Monday, December 27, 2010

Southland - 'Let It Snow' - Season 3 Premiere Preview

I just finished watching my screener copy of the season premiere of Southland thanks to the kind folks at TNT. The show is set to air on Tuesdays at 10 PM ET/PT starting on January 4. With the weather here on the East Coast, it can only be a bit amusing that the episode title is "Let It Snow," eh?

I like this show. The creative staff on Southland are the same folks behind the NYPD-based police drama Third Watch. It's a bit grittier and more graphic perhaps than that show, but many series are these days. However, while many police dramas are either "just the facts" or boast characters who have odd quirks which make them a bit implausible (yes, L&O: Criminal Intent and Detroit 1-8-7 -- shows I enjoy, but ...), Southland has police characters I myself have known over the years.

The Superman on the job isn't always the real Superman. Sometimes he's just a hot-dogger. Police might have that thin blue line, might at times seem to be a separate society, but in the final determination ... they're human. They have warts, personal demons, personality clashes with their co-workers just like anyone else. Often coming into the job with rose-colored glasses, cynicism might change them over the years. But they don't necessarily have to develop odd quirks. They just need to be human. That's what this show does very right.

So, we have believable characters, what else do we need?


And we get plenty of it in the Southland setting. The city has a million cop stories to be told. The storytellers on this show could easily go years. I only hope the ratings keep things going. Since NBC canceled the show after its first season and TNT picked it up, I've enjoyed it more. They seem to have a bit more leeway with content.

I realize I haven't talked much about the episode itself. But I don't really want to spoil it. If you like police dramas; if you like good characters combined with riveting action ... tune in next Tuesday. Oh. And there's snow, too. No, that's not unrealistic. I recall when I was a child in Southern California it actually snowed once. It didn't last long, but there it was.

Are you watching Southland?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - December 26, 2010

It's Sunday morning, the day after Christmas, and time for my weekly off television topic reflection on the week gone by in both words and photos I've taken. No, that's not a run-on sentence. Is it?

The weather and time restraints worked against me once again this past week. Again we had bitter cold temperatures coupled with gusty winds. I'm talking just about every day! I didn't make it into the city -- my knee is bad in the cold and it would be too much walking around. As a consolation, I pulled up a few old holiday shots I took in Manhattan for you.

While we didn't have a white Christmas here, we're in a blizzard warning right now lasting until 6 PM tomorrow according to the the National Weather Service. Oy! I don't really have to go out today. But I am supposed to head to work tomorrow morning! Today I will hang inside and watch the Southland screeners sent to me by TNT. I should be posting a bit on them later on.

I had a fairly quiet, uneventful, yet exceedingly pleasant holiday. I hope everyone enjoyed their day! Vincent got some cat treats, some cat toys and plenty of attention. He's so different than he was last year at this time. Instead of being lanky, he's very solid -- not really overweight, but he better stop gaining weight!

In local news, the city administrator fired last week by the Mayor had her baby early. However, she's not unemployed as she was when I last posted. The City Council voted unanimously to override the Mayor's decision. Now there's scuttlebutt about tossing the Mayor. Don't you just love politics?

Onto the photos for the week ... not a heck of a lot of 'em. Clicking on an image will open it larger in a new window.

O Christmas Tree

The Plainfield tree lights the night on Watchung Avenue in front of City Hall. It's cold, so no one is out there. Well, except for the crowd of drunks hanging outside the liquor store on the corner.

A white Christmas?

I noticed this little snowbank in front of Heard One on Church Street in Plainfield. Huh? What's up with that? Are we talking a tiny two-foot wide snowstorm or what? You can see the train station in the background. That's where I was headed. No snow there!

Chicken vs. Chicken

Kind of like the old Spy vs. Spy in MAD Magazine, we have dueling chicken -- Pollo Campero vs. Royal Chicken. Although this is only about a five-minute walk from my apartment, I have yet to try Pollo Campero. I've tried Royal. Eh. I like their snowcones on hot summer days, but the chicken is only so-so. Pollo Campero seems to be doing a good amount of business. I will eventually check them out. East Front and Roosevelt, Plainfield, NJ.

Oh, those colors!

For the first time ever, I was inside of a totally empty (well, except for the driver) New Jersey Transit bus. I had to shoot it. Notice the camera dome in the rear filming me as I shoot up the bus. This was coming home from work (after the train) on Christmas Eve.

Not only was it empty, it was a weird trip. The driver was one I had never seen before. As he drove along, his cell phone rang. So, although it's way illegal, he answered it and started talking away. That's when I decided to take the photo. Well, I looked up and noticed darkened factories out the window. What? He missed a turn and was heading out East Fifth Street when he needed to cut over to East Second!

"Excuse me, I think you missed the turn at Richmond."
"Oh. I don't really know this route," he hangs up his phone.
"You can take a left at the next intersection -- that should be Berckman."

Instead, he decided to do a K-turn in the middle of the street. Now, this is a full-sized NJ Transit bus, mind you. It took him almost five minutes going back and forth in a two-lane street which wasn't as wide as the bus. Traffic backed up in both directions. Yikes! I made it home alive. That's a good thing.

Old photo warning ahead ...

Macy's holiday window in Manhattan

Yes, it moved. No, I didn't take video.

EEK! A Grinch!

Skaters at Rockefeller Center

Plainfield Train Station lamps

Taken with the "illustrator" filter on my Pentax digital camera.

A sliver of sunset

Plainfield Train Station.

For some odd reason, I saw a lot of abandoned items this week. As I tend to be intrigued by oddities, I had to shoot them --


Somewhere a sneaker is pining for his solemate

Not only abandoned, but murdered.

Bridgewater Train Station.

Holiday stars

At the YWCA on East Front Street

A perfectly good grocery cart

In front of Richmond Towers on East Front Street

Four HUGE bags of salad vegetables

Frozen on a bench in Bridgewater, NJ. I don't know know why. Perhaps they were left for Santa Claus?

A poinsettia

No, it's not growing out the brick wall. It's a plastic one stuck in a crevice. I shot this one with my cell phone, so the quality is a bit lacking. Bridgewater, NJ.

Was abandoned, but never will be again ...

Vincent has a home for life. I think he knows it.

How was your holiday? And what's the weather doing where you live?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Survivor: Nicaragua - Season Finale Blog Party Post


Survivors Ready?

Welcome one, welcome all! The blog party is ready to start! The Sunday night East Coast football curse strikes the timing of the show just as it did for most of The Amazing Race. I expect things to start about 20 minutes late. I'm SO happy I don't have to stay up to write up the three hours for TV Squad although I miss the income from that.

Everyone is welcome to join in with comments as the show airs here on the East Coast or even later in West Coast time. As the show airs, I'll post major events here, but the real fun and most of the reactions are in the comments section. See you there! I'll bring Trader Joe's Veggie Sticks and the Guinness.

8:18 PM ET. It's finally starting.

YES! Fabio wins immunity!

Dan was voted out.

2nd Immunity -- Holly out, Chase out. Whoa, Fabio got it again!

Sash, Chase and Fabio voted out Holly. (She voted Sash.) A good move for Fabio, methinks. I don't think Sash has jury votes. Chase is iffy.

Dan and Marty voted Fabio, Alina and Brenda voted Chase.

The vote:
Fabio, Chase, Fabio, Chase, Chase, Chase, Fabio, Fabio, FABIO!

Fabio wins!

New rule for the show -- No longer will any quitters necessarily go on the jury. The show will reserve the right to "do what they want with them." Good.

Most votes ever, biggest percentage ever, no one close ... Jane won the $100 grand for the favorite player.

NEW SEASON: When voted out, live on Redemption Island, one person will reenter the game after surviving the others coming in.

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - December 19, 2010

It's Sunday morning once again. Huh. Funny how that goes, eh? It's like we have a Sunday once a week or so. But ... since it is Sunday morning, it's time for my weekly off television topic reflection on the week gone by both in words and photos I've taken.

Once again, the weather here wasn't all that conducive to taking photos. I can't really use my gloves when shooting and need to keep the camera bundled up a bit in the cold so that the batteries don't die too quickly. For the majority of the week, the temperatures were below what they should be and we had fairly heavy winds as well. Grr.

Although we've had all of this super-cold weather, with the exception of a light dusting of snow one night, we're probably looking at a not white Christmas this year here. But I'm sure the temperatures will be seasonably cold!

I've been way swamped at work and I'm looking forward to actually having a weekend off next weekend as much for rest as for the holiday itself. Well, maybe not as much, but ...! I'm also working a shortened 4-day work week, so that will be nice. I'm tossing around the idea of heading into the city either Wednesday or next Sunday. However, it will all depend on fatigue levels and how cold it is. If it's like it's been with gusty winds and extreme cold, I may just stay in.

Things are still quiet here with the rowdy neighbors (Greta Garbo's Home for Wayward Boys and Girls) gone. I've noticed that the hallway smells like real home cooking once again instead of Chinese food. I hadn't connected that odor with them, but it must have been. With the heat on, all windows closed, I now come home to the smells of good dinners cooking, cookies baking and such. It's almost enough for me to want to knock on the door. "Remember, you invited me over sometime. I smell cookies, so now is the time!"

Onto the photos I've taken this week. I have nothing all that artsy for you, but I do have one special shot. I'll put that one up first. Clicking on an image will open it larger in a new window.

Here's the money shot of the week (for regular blog readers, at least) --

Look who I found ...


It's been months since I've seen him and I was sure he was gone for good. Of course, he can't get up on the roofs anymore as they tore down the building he used to access them. Although I've peeked in the old Budget Car Rental office building where he was holed up on and off, I haven't seen him in ages. Well, there he was on Saturday morning, looking healthy, clean and almost a bit chubby!

This was taken through a dirty and frosty window and he zoomed away shortly after I got the one shot. Also, the reflection of the rocky gravel-ish parking lot shows. I didn't see the grey cat that I previously saw with him, but I'd bet he's there too. So he's still around and obviously being fed. Yay! Gavett Place, Plainfield.

When the cat's away ...

The birds have taken over the Chotola apartment building! Actually, they're not always there. With the temperatures so cold, the morning sun heats up the front of the building a bit. You know Roofus wouldn't have put up with this! North Avenue, Plainfield.

Just a light dusting

Not long after sunrise on Tuesday morning, the snow hangs in there on the eastbound track of the Plainfield Train Station.

Free parking, free commentary

Folks from The 'field will get this one. The seasonal free parking bags are covering the meters and one city administrator got her termination notice effective on Christmas day, a week before she was scheduled to go on maternity leave. I'm basically an observer of politics in town, but this one's gonna be a brouhaha for sure.

PS: I should note that I edited the photo to add the words in black print.

Squirrel Claus, please bring me nuts.
I've been good.

And this pizza from the Dumpster is frozen and icky! East Front Street, Plainfield.

Two in the bush ... again.

I don't really want one in my hand. He'd probably peck me! East Front Street, Plainfield.

A killing frost?

Without a doubt, the light dusting of snow murdered these bicycles at the Bridgewater Train Station.

The 'hood shot

Even though all was coated with snow when I peeked out at about 11:30 Monday night, the wind blew most of it away before I headed out to the train station in the morning.

But the street is half-closed!

No, not due to the dusting of snow. Further down, back past my apartment building, it looks like there was a water main break or something. I didn't notice it the morning of my shot (because I didn't walk that way!). But walking home that way after dark I noticed several huge, perhaps 3-feet, 2-feet high, piles of chopped up ice and ice all along the one side of the street.

Oh. And there's a cute bunch of little PSEG flags marking something. They're gathered in a group, so maybe it's just a meeting. The shot above was taken at Richmond and East Front Streets.

Ice, Ice Baby

Okay, can you tell the real icicles from the radioactive NJ corrosion icicles? I know, they're not really radioactive. They're stalactites, I know. But I prefer to think of them as radioactive as they're around all summer. I know I don't like them dripping on me! Under the Bridgewater Train Station overpass. Yes, they did some woodwork under the bridge. But that doesn't stop the radioactive icicles!

Furious wind-driven snow flurries

Westfield in the Trader Joe's parking lot Monday evening.

I love my Westfield Trader Joe's!

Of course, if there was a Plainfield one, I'd love it more. I've heard rumors and innuendo, but nothing concrete. It's a different shopper-base, but I think they could do decent business in town. Unlike Wegman's (which I adore, too), the prices are more reasonable and they don't need a ton of space.

Oh my

One of the Westfield Train Station Christmas trees was so battered by the wind that its lights started slipping down. It's a wonder they weren't blown off. This was Monday night when all of a sudden the temperature must have dropped twenty degrees and we had wind gusts over 40 MPH.

Pink is the new Westfield

I have no clue why the street has a pinkish hue. I blame that store. East Broad Street, Westfield.

This is just sad

To be fair, the bottom half of the window lights up sporadically, but rarely top and bottom at the same time. North Avenue, Plainfield.

Much better

Finally I got a shot of the home kitty-corner from the other elaborately decorated house on the corner of East Front and Richmond Streets. This is the one that was always either off or it was daylight with the kids waiting for their school bus.

The "rude" light is at it again

Not quite the holiday color scheme -- Watchung Avenue, Plainfield.

Skritch-scratch time

Vincent likes to have his chin scratched, behind his ears scratched, being petted, etc., etc. He has really turned out to be a great companion. I'm glad he chose me.

Stop back later for the big Survivor season finale blog party! At least, with TV Squad not assigning me the reviews of the show, I don't have to worry about being up for half the night writing up a three-hour show.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Survivor: Nicaragua - December 15th Episode Blog Party Post


Survivors Ready?

Welcome one, welcome all! The blog party is ready to start! Everyone is welcome to join in with comments as the show airs here on the East Coast or even later in West Coast time. As the show airs, I'll post major events here, but the real fun and most of the reactions are in the comments section. See you there!

Look out, it's the product placement family episode! Chase won reward and chose Sash and Holly after telling Fabio he would choose him. @@

Yay! Fabio won immunity!

Chase and Sash both played their idols. Jane voted out.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Amazing Race - Season Finale Blog Party Post

Jackie's TV Blog, Amazing Race, TAR

Sigh, football again even for the season finale! I'm not a football fan at all to begin with and it really bugs me that CBS constantly schedules full episodic television on nights they KNOW the games run over. They ought to juggle the schedule and, if need be, schedule the football until 8 PM with commentary or whatever and lose a show on Sunday nights.

TAR is delayed by about a half-hour here in the NYC viewing area. Once it starts, as it airs here, I'll update this post with major happenings. Later tonight (or at least by morning) my show review should be posted over on TV Squad. But the real fun will be during showtime right here in the comments area. Everyone is welcome to join in! I'd like to see either Brook/Claire or Nat/Kat win, but all three teams going into this finale are strong!


Jill and Thomas haven't even gotten to the final task yet. Brook and Claire almost to the final pit stop.

Brook and Claire, number 2.

Jill and Thomas in, didn't show them doing the final task.

Wow! Next season's "Unfinished Business" looks like a bunch of great teams including some from this season!

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - December 12, 2010

Sunday morning, time to take an off television topic glance back at the week gone by in words and photos I've taken. My photo fodder is lacking a bit this week as the temperatures were frigid here in the Northern Central NJ area. Since my jacket pockets don't keep my camera warm enough, I've been putting it in my tote. Plus, I had gloves on, too. So photography was a bit time consuming each time I wanted to take a photo. Sigh.

It did get a bit warmer yesterday with highs up in the 40s. Yay! Thankfully we were spared the snow that other parts of the country received. But today, with the higher temps again, we're expecting wind-driven rain all day, ending as snow tomorrow morning. Then it's back to the cold. Oh well, it's almost winter. I guess it's to be expected.

Anyone who regularly reads this off topic weekly photo post knows I talk about birds taking over the world. Well, this week I peeked for Plainfield, NJ, on YouTube. THIS video (not taken by me) is of the recent blackbird migration going through Plainfield. Beware -- the person filming it has a bit of a PG-rated vocabulary --

See. It's not just me thinking the birds are taking over! It's not all in my mind!

I also found a video someone took in line at the Pollo Campera grand opening on East Front Street last week. Once again, it's not just in my mind. They lined up all the way down the block --

Then I found bizarreness with something from I checked it out and the writing is a bit too convoluted for me, plus it's set in areas of town I don't know well. But you'll recognize the train station in the video --

In this last video, there's this bar crawl in Plainfield. They ended up at Casanova Pizzeria on East Front Street. Huh. When I was photographing that place, the owner didn't want to be in any shots. Maybe it helps if you order pizza ...

Okay, so there's a taste of the town. I don't really know the bar scene so much, nor have I seen any celebrities involved in deep dark mysteries.

My life is a bit quieter. It's especially quieter since my rowdy ne'er-do-well neighbors in the apartment next door vanished. I do believe they're really gone. I know the maintenance folks were there drilling the door and I see new-looking locks. Good riddance, I just wish it hadn't taken that long!

My day to day social life tends to include my train commute friends. That changes as people retire or, in one case, NJ Transit closed down a friend's destination station. Yet I remain friends with the local to me train buddies, seeing each other outside of the train life. I don't know how these things happen, but most of the friends are men. Huh. Go figure. Their wives seem to approve and I've gotten to know the families, too. I guess I don't need to go to a bar to meet people!

My latest train friends are Frank and Chris. We sound like the start of a bad joke -- a blind guy, a white woman and a black man enter the train station ...
It's odd how people tend to gravitate to each other and become friends merely over a commute. That doesn't happen in a car stuck in NJ traffic, for sure!

I've rambled enough ... onto the photos of the week. Clicking on an image will open it larger in a new window.

The latest

In the continuing saga of the bird feeder whose tree died and fell over, this is the latest solution. There are no birds because it's empty. But you just know if they went through all of this trouble, bird feed is on the shopping list! East Front Street, Plainfield.

Watching, always watching

This European Starling looks ready for the attack.

They control the landlines.

Bridgewater Train Station, NJ.


These apartments usually house migrant workers who head to nicer weather come winter. This is on North Street right across from the train station. While it might be better than TV at times, I wouldn't want to live there. I prefer to hear the train whistles in the distance from my own apartment. That's pleasant. But they have to endure all of the station announcements on the PA system, loud on-top-of-them trains, plus the area itself is somewhat rowdy at night.

Speaking of the train station ...

That person found out that they will NOT open the doors for late boarders once the doors are shut. I always make sure I'm at the station five minutes before the train is due. I'd rather be ten minutes early to the station than 20 seconds late.

Done up for the holidays

The Plainfield Police Department decorated trees around the memorial with blue and white lights. No, I doubt it's for Chanuka -- the blue most likely represents the police themselves. Watchung and East Fourth, Plainfield.

Fall falls

The mums (planted way too late) on East Front Street are getting frostbitten. Perhaps they should have little petal mittens?

Foggy windows time at the bakery

Yep, the windows on Danny's Bakery (North and Watchung Avenues, Plainfield) are all steamed up once again. That's always a reliable indicator of low temperatures.

Snow on the roof

We had lots of bouts of heavy snow flurries, but none stuck on the ground. The only place I saw snow was atop of the old Miron warehouse which is undergoing a rehab into apartments. With the very low temperatures, I have noticed that the snow pile (shaved ice from the Zamboni) at the Rock Ice Pavilion skate center in Dunellen is huge! There's snow there in a pile all summer. But it's now taking over a stretch of the old defunct railroad tracks.


It's a black and white world when you sleep on the train and miss stunning sunrises. I edited this one to leave only the window in color. NJ Transit.

As dawn arrives

Watchung Avenue, Plainfield. This is a similar location to the one I took in the fog a few weeks back, perhaps a bit farther from the train overpass.


The house on East Front and Richmond is finally in full gear. The house kitty-corner from it is also full of decorations. But I haven't caught that one in the dark with its lights on. And, when I pass in the morning on my later mornings (not Monday), it's daylight and kids are waiting for the school bus. I don't want their parents to think I'm some kind of whacko taking photos of their kids!

All it needs is snow

Another angle on the house above.

You say Santa Claws is coming?

"What do you mean, have you been naughty or nice? With a face like this, it's obvious that I'm just a sweet innocent NICE cat!"

Sure, Vincent. Innocent, yeah ... right. But, yes. NICE cat. (When he's not attacking my ankles from his hiding spot under the bed. I had to trim his claws because he actually slashed my ankles! Of course, he thought he was just playing. Ow.)

That's it for this week. Tonight's The Amazing Race season finale will probably be delayed due to double-header football coverage on CBS. But I'll get a blog party post up at 8 PM ET anyway. I hope to see you there!