Sunday, October 31, 2004



The Orange Crush group celebrates their big victory!

Eleven teams... 17 clues... 16 locations... 7 to 8 hours... too many miles to remember...

Teams embarked Saturday on an all-day race around Los Angeles organized by us, Mike and Maria's Halloween Housewarming Race.

Inspired by Emmy winning series "The Amazing Race" and obscure early 80s movie "Midnight Madness," the Halloween Housewarming Race was a sequel to last year's Birthday Race (which, you'll remember, Los Angeles magazine wrote about in its November 2003 issue). This time, the challenges were tougher -- and the teams were more determined to win.

They searched for obscure sodas at Galco's Soda Pop Stop in Highland Park. Purchased a loaf of pumpkin bread from the Cloistered Dominican Nuns of Hollywood's Monastery of the Angels. Ran to -- and got kicked out of -- the 101 Cafe. Scoured the floor of Amoeba Records, looking for obscure CDs. Found the Holmby Hills putting green, and sank a few holes in one. Watched a homemade video at the Museum of TV and Radio. Searched for a green religious candle at Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights. Rode the reborn Red Cars in San Pedro. Took a pit stop at the harbor's Ports O' Call Village.

After a break to catch their breath, eat and mingle with others, teams then overlooked the cliffs of Angel's Gate Park while finding the Korean Bell. Raced up to downtown's Felix Chevrolet. Made political signs and flashed them at oncoming traffic at the Sunset/Hollywood intersection. Dove into the pool on the roof of the downtown Standard. Took the elevator to the top floor of the Bonaventure. Crammed down an entire Spam Musubi at the Grand Central Market. Threw back a shot at a bar in Chinatown. And ran to the finish line at Philippe's the Original french dip restaurant.

Teams start the race at our house

Whew! The race began at 10:30, and the first team crossed the finish line at 5:26. (Winning team Orange Crush smoked the competish; last team finally arrived at 6:39.) Tired and sweaty, the teams celebrated ... and met surprise guests Chip and Kim McAllister, the winners of the most recent edition of CBS' "The Amazing Race."

Here's how the teams wound up, along with their arrival time at the finish line:
First Place: Orange Crush (Peter, Teresa, Matt, Christy, Eric, Yvette) 5:26 pm
Second Place: Hezekiah Walker and the 111th St. Gospel Singers (Tony, Becky, Jess, Jeff) 5:37 pm
Third Place: Team Anonymous (Shannon, Mark) 5:38 pm
Fourth Place: Team Northwestern: The Empire Strikes Back (Ann, Jason, Mark, Ally) 6:04 pm
Fifth Place: Pumpkin Pie (Louie, Tom, Karen, April) 6:13 pm
Sixth Place: The Not Models (Leslie, Paul, Dave, Rachel) 6:15 pm
Seventh Place: Team Doo (Hirsch, Lozano, Moore, Bromberg, Bromberg, Campana) 6:15 pm
Eighth Place: Three Blind Mice (April, Pauline, Jeremy) 6:28 pm
Ninth Place: Team Fury (Denise, Geoff, Alan, Rebecca, Betsy) 6:33 pm
Tenth Place: Charlie's Angels (Dave, Susanne, Margo, Melissa) time n/a -- skipped a stop
Eleventh Place: Invalids (Pang-ni, Ian) dropped out after the pit stop

Here's how the clues broke down:

CLUE #1-Handed out at our Glendale home
Glug, glug, glug. It’s gonna be a long day, and you’re gonna get thirsty. Head to the Soda Pop Stop, and grab bottles of Plantation Style Mint Julep, chocolate soda and Bubble Up. After checking out, you’ll be handed your next clue. Belch! [Teams had to find Galco's Soda Pop Stop in Highland Park, where owner John Nise was waiting with their next clues -- after they found those obscure sodas.]

CLUE #2-Handed out by Soda Pop Stop
How about something to go along with that soda… Purchase a loaf of pumpkin bread from the nuns at the Monastery of the Angels, then head to the 101 Coffee Shop, where our Clue Captain awaits. [Teams found the monastery, nestled in Hollywood, then raced to the 101 Coffee Shop... where clue captain Claire was eventually thrown out for disturbing the peace!]

CLUE #3-Handed out by Claire at the 101 Coffee Shop
Get your groove on. Drive on over to Amoeba Records and find our clue captains, Jason and Sherry (along with Jordan, our Littlest Clue Captain), who’ll hand you your next clue.

CLUE #4-Handed out by Jason and Sherry at Amoeba
Pick one teammate to scour the floor of Amoeba, bringing back ONE of the following CDs:
James Otto, "Days of Our Lives"
Willie K, "The Uncle in Me"
Zuco 103, "Outro Lado"
Charles Webster, "Remixed on the 24th of July"
Velocity Girl, "Simpatico!"
Slicker, "We All Have a Plan"
Dave Pike, "Peligroso"
"Out of Order: Soundtrack to the Surfers’ Documentary"
Charles Joechlin, "The Jungle Book"
Subdudes, "Primitive Streak"
Faith and the Muse, "Burning Season"
Benny Benassi, "Hypnotica"
Gregory Isaacs, "Cool Ruler"
Franco Corelli, "The Unknown Recordings"
Truth Hurts, "Ready Now"
Here’s the catch: Once a team brings Jason and Sherry a CD, no one else can pick that particular title… but you won’t know which CDs have already been turned in until you bring it to them!
Once you turn in a CD that no one else has used, Jason and Sherry will give you your next clue.

CLUE#5-Handed out by Jason and Sherry at Amoeba
Aaron Spelling saved a bundle on his greenery, with this just steps from his front yard. It’s here that Aaron, Hugh and other Holmby area residents can practice sinking them like a world’s famous cat. Find our clue captains, Susanna and Todd, who will take you from there. [Teams had to figure out that they needed to get to the Holmby Hills putting green. Once there, they had to sink putts in two out of three holes. Teams later said this was the hardest of all the challenges -- although a few golfers on the teams had an easier time.]

CLUE #6-Handed out by Todd and Susanna at Holmby Hills putting green
It’s showtime! Race over to the Museum of TV & Radio, one of the coolest museums in all of L.A. (Why? Because it’s all about TV!) Find the box marked by our Race flag, where you’ll pick up your next clue.

CLUE #7- Found inside a box at the Museum of TV & Radio's downstairs lobby
Tell the fine Museum of TV & Radio employees that you’re here to screen some TV – including that classic episode of "The Mike & Maria Halloween Housewarming Race’s Next Clue."

CLUE#8-On the video
[Maria shot a video of me at Mariachi Plaza, which we gave to the fine folks at the TV museum. They installed it in their system, so teams arriving to watch TV in the museum's cubicles saw our clip! On the video, I give a brief history of the Boyle Heights area and tell them to race down to Mariachi Plaza -- where they must find a green religious candle. Once they do, race over to the Mariachi Plaza gazebo, where clue captains Anthony and Candice will hand out the next clue -- but only if they have the correct candle.]

CLUE#9-Handed out by Anthony and Candice at Mariachi Plaza [Teams had to figure out a way to read the website -- which provided a link to their next destination, the revived Red Car service in San Pedro. Most teams called up friends or family to check online. One team had brought along a computer with wi-fi capability.]

CLUE#10-Handed out by Maria at the first Red Car stop in San Pedro
You've reached the half-way point! Climb aboard the Red Car and ride to the Ports o’ Call Station. Once there, race on over to the Ports O’ Call Village for a richly deserved break. Find Mike, where he has set up the stop. You'll get a chance to rest, eat and mingle with other players. (A "mandatory pit stop," as they call it on "Amazing Race.") Last team to reach Mike may be eliminated.
IMPORTANT: Find Mike immediately to check in. Your time of arrival will determine the time you rejoin the race!

CLUE#11-Handed out by Mike and Maria (at first, and then by Pang-ni and Ian, who decided to leave the race but agreed to stay on as clue captains) at Ports O' Call
The heart and Seoul of San Pedro is this bell, a gift to Los Angeles to celebrate the 1976 bicentennial. Find Clue Captains Anthony and Candice at the bell, and they’ll hand you your next clue. [Teams had to find the Korean Bell in Angel's Gate Park]

CLUE #12-Handed out by Anthony and Candice at Korean Bell
Find this wonderful, wonderful cat. (Perhaps he’s driving a Malibu… or an Impala.) The receptionist should have your next clue. [Teams had to figure out we were referring to Felix Chevrolet.]

CLUE#13-Handed out by receptionist at Felix Chevrolet

‘Tis the season… for campaigning. Either (a) find yourself a sign from a real political campaign or (b) make one. Then head to the intersection of Hollywood and Sunset, where Clue Captain Melissa will be waiting. Start flashing your sign – once you get two honks out of passersby, you’ll receive your next clue.

CLUE#14-Handed out by Melissa at Sunset/Hollywood

Splish, splash! For your second roadblock of the game, pick someone who… um, doesn’t mind getting wet. Find clue captain Kathy at the roof of the downtown Standard. [One member from each team had to jump into the Standard's pool -- and swim to the other side, grab a clue, and swim back.]

CLUE#15-Handed out by Kathy at Standard pool
Time for an homage to "Midnight Madness," the other inspiration for this race. That movie’s action wound up at downtown’s Bonaventure Hotel. Take the elevator up to the BonaVista lounge and grab a matchbook/napkin/whatever with its name on it… then head to Grand Central Market, where Clue Captains Damon and Rita will be waiting… with a special treat. [As the "special treat," one member from each team had to consume an entire Spam Musubi -- a delicacy in Hawaii, but daunting to first-timers. It's a huge slice of spam atop a mound of rice, wrapped in seaweed.]

CLUE#16-Handed out by Rita and Damon at the Grand Central
You’re in the homestretch! Get down to the Grand Star Bar. One brave team member must order the Mike & Maria shot. (Hell, all of you – sans DD, of course – can down one. What the hell. It’s a party after all.) [A "Mike and Maria shot" turned out to be a simple, pure shot of vodka. Some teams all drank, but most teams picked one member to down a shot.]

CLUE #17-From Grand Star Bar bartender
You did it! Get your asses down to Philippe’s the Original. First team to make it to the finish line wins the Mike and Maria Halloween Housewarming Race!

As the first team through, the dynamos of ORANGE CRUSH won gift cards to Borders Books & Music and Sephora, as well as CDs and DVDs from Rhino. Second place HEZEKIAH WALKER AND THE 111TH ST. GOSPEL SINGERS, who ran around all day in gaudy powder blue choir robes, were given "Amazing Race" t-shirts and hats.

SPECIAL THANKS to our Clue Captains: Claire, Jason and Sherry (with Jordan), Anthony and Candice (who did double duty!), Melissa and Jen, Pang-ni and Ian, Kathy, and Rita and Damon. Also to the clue stops that helped out. And a SUPER BIG THANKS to CBS' Lauri Metrose, who convinced Chip and Kim to come out and celebrate with the teams! (It goes without saying that Chip and Kim were awesome for coming out -- check out their website at

And a shout-out to Chip and Kim, who took time out of their busy schedule to meet a group of rabid "Amazing Race" fans. They were genuine and down-to earth. (That's us above with Chip and Kim.)

Teams: Please send us your photos! Or links to 'em! Let's start a race photo album; there are a ton of great shots out there!

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