Tag Archives: amazing race

Happy YATNversary!

Twelve months is an awfully long time when you think about it. Twelve months ago, I had three grandparents. Twelve months ago, I had one of the best holidays of my life that had only just been booked. Twelve months ago, to the second of this being published, I began a pet project that has changed a lot of things in my life.

It began, as all good things do, with an idea. Inspired by the podcast from the Previously on Survivor Facebook group and the infamous Survivor Historians podcast, Logan came to the group with an idea – Why doesn’t someone create an Amazing Race podcast that represents the truly global nature of The Amazing Race? Like a well-oiled jigsaw, it all came together, and one year ago today, Eamon, Logan, Michelle and I joined forces for the first-ever YATNcast. Of course, in completely typical fashion for me, it was not all plain sailing. Firstly, because of the weird set-up I had to use on the first episode, you couldn’t hear me. Also, we ended up talking for over three hours, which is all well and good, but at least two hours of that was not even Amazing Race related! We finished the show shattered (in the case of my back and Logan, who finished the show at 5.30am his time), our batteries drained (literally in the case of Eamon, who was actually on his phone in the car park of his workplace for the hour he could manage) but knowing the error of our ways having ironed out the problems that befell us.

The first issue that we had to solve was at what time to do the next podcast. After both Logan and I found the concept of accidental racism in The Amazing Race 8 to be the funniest thing we’d ever heard, we knew that it probably wasn’t wise to podcast at a time that meant Logan was staying up for 20 hours straight in preparation. Michelle offered to take a step back, and this freed us up to begin podcasting as a threesome at 3pm UK time on a Wednesday, giving us enough time to watch the episode and make notes. Of course, just because there was no Michelle to keep us in check anymore did not mean that we actually stayed on topic during any podcast of the 24th American season. Our ridiculous tendencies to ramble led us to such diverse topics as The Mole (a lot), pretty much every Survivor season, not having any clooooooothes and everyone’s favourite semi-recurring segment – Malaysian Asks – the gold standard of which is still when Eamon asked whether urine freezes immediately in -40ºC weather.

When the season ended, we took our first little six-week break. This break gave us time to think – how else could we improve? We’d managed to rectify a lot of mistakes that occurred during the test podcast, from aiming not to reference Phil Keoghan being made out to be a racist, to me actually investing in a microphone stand now that it was in use again. Two international seasons, both of which had representation from our gang, were preparing to return, and gave us an opportunity to test out new ideas whilst also giving us a way to cover everything that happened. Into the breach stepped another Australian – Ben Powell. After Eamon was unavailable to cover the Canadian season, we decided that the podcast would split into two teams for the Summer – Logan & I on Team Canada and Ben & Eamon on Team Australia (technically Australia vs New Zealand, but who cares about those bloody Kiwis?). Of course, Michelle is the world’s biggest TARAU fan, so happily rejoined the podcasting team, and Team Australia became a three-person squad.

yatnbanner

For the first time ever, Eamon managed to be around for the first podcast of a season – the Cast Preview podcast – where we spend an hour being mean about people we’ve never met just from the network-provided bios and pictures (and in the case of one particular team, adverts where they say the word ‘bloody’ an awful lot), and he even managed to only miss two Australian podcasts in the entire season, after missing three in the 24th American season’s run – an impressive record! Since his very first show, Ben has brought out a distinctly bitchier side to us all – like many Australians, he’s not one for mincing his words, and it’s only natural to compete!

On the Canadian side, we managed to stick to a timeslot for an impressive (for us at least) nine of the first ten episodes, before I decided it’d be more fun to fly thousands of miles and shrink the time difference to only an hour whilst we were in Alberta, and absolutely zero whilst we were in BC. We spotted the potential of possibly the most gloriously dense team in Amazing Race history (at least in recent memory), as Sukhi & Jinder single-handedly provided the comedy of the second Canadian season. From being the first team ever to block the exit to the start line, to unnecessarily charging a car in an attempt to get ahead, to asking (out loud), “Which way is upstream?” whilst sat on a raft and trying to paddle. Their crowning moment of awesome occurred in the ninth leg when they became the first family team in Amazing Race history to complete the infamous “Life Drawing” Fast Forward task and it was all sorts of sibling awkwardness. On a sadder note, we had to move the fourth episode recap of the Canadian season due to my grandmother’s funeral. I’m sure she’s looking down on me, proud that I’ve turned my radio obsession into an outlet to channel the snarkiness that I inherited off her.

Awkwarrrrrrrrd

This isn’t awkward at all…

Our Canadian recaps saw a bunch of firsts for us. We had our first episode which topped 1,500 views. Our first preview podcast that was accompanied by the promotional pictures of the teams. The first real chance for any of us to embrace a punslinging host, in the same way that Allan Wu loves to throw out a pun, and Logan and I both appreciate them, in Jon Montgomery. In one season, he turned from an alright host into probably the best thing about the entire Canadian franchise. However, most importantly, the Canadian season marked the first time that YATNcast worlds collided, when Logan flew out to Vancouver for the weekend and joined my family and I for the day in September. I’m pleased to say that my family got on famously with him, and everyone involved had an awesome (as Canadians like to say) time, even if he found out we were being bumped from the hotel in Vancouver before we did! He certainly picked the right day to come, as it was the first day in a week that we’d actually seen sunshine!

Coming out of the international seasons, a plan needed to be formed. For the first time in three seasons, I was unable to make an appearance in the preview podcast for the 25th American season, because of glaciers. Thankfully, Ben stepped into the breech and made me look even better by flubbing the intro ten seconds into the podcast. Of course, this being me, I mocked the hell out of him for it the week after. With TAR moving to Fridays, we needed to move, and the best course of action was to move from 3pm Wednesdays to 3pm Sundays. This was great fun for Ben, given that 3pm for me is 2am for Ben. We were back to the problem of everything immature being hysterical and Logan and I learnt very quickly that Ben is a terrible influence on us. From his insistence upon getting me into trouble with Scotland so soon after they tried to abandon us, to finding the new Black Family in a screencap of Bill & Cathi from Season 19 bodybuilding to his already legendary impression of Bethany Hamilton, he has brought out the best and worst in the both of us. For the sake of Ben’s sanity, the podcast moved from 3pm to 11pm my time, which meant I was shattered for a few weeks, before finally moving to the new timeslot of 8pm GMT.

usbanner

And now to the present. As I write this, we’re gearing up to podcast about Episode 9 in Singapore in two days’ time. We will have produced 49 episodes about five different Amazing Races (and one failed Seven reality programme, which no-one needs to be reminded of). Our shows have stretched for a total of nearly two days non-stop. We’ve had over 35,000 views over all our podcasts. These numbers blow my mind. I would have never thought in my wildest dreams that this could be achieved in such a short amount of time.

The final credit has to go to everyone involved. Without all of you guys, this could never have happened. Just a warning, I’m about to go all Martha Stewart on yo asses.

  • Eamon – you bring so much to the podcasts when you’re on them. Malaysian Asks is a thoroughly tongue-in-cheek segment, but your interest in the most random things brings it alive. You have such incredible passion for everything, and it entertains me to no end. For the record, no, piss does not freeze at -40ºC.
  • Michelle – I’m so glad that you got to complete a season of the show that you love so much. I felt so bad that you felt you had to step back that I was always waiting for you to get your chance at redemption. If there’s ever an Amazing Race Australia 4 and you are not cast, it’s a crime. You have such passion for the Australian seasons that it makes me immediately envious that the UK’s never tried.
  • Ben – For such a late addition to the YATNcast family, you know how to make a big impression! As I said above, you bring out the very best and the very worst in me, and it’s no secret that I’ve enjoyed this American season so thoroughly, and a big part of that is the energy that you bring. Also, we need to hear what Bethany sounds like on laughing gas! Also, Bill & Cathi say Hi.

Flexing for Ben.

  • Ryan – “Dear Ryan, you have the desire to try new things, and a lot of self-confidence. I think you need more focus, and possibly more education, in business for example. I know you will then be ready for a big challenge.”
  • Logan – Where do I start with you? You share so much of the same sense of humour as me that it’s actually kind of scary. The perfect example of this is the mock thread for the unaired episode on Netflix Gold Premium Plus. The fact that you were willing to improvise an entire podcast around the rubbish that Ben, Eamon, Wayne and myself all came up with whilst adding your own flairs was hilarious. You are beyond dedicated to The Amazing Race, and I will have immense pride mocking the hell out of you on TARC3. The fact that you were willing to be so flexible with podcast timings and that you flew for the very first time to come and see some weirdo that you met on the internet says immense things about your character. Also, the Black family, lol.
  • My family – especially when it came to our holiday in Canada, you were more than accommodating to the podcast timings, with the exception of not finding me wi-fi in Alaska for the preview podcast. I am disappoint.
  • Jess Liese and the TARHAP family – This may sound like a weird one to thank, given that you are kind of our competition, but I thoroughly enjoy how different our spins on the episodes are. If people ever ask me to describe YATNcast, I tend to go with “RHAP, but bitchier”, and I have the utmost respect for everyone involved. I take an awful lot of inspiration from you guys.

To friends old and new, here’s to you. Here’s to another strong year, and here’s to another year where I get to enjoy being mean about people I’m unlikely to ever meet. Here’s to our new family. Here’s to the glorious second year of YATNcast – the snarkiest, wittiest, most entertaining show I’ve ever done.

What about us?!

What about us?!

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Last part of the trip!

I’ve completely neglected this blog! We’ve been back from the States for over two months now, and last time I posted, we’d just started the Tour. We spent the remaining eighteen days after it touring California before flying to Florida for three and a half weeks.

Anaheim

Anaheim is only a thirty-minute(-ish) train ride from the centre of LA, and is a very pretty spot, but of course, there is only one reason anyone goes to Anaheim unless they live there – Disneyland! The original theme park in the glorious Disney empire, Disneyland Park is the only park in said empire that Walt himself oversaw the construction of. It also shares a ridiculously small amount of rides with the other parks, justifying our visit for five nights. We managed to pick up an “Honorary Citizen of Disneyland Resort” badge whilst we were there (mainly cause they were out of “First Visit” badges) and managed to have a nice relaxing time, especially after the stress of the tour. We also enjoyed a ridiculously huge cake at Outback Steakhouse – it was only 1,000 calories, and suggested for three people. We actually had to give up and bring it back to the hotel and put it in the fridge and ate it on our last night there.

San Diego

When I posted the last blog, we were on the (remarkably plush) train from Anaheim to San Diego. After five nights in Anaheim, we had to tear ourselves away from the lights and sights of Disneyland to the most south-easterly city in the United States – San Diego. We only had four nights in San Diego, so decided to only do the major sites – Old Point Loma Lighthouse, SeaWorld (much to the irritation of Lawrie Brailey) and the USS Midway. Despite a run-in with SeaWorld (who advertised their water park as being just minutes away, when it was actually less than two miles from the Mexican border, and two hours away on public transport), we really enjoyed San Diego, and it was by far the most relaxing bit of the Californian adventure so far.

A proper visit to LA

For the last eight nights in California, we travelled back to LA – Hollywood in particular. In addition to a return to Universal Studios (obviously – we had an Annual Pass to use!), we saw sights such as the Griffith Observatory (Amazing Race 22 Start Line!), the Walt Disney Concert Hall (Amazing Race France task site!) and of course, Pasadena, where we took our L’il Sebastian plush back to his spiritual home at Pasadena City Hall. If you don’t know what the end of that sentence means, go and watch Parks and Recreation – do yourself a favour! We used the Hollywood part of the trip as a more quiet endeavour, mainly because we knew what was coming next – the biggest part of the trip, and the part where we were most likely to see well over 75,000 people in a day – Florida.

Florida

The last part of our trip took us to the Sunshine State, the home of not one, but FIVE of the top ten theme parks in the world in terms of attendance, at the busiest time of the year, with our trip coinciding with 4th July celebrations. It is also the home of two of the top three water parks in the world. As a side note, by the end of the trip, we’d been to seven of the top ten theme parks, and eleven of the top twenty, which is a pretty impressive stat.

We’d chosen the Maingate Lakeside Resort as our base, as it supposedly had great links to the theme parks (Disney and Universal), but as we found out, the Disney parks were closer if we walked, as it was only around a mile away by foot. We only visited Universal Florida once, but it was full of surprises, as I discovered that one of my classmates from high school worked at the Simpsons Ride, which was a very surreal moment when I said hi to him in the queue.

The hotel was comfortable enough – we weren’t planning on spending much time there anyway (at least in comparison to the other hotels), but it did have one major benefit – a Pizza Hut on site. Even better, there was an offer on allowing us a refillable cup for $10.70 (about £7.00), allowing us to refill said cup any time we wanted whilst it was open throughout our stay. This as you can imagine was abused, and we more than made our money back.

We decided to spend 4th July in Epcot, as Magic Kingdom was forecast to have 100,000 people (also known as a Phase 4 closure) on that day, despite it being a Thursday. Epcot is also home to, in my opinion, the world’s greatest fireworks show – IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, which has around 2,000 fireworks added as an Independence Day celebration. We watched a patriotic concert at the American pavilion to start the day, and it was as over-the-top as you can imagine. Thankfully, Disney provide wi-fi in all the theme parks now for free (a great help when using their app), so it was there that I found out another classmate from my high school class was also at the same concert. I suspect there must be something in the water at BRGS that makes us all come to Florida in early July. We also had a day trip to Miami, which featured an Everglades airboat ride and Miami Harbour Cruise – I didn’t really enjoy it, but if you’re into the sort of trip where you look round islands where famous people live, it probably has much more appeal. We left Florida feeling very pleased with ourselves for a holiday well done, as well as a little homesick (although not necessarily pleased to come back)!

All-in-all, a job well done – we were disappointed at some aspects of the holiday, but nothing was bad enough to ruin our impressions of the US. We travelled somewhere in the region of 10,000 miles (3,000 of which were in the tour alone!), and spent 77 nights in (on the whole) beautiful surroundings. Thanks to all who helped us with this trip, whether it be work allowing us the time off, our parents for helping us with a load of the planning, and Tim Johnson at Travelbag, who put up with my nagging and helped sort the flights, tour and some hotels. I’ll be back tomorrow for one final post, where I’ll be imparting some advice on how we sorted out a trip of this magnitude. I’ll then be starting my coverage of American shows this year – I’m thinking I’ll be covering Survivor, The Amazing Race and Revolution, with a possible appearance by Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,