Amazing Race contestants: What does it take exactly?

What does it take to get picked as an Amazing Race contestant team? In this Columbus Dispatch article, there’s some insight. Victoria Hunt, the female part of the Columbus-based married couple team–Brad and Victoria, who are competing in Amazing Race 14, tried out for Survivor several times.

She never made it onto Survivor, but when she showed the powers that be a photo of her husband, Victoria was bumped over to the Amazing Race with Brad in tow. It helps that both of them are attractive and fit. Like Victoria, hubby Brad is an exercise hound. Along with rock and ice climbing, he kayaks, mountaineers at high altitudes and power-lifts. Not only does he participate in marathons, he is in ultra-marathons. Frankly, it sounds as if he could answer the casting call for a good looking, silver-haired Batman.

As for Victoria, she is an avid skier, but I hope she has more experience than Ohio’s offerings. Snow Trails and Mad River Mountain are fun–but even I ski those, and I’m no skier.

According to Victoria, the show is looking for folks who “have an opinion” since this makes for interesting TV. Based on the article, I assume Brad and Victoria made it at least through a couple legs of the race. I wonder if they made it to Romania and Siberia, two new destinations this season? The filming started right after Halloween, spanning 40,000 miles and seven other countries.

For a rundown of the other Amazing Race 14 contestants, click here.

Andy Warhol exhibit: Other Voices, Other Rooms

Back in August, it seemed as if there would be oodles of time to revisit “Andy Warhol: Other Voices Other Rooms,” the exhibit at the Wexner Center for the Arts. Time, however, has a way of speeding by faster than I anticipated. After this Sunday, the fabulous exhibit of everything Warhol that has taken over the entire art museum at The Ohio State University in Columbus will be dismantled.

The exhibit is a retrospective of Warhol’s life and work– and like Warhol’s work, it is an eclectic assortment of art, graphics, newspaper articles, videos and an interactive performance space. Every inch of the museum’s galleries have been used to create a Warhol world of sorts.

The first time I saw the exhibit was at the opening in August. My first response was wondering when Warhol ever sat down or slept. Along with his famous prints of Marilyn Monroe, Campbell’s Soup and other cultural icons, there are many of the photographs he took, all the television episodes he created, and his interviews with people like John F. Kennedy Jr. and David Bowie. Each room offers a retrospective of certain aspects of Warhol’s creative interests, pursuits and perspectives. Woven throughout is his interaction with the world, himself and the arts. After he was shot and seriously wounded by Valerie Solanas, Warhol even turned that experience into art and commentary.

The room devoted to Warhol’s TV shows is one of my favorite sections of the exhibit, partly because of the effect of its execution. I noticed that while visitors sit on star-shaped stools watching whichever video screen captured their fancy, they became part of the exhibit in a way. Individual headphones allow for several people to sit at one time in front of their own individual screen while other people mill about taking in the entire scene of the room. This moving in and out between private and public experiences was one of the themes of Warhol’s life.

For anyone who has been influenced by popular culture and reality TV which, honestly, seems to be everyone I can think of, this exhibit is a look into Warhol’s vision of what was to become mainstream. Think of Joe the Plumber, Heather Mills McCartney, Harry Wittington, John Mark Karr, James Frey and who else? These are folks who represent Warhol’s phrase, “15 minutes of fame” referring to how celebrity status comes and goes quickly based on media attention. Although some people stick around longer than 15 minutes, the point is, the media helps create the celebrity. (The only person I could come up with off the top of my head was Joe the Plumber, so I found this article in Time magazine “15 people who had their 15 Minutes of Fame” to help me out. See? Fame is fleeting.)

If you do make it to the exhibit, take time to read about Warhol’s early life. You’ll find out how and why a person born in Pittsburgh to immigrants parents, one a coal miner, could grow up to be that eccentric, trendsetting fellow who wore wigs of platinum-blond hair.

To give people more time to see it, the Wexner Center has extended hours this coming weekend. Friday, February 13 (11 AM to midnight), Saturday, February 14 (10 AM to midnight), and Sunday, February 15 (10 AM to 8 PM). On Thursday from 4-8 pm, you can see the exhibit for free, otherwise there is a cost if you are over 12. Those 12 and under are free. Adults, $8; students, ages 13-17, and age 65 and older, $5.

Here’s a video tour of the exhibit, but the in person experience is this many times over. I’m planning on heading here again myself.

AAA Great Vacations Expo: Andrew Zimmern, Jack Hanna and travel info galore

Last year I went to a AAA virtual travel show. Although it was very cool indeed, this weekend’s in person travel show opportunity–AAA Great Vacations Expo, is a perfect place to scout out travel options for 2009. The fact that it’s in Columbus makes it a no brainer for me. If you can swing it, come.

First off, Andrew Zimmern is going to be there on Sunday. As a Bizarre Foods fan, it will be a kick to see him in person and hear about his behind the scenes travel experiences.

On Saturday, Jack Hanna will be talking about his work with animals. I’m also interested in hearing what Amy Alipio, the Associate Editor of National Geographic Traveler’s “City Life” department has to say. She’s going to be talking about some of the world’s most interesting destinations.

Also, throughout Saturday, there are several offerings that were developed with kids in mind. In addition to Jack Hanna and his animal friends, the Ohio Wildlife Center and other organizations have kid-friendly activities. Sponge Bob is also making an appearance. Check out the event schedule for details. My son is already chomping to go. Sponge Bob to him is what Andrew Zimmern is to me.

In addition to the talks, I’m looking forward to wandering among the exhibitors. Browsing among tables laden with travel offerings is a chance to wander through possibilities.

As a person who likes to check out model homes and RVs for the voyeuristic pleasure, I imagine this weekend’s travel show will be a chance to peek into the various vacation opportunities. Should we rent a house near a beach in North Carolina–or head to a rafting vacation in West Virginia? What’s close to home? How cheap is luxury?

Although I’m not planning on an Alaskan cruise any time soon, finding out the options from someone who plans such trips is appealing. So is finding out about more adventure travel options or traveling green. Both themes are hot themes this year.

I imagine that going to this travel show will be like trying on different outfits to see which one is the best fit. Although many exhibitors are based in Ohio, several have reaches outside the state. I’m looking for those travel deals that are hard to pass up, as well as the ones I haven’t thought of before. For example, at the virtual show, I found out about a company that specializes in cruises on European rivers. Uniworld Cruises will be among the more than 100 exhibitors. As with many of the exhibitors, booking a vacation this weekend means a discount.

After the weekend, I’ll let you know what tidbits I’ve found out–and what Andrew Zimmern is like in person.

If you are planning on going, the event is at Veterans Memorial from Friday through Sunday. Vets Memorial is located on West Broad St., near COSI, the science museum–also a worthy stop. Make a weekend of it. Check out this post on 10 things there are to do in or near downtown Columbus.

Southwest pilot called in sick after passengers accused him of drinking

Because I live in Columbus, this story ended up on Wednesday night’s local news. As I listened to the report, this is what I picked up.

At 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, two guys heading for a Southwest flight at Port Columbus International Airport saw a pilot who seemed like he had been drinking at the security check point and decided to intervene. First, they told TSA officials that they were concerned, and then told the pilot when they thought he was heading to their gate that he reeked of alcohol and shouldn’t be drinking and flying.

According to them, the pilot ran off to the bathroom where he changed his uniform jacket for a civilian one. The pilot called in sick from the bathroom and later explained to the airport police who questioned him in the bathroom that he wasn’t drunk, but that he had been partying hard the day before.

Southwest called in another pilot to fly the plane to Orlando and is investigating the case along with the Federal Aviation Administration. The two men who pointed out the pilot’s possible issues, were actually going on a flight leaving from the next gate over.

Here’s a summary of the story from the Channel 10 News that was posted last night and a Columbus Dispatch article about the incident from today’s paper.

Considering that a pilot isn’t supposed drink eight hours before a flight or have a blood alcohol level of .04, according to FAA regulations, I’m wondering just how much a person could drink the night before and still smell? Wouldn’t Listerine have worked wonders if the pilot was within the legal limit? An Altoid or two perhaps? However, nothing conclusive has been found out yet, so he might have been telling the truth and one of those people whose pheromones weren’t treating him well.

Back in 2006, there was a similar issue with a Southwest pilot. If there’s only one of these stories that pops up every few years, I’d say most pilots know not to drink and fly, and possibly, the guy who ran to the bathroom yesterday. He may have been A-okay and simply unaware of his odor.

Other “troublemakers of the sky”:

Columbus is number one on a best places list: 10 things to do within walking distance from downtown.

My friend over at Wallet Pop, Tom Barlow has outlined several reasons why Columbus is the number one spot on Forbes list of best places to retire. As he noted, that’s great news for those of us who already live here. It will save moving expenses later in the golden years.

Along with being a great place to retire, I have to say, Columbus is one of the best cities to visit if you are looking for variety whether its edgy or sedate, ethnic or traditional, outdoors or indoors.

Like Tom mentioned, having a car would make a visit easier because COTA, the public transportation system has issues, but even for backpackers, Columbus would be a good few days stop on a cross-country itinerary. There are many places within walking distance of the Greyhound bus station and the main arteries of the city bus.

With the person arriving by bus in mind, if I were heading to Columbus, here are places not to miss, all near the downtown and in a walkable distance. Although, the COTA buses that go along Broad St. and High Street would save time. The interest range covers the arts, history, famous people, science and nature. With the list I’ve given, you’ll be busy.

  • Ohio Statehouse. Because Columbus is the state capital of Ohio, the capitol building has a prominent place downtown. There are free daily tours. The tour is an interesting way to find out about the history of the state and learn about the architecture of the times. Plus, it really is a gorgeous building. The statehouse lawn is used for concerts, art exhibits, rallies and Civil War reenactments.
  • Across from the Statehouse is the Verne Riffe Center where the Ohio Arts’ Council’s, Riffe Center Gallery and the Studios in the Riffe Center Theatre Complex are located. The gallery offers creative and unusual exhibits on a rotating basis and the theatre complex offers a variety of performances ranging from modern dance to children’s’ theater to experimental type plays.
  • Columbus Museum of Art. This museum has exhibits that change regularly. The most recent is Objects of Wonder from the Ohio State University. Of the permanent collection, artwork is consistently rotated. (Eat lunch here.)
  • Franklin Park Conservatory. An elegant greenhouse that adds lush greenery and vibrant color to life any time of the year. The houses around the conservatory are grand, although a couple of blocks off you’re in territory that shows what happens when people with money head for the suburbs. The gift shop is superb. Each night, the glass Palm House is illuminated by a light show installation by artist James Terrell.
  • King Arts Complex offers exhibits and performances that highlight African American contributions to the arts. There is an important mural called Middle Passage that was created to evoke the feeling of being on a slave ship. The mural was painted in a connecting passage between two sections of the center.
  • Ohio Theatre, Palace Theatre and Southern Theatre, offer a theatre trifecta of historic gorgeous buildings built during the time period when ornamentation and rich fabrics were key. Between them, you can see the top notch performances. In this past year, I’ve seen The Lion King, Avenue Q, the Columbus Symphony, the Nutcracker Ballet, David Sedaris, John Prine, Ralph Stanely and the Stanely Brothers, and Promusica, among others. Each theatre and others can be accessed through CAPA,Columbus.
  • Topiary Garden in back of the Main Library (Columbus’s library system is number 1 in the U.S. as well.) In addition to the lovely flower beds, bushes are trimmed to represent Seraut’s painting “In the Park.” Stop in the Main Library for coffee and a cookie at the snack bar. The library is a gorgeous, stately building–one of my favorites.
  • James Thurber’s house. James Thurber, the humorist who penned “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” grew up in Columbus. Now his house is a museum as well as a literary center that hosts several author readings year round.
  • Kelton House. Another house museum. This Victorian house was inhabited by members of the same family for 125 years and was a stop on the Underground Railroad.
  • BOMA (Bar of Modern Art) Here’s a place to finish of the evening. Originally a statuesque Methodist church, the original stained glass windows and building details have been adapted for dancing, music, art and fine food.

One place you might stay if you have some cool cash, is the Westin Great Southern Hotel. Connected to the Southern Theatre, this is where Thurber hung out in the bar.

For extensive information about other parts of Columbus and more things to do, head to Experience Columbus, the city’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. Of course, there’s more to do. I haven’t even touched on places away from downtown except for Franklin Park Conservatory.

The first photo at the beginning of this post by Nutsy Fagan was taken from COSI, the science museum, another worthwhile stop. While you’re walking here, check out the replica of the Santa Maria, Columbus’s ship–Columbus the explorer–where Columbus got its name. How? Why? Not sure.

Remember, these are downtown, I didn’t cover German Village, the Short North, the Brewery District or the Arena District. Those are also close to downtown and within walking distance if you have a good pair of shoes, or hop on COTA.