350 INSANE PEOPLE AND AN OPEN BAR: Yes, I've returned from TARCON in one piece. I'm proud to say it's among the dorkiest things I've ever done, and that comes from someone who's been involved in Academic Decathlon and Model UN. (Joke structure stolen from Sarah Vowell). A few observations (which contain spoilers, though I suspect West Coasters are still glued to their sets):
1. Teams hated based on booing during opening credits? Kami and Karli and Allison and Donny.
2. Teams loved based on cheering during opening credits? Linda and Karen and Chip and Kim.
3. Teams with both cheerers and booers during opening credits? Charla and Mirna and Colin and Christie.
4. I'm a shy person, so didn't introduce myself to the folks like Miss Alli and Sars who were sitting around (or the many racers), but ran into Mark Dixon, who I didn't immediately recognize, but who recognized me immediately from prior gatherings related to another show. Sorry we didn't get to talk at greater length, Mark.
5. Those who cared about "Big Brother" were apparently equally divided between those who were quite happy with the winner, and those who really wanted the goofy guy with the cowboy hat to win. I spent the entire last half-hour of the "BB" finale waiting for a drink and my dinner at the bar, so found it difficult to care.
6. I didn't watch TAR1, but I think it was the Frats there with a "Cold Pizza" crew, and the Guidos arrived later, with Guido. In addition, the Clowns from TAR4 arrived, and I think there were several folks from "Survivor" there, but I didn't recognize them.
7. The cheer that went up in Play by Play whenever something went right for Chip and Kim or wrong for Colin and Christie was deafening. There was, however, a small and vehement section of Colin and Christie supporters that liked to make "Hook 'em Horns" whenever something went right. On behalf of Texas, I'd like to apologize.
8. The amount of fist pumping and screaming engaged in both by me personally and by the entirety of TARCON as Chip and Kim approached victory is more than slightly embarrassing. (Although I will note that I correctly predicted the winner on Friday night.)
9. Shortly after 11:30, Racers from TAR5 and related celebrities began to arrive. Thoughts on them follow.
10. Bowling Moms--what you see on TV is exactly what you get, although there's less screaming and yelling, which appears likely to have been caused (at least in part) by Killer Fatigue. They sat down with random TARCONners and chatted. Just nice, friendly people, whose classy exit says more about them.
11. Mirna (without Charla)--I walked past her and wouldn't have noticed except for that she was fiddling with a gaudy gold clutch bag, and was less mobbed than the other Racers. She was within 10 feet of Colin at the time and violence had not ensued.
12. Brandon and Nicole--Nicole is very very pretty, and Brandon's hair is less Blue Lagoon-y in person (though still there). Mobbed for pictures with oodles of TARCON attendees, and kind and generous to a fault.
13. Colin and Christie--Colin has gotten a haircut, which makes him look MUCH better (though he's still like 5'7"), and Christie is quite pretty, even though she was wearing a fugly multi-colored poncho-type thing. Colin accepted, and briefly wore, a "My Ox is BROKEN!" T-Shirt, so he apparently has a sense of humor about even those unpleasant days. Sadly, cheering was still so loud in Play by Play I didn't hear their (apparently classy) farewell, which apparently really reflects who they are.
14. Phil. He's Phil. He showed. 'Nuff said.
15. Chip and Kim--Chip is a big big dude physically as well as presence-wise--he fills a room with his jovialness. I will say that as soon as he made his way through the paparazzi-esque receiving line, Chip made a beeline for the bar, so we know where at least some of those million bucks are going.
I left at around 12:45, so may have missed still more fun, but I had a ball, and will return, especially if I can find someone to go with.