Return to The Amazing Kitten Race Episode Eleven Extra



The Amazing Kitten Race
EPISODE TWELVE, PART 1:
5 CONTINENTS. 15 COUNTRIES. 38 STOPS. 37,000 MILES

Author: watson (additional snarkage by Carleen)
Rating: Episodes are PG-13, Recaps and Behind-the-scenes are R or more.
Disclaimer: BtVS characters, concepts and dialog belong to Mutant Enemy, The WB, UPN and others. The Amazing Race belongs to CBS, Amazing Race Productions Inc, Touchstone Television Productions Inc, Jerry Bruckheimer Productions and others.
Thanks: Car of course, for beta-ing and piling on the snark
Notes: We don't often see the actual beta process in fics (except in the Beta Pens section), but all fics come to us already beta'ed and corrected. As a departure from norm, and to show you an actual example of how brain-sharing work, we're including the corrections and stuff. Besides, it goes to show how few typos I have. Corrections are in strike-through, as opposed to Car's snarkage, which are {pink and in curly brackets} - No, I'm NOT having the parentheses vs brackets debate, got that?


Episode recap

Part 1

I have to be on best behavior this recap, cos my gf and my beta have taken over reviewing and adding snide comments. I don't know how they managed to canoodle up to Sars and Wing to let them do this. {*Bonus points for using 'canoodle'...plus, you know Iím a good canoodler.*} Particularly my lovely gf. Of all the recaps she has to review, it's the one I'm writing at the bar at TARCon, sigh. [** I have my ways. Insert evil laugh here. Love, your gf. **]

Depending on who you ask, there are one or two 'countries' that are not members of the United Nations. Ever since Switzerland decided to join, only the Vatican and Taiwan are left at the little kids' table, and only if you count Taiwan as a country. I'm not even going to go into how it's known in different places. 'Chinese Taipei' doesn't really cut it, cos Taipei is a city and doesn't resemble a country. {*Can those of us in the US use the same argument for Washington, D.C.? I mean, itís not a part of any state. Oh! And what about the Vatican? Does that count?*}

Politics aside, Taipei is the latest Pitstop in the racearoundtheworld. Shot of the orange sun disappearing behind some skyscrapers. What's up with that? {*I could give you the astrophysical theory behind it, but letís not go there right now.*}

Eat / sleep / mingle sequence seems more tense than usual. At what looks like dinner, they sit around a large circular table, but they're doing a credible impression of pretending they're sharing the table with strangers. Like when the restaurant is full and you have to sit with other people even though you really don't want to and you try not to puke when they start chewing with their mouths open or talk loudly or pick their nose. That's the vibe I'm getting. {*Okay, bad visual...thanks.*}

No interviews, just Phil recapping the previous legs (hey! that's my job! Just because I'm at TARCon watching the finale doesn't mean you can take my job!). We see clips of each team and their downfall. Ah, how I've forgotten Darla & Angel, struggling with their computers. Ben & Glory, taking a taxi when they're told to take the subway. {*Well, those two couples are forgettable. Donít feel bad.*} Lorne & Cordy, who lost their clue, so tragic. Joyce & Sheila, undone by a ghastly alien model. Snyder & Flutie gagging over chicken gizzards, can I say "serve you right"? April & Andrew losing the most important footrace of their lives. Xander & Anya, who got sick. And finally Adam & Oz, who bet on the fast forward and lost. {*But weíll always have memories of Tarzan and Cheetah.*} Good times. Some of those teams, I actually miss.

What? No Buffy & Riley? Shit, they're still around, they win the prize for Team in Final Episode I Least Want to See. {*Who does?*} I'll do my best to ignore them this episode. {*Please do.*} So, shots of them begging for money, I'm not paying attention, I'd rather surf for bad taste porn, or feed my neopet, I have my laptop with me.

9.04am. Efficiency take the clue from the box and read it out loud. Immediately they learn that it's a Roadblock. Wow, that's new, the Amazing Producers are not wasting their time on this leg. In this Roadblock, the Racer has to go to a museum and help a master calligrapher produce a scroll of calligraphy of Chinese characters. {*No mention of what Faith is wearing? Youíre losing your touch here. Iím disappointed.*}

Robin seems disappointed that this isn't a physical task, cos he has to do it.

"We're best at tasks that involve strength and physical fitness, that's how we've come so far. We've been great examples of superior physical ability," Robin self-congratulates. While his arms can reach Stomper size, they haven't been bad either. So, though not usually my cup of tea so to speak, I've enjoyed Robin's Stompers. I'm giving this team the Eye-Candy Award, because every time Faith comes onto my screen, I'm a complete puddle of drool, even my gf says so. [** I've yet to meet a man, or woman, who doesn't get drooly at the sight of Faith, so I'll let you off this time, just don't get your drool all over me. Love, the person you drool all over. **] {*Well, sheís not my gf, so Iíll drool all I want.*}

9.07am. R.Randy count out the money, they have $495, which is, like, wow. Why don't the Producers give them the extra $5 and make it an even $500, what difference does five bucks mean? Dorks.

"Money has been tight all through the Race. With taxis and entrance fees and guidebooks, it doesn't leave much room for maneuvering," Rupert says. {*I now have an image of Rupert and Randy 'maneuveringĒ'- not pretty. Whatís with giving me scary visual images this episode?*}

9.10am. Lovebirds, taking a moment to be happy to be going to a museum. They run off to their taxi.

"I've seen calligraphy, it's more painting than writing," Tara comments.

"Oh, you should be doing this then," Willow replies.

"Nonsense, Baby, you'll do fine," Tara re-assures. Well, she has to say that, cos she's done her six Roadblocks. {*Can I keep these two when the show is over?*}

9.24am. Goldies. Man, the starting times are close, the closest I've seen for the start of the finale. They do the obligatory beg for money routine, I ignore them. {*Me too...Iím skipping this entire paragraph.*} If the anticipated spending for this leg is $495, they have a long way to go. Most of the begging is done by Buffy, in her Hayden halter top again, and if she denies she's using her sexuality, then I'm a lump of dodo poo. [** ewww, poo, you're just gross. Love, your gf, who really doesn't want to see you as poo. **]

R.Randy and Efficiency arrive at the museum, shortly followed by Lovebirds. The Roadblock is taken by Randy, Robin and Willow respectively. {*Technically, this is a passive sentence. It should read 'Randy, Robin and Willow take the Roadblock.' *} By my calculation, this is the last Roadblock, cos of the 6/6 rule and 6+6=12 last time I checked. [** did you have to use a calculator lol? Love, your gf, who doesn't want you to turn prematurely senile. **] {*Youíre such a number freak.*}

They set up at tables on which lay long strips of paper, a bit like a whole roll of kitchen paper unrolled. {*Kitchen paper? Thereís a type of paper thatís only used in the kitchen?*} The calligraphy master then teaches them how to hold the brush, dip in ink and splash on the paper. It's interesting, in a watching pain dry kind of way, {*I think you mean Ďpaintí - cuz Iíve never heard of watching PAIN dry. Is pain wet?* shuddup Car, that didn't come up on spellcheck, it's YOUR job as beta to check these things. — love, watty.} it's probably more fun to be doing rather than watching, probably cos I'm watching this while on my first martini. {*Whereís mine?*}

One thing I must say, Tara is right;, {*the semi-colon is your friend. Embrace it!*}this calligraphy business is more painting than writing. The objective is to paint a series of characters, but the strokes and patterns and the end result must pass muster with the master in residence.

Robin finishes quickly {*Oh poor Faith! Come to me, Faithy, I wonít finish quickly!*} and even I can see his work is nothing like the requirements. Randy and Willow are taking more care in copying the lines and shapes.

Goldies arrive and Buffy gets started on the task. I feel like I've stumbled into a kindergarten classroom with children doing their morning painting playtime session.

First to get approved is Randy, followed almost immediately by Willow. They do a little bow to the master, like he's a little buddha, only he's like 5'9". He gives them their clues. They are to find the Eslite bookstore and hunt for air tickets in the travel section. Oh, this is the famous 24 hour bookstore, hanging out there is like the coolest teenage thing, which is gratifying if I look at it from a responsible adult sort of way. I mean, kids hanging out at a bookstore is 5 million times better than at the mall, or park, or anything else I can think of. {*But since when have you looked at anything from a responsible adult point-of-view?*}

Phil helpfully reappears, {*Heís helpful?*} and I realize I haven't commented on his beautiful deep blue shirt, it really is a most pleasant shade of blue. I'm swooning. {*Dork.*} Deep Blue Shirt explains that in the Roadblock there are four sets of tickets for the next destination hidden amongst the books, two for a flight at 9.30am and two for a flight at 10.35am. Teams don't know which is the earlier flight and will have to make a decision when they retrieve a ticket envelope whether to take it. They're also not told which airline and destination, they have to take the ticket to the airport to learn that.

Sounds inane. Well, Needle in Haystack type of task I can stomach. But it looks like it's early morning, at most noon, and the flights are the next morning? What kind of sense is that? Enforced rest for the racers, I no longer wish to second-guess second guess the Amazing Producers, at least, not this close to the end. I really don't have the energy and the view from the bar is strangely comforting. {*Thatís cuz youíre a lush. And again I ask, whereís mine?*}

The bookstore is a huge, multi-story affair. They run to find the travel section and start their destruction of the order of the books. Customers at the store, quietly reading away, have their peace disturbed. Have you ever planned to spend a whole morning browsing and reading books at the bookstore? Yes? Planned for strange people in backpacks dashing around the shelves looking for clue envelopes? No? I don't think so either. {*But, isnít that what a portable MP3 player is for? To block out the obnoxious folks?*}

Meanwhile at the painting by numbers school, Robin gets his nod and the clue. Efficiency are off. I think there's one other team in the room, but I'm ignoring them. {*Me too.*}

Faith & Robin join in the Let's Pull Books Off Their Shelves fun and games. I love these Amazing Cameramen, there's a brilliant shot of first R.Randy, then Efficiency, running past a clue envelope half hidden between two books, and they don't notice! Hello! Looking for a clue means look on the shelves, not run past them! These are the teams that have made final four? {*No comment.*}

The clue is eventually picked up by Lovebirds. {*Of course! They are the best racers, dammit!*} I'm happy. It's the 9.30am flight. I'm happier. They debate whether to take the ticket or bet their chances on an earlier flight. My heart sinks. They decide to replace the envelope and look for other clues. I'm hyperventilating.

"We know where the envelope is now, but we're not sure if it's the earlier flight or the later flight. We can't take the risk," Tara explains, while looking behind a stack of books.

We stay on them, I start to scrape my fingernails against my palm. Shortly they find another envelope behind a large atlas. It's the 10.35am flight. They share a look and rush back to the first envelope. There's a bit of tension as they seem to be lost, but they find their way back. I breathe a sigh of relief.

R.Randy find the next 9.30am clue. They decide to take it, a risky and stupid move without confirming that it's the earlier flight, if you ask me. But then nobody asked, so I'll shut up now. {*Like that will last for very long.*}

The Team I'm Ignoring finishes at the museum and heads towards the bookstore, where Efficiency has located the 10.35am clue.

Goldies locate the clue; , {*What do you have against semi-colons? *sigh**} do I have to report that? {*Itís the responsible thing to do...but then weíve already established that youíre not responsible.*}

At the airport, teams find out that their next destination is Sapporo, Japan. The next clue is found at the Clock Tower. There should be some mystery to not knowing where the destination is, but it's a bit of a let down after all that effort.


Another day, another morning. Stock footage of planes taking off and landing. Teams on planes. Two Amazing Yellow Lines make their separate ways from Taipei to Sapporo, just to show how far apart the teams are.

"We're on the first flight to Japan. I've visited before on business, it's a very different country with unique language and culture. We're fully aware of that," Tara explains. She adds that they are aware that they are only one hour in front of the next two teams, and one hour's advantage can disappear very fast. She tries to look butch when she says that they're going to start being ruthless and cutthroat cut throat now. Well, yeah, girls, you've come so far without being butch bitches, may be it's not the time to start breaking out the power tools? {*Only if there is jello involved...and asparagus.*}

In the other seats are R.Randy. "We've been in front or near the front for a while, I honestly can't see us losing our position," Rupert says, rather smugly. He makes it clear that he is no longer going to be 'nice college professor', and will now be, well, a little less nice. Randy smirks in the next seat, and adds his two cents about being less nice. Which will be a lot more convincing if he isn't nervously playing with the six packets of peanuts in front of him. {*I always thought Randy likes to play with nuts.*}

They arrive at Sapporo and find their way onto an airport bus to town. Phil explains that Sapporo is the capital of Hokkaido, Japan's second largest landmass land mass. The island accounts for over 20% of Japan's land but less than 5% of its population.

The Clock Tower, called the Tokeidai, is a symbol of Sapporo. The building is of American design, and the actual clock made in the US of A. The building looks like a timber construction found anywhere in New England. {*Lovebirds arenít so much for the timber, though. HA! I crack myself up. I should be writing this stuff.*}

When R.Randy and Lovebirds arrive, they have no difficulty in locating the tower, despite the language difference.

"We just followed the tourist trail," Willow grinned. And boy, that place is full of tourists and their cameras. Randy especially, is surrounded by excitable Japanese teenage girls who want a picture of him, may be they think he's rock star. [** all bleached hair and craggy face, I can believe it. Love, your Rolling Stones loving love. **]

They find the cluebox next to a Kodak moment stand, and yes, there is a conveniently placed narrow platform with clear markings where you stand. ; {*Okay, points for trying to use a semi-colon, but thatís not the right place.*} and your Your photographer stands at another well marked spot, so all the tourist photos of the place look completely identical cos they're taken from the same angle and spot. Organized? What about lack of imagination.

The clue tells them to make their way to Furano where the next routemarker is found at the Farm Tomita.

They need to decide on how to get to Furano, a pretty little town made famous by rolling lavender hills. R.Randy decide to search for a tourist information center and head towards the railway station. Lovebirds, employing tactics they used effectively throughout the Race, find a luxurious hotel nearby and approach the concierge. As tactics go, this is pretty sound, I've noticed that they don't always rely on tourist information counters, instead they of have utilized knowledgeable sources, while ensuring the people they ask are used to communicating in English. [** you're just happy cos it's your beloved Lovebirds doing well. Love, your lovebird. **]

They are told the best way to Furano is by bus, and conveniently the bus station is within walking distance from the hotel. The journey is 2½ hours and it will cost ¥2,100 per person.

R.Randy, at the train station, are looking at train timetables. They exposition that the trains run every hour on the hour. The journey is 2 hours and costs ¥4,700 per person. They ask about alternate transport, focusing on taxis. What? Taxis? They don't have a bottomless well of funds, and they learn the truth rapidly. They're not told about the bus, and they don't ask. Colin or Boston Rob they're not.

The second flight arrives at Sapporo airport, which my EEFPs tell me is called Chitose. Thank you EEFPs. They de-plane and are on the airport bus into town; the shadows are longer, I think it's late afternoon already. I say a silent prayer that there's thereíre no airport or opening time bunching, cos I'm really sick of those suckers.

They arrive at the Clock Tower and Efficiency take a moment to admire the architecture.

"I feel strangely like I'm home," Faith quips. "This feels like some of the houses back in Boston." Hey! It's a RAAAACE! Do the building admiration afterwards, okay? {*Okay, time to chill out. If Faith is standing still admiring the building, thatís good. Cuz then I can stand still and admire Faith.*}

Goldies, like Randy, are asked to model for pictures. It must be the blonde hair, the Japanese don't seem to know the meaning of a blonde moment. Snerk. {***groan***}

They try asking directions to Furano at the museum, but come up short. Asking for directions while trying to keep from the prying eyes of the other team isn't as easy as it sounds. Faith looks over her shoulders and glares at Riley.

"Are you following us?" she asks him pointedly.

"We're doing the same thing you are, trying to find information," he smirks.

"Well, do it someplace else, you're creeping me out," she hisses. Riley snorts, but stays put.

A confrontation between the athletes is imminent, as Faith squares up and glares at Riley. Although she is a full head shorter than him, she doesn't seem to be disadvantaged. In the chest puffing department, she definitely wins. {*Okay, FINALLY a good visual image...puffy-chested Faith...yummy.*} Where I am, at the bar, there is a hush until someone yells "Give him hell, Faith!" and everyone cheers. I'm glad to be in good company.

Buffy intervenes and takes Riley away from the stare-fest. I'd like to know what she is thinking, probably along the lines of how pissy Riley will be if he loses the stare-o-rama to Faith.

Faith & Robin breathe a sign of relief. "He's a jerk, and a liar, this is not the time for information sharing, we're so close to being eliminated we have to actively hide information," Faith says. They manage to find someone who does a credible impression of a train, so they're off to the train station.

Speaking of hate, Goldies eventually find what they want, and they're heading towards the train station. {*Die, Riley! Die!*}


Amazing Yellow Lines, together with cute little trains and buses, head from Sapporo to the middle of the island. First to arrive are R.Randy. I'm surprised, I thought Lovebirds' bus may be quicker. I tell the bartender to get me another drink. [** ahem, honey. Drink too much and I'll start withholding, and you know what I'll withhold. Love, your devoted wif-- um, gf. **] {*If youíre not going to drink that, I will.*}

It's pitch dark, the town looks like one of those that shut down at 9pm, and only hobos and stray dogs roam the streets after that hour. Makes it hard to find information, such as how to get to the Farm Tomita.

"We're between a rock and a hard place. We need the tourist information office, but it opens at 8am tomorrow. We need to get to a farm, my gut feeling is that this farm is already closed, it's almost 10pm," Randy says. I don't want to know about Randy's guts or any other body parts, but he's probably right. {*But my gut feeling is that Randy likes it hard. [/snark]*}

They find an English timetable and confirm they need to take a local train that only runs half a dozen times a day. Welcome to the relaxed countryside! The next train leaves at 7.30am. Looking back, I'm not as frustrated about this bunching, because they managed to cram several activities into the day.

"The town is dead at this hour, I'm expecting tumbleweeds to fly past any moment now," Rupert jokes. (Well, originally I have a suitably insano exclamation about tumbleweeds, but I deleted it so my beta can snark, she loves those tumbleweeds she does.) {*Tumbleweeds ROCK. Rupert has just gone down a notch on my ďlist of people who are okayĒ by making such a disparaging remark. *}

Lovebirds have come to the same conclusion, but they decide to spend a little time exploring.

"To learn the lay of the land in case we need to come back to this town. Plus Faith, Robin, Buffy and Riley haven't arrived. We don't want to waste time," Willow says.

We see them in date mode, walking around under the dim streetlights and past darkened shop fronts, hand in hand and very sweet. I love it when the Amazing Editors give no doubt about who their favorites are, it's like they want to make a statement about it. I was actually talking to Willow & Tara at TARCon when that scene came up and there was a collective "awwww" from the people around us that totally embarrassed them. But more of that in my TARCon report, okay? {*BTW, still upset with you for hogging their time. I wanted a hug from them too, ya know!*}

Next we see them settling down for the night, as the next train arrives and the other two teams jump out. They're surprised to see the first two teams getting ready for the night, although Rupert explains about the timetable. Efficiency and Goldies are skeptical, but the professor just shrugs and tells them they're welcome to look.

They find the English timetable in question and find out the professor hasn't tried to con them.

"It's always the quiet ones, right now I'm not trusting anyone," Riley says. {*Asshat.*}

In the morning they board the Crystal Express train, which is small and cute and has large glass windows for easy viewing of scenery. They arrive at Farm Tomita and learn that they have to pick a bunch of fresh lavender, wrap it up carefully in twine and bring it to the principal of the Elementary School in Bibaushi, 10 miles away, on bikes.

The rush up the narrow pathways to the lavender fields turns into a version of Push'n'Shove, with Riley and Randy doing most of the push'n'shoving. This stupidity of course benefits Efficiency and Lovebirds. Efficiency get to the field first and set about picking their flowers. Lovebirds follow, with the idiot children bringing up the rear.

First team to finish and get on their bikes is R.Randy. I'm getting used to seeing them in front, is there something wrong with me? They're looking smug, and happy to be first. Randy does some fancy moves on his mountain bike, and earns a frown from Rupert, who tells him to stop showing off and help him find the way.

Second out, Efficiency, followed by Lovebirds.

"This is a great day for a bike ride, we're perfect for this task," Robin grins.

"We train regularly on bikes, riding long distances, to build up our stamina. 10 miles is nothing to us, though I can see how some other teams may struggle," Faith smirks.

"That's when we'll strike, swoop in and take pole position," Robin adds the obligatory sports metaphor.

Goldies are last, and both Riley and Buffy are looking mightily pissed.

"Riley, you have to stop taking things so personally! First you get into a fight with Faith, now it's Randy, it's not helping us, it's your fault we're last," Buffy yells. Oh finally! She realizes he's an asshat. {*Buffy just gained some points in my book. Heís such a wanker. (Did I use that term correctly?) - yes you did. Love, watty.*}

Phil explains that the whole area of Furano, Biei and Bibaushi is famous for rolling hills and breath-taking scenery. The best method of exploring the countryside is by bike through the well marked roads.

It feels like a mini-Tour de France, as eight Racers furiously pedal along quiet country roads. There is much panting and teeth-gritting. They're quite evenly matched, although Riley, Robin and Faith seem to be the most comfortable.

"We knew we're physically not as strong as the athletes, but for the first part of the ride, everyone decided to stay as a group, this helped us preserve energy," Willow interviews.

"But we knew that if one team breaks away, we'll have to find something deep in our reserves, so we kept encouraging each other," Tara adds.

"She kept saying 'you'll do great' to herself and to me, I love pep-talk Tara," Willow laughs. {*And Take-Charge Tara, and Shy Tara, and Vixeny Tara, and.....Iíll shut up now.*}

Teams are separated a little when it comes to riding uphill. I crack up when Faith yells to Robin as they make a break for it, "Use those muscles, He-man!" He grunts.

And now we come to the best part of the entire leg. When this came on, the other half of my brain texted me on my cellphone.

car: WOOT! Faith doing sports!!
watson: lol wait! wtf is she doing now? omg, are you looking at this? she's taking her shirt off!!!
car: my eyes are popping out of their sockets
watson: the drool here is three feet deep
car: SPORTS BRA!!!!
watson: hot and sweaty, she's so hot and sweaty
watson: look at those damp patches
car: *faints*
watson: I'm soooo recapping this ... damp patches and all
car: okay ... but who has the damp patches ... Faith or the readers? lmao
car: or the recapper?
watson: lmao all of the above
car: and WHERE are the damp patches?
watson: *is a puddle*

"It was hot and there was hardly any breeze! So I took my T-shirt off, it wasn't like I wasn't wearing anything underneath," Faith mock-protests in an interview. {*Oh my giddy aunt! I would have died if there were nothing underneath! But what a way to go!!*}

"Yeah, I think you broke the locals though, they didn't know whether to look or not," Robin laughs with her.

"Heh, I didn't break anyone who didn't want to be broken, they may look innocent and easily shocked, don't forget this is the country where hentai comics sit next to regular comics in bookstores," she adds.

Hentai, eh? So now we know what Faith's interest areas lie, snerk. [** the fact that you didn't beat an eyelid when she mentioned hentai shows where your interests are. What are you not telling me? Love, your not so innocent gf. **]

Erm, right, time to change topics. Y'all don't want to hear about my, hee, interests.

Just as well, cos next we see Riley and Randy (again, I groan) doing impressions of Lance Armstrong vs Jan Ulrich, except without the yellow jersey and giant, rock-hard thighs. {*too bad for Randy...he loves 'rock-hard' so.*} It's kinda comical, Buffy will pass Rupert, and Randy will yell "let's go, move it, Dad!" to Rupert. Riley passes Randy and Rupert does the same to Randy. No, doesn't feel like the Tour de France, it feels more like Goonies go biking.

What happens next, in retrospect, is inevitable. A combination of all that aggression, emotion, pressure is an accident waiting to happen. I had to see it several times, on slow motion, Riley and Randy were bumping wheels, pushing at each other. The road narrows a tad, Riley's bike veer out of control for a split second and next thing, he and Randy are eating concrete.

I should feel sorry for them, but I don't. I feel more sorry for Buffy, who is riding behind and can't stop in time. She ends up taking a bad fall, blood streams down her face, it looks bad. Her bike's shot, the body a twisted mess, bet her body feels like that too.

Rupert backtracks and checks on the injured. Efficiency are too far ahead to have heard the commotion, but Lovebirds, arriving shortly afterwards, hop off and head immediately towards Buffy. She is being helped by a couple of dudes we haven't seen before, who turn out to be camera and sound guys. Tara says she knows first aid (not a big surprise here) and she whips out a towel to apply on Buffy's head wound.

The camera guy takes over and tells the teams they can go on ahead, he's already radioed for help. After reassurances, Lovebirds go on their way. {*Aaaawwww gotta love those Lovebirds! This is going to cost them time, though.*}

Randy meantime, is cleaning off his own cuts, he has a nasty gash along his right arm and his T-shirt is ripe for a laundry detergent commercial. His tire is deflated, so he and Rupert work together to get it mended.

Riley in the meantime is trying to see if his girlfriend is fine, and he's asking about replacement bikes. To be honest, Buffy doesn't look like she's in any condition to continue riding, although the cut may be look worse than it actually is. {*Heís still an asshat.*}

"We're told we won't get time credit, but replacement bikes will be provided, I don't know whether it's worth continuing," he says dejectedly.

"Let's go on, I don't want to give up now, we're so close," Buffy says from her comatose position on the ground.

To his credit, Riley argues that they're so close to the pitstop, he doesn't want Buffy to hurt herself more than necessary, cos the other teams are surely too far ahead. She argues back that she wants to go on, even if it means elimination, cos she wants to finish the leg.

"Are you sure?" Riley asks.

"I am," she says, and it's final. {*Okay, more points for Buffy.*}

No, Riley hasn't redeemed himself in my books, he has been too much of an asshat. But in these last few minutes, he has shown that he cares for Buffy in his own way. {*Heís afraid he wonít get consolation sex, thatís all. Wanker!*}

The last shot in this segment is of him kicking the twisted hunk of metal that was formerly Buffy's bike.


It's Phil! He is explaining that the elementary school at Bibaushi, with its triangular tower, is one of the most famous landmarks in that area.

Efficiency arrive first, to no one's surprise, and hand over their lavender bunches to a stern looking woman who is apparently the principal of the school. Faith has put a T-shirt back on, probably figuring she doesn't want to cause unnecessary heart attacks. {*Bummer.*}

They are handed the next clue, which instructs them to ride approximately 2 miles to the Takushinkan photo museum featuring the works of Shinzo Maeda. This is the last Pitstop, the last team to check in, according to Phil, may be eliminated.

[** I have to add, Maeda-san's works are completely out of this world, he spent his lifetime photographing the scenery around his home town of Bibaushi and Biei. His winter and summer works, wow. Click on the calendar link below to appreciate the full wonder of his work. -- w's gf **] {*I have to add...I have nothing to add.*}

Lovebirds are next, shortly followed by R.Randy. Looks like the professor and son has caught up a little ways.

The principal lady continues standing at the entrance of the school, waiting for Goldies.

And waits.

And waits.

And tries not to recoil when two filthy and broken people drag themselves up to her to get the clue. I'm beginning to feel a little bad for Goldies, though it may be the martinis. {*Definitely the martinis.*}

After riding 10 miles, 2 miles must seem like a breeze. Efficiency approach the photo museum and run excitedly up to Phil.

Congratulations, team number one. They win a matching pair of cars, oh boy. I'd thunk by this stage of the race, not being eliminated is prize enough. I'm not too bothered, cos by that time I'm too engrossed in Faith's bouncy bits, and having gulped down four martinis and stolen a whole plateful of olives, nothing bothers me anymore, *hic*. {*At least Iím sober enough to remember the bouncy bits in the morning.*}

R.Randy check in as team number two. They must have passed Lovebirds on the way.

Lovebirds are team number three. They're happy to be where they are, even if I want them to muster up more aggression and really push the other teams.

Goldies ride slowly to the Pitstop. Riley helps Buffy off her bike and to the Amazing Bathmat. They have a conversation with Phil about her injury, she says the medics checked her out (for her injury only, they didn't check her state of mind) and she'll be fine. Phil doesn't mince any words, and they're Philminated.

"Of course we're disappointed to be out so close to the grand prize, but we take comfort in knowing that we gave 200%," Riley says. 200% of what? Annoy this recapper? Give a bad name to professional athletes? {*He has a great future ahead of him...I predict his How to be an Asshat in 12 Easy Steps is going to be a big hit.*} Buffy bugged me less this ep, and I feel bad that she's hurt. It isn't the fairest way of being eliminated, getting injured and trashing their bikes, but teams have gone out on less, the Race is random like that. I'm still glad they're gone, cos out of the four remaining teams, they are the ones least deserving to be still in the Race. Call me harsh, call me biased, whatever, that's my honest opinion. {*Few will disagree.*}

And judging by the cheering at TARCon when they meet the wrath of Phil, you'd think someone has WON, my opinion isn't way out of whack. {*Told ya.*}

Now come the obligatory interviews where everyone says the same thing. Repeatedly. Faith & Robin are like they're the strongest and fittest and have the most consistent record, so they will win. Rupert & Randy are like everyone wants to win, some more than others, and that's them, so they'll win. Willow & Tara are like they're so happy to be in the final three and they're going to race hard until they reach the finish line. So yeah, they'll win too.

It's a million dollars! It's a thrilling race to the finish! We're not done yet. {*You will be if you donít cut back on the martinis.*}


Useful links & information

Taiwan:
Calligraphy
Eslite bookstore

Japan:
Sapporo Clock Tower
Farm Tomita
Shinzo Maeda's books
Calendar with photos by Mr Maeda


Continue to The Amazing Kitten Race Episode Twelve, Part Two


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