever so thankful that the man I married has no prediliction whatsoever to do this.
  • I can read in a moving car. I know loads of people who get all woozy and nauseous when they read in a car, and I wasn't even aware that this was a problem until a little while ago. Reading in a car does not make me sick, and in fact, I think it probably makes me a considerably more pleasant passenger. For me, an 8-hour drive to Montreal is not an endless marathon of boredom, like it is for lots of people. but an uninterrupted and totally permissible excuse to read for hours at a time without feeling guilty because I am not cleaning the house.
  • I haven't been bored in years. Between reading, scrapbooking, knitting, cooking, the internet and working, looking after a house and raising a family, I can't remember a time when I thought "what am I going to DO with myself today?"
  • I lost 20 pounds since March. Because the weather is getting colder, I am putting on all sorts of clothes lately that I haven't had on in months. The immeasurable pleasure I get from zipping things up and having them fit never gets old.
  • My iPhone. I love my phone. I love it. I use it endlessly: I text my daughters all the time (they might not think that's as wonderful as I do), I check my e-mail and my Facebook, I check the weather forcast, see where an address is located in the city, check the hours of a business, count the rows in my knitting, find out where the nearest Starbucks or Tim Hortons are, listen to music and find out where that plane going over my house is headed to. Occasionally I make phone calls on it.
  • I have a very nice life for someone who doesn't work very hard.
  • Nutella.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Amazing Race 21, Ep. 1

HELLO RACE!! Nice to see you back.

What was with the Partridge Family bus at the beginning?

The really are trying to cast people who we can tell apart, aren't they? "Double Amputee Who's Been Dating Her Partner On and Off for Ten Years", "Monster Truck Champions", "Twin Sri Lankans", and of course "Gay Goat Farmers". (Gay Goat Farmers is a demographie that has been woefully underrepresented in the past.) Next time around they are going to be seeking out "Inuit Lesbian Poets" and "Honey Boo Boo and a Dugger Kid Who Turned Out To Be Gay" just to go easy on us.

Just to tell you, I am never going to be able to tell which one is the lawyer and which one is the rock musician.

I like the Chippendale dancers, and not for the reasons you are thinking. They seem very nice and sort of dim and really pumped about doing the Race. I wonder, however, what possible circumstance they could find themselves in where "slapping on the ol' collars and cuffs" would improve the situation? Lost in downtown Tokyo? Nope. Rolling cheese down a hill in Austria? Not really. Learning a dance routine in Bollywood? Possibly. Time will tell.

Why does the Monster Truck man have a green beard? The hairdresser in me says he needs a better toner on that after the bleach job. And I have to question the wisdom of having the little luggage on wheels. That might work for a quick trip down to Orlando, but running on cobblestones in crowds won't be very much fun. Besides, those things always remind me of stupid dogs, following you around like that.

Wow, remind me to never have a camera attached to any helmet...those things are hella unflattering. Everyone looked like they were a Seuss character.

Shreiking Twin has got to stop. It's hard to concentrate on anything (including watching your favorite show) with that caterwalling going on in the background.

I hope that little Chinese ping-pong champion doesn't speak English; she's bound to get a complex from all those people referring to her as "he". I did really, really like the sound of the frying pan hitting the ping-pong ball, though.

Oh, food challenges in Asia are always a delight, arent' they? I just wonder at the though process that went into "hmmmm, what can I do with these pesky fallopian tubes; it's a pity there are so many of them going to waste. I know! Papaya! Problem solved!"
Thing 1 said that your motto in Asia should be "Eat First, Puke Later". I think I'll get a t-shirt with that on it.

I'm surprised at how many people didn't know what an abacus is. (One racer said "why doesn't she just use a calculator?" abacus is a calculator, Einstein. One with the advantage of never needing batteries. I actually remember being taught how to use one when I was in early elementary school, and no, it was not in the 1890s. Some hippy substitute teacher who was probably a Communist spent an afternoon showing us how an abacus works. I don't remember much about it except that we somehow managed to have 30 abacuses {abacai?} in a school that regularly did not have toilet paper past March every year.)

I think they should have another whole Race where they only cast teams that were out first or second on their season. It would be nice to give them another crack at it. But who would want to be out first BOTH times they tried it?

Until next week!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Loudshoes in Quebec.

This past week was our first bit back at work after two weeks of holidays. I usually sigh and re-enter my life after holidays with a bit of and effort, but this time, it seemed right and true and wholly appropriate to get back to work. Maybe it was because we had a really nice, really relaxing time for the two weeks, or maybe it's that I was ready to get back to my routine, or maybe it was because I like my job and was eager to feel useful and needed and productive. Or maybe it was because I liked the idea of talking to someone I wasn't related to, or that I needed to make some money.
Regardless of the reason, it was nice to like going back to work.

We had a wonderful holiday, and it's not lost on me that, because my daughters are getting older and on the cusp of leading their own lives, and maybe will not want to go on holidays with their parents much longer. (When my mother suggested this to my father when my brother and I were around the same age, he confidently told her "as long as we're paying, they'll come.")

We went to Ottawa and saw the fireworks on Parlaiment Hill, which is something every Canadian should do sooner or later; it's a spectacular setting. There's something very satisfying about watching fireworks on a warm summer night with your family a a couple of thousand other people.

Then we went to Montreal for a few days, which is always a delight.
Iparticularly love Old Montreal. One time, when I was there with some of my cousins from Europe, I wondered out loud why, when they first settled Montreal in the 1700s, why did they build everything so close together? I mean, all they had was room, millions and millions of acres of land all around them, and they cram the buildings in on top of each other....what the hell? And my cousins, after a bit of thought, said that, compared to some of the oldest streets in Paris and Edinborough, these streets ARE wide....that there's streets there you can barely fit two horses going in opposite directions. So, yeah, I guess what is now Old Montreal was spacious and roomy by those standards. Also, I guess you have to remember that those millions of acres of land was filled with understandably hostile natives who would have been happy to slaughter any intruders bent on converting them to Christianity, and also, the winters there are freakishly cold, and maybe living on top of each other wasn't the worst idea in the world. Anyway, Old Montreal is fascinating and beautiful and entirely enchanting.

Later, we went to the Laurentians, where Big Liver Girl and her husband very generously allowed us to use their condo. Our girls had never been there, and were A) happy to finally see what I've been talking about for years, and B) delighted to be somewhere that everyone had their own rooms, and they could hang out and relax instead of having their mother constantly shreiking that she didn't drive all this way to sit in a hotel room and watch "My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding".

The ski hill in Ste-Sauveur becomes a water park in the summer, and it is, hands down, the best water park I've ever been to. How can you not love a water park that requires you to take a chair-lift to the top of the water slide? And water slides that require a helmet?
Here is a shot of the Mister and I coming down a slide that rattled my brain and rearranged my internal organs and left us bloodied and bruised. I don't know if you can zoom in on my face, but I look like I'm either in dire need of medical intervention, or a good, stiff drink. (Maybe they are one in the same, I don't know.) Anyway, Thing 1 took this picture while standing on a little bridge, and she said she could hear me way before she could see me.
On another slide, we had to manoever our way down the mountain on a an inner tube while negotiating a series of slides and little pools that had us crashing into each other (and strangers), and laughing hysterically. I'm not going to lie, I'm pretty sure we all incurred a bit of brain damage on that ride.

After we walked home from the water park, and we compared bruises and battle scars. The Mister's worse complaint was where his knees clonked together so hard he had two egg sized lumps and some impressively livid bruises on the inside of his legs. (He said he had trouble sleeping that night, because it's hard to get comfortable when every position requires your knees be involved somehow.) I had a sore shoulder from slamming into Thing 1 so hard I shot her over the lip of a slide, and Thing 2's elbows looked like she had been sandblasted.

It was a good day. And we weren't even done yet!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

On The Road Again

The Loudshoes family is currently on vacation; we left last Sunday for Ottawa, and then spent a few days in Montreal and now are in Ste-Sauveur, just north of Montreal in the Laurentians.
It was about a 6 hour drive to Ottawa from our house, then another 2 to Montreal and an hour more to Ste-Sauveur. Welcome to Canada: the Land Where Everything Is Far From Everywhere!

I don't mind a long drive; a good road trip can be almost as much fun as the actual vacation. I can read in a car without getting sick, which means I get plenty of uninterrupted book time, and it is an unparalleled opportunity to have a nap. I can get a lot of knitting done, too. It's pretty quiet in the car,
the Mister is usually a man of very few words, and he requires very little entertainment while he drives. What he thinks about for all those hours I do not want to know. (Once, when the Mister had a kidney stone and was all hopped up on Percoset, I drove us to Montreal with him nattering non-stop in the seat beside was torture. In his drug-induced haze, he read every single road sign out to me for 500 miles. "It's 127 km to Kingston!"Every. Single. One. Throughout our marriage, I've been known to beg him for the occasional conversation, but right there and then I decided that him shutting up was the key to our success.)

Also, I'm of the firm belief that there are no calories in a moving vehicle, which means that one can consume as many potato chips, ju-jubes, peanut butter cookies and coffee as one's constituion and bladder will allow. Of course, this also has something to do with the fact that I have some control over where and when we stop, as well as how good the snack are in the cooler.

I remember many a long drive as a kid where I thought it would never end, and hell consisted of a hot car doing Mach 1 endlessly down the 401. Part of the problem, of course, when you are a kid is that you have no clue about how long this is going to might have been put in the car to go pick up the dry cleaning, or you might be in there for the rest of the day, who knows?
Big Liver Girl told me a story that illustrates this nicely; when her now brother-in-law was about 7, his entire family (2 parents, 5 kids, of which he was the youngest) got into the station wagon (circa 1973....any bets on whether or not it had wood paneled siding?)to go to a hunting/fishing camp WAY far away. They drive all day the first day, stayed somewhere overnight and then piled in the car the next day and took off driving again. After about another 6 hours in the car, David asked with some exasperation "where are we even GOING???" like it had never occurred to anyone to tell him, and it really hadn't occurred to him to ask.

Two things have improved the summer family car trip immeasurably: air conditioning and IPods. Before air conditioning was commonplace in cars, there was no option but to keep the windows closed or have the windows open. If the windows were closed, you roasted. But if you had the windows open, it was only marginally cooler and considerably louder,  but you did have a hurricane force wind blowing through the car while you tried vainly to keep small children from being sucked out the window. After a few hours of that, you feel like you've spent the day Iin a wind tunnel. And your hair looks just bitching'.
Before there was any sort of personal musical device, one's choices were: A) play the radio for the whole car, or B) conversation between the passengers, or c) silence. Options B and C had their own dangers, depending on the temperment and current mood of the participants, and Option A meant that someone in the car was deeply unhappy, no matter what was playing. My friend Kelly's father thought that a perfectly reasonable compromise was to set the radio on "search" and have it play 5 second of every station along the dial, in a continuous loop. As you can imagine, that sent everyone batshit crazy in about two minutes.
Now, with the happy advent of earbuds and personal music devices, the car is blissfully quiet and no one is paying the slightest attention to each other. You would think this is exact opposite idea of an ideal family vacation, but in fact, it insures its success: the less we talk to each other, the better we get along. I never once had to threaten to stop the car and walk to Montreal by myself, as my mother once did.

When we get home, I hope my children appreciate the wonderful memories that their father and I strived to create for them, fuelled by potato chips and Ipods.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

First World Problems

Recently overheard at Starbucks: "Do you have any butter that hasn't been previously frozen?"

Why is it always Starbucks?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Work It Out.

The blog has been sadly neglected of late....I'm pretty sure my mother and Big Liver Girl are the only ones who have lamented that fact, and they can get me on the phone any time they want.
But I think I've had enough of a hiatus, and it's time I got back into it.

Thing 2 is 15 now, and she has been dying to get a job since she was about 8 years old. You see, she found out that people will pay you to do things, and since she would like to aquire a lifestyle that will demand enormous wads of cash, then gainful employement is the obvious place to start. (I'm just glad she didn't know about the lucrative possibilities of becoming a golddigger.)

Thing 1 has been working as a busser at a local restaurant for the past few years, and they asked her if her sister would like a job. Did you read that correctly? They handed her a job, just like that. And Thing 2 was all "well, I don't know if I want to work there". After I gently reminded her that she has no skills, no experience and that being offered a job was the rarest thing in the entire realm of human experience.
She took the job.

After her first shift, she came home pretty pumped; she's a fairly social kid, and new people and new experiences is right up her alley.

And, she was thrilled to come home with twenty-five dollars in her pocket! (She had no idea that the waitresses tipped out the bus staff, and so the bonus of coming home with cash in hand was totally unexpected.)
I said that the one really great thing about restaurant work was the tips...its dirty work and hard work, but the fact that you leave with cold hard cash in your hands was a decided bonus. I also said that when I worked in restaurants, I tried to live off my tips and bank my paycheques entirely.
She said, "what do you mean?" and I said "If I could swing it, I'd put my paycheques into the bank and try not to touch them at all, and just live off my tips, if possible. That way I'd have money in the bank and money in my pocket."

She gave me a hard, squinty-eyed look and said in a deadly, quiet tone...."There's a paycheque?"

She had no idea, she thought the twenty-five bucks was her pay. And, get this, she was happy with that. Imagine her delight when she found out she would get MORE than five dollars an hour! Capitalism has never looked so appealling!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Amazing Race 20, Finale

I'm thrilled at that finale! Art and J.J. didn't win! That's really all I cared about.

In other news, Dave and Rachel did win, which was fine by me; she really deserved that, she is the toughest chick I think I ever saw.  I wish he had been a bit less of a douchebag, (he could have merely appreciated the Hiroshima memorial without the "but Japan started it!" bit.) but you can't say they didn't earn that. When I saw that it was them who got to the Finish Line prematurely, I was sure Art and J.J would pass them and finish first, but then I saw how terrible Art was at the Hawaiian tobagganing, and figured everything would be okay.

Karma, it was really, really nice of you to show up just when we needed you most. When Art and J.J. said "follow them", after bitching about Rachel and Brendan "following" them  a few legs ago, it was exceptionally kind of you to bite them in the ass right then. And then you had them fail at a physical task that they were sure they would dominate....nice touch! Well played, Karma, well played.

I was so delighted that Art and J.J lost because of their own incompetence, not because someone else "betrayed them" (like, if they had been U-turned) or because of a taxi luck or even because of a task that was "too girly" that they "couldn't" have been good at. They lost fair and square.

Japanese game shows! I love Japanese game shows! No one does weird shit like the Japanese!

I laughed out loud at the "Conan and Kardashian" nickname. Speaking of which, I have to give Vanessa some huge credit for doing that running task with that banjaxed ankle; it sure looked nasty. I noticed at the final mat that she had a brace and seemed to not be able to put any weight on it. It's probably just as well that Mark and Bopper were already out; I'd have hated to see either one of them try that task. Apparently, Vanessa and Ralph are not a couple any more.

I noticed there was no memory task this time around.

Did anyone get what they were doing through that sushi bingo thing? Because I was lost...did they have to get the fish the announcer was calling out? Did they have to get certain fish in a particular order? Why not just pull all the sushi off the line and match the letters to the fish when you had 20 or 30 pieces? What were the locals at the tables doing, besides yelling and mugging at the camera? (Which is a good gig....I'd do it.) Thing 1 and I would still be there, if it had been us.
Can you imagine Big Brother Rachel at the Finish Line if she had shaved her head and still come in last? Not that I would have blamed her; I'd have pitched a hissy fit too if I looked like a boiled egg and didn't have a million bucks to show for it.

It's too bad Rachel is her own worst enemy, she actually is pretty good at the tasks and when things are going well, she's very competent. But when things are not going well she melts down and can't get past her emotions. I have no idea what Brendan sees in her...dude, that is how your life is going to be from now on, is that really how you want every disagreement, every car trip, every Christmas dinner to be for the rest of your life?

I liked how all the women were rubbing Bopper's shaved head at the Pit Stop.

This is the only show on tv that makes me tired just watching it.

Until next season!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Amazing Race 20, Episode 9

I knew Mark and Bopper were out before they even left their hotel room, but I still was sorry to see them go. (They left 3 hours behind the next-to-last team, and the rest of the day didn't look like it too much more than three hours to get through....they didn't stand a chance, unless someone else collapsed entirely, which, believe me, I was hoping Art and J.J. would do.)
 Those guys not only seemed to be having the time of their lives (despite the puking, the knee problems and the intravenous fluids.) and they showed what real friendship is all about. And it occurs to me that interracial friendships in rural Kentucky are probably not all that common even now, and those two make it look like it's no big deal. These guys completely won me over; I wasn't terribly keen on them in the beginning, mostly because Bopper has no inside voice.

I've come to realize that there are a few unofficial rules about this race that one must internalize if one is going to get through this: 1) Never accept a food challenge in Asia  2) "Needle in a Haystack" options are always risky 2) A Fast Forward in India will mean you will be bald. 4) always accept a challenge involving poop; they are smelly but fast.
Also: one should learn to drive a stick-shift, learn Chinese, know how to read a map and not be afraid of heights, water, animals or poop.

I've figured out who Vanessa reminds me of! She's Gabriella Solis, from "Desperate Housewives".

I can't say I'm surprised or even mad at Rachel for not shaving her head; shaving one's head is a pretty big deal for a girl, and an even bigger deal for a 12 year old girl, which Rachel is. I think I would have done it, but then again, I've been a hairdresser for almost 30 years; I've had some pretty horrendous hair-dos over the years that shaving my head would have come as a welcome option. I'd be some pissed, though, if I'd have come to the Pit Stop with my shaved head only to find out that everyone else checked in before I'd taken the clippers to my noggin.
At least Bopper's hair will grow back...remember the guys who had to get tattoos a few season ago? They'll have those stupid things forever.

Art and J.J. have slowly been falling apart since that whole U-Turn thing a few legs ago, no? I like how J.J. was offended that no one else took the fast forward, like it was done to him. I so don't want these guys to win.

I think I'd be happiest with Rachel and Dave winning; they certainly have played well and don't seem to be paying any attention to anyone else. I just wish he would take the stick out of his butt and enjoy himself a little more. And I'd like to get the name of the person who does Rachel's eyelash extensions, because those babies have stayed put.
And, you know what, I wouldn't even mind if Rachel and Brendan win....despite her fake tears and whining, she has stepped up when it counted, and he seems to be a steady player. (He rocked that wheelbarrow!) But mostly I would be okay with them winning because nothing would piss of Art and J.J. more, and that's always a plus in my books.

Please, please tell me that the team who comes in first at the finale but has to go back and finish the roadblock is Art and J.J. If that happens, I will totally believe in a just and loving God.

You know what's missing from this season? Drunken locals. Just sayin'.

Two hours next week!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Weird Things I'm Pretty Sure Only I Do.

Everyone has their quirks, and some of us have more than others. And, like most everyone, I have a few habits that I'm pretty sure are mine and mine alone. I'd be amazed if anyone else does this....

  • When I am driving and see a cat I yell "kitty!". Cows are mooed at. Pigs get a pass.
  • Sometimes when I get home and there is no one else here, I yell "hello!" to the empty house, to startle the serial killer waiting in the basement.
  • When I leave the house, I tell Toby that I'm leaving him in charge, and in case anything happens to us, he is to avenge our deaths.
  • Whenever I hear about the rap singer, Fifty Cent, I immediately re-say his name in my head as "Fiddy Cen". I usually say it out loud, too.
  • When I buys shoes, I always check to see that I actually have the correct size and that I have both a left and a right.
  • When I pack my groceries at the store, I think of the bags as a Tetris game, and try to get the stuff to make a perfect rectangle.
  • I "ruin" songs in my head. I make up lyrics that make no sense whatsoever, and I can never hear the correct lyrics ever again....."Hold me closer Tony Danza, count the head lice on the highway", or "another one rides the bus! And another gets on and another gets on, another one rides the bus!"
  • I try to picture certain people's faces as if they were born a hundred years ago or before that. As in "I can see her Victorian face", or "He looks like he could be medieval."
  • I hate to throw out photographs, because what if the person in them becomes famous someday, and I've thrown away a fortune?
  • I eat apples the same way, every time: first, you eat around the "equator", then turn the apple so that the stem is up, eat all around the top, then spin the apple so that the bottom is on the top, eat all around the bottom. It's the only way to eat an apple.
  • When travelling in an airplane, I wonder if anyone I know is looking at the plane. When looking at a plane, wonder if anyone I know is on board. Because, you know, that plane up in the air at 30,000 feet that is clearly not landing anywhere near me might contain one of my cousins from overseas, or Beyonce.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Amazing Race 20, Episode 8

Welcome to Bullshit Gender Stereotype Hour! Of course, I'm probably being too emotional about it, because I am a girl. Maybe dancing and listening to my frickin' husband would restore my equilibrium. As long as I don't hit a ball better than some man and destroy all his self-esteem!

One more instance of India being Kriptonite to racers. There is always one racer who gets cut off in the knees by India. Every single time.

Man, there was a LOT of whining about curve balls and men not being able to dance and getting screwed over this leg.....I guess real men have to have every little thing go exactly their way in order to get the job done.

Dear Border Patrol, You made me root for Rachel at that cricket task. Don't make me do that; I need a shower every time I think of it. P.S, I'm thrilled she beat you at a "real" sport, not a "girly" activity that you can dismiss.

I dont' know a lot about cricket, but I do know some, thanks to an uncle and male cousin in Ireland who spent the better part of an afternoon trying to enlighten me as to it's most basic points. (Conclusion? Cricket, like most sports, should only be enjoyed by those who give a rat's ass.) From what I could see, those bowlers were going so easy on them....a bowler who was trying would have had J.J. in tears within a couple of minutes. The point of throwing the ball is to hit those three little wickets behind the batter; the way J.J. and Art were trying to hit it like a baseball meant that they weren't holding the bat anywhere near where the ball usually goes.

How much did I love that it was a Non-Elimination tonight? I'm sure Mark and Bopper are eleventy-two hours behind everyone else, and unless there is an "Hours of Operation" bunching coming up soon, they haven't got a snowball's chance in Cochin of staying in this thing, but I love that this was not their last shot at it.
One of the things I love about these two is that, through all that incredibly difficult, frustrating, exhausting task, neither one of them took it out on the judges, other racers or each other. Commendable. And, of course, I love them because of their succinct assessment of Art and J.J.: "They're babies."

. I saw on the net that Mark got some food and water and a rest before trying that last time. Which was good, because heat stroke is not something you want to fool around with. I'm sure he was already dehydrated from the puking on the bus. I'm not sure which would be worse: being out of the race, or winding up in an Indian hospital

I'm pretty sure that had Mark not succeeded that last time, that mob of angry purple dancers would have beaten the director to death. How long were they out in that sun, too?

I'm glad there was not too much time taken up with Art and J.J. duking it out with Rachel and Dave about the U-Turn. And I'm glad Rachel and Dave dont' really seem to care about it either. Apparently, they are supposed to be quaking in their boots about not being spoken to by Art and J.J. for the rest of the race, which is actually a huge bonus, if you ask me.

I really, really hope that there is one more U-Turn on this race, and that Rachel and Dave use it against Art and J.J.  I wouldn't care who wins this freaking race, it would be worth it just to see J.J's head burst into flames.

One of my favorite parts of the whole night was when Mark slipped into "Pirate Speak" on that bus, and announced he needed some "fresh arrgh!" I nearly herniated myself laughing at that.

Blond Rachel really nailed the dancing task, and the driving task too. It's too bad her husband sees her as a barely acceptable liability that he has to tolerate before demonstrating his own awesomeness. It's like he just can't help being an asshole. Would it kill him to give her one compliment? She is rocking this whole race.

Vanessa failed Driver's Ed? Really? I'm shocked! She seems so level headed and capable. Of course, I forgot, she's a girl. Girls can't drive.

Thing 1 and I would have taken the driving task in a heartbeat; those things looked like golf carts, and we LOVE driving golf carts. It's the whole reason we golf! And neither of us could hit a ball with a bat if our loved one's lives depended on it; we'd be there still, a bit puddle of frustrated, weepy yuck. I'm sorry they didn't make them do the task out on the streets, like they have before. The horns alone were worth the ride.

Next week: Rachel says something in a whiny voice. Thankfully, only dogs can hear her.

Until next week!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Amazing Race 20, Episode 7

Where do I start? The whining! The bitching! The snivelling! And, for once, it wasn't coming from Sparkly Green Rachel!
Honestly, I thought Art and J.J. were going to lay down on the beautiful African ground and have a full blown tantrum there, complete with fist-pounding and kicking and screaming. Good lord but they are two noisy cry babies.
 It's not like Dave and Rachel screwed them over, they very reasonably decided not to U-Turn anyone because that was their perogative. Art and J.J whined more than the actual teams that were U-Turned. And Rachel was right, there was no need to U-Turn anyone, the "teachers" left the Pit Start three and a half hours after they did; they were hopelessly behind everyone.

I'm pretty sure they were so mad because A) they were hoping Rachel and Dave would use their U-Turn, thereby leaving Art and J.J. to use their U-Turn later,as well as doing Art and J.J.'s dirty work for them or B) they were mad Rachel and Dave came in before them, and they got beaten by a girl, again.  

I liked when they fumed "we're just going to run our own race from now on".....that's the whole idea of this thing, you two entitled nutsacks! It's not "Survivor"; you don't have to depend on anyone but yourselves to get through this thing.

That Tanzanian scenery was easily one of the most beautiful things they've ever shown on this race. I'm so glad I have HDTV. It looked like an incredible experience.

Dave of Dave and Rachel really has one default reaction to everything, doesn't he? He's either sleeping, or a dickhead. Why is everything her fault? I loved that Phil had to remind him that she is kicking ass at this thing, and maybe he should take his head out of his butt and see that.

I have to thank the producers for putting "I'm All Out of Love" in my head for the past 24 hours....that reference to Air Supply was all it took.

The way that leg was set up, I don't think Jaime and Nary had even the tiniest chance to catch up. I suppose the producers thought the bee task might freak someone out and add a bit of drama, but it really turned out to be a snorer.

Those greeters had the best hats ever!

I hope Bopper and Mark don't collapse and die on the next leg. I'd love for them to win, but it looks like they will either have heart attacks or need a leg amputation soon.

Until next week!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Amazing Race 20, Episode 6

 I figured this would be a non-elimination round when they said the racers had to put up their tent and then they'd have to spend the night there, especially when it was such a remote location. Otherwise, they'd have to say "I'm sorry you've been eliminated from the race. You have to stay here, though, with everyone else, until we can find you a nice hotel with running water, which is three days away."

I wish they had given me more of the incredibly gorgeous scenery that is eastern Africa, than two overgrown school girls sniping and bitching in the airport. Seriously, those two are each as bad as each other. Last season was really very entertaining because there wasn't so much sniping and bitching (unless you count Cindy at Ernie).
I think part of the problem I'm having with this season is that there's not very many likable or interesting people left. Even the ones that are likeable aren't that interesting.

Good God, did I just hear blond Rachel say "uh-oh...natives." Because, oh my. What is she, some Victorian missionary who's afraid they'll chop off her head and wear it as a necklace? YOU have come to visit THEM, girlie;  you can tone down the pearl-clutching and the swooning.

I'm sure the producers thought that jumping up and down for 60 seconds at 8000 feet above sea level was going to be way, way more challenging than it was, but really? That's a detour task? I'm a firm believer that one can stand anything for 60 seconds, and jumping in place isn't exactly straining the limits of human endurance. It looks like Mark and Bopper had a ball doing that, and I thought Bopper was pretty close to a heart attack more than once on this show.

You know how in grade school and high school you had that one friend who you sort of liked and sort of didn't, and you'd have fun with them that one time and you'd think "I've been a little hard on you,maybe you're not so bad after all", and then they would say or do something that would piss you right off and then you'd think "I knew there was a reason I didn't hang out with you!". Art and J.J are those friends.
Every now and then they do something, like give Bopper some money, and I'd think they weren't such ass-hats, and then they open their mouths, and with the next breath, make me want to punch them in the throats. "I feel like a woman", in the tent, made my head explode.
And dont' get me started on the "why are they always following us" whine........they're following you because they are going to the same place you are, you idiots. Did they want Brendan and Rachel to get to Kilamanjaro via Tokyo or something? And when there is only one tiny road out of the remote African villiage, yes, they are going to take the same road as you.
When Art and J.J. said that this was why they didn't come on the race with their wives, I'm sure the Mrs.s were sitting at home watching this, sipping their chilled chardonnay and thinking, "no, THIS is why we didn't go on the race with YOU."

 Those two douchebags sense of entitlement in winning this race is getting very tiresome. I was delighted that they came in third last night. And they were beaten by a girl, too.

My favorite moments of the night were when Mark said to Bopper "don't fart on me", which I would totally have said too, and when Nary and Jamie stopped, got out of the car, and watched the elephants. Because I don't care how much I would want to win this thing, I would never have passed up the opportunity to see elephants wandering around in the wild; that's a once in a lifetime chance.

That was the most spectacular Pit Stop ever.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Amazing Race 20, Episode 5

I was just getting to like those two lovable douchebags, and now they are gone. At least I don't have to type "Fitness" after Joey's name anymore. (I think I'm going to add a noun to my name from now on..."Mrs. 'The Carbohydrate' Loudshoes", or "Mrs. 'The Deity' Loudshoes", or even "Mrs. 'Accident Waiting to Happnen' Loudshoes". I'll work on it.)
You just knew they'd be smarting because they got beat by a girl.

"Cheese and crackers"? So, this is this season's "oh my gravy"?

Nice to see everyone jumping into the dancing at the temple, even if that was a LOT of noise and energy for 4:15 in the morning.

That oil-bathing task ranks, hands down, as the weirdest thing they've ever done on this show, and that is really saying something. I was laughing at Art or J.J's continued horror at the entire situation...."!" And they had the best local; he was really enjoying his hairy, gold-toothed self. I especially liked when Art or J.J. called for the attendent, and the Azerbajani piped in: Art or JJ: Ma'am? JJ or Art: Ma'am? Local: Ma'am?

That Roadblock would have made me puke....I hate enclosed places, I really hate being underwater in an enclosed space and the idea of getting spun around underwater in an enclosed space makes me all freaked out just thinking about it. I'm surprised no one had a spaz attack, as water tends to to that to Racers at least once a season. (I'll bet Big Brother Rachel would have not disappointed me. It seems to me like this is the sort of thing she'd really go to town on.)

Rachel and Brandon did not get a lot of air time this episode, which is fine by me. The less I had to look at that stupid green spangly headband, the better.

I kept hoping Dave would compliment his wife with something other than "you are such a workhorse!". "You are awesome", or "you rock" or even "that was quite a performance" are all better than "you are such a workhorse!".

Every taxi driver in every country this race has ever visited was cheering on that guy at the apple task who was yelling "faster, faster faster!".

I think, Nary, that the other teams do not see you as a threat, not because they think you are kindergarten teachers, but because you actually are not a threat. You've never finished in the top five, you've barely missed being eliminated a couple of times, and plus, I'll bet there are a couple of racers who don't even know your names.

I think my very favorite part of the show was when Vanessa and Ralph were in the carpet store looking for the clues. Comedy gold, my friends.

Judging by the previews for next time, Rachel and Vanessa channel their inner 12 year olds and get into a good, old fashioned cat fight. Maybe the good Lord will favor me and there will be a double elimination.

Until two weeks!

Monday, March 19, 2012

amazing Race 20, Episode 5

That was an awesome episode; great scenery, teams all over the place, Jerome the Gnome and Brandon falling on his ass. Good times.

I'm not surprised at Kerry and Stacey's demise; everytime we saw a shot of those two it was when they were having trouble navigating. If I were Stacey, I'd be some pissed, because Kerry was damn near useless on this race.
I'm so happy now that those two have shown me that, along with gay people, deaf people, short people, one-legged people and B students, women (I refuse to use the word "girls") who wear pink-lipstick can do anything. I thank them for teaching me this Very Valuable Lesson.

I'm not sure how ugly a mud rail fence is, but I will take Mark's word on that.

Jesus Christ in a wheelbarrow, that Rachel is one green sparkly twit. "I don't even know what a beard is?" Come. On. Either she's too stupid to live, or she's punking us. And although I once had a co-worker ask me if Venezuela was in Europe, I thought most of the population had a better understanding of geography than to think one could take a train from Austria to Bolivia. (Maybe Rachel thought they were in Australia! NOW it all makes sense!)

I really don't like Art and J.J much, but I have to admit, they are smoking this race all to bits. They had an eight hour lead over Mark and Bopper at the start. And even with the bunching at the beginning and everyone catching up to them at the beard task, they still managed to rock that and get out fast. Of course, picking the right castle helped, as well as taking the horse and buggy up the hill. I really, really want them to get served a big ol' whoop-ass sandwich sometime soon; it's not much of a race if one team wins every leg.

Holy schnikes! Ralph has been married and divorced three times?!?!? And he's only 36??? How does someone do that??? (Unless you are Ross Geller, of course.) I don't think I've met three men I'd willingly share a car pool with, let alone marry. (And that's assuming I'd find three men willing to marry me.) If I wanted to get married three times, I think I'd have to start dating women to make up the numbers.....And I'm delightful. How did that lunkhead find three women willing to marry him? And wait, there's a fourth woman all lined up to be next! Mind boggling.

Just for the record, Thing 1 and I would have absolutely wiped the floor with everyone on the beard  thing. Finally, a task where being a hairdresser and a teenage girly-girl comes in handy.

When Vanessa said "I've never seen so much snow in my life!", Thing 1 remarked, "well, that's a nice April day in Canada!". (Exaggerating a little bit....we are having a record warm March this year. But we've had days like they showed last night here before in April!) Between the beard styling, the driving in the snow, knowing exactly with castle they were looking for and the gnome curling, this particular leg of the race was made for us; Thing 1 and I would have walked away with it.

Even though I was very tired very quickly of Vanessa and Ralph's bickering, I did love her a little bit for the "you couldn't care less" correction. One of my pettest of peeves, that.

I loved the shot of all the cows turning their heads in unison when anyone came into the barn. It was like "oh, visitors!". I would have had a hard time not yelling "moo!" when I saw those cows, because I must "moo" whenever I see a cow. (Just for the record, I yell "kitty!" whenever I see a cat, too. Drives my kids nuts.)

Favorite Exchange of the Night: from the Jersey Shore Boys...."My hat looks kind of flirty - it has a fuzzy tongue sticking out."........pause.....""I don't know who he's going to find to flirt with today."

I'm pretty sure that Mark and Bopper were yodelling the same song as the one the Mountaineer sings on "The Price Is Right".

Why is it that all of the non-couple teams get along better than all of the couples? 

Until next week!