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THE RACE IS BACK!


October 2004 Update:You've been asking... and now it's official: The second-ever race, this time titled "Mike and Maria's Halloween Housewarming Race," is ON! Go here for details!




MIKE'S BIRTHDAY RACE FEATURED IN NOVEMBER 2003 EDITION OF LOS ANGELES MAGAZINE!



Late October 2003 Update: Yup, L.A. mag scribe Mary Melton stumbled upon Franklin Avenue, called me up and said she wanted to do a piece on the Race.

Filling a page and a half in the mag's Buzz section (page 32), it's pretty damn cool! Even if a few things are a tad off: For some reason, I'm quoted as saying I've been in L.A. since 1999--I've actually been here from the summer of 1996. And Maria deserves more of a shout out for planning the race along side me.

But I shouldn't complain. Mary wrote a pretty cool story -- and yes, I am buttered up by her description of me ("soft blue eyes") and agree with her assertion that I'm a "TV geek." Not a bad first year for the Race -- wait 'til next year! The November issue of Los Angeles mag is on newsstands now.



McTEAM WINS THE FIRST-EVER MIKE'S BIRTHDAY RACE!


Latest Photos:


LOUIE AND TOM'S PHOTOS (above): Latest Mike's Birthday Race shots come from Louie and Tom, who share about 80 shots here.



MIKE'S PHOTOS (above): Click one of the photos above, or here for the official Mike's Birthday Race photo album on Buzznet.

TRAVIS' PHOTOS: First photos of the race online came from The Juice team member Travis, who has posted an excellent album of shots from the race here.

More pix to come! Thanks, Travis, Louie and Tom! And anyone else who has shots, please email them in!


Birthday Race Recap:

Eight teams... 16 clues... 12 locations... 77 miles...

Teams embarked Saturday on an all-day race around Los Angeles organized by Maria and me (Mike) and inspired by TV show "The Amazing Race" and early 80s cheesy movie "Midnight Madness."

They rode the train around Travel Town. They climbed the rock wall or rode the high wire bike at the California Science Center. They found a book at the Central Library. They made it to the roof of the downtown Standard hotel. Sampled wines at the San Antonio Winery. Met a street musician at the La Brea Tar Pits. Took a pit stop at El Cholo. Sang karaoke in Koreatown. Visited the Museum of TV and Radio. Found Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Jr.s' gravesite at Hollywood Forever. Crashed the Farmers' Market. Made it to Hollywood and Highland. Took the Metro to the Pantages Theater. Found Buster Keaton's star on the Walk of Fame. Phoned Mike's parents in Oklahoma City.

And finally made it to Michael's Room bar in Los Feliz.

All told, the race took about 7 hours. Tired and sweaty, the teams toasted Mike's birthday... and surprise guest Phil Keoghan (host of the CBS reality show "The Amazing Race").

Here's how the teams wound up:

First Place: McTeam (Jess, Jeff, Tony, Becky, Pang-Ni)
Second Place: The Juice (Travis, Lance, Emmie)
Third Place: Team Northwestern (Marc, Ann, Aaron, Taskuo)
Fourth Place: Team Twentysomething (Geoff, Amanda, Lisa, Helen, Denise)
Fifth Place: The A-Team (Andrea, Yvette, Louie, Tom)
Sixth Place: Team Adobo (Jason, Mark, Peachy, Aris, Catalin)
Seventh Place: Hacks and Flacks (Matt, Paul, Keith, Leslie)
Eighth Place: Team Goose (Todd, Susanna)


We'll be posting details shortly on who made it to which stop first... and keep checking back for a ton of pictures that we'll be downloading in the next few days!

For now, though, here's how the race was planned out, including where the clues were handed out (and who handed them out), what the clues said-- and where teams were sent.


CLUE #1-Handed out at Home
Choo-choo on down to Travel Town, and take a ride on the railroad. After the conductor lets you off the train, find Denis (who manages the ride), who will hand you your next clue.

Note: You must complete the task before Denis gives you the clue! No cheating!

CLUE #2-Handed out by Denis at Travel Town
((Teams were handed a CD of two songs: "California" by Phantom Planet and "She Blinded Me With Science" by Thomas Dolby))

Park your car and head to the center hinted at by these songs (sorry, there's a $6 charge). Then go inside this location and find Claire, who will give you further instructions. (((Clue included a photo of Claire.)))

CLUE #3-Handed out by Claire at California Science Center

DETOUR
Choose a member of your team to complete one of two tasks. That member will either climb to the top of the "Cave Climb"or ride the "High Wire Bicycle."

If you choose the Cave Climb, you must climb all the way to the top and ring the buzzer; Claire will hand your team the next clue when you return to earth.

If you choose the High Wire Bicycle, you must ride all the way to the end and back. Make sure to get your picture taken with your digital camera or purchase the photo that comes with the ride. Once you get back downstairs to her, and she's seen the photo, your team will get the next clue.

CLUE #4-Handed out by Claire at California Science Center

ROADBLOCK
Make your way to the Richard J. Riordan Library (here's even a helpful hint: Find the underground parking structure entrance on Flower. It's cheap). Once you're inside, make your way to the Children's Lit department. (Now, try to be discreet, so we don't all get thrown out.) Choose one teammate (anyone but the person who just participated at the Science Center). That person is the only who can actually enter the Children's Lit department-the rest of you, wait in the Rotunda.

Find one of the following picture books:
--"The Race"
--"Happy Birthday to You"
--" Happy Birthday, Delores"
--"The Birthday Party"
--"When You Take a Pig to a Party"
--"Jenny's Birthday Book"
--"Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born"
--"The Runaway Bunny"
--"Miffy's Birthday"
--"A Know-Nothing Birthday"

What? We didn't give you the author? You can't expect us to do *everything* for you now, do you? Anyway, once you get one of these books, hand it to Maria. She'll give you your next clue.

CLUE#5-Handed out by Maria at the Library

Walk over to the Standard Hotel, pull out $2 and squeeze as much of your team as possible into the photo booth. Take photo. Look for further instruction-but don't go anywhere until you have your photo booth pics in hand!

CLUE #6- ((A series of pictures posted in the booth showed Mike and Maria holding up signs that said "Go To The Roof"))

CLUE#7-Handed out by Mike at the downtown Standard roof

It ain't Dallas. Or Ft. Worth. Nope, it's not Houston, Lubbock or Austin either. It's just a great place to sip some crushed, fermented grapes. Well, except for whoever's driving your car. Make your way to this location, and partake in a tasting (except for the driver). Once you have, Steve and/or Michael will hand you your next clue.

CLUE#8-Handed out by (winery managers) Steve and/or Michael at San Antonio Winery

Performing's the Pits for Charlie. But he likes it anyway. Find Charlie, listen graciously, give him a nice donation (hey, support the arts) and he'll give you your next clue. ((Clue included a picture of Charlie with his banjo))

CLUE#9-Handed out by street performer Charlie at the La Brea Tar Pits

You've reached the half-way point! Make your way to El Cholo for a richly deserved break. (A "mandatory pit stop," as they call it on "Amazing Race.")

You'll get a chance to rest, eat and mingle with other players. Last team to reach El Cholo won't be eliminated-but you may be mocked by the other teams.

IMPORTANT: Find Mike and Maria immediately to check in. Your time of arrival will determine the time you rejoin the race!

CLUE#10-Handed out by Mike at El Cholo

Ahem... do re mi fa so la ti do! Start practicing your singing voice... you knew it was coming... it's time to
karaoke! Lucky for you, you'll be singing as a team in a private room. Head to Rosen Music Studio, at 3488 W. 8th Street, and find Maria in one of the karaoke rooms.

Pick a song and perform. Once you're done, Maria will hand you your next clue. Here's a hint: Don't pick "Stairway to Heaven."

CLUE #11-Handed out by Maria at Rosen

Old TV and radio shows don't die, they just retire to the Museum of TV and Radio. Head over there, and pick up a clue from the fine folks at the front desk.

CLUE#12-Handed out by front desk workers at the Museum of TV and Radio

That crazy Mike. Forever hanging out in Hollywood with Douglas Fairbanks Sr.-and his son, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Find Mike next to the Fairbankses, and he'll give you your next clue.

CLUE#13-Handed out by Mike at Hollywood Forever cemetery

Meet Leslie at 3rd and Fairfax. Actually, get a helium balloon first from the "Party America" store, THEN find Leslie somewhere at the Farmer's Market. Once you hand it to her, she'll give you your next clue. ((Clue included a picture of Leslie))

CLUE#14-Handed out by Leslie at Farmers Market, after teams gave her a balloon

Park at Hollywood and Highland, and find Sieah enjoying a latte. Sieah will give you your clue.

CLUE#15-Handed out by Sieah at the Hollywood and Highland Starbucks

Take the Metro Line to Hollywood and Vine and locate Anthony Mann's and Jackie Gleason's stars. Write down who's in between them. Call 405-XXX-XXXX to give your answer-and pick up your next clue.

CLUE #16-Over the phone, Mike's parents administered this clue from their home in Oklahoma City

((After teams give the correct answer, "Buster Keaton"))) Get back to your car and make your way to Michael's Room, the bar on Vermont Avenue next to the Hollywood Hills Coffee Shop. First team to arrive will win Mike's Birthday Race! There's a prize for second place as well.

Special Thanks:

Several people helped Mike and Maria make the Mike's Birthday Race 2003 a big success. Thanks to: Claire, who managed to pass out clues and take her kids to the California Science Center at the same time; Leslie, who was able to pitch in at El Cholo when Mike had to get over to the cemetery, and who didn't mind carrying around a bunch of balloons at the Farmers' Market; Sieah, who we drafted at the last minute and who was cool with spending several hours at Hollywood and Highland; and Anthony, who luckily came with Mike to the Standard and stayed to pass out clues when Mike had to get to El Cholo.

Also: Joe, who managed to get the "Philiminator" to show up to the Afterparty; Phil, who didn't mind taking pictures with each and every team; and "Amazing Race" exec producer Bertram Van Munster and his P.R. guy Charlie Barrett, who hooked us up with envelopes from the show (a nice touch!) and a flag to signify the start and finish lines.

Finally, there were the businesses and people along the way who were hip to playing a role in all of this: Denis at Travel Town; Steve and Michael at the San Antonio Winery; Charlie the folk musician; Terry and the staff at the Museum of TV and Radio; and the staff of Michael's Room, who had no idea we were going to take over their bar, but who were cool about it anyway. And thanks to all the teams who played!

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FRIDAY, AUGUST 29 UPDATE

IT ALL HAPPENS TOMORROW! Finalize your teams tonight-- and pick a name, as well as a team costume or color. We already have Team Twentysomething (yellow shirts), Team Northwestern, McTeam (white shirts) and others in the mix. ALSO, we have capped the number of teams at eight. If you're not a part of a team yet, don't worry; we'll assign you one (or you can find one) on Saturday.

Not to freak you out, but I've already heard plenty of trash talking out there-- the race is on! And at least one player has been spotted studying up on strategy.

Don't forget to get to Mike and Maria's at 10 a.m.! (There should be plenty of street parking in the area.) The race will begin around 11, after everyone has some breakfast!

And as noted below, wear something comfortable. You're racing, after all! And think long and hard about what you might want to bring along too! (Snacks, Thomas Guide, etc.)

Also: A digital camera is a must. Let me know if your team doesn't have one.

SEE YOU TOMORROW!

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WHAT'S THE DEAL?
We're celebrating Mike's 30th birthday.

WHY?
Um, hmm... um...

NEVER MIND THAT. FINE, WE'LL CELEBRATE MIKE'S BIRTHDAY. WHAT'S IN IT FOR US?
Glad you asked. Rather than simply booze it up at some cool new bar, we thought we'd have some fun with it.

WELCOME TO MIKE'S BIRTHDAY RACE! HERE ARE THREE DIFFERENT WAYS TO JOIN IN:
Choice 1: Form a team -- or join a team and participate in Mike's Birthday Race! Then party afterwards at Michael's Room, a new bar next to the Hollywood Hills Coffee Shop in Los Feliz (on Vermont Ave., across the street from the famous Dresden Room).

Choice 2: Don't want to race? Serve as a Pit Stop Captain. You'll be stationed at one of the stops, handing out clues to teams and making sure they complete any tasks they've been asked to perform. This is much less time-intensive than choice 1, but still fun. You'll still head to the Michael's Room party after you're done.

Choice 3: Forgo the race and instead just show up at Michael's Room at 7 p.m. for the party.

Of course, there's also Choice 4: Pretend you didn't see the Evite or this website, and send a belated birthday card to Mike sometime in November. Nice.


SO WHAT'S MIKE'S BIRTHDAY RACE?
If you watched HBO in the early 80s, chances are you caught the ultra-cheezy movie "Midnight Madness," probably best known for Michael J. Fox's and Paul "Pee-Wee Herman" Reuben's big screen debuts. But the movie's concept itself was appealing in its simplicity. "Midnight Madness" revolved around teams of college kids racing throughout Los Angeles overnight in an "Amazing Race"-style game.

The five teams are assembled by an eccentric college student named Leon, who has concocted "The Great Allnighter," a scavenger hunt around Los Angeles. Leon divides the teams by colors: The good guys who play fair (yellow); the cheaters, led by Stephen Furst (blue); the nerds, led by "Grease's" Eddie Deezen (white); the sorority sisters (red); and the beer-loving jocks (green).
Teams are given clues to solve, which lead them to various L.A. destinations (such as LAX or the Griffith Obervatory), where they then have to find the next clue.

It was glorious early '80s fluff, in the same vein as "Xanadu" or anything else from that era. HBO ran it constantly in those days (along with other questionable entries, like "Oh God!" and "The Pirate Movie"), giving it a permanent home in our collective unconcious minds.

Now, much more recently, "The Amazing Race" -- recently nominated for an Emmy -- reigns as one of the best, if not the classiest, reality shows in all of television. The CBS series follows teams as they race around the globe, completing challenges and making their way to various route markers -- where they better not be the last team to arrive, or they're eliminated.

HOW DOES MIKE'S BIRTHDAY RACE WORK?
You'll divide into teams of four or five players a piece. It's up to you guys to figure out who wants to be on which team.

Teams can consist of whoever you want. You can hook up with others you see on the Evite list. You can bring along friends and significant others, even people Mike and Maria don't know. The more, the merrier!

And if you don't have time to join a team or put together your own, just show up! We'll assign you a team.

WHAT IF I DON'T WANT TO RACE?
That's why we came up with Choice 2 above. We need pit stop captains! You'll meet along with the other teams in the morning, and then head to your stop when the race begins!

WHAT ARE MIKE AND MARIA DOING?
They're running "Game Control" out of their apartment, meaning they'll be tracking all the teams, troubleshooting problems, perhaps meeting you at a pit stop or two, and setting up shop at the final pit stop to crown the winner.

ALL RIGHT, FOR THOSE OF US RACING, WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN?
You'll meet at Maria's and Mike's house at 10 a.m. on August 30. (It's a Saturday.)

First, breakfast. (Provided by them.)

Then, wearing your team colors (yep, we'll divide you into red, blue, green, yellow, white, black, whatever) you'll be given your first clue. Traveling as a team, the race begins! You'll then travel around Los Angeles, completing various tasks (don't worry, nothing too strenuous-- you're not bungee jumping here) and figuring out your next clue.

First team to reach the final pit stop wins. (Wins what? You'll have to wait and see.)

At that point, we'll eat, drink and celebrate. That's at 7 p.m. at the aforementioned Michael's Room, where people who choose not to compete will be waiting.

ONE LAST THING: WHY ARE YOU WRITING THIS ALL IN THE THIRD PERSON, WHEN WE KNOW IT'S YOU, MIKE?
Shut up.

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HERE'S THE VITAL INFO:

--Give us a loose idea of who your team is in the days before the race. And be sure to answer the Evite!
-- Dress to race. Tennis shoes, comfortable outfits. You won't be running too much, but you're in a race! Comfort is a must. (And don't forget to wear a shirt that at least resembles your team color!)
-- Bring along a digital camera. Chronicle your adventure. You'll be glad you did, plus we'll be putting together a web site where you can check out all the shots, including what your rival teams did.
-- Your team will ride in one car.
-- Bring along $20 each for incidentals. (And more if you want. There are no spending limits, but you're not going to have to spend much beyond parking and perhaps an entrance fee to some city attraction. Beyond that, you're probably going to want money to eat and booze at the Afterparty!)
-- Have a cell phone at hand. You'll be checking in with Game Control every once in a while, including to let us know when you're heading toward the final stop!

LOCATION INFO:
Mike's Birthday Race-- Meet at Mike and Maria's apartment at 10 a.m., August 30. Check the Evite for their address.

Afterparty-- Michael's Room, 7 p.m. Located adjacent to the Hollywood Hills Coffee Shop, 1745 N. Vermont (at Prospect).
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***KEEP CHECKING BACK HERE FOR MORE DETAILS!!!***

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