Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Great Escape - Series Premiere Tonight on TNT

TNT is stepping up its original programming with its first foray into the world of reality competition series. They're doing it in a rather big way, too. I mean ... we're talking Ron Howard involvement. We're talking the producers of The Amazing Race involvement. 

As with Falling Skies, I was given promotional episodes to screen, write up or not, like or not, etc. While I must disclose they give me these screeners, I'm really under no obligation to them other than to not give out spoilers or do sneaky stuff with them. I have the first two episodes of this series and have already watched the one which will air tonight.

What I like about the show:
  • I like the idea of three different teams each week. No trying to memorize 11 couples or such. With fewer teams, you get to "know" them better.
  • The series premiere's setting is Alcatraz (not a spoiler). Very interesting indeed. I believe the escape sites are going to continue to be fascinating in their own way.
  • At the end of each episode, the winning team wins $100,000. That may not be the million from Survivor, but the teams each only do one escape, win or lose. Then it's on to a new set of three teams trying to escape from a different location.
  • You can get involved in the show. In the premiere episode, I cringed each time the various teams were caught by the guards and sent back to the beginning.
What I'm ambivalent about:
  • The host. He's in a role too much akin to Phil Keoghan yet doesn't seem to have the personality of Phil, nor is he the eye candy. Said host is Rich Eisen of NFL Network -- like I would know who that is. But I can deal with it unless he tries to raise an eyebrow. 
An observation:
  • You can tell there's some involvement by producers of The Amazing Race. Not only are Rich's hosting tasks extremely similar to Phil Keoghan's, but the music throughout is similar, as well.
Would this show fly on network TV? I'm really not sure. It's not flashy or even sexy. The contestants in the first episode wore clothes which were reminiscent of the crew of the Enterprise on the original Star Trek series. We're not talking skin, for sure! However, with the lead in being Falling Skies on Sunday night, I can see me watching weekly. In a few weeks, my Sunday nights should be Big Brother, Falling Skies and The Great Escape. I can live with that!

Will you be watching? Or, if you're reading this after the fact ... what did you think? 

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - June 24, 2012

Yep, yep, yep. It's once again Sunday morning. That means it's time for my weekly off television topic reflection on the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken along the way. 

First, I do want to discuss the television topic for a moment. Remember, Falling Skies is on tonight! I've already seen this episode in screeners and recommend it. Second, I want to mention Glass House. I accidentally napped the evening it was on and only caught the last twenty minutes or so of the show. I wasn't impressed. There was some obnoxious dude deliberately being obnoxious to the others and it all came across as staged to me. The feeds have only been available select hours and days when I'm at work. While I plan to catch a bit more, I just can't see myself getting too involved in the show. Big Brother will keep me more than busy enough through the summer.

The season premiere of Big Brother is Thursday, July 12, That would put the hamsters in the house the weekend before. So, it's not all that far away! With the live feeds from BB, I can watch any time day or night. If I want to see something that happened while I was at work, I can use their rewind function. While the Glass House feeds are free, they're really limited.

Okay, let's get back to off topic! 

After a week like this past one, I'd love to rescind my adulthood. The beginning of the week was a bit chilly and the end of the week was a heat wave with temperatures in the high 90s and high humidity levels. As I get older, I really don't tolerate that kind of weather well. I actually like winter temps better -- I can always bundle up! The heat? Well, I can't take off all my clothes and walk to the train station. Even if I did (and didn't get arrested, only mocked), I'd STILL get all sweaty!

Then, on the work front, everyone and his brother were off for one reason or another. I had to take on lots of responsibilities that I don't normally do. While I don't mind helping out, I don't like to impromptu deal with computer programs that I'm very iffy on yet I need to have accurate results. Oh, the pressure!

Then the kicker was on the home front. The new landlord mailed me a new lease to sign and return. It's about twenty pages long! I actually haven't signed a lease here since the first landlord a dozen years ago. But, the bad part of this new lease is that not once, but twice, they mention "No pets." Ack. I plan to write them a letter pleading Vincent's cause. I believe I could very well have a case -- their people have been in here and know that Vincent only uses the litter box and has done no damage. Plus, I know I'm the kind of tenant they would or should want here. I'm quiet, never pay my rent late, not destructive, get along well with the neighbors, responsible, low maintenance and more. My original lease here said "No pets" and the landlord at the time okayed my two cats (at the time). We'll see.

If they won't allow Vincent, I will move. I need to sign the lease or tell them before the end of July for a September 1 lease end. So I have time. I already poked around a bit online and see some places cheaper than what I'm paying here. There's one (which will surely be gone by the time I really look if I need to look) only a two-minute walk to the train station, two bedrooms instead of the one I have here and almost $200 less a month!

Also on the home front, two brothers have been charged with that murder back in May. Yes!

Onto this week's photos -- clicking on an image will open it in a new window, clicking again will give you a larger image. Closing out the Photobucket window will zap you right back here to the blog. Huh. That's almost like time travel! 

Peeping Lily
Peeping Lily

Day lilies are growing like crazy all over the place these days. They're so magnificent that I always want to shoot them. But, after a while, the shots all look alike. So I went for a different angle with this shot. Berckman Street, Plainfield.

Mad World
Monday Morning blues

The heat didn't hit until Wednesday. Plus, some folks with longer commutes tend to be a bit more bundled up due to the air conditioning on the trains. Me? I wear short sleeves! NJ Transit Raritan Valley Line.

Recognize this?

There I was, near the elevator in my building, when I spotted this. At first, out of the corner of my eye, I thought COCKROACH. Eeek! Nope. Closer inspection revealed it to be a beetle I absolutely adore. It's a lightning bug or firefly (if you prefer). I think these are a magical part of my youth that still put me in some sort of fairyland trance when I see them at night. After taking this little guy's photo I gently picked him up with a piece of paper and put him outside.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - June 17, 2012

It's Sunday morning, time for my weekly off television topic reflection on the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken. That said, I want to remind everyone that Falling Skies returns for a two-hour season premiere tonight on TNT. Be there or be square. I've already seen it (and posted about it), but will probably watch it again.

Also on a television note, a few folks have asked me about the NBC series Glass House -- the one that supposedly is a Big Brother rip-off. I believe that makes its debut this Monday, but they've had selected hours of live feeds on their website. Alas, the one weekday I was home, I forgot to check it out. I probably will look into it, but know that I can't do much other than my full time job (need to make a living) and coverage of the Big Brother live feeds/shows throughout the summer. Yet I won't throw stones!

This week has basically been another run-of-the-mill one for me. The landlord's maintenance dude was in once again to fix the water pressure in the kitchen and a leak in the NEW pipe under the bathroom sink. In talking with both my directly upstairs and downstairs neighbors (as each saw me walking on different days this week and offered me rides home), they're also fairly impressed with the new landlord. The upstairs neighbor said they repaired her tiles in their bathroom to stop the leaking. What I've said all along that it had to be! We all agree we like our wing of the building and our neighbors, but the revolving door of riff-raff in the front wing can go at any time.

A few occurrences from this week:
  • I saw a fool riding his bike on the sidewalk and texting at the same time. He crashed into a bench and flew into the street. Fool. He's lucky a car didn't hit him.
  • I explained to a NJ Transit train conductor whose shift has changed and he deserted our morning train that it's MY train whenever I'm on it. It's only HIS train when I get off. He told me that I needed to go collect all the tickets then.
  • If I can hear you talking on your cell phone from a half block away during 5pm traffic, you're talking way too loud. Shhh.
  • Just because YOU like Mexican polka music doesn't mean you need to share it so that I can't watch television at a reasonable volume with my windows open a half block away at all hours.
  • The Plainfield Police solved my noise complaint re: Mexican polka music within five minutes. They rock!
  • I am addicted to POP! Gourmet Popcorn's "Simply Bacon" popcorn, but I'm too scared to buy the Lavender soda to test.
  • One of those booming music cars went by me one morning while I walked to the train station. Usually it's some kind of rap or Hispanic music. This one was blasting "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" by Sly and the Family Stone. The song got stuck in my head all day.
Onto the photos taken this week -- clicking on an image will open it in a new window, clicking again will make it larger, close that window to return here.
Nature's beauty
Summer is almost here!

Yet another flower from the home at the corner of East Front and Richmond in Plainfield.

Flag Day Vincent
Vincent observed Flag Day

I posted this one on my Facebook page on Flag Day, but not everyone who visits here goes there.

I also previously posted this video I took on my Facebook page, but not here. This is the Demon Hello Ice Cream Truck of Plainfield, NJ. I put up with it hours each day as well as the rooster over on East Second Street. I was sitting on a bench in front of the Monarch Building on East Front Street when I took the video.
Another view
Cool little insect

Isn't he cool? Bridgewater on the poison ivy.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - June 10, 2012

It's Sunday morning, time for my weekly off television topic reflection on the week gone by in both words and photos I've taken along the way. As I write this, it's a bit humid here with the threat of rain. I'm glad I'm not planning on going to the Puerto Rican Day Parade in the city!

I went back to work this week after my very relaxing staycation the previous week. Sigh. Sometimes I think I should never take time off. I'm not keen on drama in my life as I get older. Sure, I like challenges. But ... sheesh ... why do I always seem to come in to major technical glitches, systems down and dealing with the company's Helpless Desk? Both Monday and Tuesday had their share of technical woes. Woe is me.

On the home front, the new landlord is still gung-ho on the place. Tree trimming, replacing boards in the stockade fencing on one side of the property, installing a fortified locked door with a mail slot for us to leave service requests and rent checks and even vacuuming daily (not just when it looks bad). While talking to the office, I found out they're planning on putting in security cameras in various places as well as changing trash removal companies. No more PMUA for here.

Maybe they can catch whomever stole the front page and second section of my newspaper last Sunday -- the first time ever delivered -- if they do it again. Grr. I never had delivery because I figured it would be stolen. And, sure enough ... my paper last week started with the real estate section.

I'm only getting the Sunday paper due to the paywall now in effect for the Courier News. I used to buy it daily and read online. Then, as the price of the paper went up and the paper got so flimsy, I just read online. Now, you can only read ten articles in 30 days without being shut down and asked to subscribe.

As I really like and want to support the reporter (Mark Spivey) who covers this area, I decided I'd go for the subscription. It's $12 for total online access including a mock-up of the physical paper which I couldn't access before. However, it's only $8 a month for all online and Sunday actual paper delivery. Hmm ... four dollars less and you get an actual Sunday paper. Well, duh. Even if it does get stolen (or parts thereof), it makes more sense.

Yeah, I'm cheap.

This week I made sure to get dressed and go down to get the paper by 6:10am. While I'm usually up at that hour, if I'm not going to work, I'm not ready to face the world. Yep, the paper was intact and there. What's weird was that I heard a TV across the hall at Crazy Joe's (and he's retired, not necessarily a morning person) and, upon returning to my apartment with the paper, both neighbors on either side of me were coming out of their apartments. Wow, It must be early bird day!

On another building note, I noticed a package sitting atop the mailboxes the other day. I usually check them out just in case someone is sending me something. If it's a package for someone I know, I'll snag it and deliver it to their apartment. Others do the same for me. Oh my. This one was addressed to Carlos Santana. I didn't know he lived here!


Onto the photos for this week. Clicking on an image will open it in a new window, another click will make it larger and closing that window will land you right back here on the blog.  

Colorful weed

These blossoms are quite small and seem very short-lived. But, aren't they cool?

Say what?
Um. It's New Jersey, what can I say?

Okay ... this trio got off the NJ Transit train in Bound Brook yesterday. I just don't know. It's not Halloween and it's not time for an evening costume party. So I can only assume it's something in the water here.

Bee staredown
Bee staredown

The bees here are still very small and tend not to sit still for long. But I got this one close up and personal!


Sunday, June 03, 2012

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - June 3, 2012

Well, it's Sunday once again -- time for my weekly off television topic reflection on the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken along the way. I've been off this past week on a staycation. I had a few things I wanted to do and few of them got accomplished. Oops. However, I once again feel relaxed. That was the main thing I wanted to accomplish anyway!

The weather was either muggy and hot or had a chance of rain most of my days off. Thus, I didn't make any trips into the city (NYC). Nothing is worse than a sweaty Manhattan or getting drenched when my intent was to take photos.

So I puttered around home for the most part. I pampered myself with bubble baths, scented salt baths and good food while reading, listening to music, and catching up on some video watching. 

Once again, on Memorial Day, my bathroom ceiling leaked ... ruining the newest ceiling tiles installed. Well, not ruining them per se, but definitely staining them. Grr. On Tuesday afternoon I called the new landlord's maintenance number. Wednesday morning, they showed up. Judging from the amount of time spent up there and the noise they made, it SHOULD be fixed. It hasn't leaked since. However, I often went three months in between leaks although it's been chronic for years.

Here are this week's photos ... clicking on an image will open it in a new window, clicking again will make it larger. Closing that new window will plop you right back here on the blog.

Day lily
Day Lily in the sun

I took this on Friday just off Richmond Street near the railroad tracks in Plainfield.

Somerville Train Station
Somerville Train Station

After a rather ill-fated outing with a friend, I ended up driving her home in her car and catching a train out of the new Somerville Train Station to get home. Very nice although I didn't plan to see it this way!

Pretty in purple