Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Talkin' American Idol

Oh my gosh ... I hate to use the expression "jumped the shark," but it comes to mind with this season's American Idol. I don't think I can blame my doldrums with the show entirely on the contestants this year. I think the increased judges comments have made the should-be an hour show into two hours as of late. You know, while I always enjoyed the judge commentary previous seasons, now they've expanded it to way too much. I can certainly draw my own conclusions without listening to them bicker for five minutes after each contestant sings.

But there was some good in last night's show. Although I definitely respect what Usher does, I've never been an avid fan of his. That said, I think he just might have been the best "mentor" I've ever seen on the show. The advice he gave each contestant was spot on and supportive. You go, Usher!

Then there's the talent (or lack thereof). We always have someone who shouldn't be in the Top Ten. At least, in his own way, Sanjaya Malakar was entertaining enough -- the different hairdos, the personality. Tim Urban, dimples and cute grin, has the personality of a washboard and the talent of fabric softener. I'm sure Vote for the Worst and teenage kiddies will keep him on, but he needs to go far away.

I'm still really liking both Crystal Bowersox and Lee Dewyze -- both have great distinctive voices and I could see both becoming commercially successful down the road. Lee took strides last night in his efforts to gain his confidence. That's his biggest downfall. Even Usher recognized that Lee has a remarkable and unique singing voice. Casey would be good in a country-rock kind of venue or as the front man in a rock group with an emphasis on country rock.

I'm not on the Sioban (sp?) train, nor am I enamored with any of the others. I think the youngest male, Aaron, has a beautiful voice. Yet, he doesn't have the David Archuletta cuteness about him, nor the charisma. I guess I'd like to just fast-forward this season to a Lee/Crystal showdown and hope they both do well in the future.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lost - "The Package"

The show is starting here. As it airs, I'll be jotting some quick notes in this entry. Anyone watching (or who has watched) is welcome to join in down in the comments section.

On the island, Sayid tells FLocke he doesn't feel anything anymore. Jin wants out from the FLocke. Whoa! Uprising with the Tina Fey gang and darts of some type. They want Jin.

FLocke wants Sun, tells her he has Jin (little does he know). Instead of going with him, she flees. Um. Okay, she trusts no one, I guess. Ben finds her and rescues her while FLocke finds his camp people attacked and Jin gone. Now she can only speak Korean again.

Tina Fey is holding Jin in the old Dharma Initiative's Room 23. "Take me to your leader." He gets a meet and greet with Charles Widmore. He tells Jin that if Locke ever gets off the island, there will be chance to reunite with Sun.

FLocke says he has to take all of the people whose names were on the wall to get off the island. Claire's name wasn't on the wall, but he needs her anyway. He wants Jin back.

FLocke met up with Widmore who knows he's not Locke.

Sideways Sayid rescued sideways Jin while he killed the men who killed his brother. Oh no, sideways Sun was accidentally shot by Jin. I'm so lost.

Ohhh... Widmore's group has Desmond!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Amazing Race 3/28/10 Episode Blog Party Post

The show is once again delayed here on the East Coast due to March Madness. 60 Minutes started at 7:30 PM ET, so The Amazing Race should begin at around 8:30 PM. Once it starts, as it airs, I'll update this entry with major events including the Pit Stop order and Philimination. My actual show review will be posted late tonight over on TV Squad. But the real fun (and most information) will be right here in the comments area. Everyone is invited to join in with your thoughts!

It's 8:30 now and we're starting ...

Pit Stop
1. Steve and Allie - won a dinner, massage, 7 grand each, and all the 7-Up they can drink
2. Jordan and Dan
3. Brent and Caite
4. Louie and Michael
5. Jet and Cord -- didn't follow clue, left bottle on boat!
5. Argh - Carol and Brandy
6. Jet and Cord ... NON-PHILIMINATION - YAY!

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - 3/28/10

It's Sunday, time to take my weekly off TV topic jaunt through the past week in photographs I've taken and words. The weather hasn't been the best this past week. We started out rainy, then cleared up some but with colder temperatures. Now I hear we can expect yet another five inches of rain between tonight and Tuesday. We don't need it, for sure. With the local floods, I hate to see what April showers will bring!

The big event of the week was the demolition of one of the historic buildings on North Avenue in Plainfield (NJ). I've been taking photos of that row of buildings since I've been taking the train ... we're talking more than five years. I honestly don't see what the rush was to immediately take down the building after the city ignored its dilapidated state for so long. Yes, it needed to come down, I guess. But, long ago they could have done something other than letting it rot. Now my blockscape view from the train station has a gaping hole in it.

Roofus the cat, who used to use said building to access the roofs on the block, is still sequestered in the old ex-rental car building. I saw footprints in the snow leading to the door over the winter and local blogger Bernice reported that she recently saw him. He's okay, someone's feeding him. However, I really don't know how long that building will last (although it's small and looks structurally secure).

I ran into Bernice as we were both photographing the demolition on Thursday. I played some with my video on my camera (see previous post) and in the YouTube video I'm including here. I was even mentioned in the local newspaper. No, not in the police blotter! Sheesh! Here's the Courier News mention -- way down in the article.

A point of interest in the North Plainfield home falling into the Green Brook -- I've photographed it before and my infamous squirrel in a pumpkin shot was in the home across the street which mirrored the ruined one. But the one across the street is occupied and well-kept.

Yes, I saved a hard copy of the paper. I can put it in with old dean's list announcements and my old police blotter articles. Ahem.

I want March Madness to be OVER.

Thank you.

Let's see ... what else happened this week? I seem usurped by the demolition, editing videos and such. Well, there was a full week of work, too. I filled up my not-an-iPod this week and had to take some songs off. Yikes! As I was going through that, I was thinking I should do a random Sunday Seven Songs on my not-an-iPod each week. You can feel free to reciprocate!

This week's Sunday Seven Songs:
"Addicted to Love" by Robert Palmer
"If I Were a Rich Man" by the original cast of Fiddler on the Roof
"Smooth" by Carlos Santana/Rob Thomas
"Honky Cat" by Elton John
"When I Ruled the World" by Coldplay
"Word Up" by Cameo
"Für Elise" - Beethoven

Oh my. I think I'm just weird. Onto this week's photos (clicking on them will open them larger in a new window) --

Tuesday Morning

I took this photo of the doomed building on Tuesday morning about 7:30 on my way to work. I noted that the left parapet and part of the corner had fallen. On Wednesday, the Courier News published an article saying bricks came down between 7:00 and 8:00 on Tuesday evening thus throwing the situation into dire mode. Huh? The way the back of the building was described was the condition it's been in for over a year -- chimney leaning, wall crumbled away, BIG corner missing.

Thursday Morning

I had to go in to work pre-dawn on Thursday (was off on Wednesday). So this is after all the hoopla panicking. The parapet and corner don't look much different than they did on Tuesday morning.

Brightly Lighted and Blocked Off

Thursday morning still.

Demolition In Progress

By the time I came home from work at about 5:30 PM on Thursday, most of the building was down. If you go to Bernice's blog linked pre-photos here, she caught a lot that I didn't. Of course, once we saw each other, we hung out together taking shots.

Where is his hardhat?

All of the other guys were wearing hardhats (as they should be). This one man was in and out all around the destruction with a baseball cap on. What? He seemed to be directing a lot of the action. But I thought on a scene like this, everyone had to wear them.


Claw of Death

I edited this one -- didn't do that much this week, did I? It's "posterized."

Saturday Morning Gap

From the train window Saturday morning

Arriving home Saturday

Something is just wrong.

Train Station in the hole

I took this shot from the back of the scene looking towards the Plainfield Train Station. Talk about jury-rigging wires! Look at those!

Let's have some non-North Avenue destruction photos ....

Sheesh! Is it contagious?

This was on Church Street (Plainfield) as I walked to the train Saturday morning. Sure, I didn't get hurt at the major demolition, but this guy managed to flick a brick right in front of my shoulder. And, I even went into the edge of the street to be away from him. He had no police barriers.

Love, Light, Life

The Plainfield YWCA building on East Front Street in Plainfield. I hope they take care of this gem.

My first dandelion sighting of the season

Resting and nesting

The Bridgewater field of geese near the train station. I know they'll nest, but they really shouldn't. The ball park sets up their fireworks on the field.

Crocuses! Or, is it Croci? I just don't know.


In a planter in front of Hugo's Bar on Church Street in Plainfield.

Yo, bud

This was taken near City Hall on Watchung Avenue in Plainfield.

Then there's the daffodils

Berckman Street, Plainfield

Then there's Vincent

What's up, Vincent? Do you hear a mouse?

In closing, I'll leave you with my spliced together clips of the demolition on North Avenue. It's long, but if you stick with it, you'll hear me offer to Bernice to go over to ask the demolition guys pose the two claw machines juxtaposed. Then again, you might want to miss that. I'll see you later for The Amazing Race!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Off Topic - History Lost

Tonight is a boring television night for me. So, I'm giving you a sneak peek at something which will be more fully covered in Sunday's "That Was the Week It Was" post. The condemned building which used to provide Roofus the Cat access to the roofs on North Street in Plainfield (until the back portion of the building and roof collapsed) had a partial collapse on Tuesday. Today they tore it down. I was there with my camera for the tail end of the demolition. I included some photos taken before today's demise.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains Blog Party Post 3/24 Episode

Thanks to Msrch Madness, we're on Wednesday this week. This post will be updated with the major events as they air here on the East Coast. Late tonight, my full review will be posted on TV Squad. But, until then, the real fun is in the comments area right here -- feel free to jump in with your thoughts on the show, everyone is welcome! Survivors ready?

The castaways are fighting for individual immunity within their tribes. Both tribes will go to Tribal Council. Candice won for the Heroes. Rob wins for the Villains. Rob won the showdown - Villains get hot dogs, soft drinks, and sit in on the Heroes Tribal Council.

Woohoo, Russell did it! He schemed, gave the idol to Parvati and TYSON got voted out!

Colby beat out James! James is going home.

Reminder - Survivor TONIGHT and ...

Just a quick reminder that Survivor will be on at 8 PM ET/PT tonight, not tomorrow. I'll have the usual blog party post going on for it. Plus, I missed Lost last night and have to catch up online. My apologies. I was out later than I thought I would be for dinner with a friend after work.

Oh ... Robert Culp died. It was just on the news. Rest in piece, Mr. Culp. I was a fan of I Spy way back when.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Dancing With the Stars Spring 2010 Blog Discussion

Dancing With the Stars returns Monday, March 22, at 8 PM ET/PT. All new stars, all new action! Here's the place where you can discuss the show with your friends. The official website for the show is right here. You can find this post listed under blog discussion posts in the sidebar or use the show title in a search.

Margo is kind enough to run the blog's pool and here's the random pool picks:



Aiden & Edyta - Delee, Terry in CA
Buzz & Ashley - ML, Donna in AL
Chad & Cheryl - Donna in FL, Laurie
Erin & Maks - Rbennie
Evan & Anna - Margo
Jake & Chelsie - PDXGranny, JoyN
Kate & Tony - Tessa
Nicole & Derek - Meb, Brent McKee
Niecy & Louis - Becky
Pamela & Damian - Sydney, Monty 924
Shannon & Mark - Jennasmom, Nana in NW

THE POOL IS NOW CLOSED - Everyone is welcome to play along - just not in the "official" pool.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Amazing Race 3/21/10 Episode Blog Party

The show is delayed here on the East Coast due to March Madness. Grr. If you care, Perdue won. 60 Minutes started at 7:50 PM ET, so The Amazing Race should begin at around 8:50 PM, nearly an hour late. Once it starts, as it airs, I'll update this entry with major events including the Pit Stop order and Philimination. My actual show review will be posted late tonight over on TV Squad. But the real fun (and most information) will be right here in the comments area. Everyone is invited to join in with your thoughts!

8:50 PM and we're starting ...

Pit Stop
1. Louie and Michael -- each won a trip for two to Mexico
2. Carol and Brandy
3. Steve and Allie
4. Jet and Cord
5. Dan and Jordan
6. Brent and Caite
7. Jeff and Jordan, Philiminated

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - 3/21/10

Happy Sunday morning to everyone! Since it's Sunday, it's time for my weekly off TV topic reflection back on the week gone by in words and photographs I've taken. After a rough start with rain, wind, and cold temperatures, spring burst upon us before the calendar declared it. From Wednesday until this morning, it's been sunny with temperatures in the 60s and even low 70s. That's my kind of weather! I don't care for the hot days of summer, but this is perfect for me.

As I commuted to work this week, the town of Bound Brook was bypassed due to the flooding. I had hoped to get some decent shots, but the train sped through the town. It's sad to see personal belongings stacked on the curbs, the fluorescent orange "Danger - Don't Enter" stickers on some doors, as the townspeople go about doing flood clean up once again. A restaurant which had been abandoned after the last flood had just reopened under new ownership a few months back. Now it's closed again. The actual waters had receded from the Main Street area by Monday. However, the town's power was shut down and they weren't letting folks drive or come by train.

I found out that flood waters weren't all that far away from my own place. While I didn't go out last Sunday when the weather was still bad, I could see the debris line where street flooding (not river, like Bound Brook) hit from next door to next door and east down my very own street. At the nearby church and the home on the other side, water had flooded a good thirty feet to the front steps. No wonder my street got shut down!

Outside of the weather, nothing eventful has really happened this week for me. No good news, no bad news, just kind of rolling on. Well, you know, that's how I roll. I was reminded one day how much I'm enjoying living in this town and how friendly the people are when compared to other places I've lived. I know a big part of it is my pedestrian ways -- you see the same people day after day exchanging pleasantries and the next thing you know, it's a friendly world after all. Throw in the diversity factor you encounter living in Plainfield, and it's always interesting, too.

On the Internet, I'm quite vocal. However, I'm more of a loner in life. By getting out and about on foot, I've met more people and become friends than I have in years outside of friends I've made through the workplace. I don't go to bars; I don't carouse.

One day this week, I chatted and mocked passersby with "pants on the ground" with a long time bus stop friend. I got off the bus, stopped in the bodega where I was greeted with "Mommy!" and asked if I wanted to run off to Guatemala by the man behind the counter (who seems to have some sort of odd crush on me). Then I bumped into Big Marvin and his little dog Princess as I walked home from the bodega. He looks like some kind of linebacker and is a corrections officer. The dog is a lhasa apso, usually wearing bows. We talked about the Storm of the Century for a bit, then went our separate ways. Then I was joined by Steve from upstairs with his son Christian (of the snowman fame) and the new baby boy (whose name I haven't a clue). Christian told me tales of going outside to play at school for the first time since fall. As we talked, Jake rode by on his bike shouting a hello. For me, this is a wondrous thing.

Heck, Plainfield tends to have a bad reputation spread by people who don't live here. Yet, it's the friendliest place I've lived in decades and the friendly people come from all races, cultures, and walks of life. I like that. I spent my childhood years in an area where everyone was pretty much the same. As an observer of people type person, this is much more intriguing and rewarding.

Onto the photos I've taken this week -- clicking on an image will open it larger in a new window ...


This is the view out the train window in Dunellen, NJ. I don't think that police incident command van has moved since I've lived here. I guess Dunellen doesn't have many incidents, eh? I edited this shot leaving the sign in color, background black and white and "posterized."

Seagull Incident Command

Yep, the seagulls are guarding East Front Street in Plainfield. No, we're not a shore town. But that never stops seagulls. I recall them hanging out at dumps in way upstate New York, as landlocked as you can get without being in the Midwest. Of course, these seagulls are probably soldiers in the war to overthrow mankind.

I Keep Looking for Dog, the Bounty Hunter

But he's never at these bail bond places. Strategically placed near the police station, I guess Action does get some action. But not from me. I'd have to drastically change my lifestyle to get arrested these days and I don't like hassles. Thus, I won't be stepping in the door. Watchung Avenue and East Fourth Street in Plainfield. I edited the shot, obviously.

Wired Sunset

I took this last night from near the Bridgewater Train Station as I was heading home from work. It would be nice if the ball park kept all of their lights lit as the dark one annoys me. But they don't care.

Ohh! Flowers!

Nope, not naturally growing -- someone planted these daffodils. I'm still looking for natural flowers blooming and haven't even come across a crocus yet. I know they must be out there! This is in the cemetery behind the Friends Meeting House on Watchung Avenue in Plainfield. They probably should have raked, too. I couldn't get close as there's a fence between the flowers and me.

Ohh! BUD!

Yes, spring is on the way! The trees on Church Street all of a sudden sprouted buds. Soon the trees lining both sides of the street will be in full bloom. It makes me sneeze, but they're so pretty every spring. Church Street in Plainfield, outside of the Union County College building.

Sunset over the Field of Geese

Back to the sunset from last night in Bridgewater. The geese were honking, soon the ducks will join in quacking. Then it's a cacophony of honk, honk, quack, quack. I'm awaiting the return of the chipmunks, groundhogs, and the occasional fox.

When is a tree not a tree?

When it's a shadow! The harsh angles of the winter sun are lessening and this could be my last chance shot of this for a while. The side of the Friends Meeting House (Quakers) on Watchung Avenue in Plainfield.

Those kids!

I met these two high school kids on East Front Street in downtown Plainfield on Wednesday. Alas, the sun was so bright that it washed out the green of the girl's pants. They looked so SPRING that I asked if I could take their photo. They cheerfully obliged and seemed to be very nice kids. Their parents should be proud. And, of course, she's the epitome of teenage fashion with those glasses and the outfit! I edited the shot to make the background black and white.

You can take that to the bank

Um, is this a secure way to transport your millions? Could it be a crime in progress? I just don't know. But it's not every day you see and armored truck being hauled away. East Front Street in Plainfield.

How many PPD dudes does it take to change a light bulb?

Okay, I'm joking. I believe they're doing more than changing the light bulb. I caught this scene on the corner of East Second Street and Watchung Avenue in Plainfield.

Huh? A relatively empty Plainfield Post Office?

I was shocked when I went to mail a certified letter this past Wednesday. I dread going to the main Post Office on Watchung Avenue in Plainfield because there's usually a line of twenty or thirty people and everyone has an involved transaction. But I went in and only one person was being waited on and no one else was in line! Unfortunately, only one window was open and the clerk was CHATTING with the person being waited on. So, I still had a wait. But nowhere near as long. This is a long shot of the mailbox area. I don't have a mailbox there.

Mother Lucky Spot Deli

This deli on the corner of East Second and Richmond in Plainfield has changed hands more than a few times since I've lived in town. Yet, the original old "Lucky Spot Deli" sign remains no matter the name change. Yes, another edited photo.

Early morning yellow

This is the scene on North Avenue and Gavett Place early one morning this week. I edited it to leave the cab and street cleaner machines in their brilliant yellows while the background went sepia.

Ohh! More spring!

It's nice to see green again.

Fire Alarm Telegraph Cable Box

Sigh. When I got my first digital camera in 2003, I roamed about town taking photos of as many of the police and fire boxes I could find. Many are cool and sort of historical like this one. In the years since, most of the doors to them have vanished, either being sold on eBay or for scrap metal by druggies. I have to find my old files of the photos. This one is on Watchung Avenue near the Plainfield Train Station. I've closed its door twice this week. I bet the door will vanish before long. Why can't people just leave cool things alone?

Starling standing guard

He's working his assigned post, I'm sure.

Mourning doves marching on

Perhaps reluctant soldiers in their plot to overthrow mankind, the doves are pacifists at heart. I edited this shot taken at the Bridgewater Train Station overpass.

Men in Pink

I'm sure they were originally red. This is a junkyard I see from the train near the Dunellen - Bound Brook area. I edited the shot to leave the men pink.

Don't judge me by the color, confuse it for another
You might regret what you let slip away
Like the geek in the pink
Like the geek in the pink, pink, pink
The geek in the pink, yeah -"Geek in the Pink" by Jason Mraz

Status of the "Starships Don't Need Keys" billboard

The rest of the sign remained intact, yet no one has repaired the missing section obliterated in last week's storm.

Bound Brook pre-dawn Monday morning

The train actually made a stop in Bound Brook before the daylight on Monday. It was the last stop made there until late Friday afternoon. I have no clue why they stopped there Monday. The town's power had been cut off although the flood waters had receded. I had to lighten this shot some just so it didn't look like a rectangle of black. The light in the background comes from one of the trucks with lights like you see at night construction spots. Those were placed every few blocks up on the hill.

My local aftermath

It was raining (again, still, whatever) as I headed to the train Monday morning. Thanks to daylight saving time, it's also dark again at that hour. This is the west corner of my street, not where the flooding was its worst. Plainfield Police, who scrambled for their barriers during the flooding, left the sawhorses there all week. No wonder they can't find them when they need them. The corner of East Front and Richmond in Plainfield.

Vincent takes yet another catnap

Trust me, he's active enough, though! He's no longer the lanky street stray with the coarse fur I adopted six months ago. He's to the point where I'm going to have to start watching his weight and his fur has gone all glossy and soft. He's a happy cat and I'm happy to know him ... and be owned by him.

How was your week?