Amazing Race

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Have You Herd?

While traffic on the expressway or whatever is at a standstill, Mika and Canaan's cabdriver is on the right shoulder passing it, including Meghan and Cheyne's cab. Looks like someone's got a yen for a big tip. With many "arigatoes, Mika and Canaan make the studio first.

And here's where it gets surreal. They jog onto a soundstage that's all set up like a Japanese game show, complete with a big roulette wheel, a host in a powder-blue tux, hostesses in Sailor Moon outfits waving colored flags, and a live studio audience of more than a hundred people, all cheering and clapping and wearing brightly colored sun visors and going completely apeshit. Now, the show doesn't exactly go out of its way to notify us that what we're about to see is not also being broadcast to millions of Japanese homes, or is even a pre-existing game show, but it's not hard to figure out. Sam|Dan and Meghan|Cheyne arrive shortly thereafter, the latter team claiming afterwards that the whole way in from the airport, they were hoping to find themselves in a Japanese game show and here they were. Marcy and Ron arrive next, closely followed by Gary and Matt, the Globetrotters, Team Miss America, Garret and Jessica, Team Inside Straight, and Team Asperger's. "Nobody gets excited like Japanese people, apparently," Justin interviews. Lance and Keri are the last to arrive, and everyone's officially here.

The host calls the studio to order in accented English, "Are you ready to play the Sushi Roulette?" Goofy Japanese TV-type graphics, including the letters "SUSHI ROULETTE" spin up on the screen as everyone -- racers, spectators, hostesses, crew members for all we know -- cheers in the affirmative. Phil informs us, "The Japanese are well known for their wild and outrageous game shows." But this isn't going to be anything like those. "In our version, teams must complete a Road Block where one person competes in a gut-busting game of..." Suddenly the host appears at Phil's elbow and bellows, "...Sushi Rouletto!" "Sushi Roulette," Phil agrees, seeing the host's excited finger-wagging and raising it with an eyebrow-pop of his own. As the racers arrange themselves in position around the wheel, Phil says the host will spin the wheel, which holds nine sushi rolls and two wasabi bombs. "Wasabi is an extremely hot spice that is Japan's version of scorching horseradish," Phil explains for the benefit of any viewers whose knowledge of Asian cuisine extends no further than fortune-cookies. We see sped-up footage of a wasabi bomb being assembled, with a big dollop of the light-green paste wrapped in not nearly enough rice and a much-too-large seaweed wrap, then covered with another thick layer of the stuff on the open end. I wouldn't want to eat one; rice and seaweed notwithstanding, it's probably like filling your mouth with spackle made of antimatter. Phil says the payers will all have eat whatever stops in front of them, but they don't get to move on until they get a wasabi bomb, which they'll have to suck down in two minutes. Well, if nothing else, half the racers will be finishing the leg with very clear sinuses.

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Amazing Race

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