Tuesday, May 27, 2014

What's to like about Fargo, the TV series?

Now, I've never seen the Coen Brothers movie of the same name (forgive me as I have sinned). As a matter of fact, I don't believe I've seen ANY Coen Brothers movies albeit most intrigue me and I really should catch up on them. I guess I've just been living in a cocoon. Or, in New Jersey. Take your pick.

But I'm finding this TV series (mini-series, whatever) adaptation on FX a breath of fresh air, perhaps with a bit of interference from the signs of the apocalypse and a touch of murder in the air. I can't compare it to the movie. Remember? I never saw the movie. But I surely can compare it with other TV fare. Oh, yeah ... there's more than a touch of murder in the air.

Without any spoilers about tonight's episode, especially since I haven't seen it yet, I've been trying to think of just why I'm liking this show so darn much. About the only thing I'm not so keen on is its odd episode timing. One week it's an hour ten minutes, another it's an hour fifteen. I personally would love to watch for 90 minutes each week. Think on that, FX.

So ... here's what to like about Fargo --
  • THE STORY - Well-written with great character development. The characters are as imperfect as anybody we know. I have to admit that no one I know has acted on murderous impulses and I know no one like Lorne Malvo. I should be clear on that. I'm talking the OTHER characters!
  • THE QUIRKY - Maliciously evil, yet delightfully quirky in its execution. Dark humor tends to catch my fancy and so does Fargo.
  • THE CASTING - Wow. Billy Bob Thornton is the epitome of intelligent evil as Lorne Malvo. The woman who plays Deputy Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) is a stand-out new face and is probably the best "man" on the police force. Colin Hanks has perfected his Minnesota/North Dakota accent (he's not from there, don'tcha know) as the Duluth Animal Control cop tied up in the big time murders investigation and going agog over Molly. Keith Carradine is believable as Molly's father and is probably as smart as she is. Adam Goldberg, although I recall we had a to-do with him and weren't allowed to mention him back when I was writing for Blogcritics, seemed out of place in North Dakota, but that's as it should be. The interactions between him and his deaf thug partner were priceless. I could go on and on. I'm loving this casting. Kudos to the casting director!
  • THE MUSICAL SCORE - Creepy at times, quasi-classical ... it's perfect for the action and the series itself.
  • THE LOCATION - I really like the vast frozen tundra when I don't have to commute to work in it. Snow is beautiful and a bit magical -- especially when I'm watching a series during the spring and today it's very warm and muggy here.
  • IT'S EDUCATIONAL - Why, yes, it is! In the episode 'Shades of Green,' Malvo posed a riddle to Gus (Colin Hanks) about why humans can see more shades of green than any other color. Molly came up with the answer, stating that it dates back to when humans lived in the wilds as prey and predator. I looked it up. There's some factual evidence of that. Cool. 
  • IT'S BIBLICAL - Well, perhaps not in a way that really religious folks would enjoy, mind you. Malvo's ongoing taunting of annoying mega-businessman Stavros Milos (Oliver Platt) follows the signs of the apocalypse. Okay, the locusts were crickets. We ended last week with dead fish falling from the heavens.
  • I FEEL A BIT AKIN TO BILLY BOB - As with anything that intrigues me, I read up on Billy Bob Thornton as a result of getting hooked on Fargo. I read where he has an OCD obsession with silverware -- he doesn't like big clunky real silverware. Oh my gosh! A kindred spirit in the world! Sure, I have a real (cheap) silverware set, yet I have two remaining from previous sets THIN forks which, if I have my druthers, I use in lieu of the new and more acceptable forks I own.
If you aren't watching Fargo and you're a fan of quirk with a strong stomach for violence and gore ... it's on tonight at 10pm ET/PT on FX.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Big Brother 16 News and Stuff

Hey, BB fans ... ready for another summer of voyeurism as we watch silly house hamsters? The season premiere is set for Wednesday, June 25 at 8pm ET/PT. Based on previous seasons, I don't expect any cast announcements for a while yet. We should hear more on that about a week or ten days before the premiere. I do know that they kept casting open longer than initially planned. I can only hope that means all NEW hamsters, none of these repeat "15 Minutes of Fame" types.

The show, in its second year of an early start (remember it used to start around the July 4th weekend) will air Sundays 8pm ET/PT, Wednesdays 8pm ET/PT with the live eviction shows remaining on Thursdays 9pm ET/PT.

CBS.com will be hosting the live feeds once again. Huh. I wonder if RealPlayer is even still in business after losing that account? They've announced the Early Bird Special prices to sign up between now and June 26th ...

I don't have, but really should look into it, an affiliate status with CBS for getting your live feeds subscriptions through this blog. I suggest that you either pick them up via the CBS site offerings or via my longtime fellow BB site friend, That Dingo at hamsterwatch.com. One thing I'll say about CBS hosting the live feeds instead of Real.com is that it's a heck of a lot cheaper! It's at least a third less for the season pass. And, at about $24 for the whole season, if you're a fan of the show, it's really cheap entertainment at any time, day or night! (With some hamsters, cheaper than others!)

Of course, you don't need the live feeds to hang out here on the blog and get multiple reports daily. While I work a "real" full-time job and tend to lack for sleep over the summer, often other blog readers pick up on happenings and post them when I can't. Everyone is welcome to read and join in on the action here!

As I'm only one person, I simply cannot report on every breath the hamsters take. Sites like Jokers Updates have many folks posting every minute. Sometimes you need to take the reports there with a grain of salt as anyone can post updates and people sometimes make up events or results, exaggerate things and such. Eventually, their moderation staff takes those down as I do I when there are falsehoods in the comments area here. However, if you see content in a post I make here ... it's the truth. True, I might have a bit of bias at times, but all competition outcomes, etc., that I post are really what happened.

I will post two to three times a day with what my readers call the Reader's Digest condensed reports of the live feeds, along with screen caps. Every show night, I'll host a blog party right here on the blog and invite y'all to watch the show and post your comments. Unlike places like the CBS chat room, we try to act fairly respectable. I keep this place on a PG level at the most and ask you to respect that. I also ask that commenters respect each other and understand that people can have differences of opinion about houseguests without insulting each other. I remove that kind of interaction here. No, the 1st Amendment does NOT apply to blogs. Nope, not at all. I'm in no way part of the government!

It's just about a month away until the premiere. What kind of hamster houseguests do YOU want to see this season? I personally would rather a mix instead of buff dudes and swimsuit model gals. But, I doubt CBS sees it that way. They think sex and hook-ups sell. @@

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Off Topic: That Was the Week It Was - May 25, 2014

SPAM War photo IMG_3201a.jpg
Remembering those who served

Now, of course I'm not old enough to know anyone who lost his life in the Spanish-American War, mind you! I took this photo about three years ago right around Memorial Day and it seemed fitting to lead off today's post with it.

Welcome to my off television topic reflection on the week gone by in both words and photos I've taken along the way. I'm posting a bit later today because ... I'm in STAYCATION mode! Yep. This is the first time since last fall that I'm taking time off from work not due to health reasons. Naturally, I have my little aches and pains, but nothing debilitating such as the sciatica I had for months. I actually slept in this morning. Woot!

Since the slideshows were such a big hit with the readers last week, I made another flowers slideshow with the photos I took this week. Too many flowers, too many shots I liked to post each photo individually here. I hope you enjoy them!

Just an on television topic word of warning -- I'll be posting some Big Brother, Falling Skies and other TV topic news during the week ahead. Just because The Amazing Race and Survivor had their finales this past week doesn't mean I'm not watching television! Anybody watching Fargo?

Let's see ... what happened this past week? Well, we had quite a bit of rain. Nothing like last spring, but you'll see raindrops on many of the flower photos. Work was hectic trying to get all set for me to not be there for a week. Surely I'll come back to problems. But I refuse to think of it this week!

I had plans yesterday to go to the farmers market in Scotch Plains. But then I woke up really early (as per my work sleep schedule), decided to take a nap when the skies turned gloomy in the morning hours and woke up to sunlight at just about the time the market closes down. Just as well as the skies once again turned to rain. I'll go next Saturday.

The apartment hallway noise situation remains improved. Apparently the offenders are quite worried that we (the normal tenants in the hallway) will turn them in for too many people squashed into a small one-bedroom apartment. I plan to speak to the landlord anyway. I'm just waiting my latest rental renewal letter before I complain. I don't want them to think of me as a whiner or a problem before I know the latest increase. I'm hoping it's only the $5 once again (or less). I'm still above the market rate for the rehabbed units in the building while I have a thirty-year old stove and original kitchen cabinets and such.

Onto the photos for the week ...

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Urban bunny

This rather large wild rabbit was grazing on a lawn on Berckman Street in Plainfield. I haven't seen many rabbits in the 'hood yet this year and definitely no babies. I'm sure they'll be coming soon. After all, rabbits are the new squirrels around here.

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The magical iris

The stunning irises are growing across the street (on Berckman) from where the rabbit was grazing. There are blue irises growing on East Front Street, too. But I love the colors on these. All are included in the flowers slideshow after the page jump.

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Adolescent squirrel resting

You never see adult squirrels resting! This week I've only seen the late bloomer young squirrel hanging around the bridge at the Bridgewater Train Station. The two more adventurous siblings seem to have moved on.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Survivor: Cagayan - 'It's Do or Die' Season Finale Blog Party

Oh my ... it's down to the end. Four remaining castaways, three tribal councils ahead of us and the reunion show. And, all of this on a Wednesday evening instead of the usual Sunday evening finale.

I know he's controversial, but I'd like to see Tony win. My blog pool pick went last week, so I'm a free agent. I think he's tried hard for the win even though he has some blunders and downfalls. Plus, he's local. Did you know he saved his neighbor's life? An article in the paper explains how that went down.

If not a Tony win, I'd like a Spencer win. I don't think he played the game as proactive as Tony, more of a reactive player. But he did indeed play the game and won challenges, found an idol and more.

I'm not keen on either a Kass or Woo win. I find Kass annoying and don't see her as much else. She hasn't won challenges, hasn't found idols and her claim to fame seems to be being abrasive. Woo, on the other hand, is very likable. I just think he's a follower and a bit of a dim bulb about the game itself.

I guess we'll find out soon!

Here's the latest on the blog pool from the Lively Lifeguard Laurie:
Kass McQuillen -Delee, MikesGirl
Spencer Bledsoe - Becky and Monty924
Tony Viachos - Lynn1, Zoetawny
Woo Hwang - Laurie, SueGee

Sarah Lacina
Morgan McLeod
LJ McKanas
Jeremiah Wood
Jefra Bland
Tasha Fox
Trisha Hegarty

Survivor fans ready for a big night ahead? Got snacks? Got beverages?

Recap, recap ...
Tony feels horrible about voting out Trish, but said that no one could win against her in the end because she was so well-liked.

A boat arrives with Kass's husband unloading a crate. Spencer's sister is there. Tony's best friend showed up instead of his wife. He's teary. She didn't come because of their month-old baby. Woo's cousin came.

The tree mail hints at heights and jumping right in for the upcoming immunity challenge.

Jeff said that this is the best bunch of castaways of any season for getting along as he visited them in the Green Room. He also promises an epic challenge ahead. We'll be the judge of that!

Immunity challenge time! The loved ones watch, but don't participate.

Perched atop of pole in water, bucket, raise a key, swim, unlock puzzle pieces, solve puzzle. Not epic to me! The poles are vey high up and they're freaked, though.

Tony takes the early lead. Then Spencer. Kass is sucking wind at this challenge. Kass is catching up on the puzzle. It's Kass and Spencer in the lead.

OMG! KASS wins immunity!

Kass wants Spencer to go. She says she feels "good" with Woo or Tony.

Spencer has realized it's a final two, not three. He goes to Tony about it.

Tribal council time. Uh-oh, Kass and her mouth did her in. She admitted she would rather be with Woo in the final two. Spencer is her goal now and she might have turned the game against Woo.

The tally: Tony reveals his idol is useless tonight. Spencer, Woo, Spencer, Spencer. Spencer is out!

Woo and Kass make a final two pact.

Final Immunity time! The set is HUGE. Race through a maze of turnstiles, collecting medallions, raising flags. Some turnstiles work, some don't. Kass is ahead. Woo is following Tony. Now Woo is actually in the lead.

All are working on their cog puzzle.

WOO wins final immunity, followed by Kass.

Tony is trying his hardest to convince Woo he has a better chance against him than with Kass, citing his integrity, etc.

Final tribal time ... Woo votes for KASS to go! I think he blew the million, but I'm happy that Tony is staying. He deserves to stay!

Tony found a clue in their final two food basket. It led to a mirror and scale. Both Woo and Tony seem to have good cases for the win. Woo is going to go the martial arts integrity angle.

Final final tribal council in front of the jury.

Opening statements -- Tony will tell the truth. All of his choices were strategic, thanks Woo. Woo cites his integrity as expected. Goes on about his mother's will power in recovering from a heart attack and its inspiration.

Parvati Shallow told Jeff she would vote for Tony although she loves Woo.

Jury questioning ...

Sarah - Tony, swore you wouldn't write my name on your badge. Don't know if I could vote for you. Woo, if we switched places ... he would vote for her.

Jefra - Tony, own your game. You backstabbed us all. She's angry. Admit you're the villain! Tony pleads strategy.

Morgan - You kept men in your back pocket without breasts. How? He offered food, water, but made strategic moves. She respects Woo's decision to take a player rather than a goat to finals.

Jeremiah - Tony, swore on wife and kids. Doesn't like. Do you have a wife and baby. Where I'm from, pathetic. Woo, prove ... do you want to be a millionaire?

Tasha - Tony kept loyal people, but was unloyal. He regrets his decision to vote out Trish. Woo, align with Tony and no others? He trusted me.

LJ - Tony, who are you? Fantasy world in the game or real you? Tony said he's terrified of LJ.

Kass - Woo, why on earth? Didn't make the right move in taking Tony. Woo claims honor.

Next season -- Blood vs. Water II, San Juan Del Sur. Hmm.

Trish - Woo admits it was his idea to blindside her. Tony -- best of buddies. They trusted me, not you. Spent the game putting out Tony flames. Would never swear on a family grave like you did! Was it worth it to you to sacrifice your own father? Yes, it was.

Spencer - Woo, comparison to a dog in gameplay. Followed Tony all through. Good dog. Kass is the goat again. Tony, no questions. Talks to the jury in favor of Tony and how hard he played the game and was the puppetmaster. WOW. He says Tony is the only one who played the game and honored it. Vote for Tony!

Time to vote ... Spencer votes Tony in big block letters. Tasha votes Woo. No other votes are shown.

And now we're in Hollywood! Jeff thinks more players came to play this season.

The tally:
Tony, Woo, Tony, Tony, Tony, Tony!

As it should be, Tony Vlachos wins Survivor!

Huh. Tyler Perry is responsible for the idol with special powers.

The jury says it would have voted for Woo to win over Kass. No surprise there.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Amazing Race All-Stars: 'Do You Believe in Magic?' Season Finale Blog Party

It never seems right that the season finale of TAR is just an hour long! We have the three teams racing for the finish line -- Brendon and Rachel, Dave and Connor, Jennifer and Caroline. Of the three, I'm a big Dave and Connor fan and I'd like to see them win it all. (So, they probably won't win.) The race will end up in Las Vegas with a big David Copperfield stunt challenge. I've got to say, that sounds like a winner to me!

As the show airs here on the East Coast, I'll update this entry with the major happenings. Refresh the page to get the latest news! As always, the real party is in the comments area. Come join in with us as we watch the show!

Here are the latest blog pool standings from the Magnificent Margo:

Jen & Caroline - Lynn1, Buzzmaam, DLA
Dave & Connor - Becky, Auntie Leigh, Rochelle
Brendon & Rachel (Brenchel) - Terry in TX, Brian

Philiminated --
Mark & Mallory - SueGee, jonMD1627, Margo
Joey & Meghan - Brenda, Zoetawny, Dusty
Margie & Luke - Donna in AL, Monty924, PDXGranny
Jessica & John - Sharon S, David, Rbennie
Flight Time & Big Easy - Laurie, Donna in FL, nicklepeed
Cord & Jet (Cowboys) - ML, Nana in NW, Delee
Leo & Jamal (Afghanimals) - Jackie, Jennamom, Merrilee

Let's GO!
The show is actually starting on time, a good thing indeed! Teams are flying to Las Vegas. Dave and Connor aren't too thrilled because Brenchel is familiar with Las Vegas. Uh-oh. All teams are on the same flight. Cars with drivers pick them up.

They stop in the desert where the drivers tell them to "get out and dig." It turns out that boxes labeled to return to David Copperfield are the buried treasure. The drivers take them away.

Inside are keys and they're at the MGM.

Roadblock - David Copperfield teaches teams a daring escape. Way cool to watch ... so watch! Connor gets done first!

After the big escape, it's on to the Neon Boneyard. They have to find and take a light bulb from a certain sign and bring it to the Mirage. Brendon tried to steal the girls' cab because they didn't like their own driver. Thankfully, he said no.

Caroline and Jennifer have taken over the lead. The next thing they need to do is light up the I on a Mirage sign correctly. Dave and Connor are on their tails. Brendon and Rachel have annoyed their cab driver who is certainly not doing them any favors.

Dave/Connor are marginally ahead of the girls. Brendon and Rachel are way behind.

Teams are off to Maverick Helicopters in Henderson.

Roadblock: Who wants to be a UFO? Skydiving! They have to find a sign -- Las Vegas Motor Speedway, then make the jump. The chutes turn into fireballs and it's either Dave or Caroline coming down ... into commercial.

It's DAVE!

DAVE AND CONNOR HAVE WON THE AMAZING RACE! Dave, at 58, is the oldest winner ever of the show and they're the only parent/child team to ever win. Caroline comes down next.

Heh. Rachel is in her Rachel-tears mode as Brendon finally arrives.

Off Topic: That Was the Week It Was - May 18, 2014

Good Sunday morning to you! As it is indeed Sunday morning, it's time for my off television topic reflection on the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken along the way. If you watch The Amazing Race, stop back later tonight for the season finale blog party. But, until then, it's off topic.

Since I have an abundance of photos this week -- baby squirrels, a day in the park -- I'm doing something a bit different. I'm posting three slideshows of related photos along with the links to look at the photos one by one. This probably isn't something I'll do every week. But I had just too many photos I wanted to post this week.

Not a heck of a lot is going on here. Thankfully, after this coming week, I'll be on a staycation. I wasted so much of my paid time off from work being in ill health this year that this is the first real ME time I've taken since last fall. Oy! I really need it.

My apartment hallway has been a bit quieter since my neighbors and I all said something about going to the landlord about too many people living in that one one-bedroom apartment. I'm sure the quiet won't last. But now we know that they know they could get the boot. I really can't imagine so many people in this place -- at least seven! Heck, I've got enough room for Vincent and me!

Oh, well ... onto the photos!

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Hanging in there

The now adolescent squirrels are exploring and playing all over the bridge at the Bridgewater Train Station. A metal mesh covering attached over part of the bridge near their nest provides the perfect place for them to hone their climbing skills. One of the slideshows after the page break has more coverage of their antics. I've discovered there are three babies, not just the one I initially saw with Mom Squirrel. They're exploring their world, but aren't to the point of leaving the bridge itself on their own yet.

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Tough love

Sink or swim, ducky boy! The mother duck at Mindowaskin Park in Westfield pushes her young into the pond. One of the slideshows included on the next page has many more ducking photos.

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Early morning Presbyterian

The early sun catches to top of the local Presbyterian Church in my 'hood. The dogwood is blooming and a bush of red azaleas brightens the hedge. Some years back I wouldn't be able to see that red door from this angle due to all the trees. Storms, not only but including Sandy, have blown down more trees than those remaining on the property.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Survivor: Cagayan - 'Straw That Broke the Camel's Back' Blog Party - May 14

Well, this show is getting down to the wire, too. Will Tony not mess totally up and blow his chance of making it to the end? With his idols, he should be sitting pretty. But, with his cockiness ... who knows? They might just keelhaul him.

As the show airs here on the East Coast, I'll update this entry with the major happenings. Refresh the page to get the latest! As always, the real party is in the comments -- come join us!

The latest blog pool standings from Lifeguard Laurie:
Kass McQuillen -Delee, MikesGirl
Spencer Bledsoe - Becky and Monty924
Tony Viachos - Lynn1, Zoetawny
Trisha Hegarty - Jackie
Woo Hwang - Laurie, SueGee

Sarah Lacina
Morgan McLeod
LJ McKanas
Jeremiah Wood
Jefra Bland
Tasha Fox

Survivor fans ready?

Reward Challenge -- Dive into mud, scrape off into bucket, most mud in ten minutes wins. Winner wins hot pizza delivery.

Tony's bucket is overflowing with mud -- no one else is close. He can choose one person to join him. He chose Trisha. He thinks she needs it the most. (He's probably right; she's SO skinny!)

Tony wants to convince the others that he has the special idol and its power is that it can be used by the final three. In reality, both idols he has have to be used when there are five left.

He tried to make Kass comfortable by telling her Woo told him that she plotted against him. She went to Woo. Now there's a kerfuffle going on.

Immunity Challenge -- Untangle braided rope, release key, build staircase, solve sliding puzzle.

Despite a huge lead, Tony blew it on the puzzle. Spencer wins Immunity once again!

Ah, Trish lights into Kass about her passive aggressive game. Spencer and Kass think they need to get Woo on their side. Woo went to Kass and told her and Spencer that he will vote out Trish. Meanwhile, Tony eavesdrops on that deal. Uh-oh.

At Tribal, it's actually funny as they trade barbs at each other. Tony brings out his special idol, but doesn't explain its powers. Spencer votes Trish. Trish votes Kass. Tony is mum on playing the idol, but then plays the regular idol.

Trish, Kass, Trish, Trish.

My blog pool pick is snuffed.

Dang. Even Tony voted out Trish. He knew she was the target and probably thinks he'd rather sit in the finals with unlikable Kass.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Amazing Race All-Stars: 'Hei Ho Heidi Ho' Blog Party - May 11

I hope everybody has had a nice Mother's Day! But, it's on with the show here. (And the blog party!) We're coming down the home stretch tonight. Unless it's a non-Philimination, tonight's episode will determine the final three teams running for the million dollars. I know many folks were upset with the ouster of Jet and Cord last week. However, they did mess up in addition to being U-Turned. That's the way the cookie crumbles and the race is lost.

The only team I personally don't like seeing in the final four is Jennifer and -- they've been helped way too often! I'm not all that thrilled with Brendon and Rachel, but I realize most of my "not thrilled" has to do with their many other times on shows I watch. Enough already! I'd be most happy with a Dave/Connor win, but I wouldn't mind it if Leo and Jamal won it all.

As the show airs here on the East Coast, I'll update this entry with the major happenings. Refresh the page to get the latest news! As it always is, the real party is in the comments area ... come join us as we watch the show!

The latest blog pool standings from the Magnificent Margo:

Jen & Caroline - Lynn1, Buzzmaam, DLA
Dave & Connor - Becky, Auntie Leigh, Rochelle
Brendon & Rachel (Brenchal) - Terry in TX, Brian
Leo & Jamal (Afghanimals) - Jackie, Jennamom, Merrilee

Philiminated --
Mark & Mallory - SueGee, jonMD1627, Margo
Joey & Meghan - Brenda, Zoetawny, Dusty
Margie & Luke - Donna in AL, Monty924, PDXGranny
Jessica & John - Sharon S, David, Rbennie
Flight Time & Big Easy - Laurie, Donna in FL, nicklepeed
Cord & Jet (Cowboys) - ML, Nana in NW, Delee

Teams ready?

The teams are headed to London, then Liverpool. They'll each have to score two soccer goals against a pro goalie to get their next clue. Leo and Jamal, soccer enthusiasts, get there first. They finish and it's on to an historic raised aqueduct for the next clue. Brenchel is through next. Dave/Connor arrive at the soccer stadium last.

Roadblock - Learn and perform a verse of traditional Welsh poetry. "Hei ho Heidi Ho." They learn it while on a boat on the aqueduct.  Brendon got the difficult poem first, then the girls got it. Uh-oh ... Dave and Connor are in last place right now.

Shoot it or Boot It -- Shooting a target in the sky or booting with Wellingtons.

Now Leo and Jamal are the ones trailing.

The girls get through the clay pigeon shooting first and are the first headed to the Pit Stop. Dave and Connor are right after them. They go different directions. Someone must be wrong. Brendon and Rachel are almost through the Wellington toss. Leo and Jamal finally arrived at the Detour clue.

OH NOES! Brenchel didn't read the clue right! They have to do it over! Rachel breaks down.

Pit Stop --
1. Dave and Connor!!! Also won a trip to Fiji.
2. Caroline and Jennifer -- actually did well on their own this leg.

Brenchel finished the re-do while the cousins are still shooting. Now both teams are heading to the Pit Stop.

3. Brendon and Rachel. (Sigh.)
4. Leo and Jamal -- Philinated.

There goes my blog pool pick. Now I can give Dave and Connor my FULL support!

Off Topic: That Was the Week It Was - May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day to all!

Since it's also Sunday, it's time for my weekly off television topic look back on the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken along the way. Later on tonight, I'll post The Amazing Race blog party -- that show's getting down to the wire with the finale next week. Stop on by if you watch the show!

This week? Hmm ... it rained, it had lots of fog, the temperatures were nice and springlike until mugginess (and more storms) hit yesterday. Thankfully, we didn't have any horrific storms like the Midwest did.

Huh. I really can't think of anything noteworthy to discuss this week. I worked. I ate. I slept. I gave a certain cat a lot of attention. My neighbors and I decided that we need to go to the landlord to complain about the overcrowding in one particular apartment in our hallway. It's a one-bedroom with four children and three adults. Those are "at least" figures. They've started sending the kids out to the hallway to scream, play, ride bikes, shoot rubber pellet guns, play ball and more. Sorry, Charlie. That's not going to fly here. The lease says no loitering in the common areas. One of the women always looks incredulous at us when we tell the kids not to play in the hallway. It's time the landlord dealt with the overcrowding in the apartment and the people there found something more suitable. The noise the children make is akin to having them stand outside your closed bedroom door and screaming.

Oh, well ... onto the photos from the week ...

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Azaleas in bloom

Although, for the most part, the red and white azaleas haven't blossomed yet, the pink and light purple ones came to life this past week in Bridgewater.

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Undivided attention

Er, okay ... divided non-attention. This bird couple has a nest under the bridge at the Bridgewater Train Station. Bringing materials for the nest, they tend to sit on the wire before swooping down to their home. It's quite an eclectic bunch down there -- grackles, starlings, pigeons and even a squirrel family.

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Spring is coloring the trees

Although, I'm very disappointed with spring this year. First, it didn't come anywhere near on schedule. Second, the trees are blooming late yet the time span of the blooms seems to be very short. It's like the season is trying to catch up on lost time. The trees aren't as full and the blossoms aren't lasting long at all. This shot is a scene in front of Richmond Towers on East Front Street in Plainfield.


Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Survivor: Cagayan - 'Havoc to Wreak' Blog Party - May 7

Welp, I guess with the title of the episode, it's going to be another Tony-heavy show. His detractors probably won't be too pleased with that. Well, unless he gets the boot, that is. I don't know ... I'm personally glad Tony is on the show this season. The rest of the castaways tend to be a bit lackluster. With the exception of Spencer and Tasha, no one really seems to be seriously playing the game. Woo has his moments, but he's got to bring more to the table. He's a follower.

As the show airs here on the East Coast, I'll update this entry with the major happenings. Refresh the page to get the latest news. As always, the real blog party will be in the comments. Come imbibe and discuss the show with us as it airs!

The latest on the blog pool from the Lovely Lifeguard Laurie --
Kass McQuillen -Delee, MikesGirl
Spencer Bledsoe - Becky and Monty924
Tasha Fox - DKNYNC, Rochelle
Tony Viachos - Lynn1, Zoetawny
Trisha Hegarty - Jackie
Woo Hwang - Laurie, SueGee

Sarah Lacina
Morgan McLeod
LJ McKanas
Jeremiah Wood
Jefra Bland

Survivor fans ready? Let the show begin!

Kass is going up against Tony ... for both real and imagined (misunderstood) reasons. This isn't going to be pretty.

Gah. Tony tells Kass he has a special idol. Thankfully, she doesn't believe him. He hasn't told her its powers, but ...! Sheesh, Tony. Loose lips sink ships.

It's Reward Challenge time -- two teams of three throwing sandbags to destroy the other team's wall, one member rebuilds the wall. Nourishment for the soul -- a trip to a local elementary school to bring supplies, hamburgers and such.

Spencer, Kass and Woo win reward!

Kass has a plan to flush the idol from Tony with Woo and Spencer. Woo is thinking it's time to cut off Tony. We'll see.

Spencer went to Tasha with the plan to split the votes between Tnoy and Trish. Woo told Tony that Kass wants to go for Tasha. Hmmm.

Immunity Challenge time. Will Tasha go for four? Race out, count items at six stations, unlock a lock, break a tile.

Spencer wins immunity!

Tribal Council time ...

Tony does not play an idol.

Tasha, Tony, Trish, Tasha, Tasha.

Argh. I'd prefer Kass going! Tasha was such a strong challenge player and even strategic with the odds against her in numbers.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

The Amazing Race All-Stars: 'Bull Down' Blog Party - May 4

We're two weeks away from the season finale with some pretty strong teams still in the running. At this point, I think any team except perhaps Jennifer and Caroline have a strong chance to win it all. Heck, if other teams keep helping them, I guess even they could win!

The show is starting on time here tonight in the NYC viewing area. As it airs, I'll update this post with the major happenings. Refresh the page to get the latest! As always, the party is in the comments area. Come watch the show with us and discuss it while it airs!

Since last week was a non-Philimination leg, the pool remains the same --

Jen & Caroline - Lynn1, Buzzmaam, DLA
Dave & Connor - Becky, Auntie Leigh, Rochelle
Brendon & Rachel (Brenchal) - Terry in TX, Brian
Cord & Jet (Cowboys) - ML, Nana in NW, Delee
Leo & Jamal (Afghanimals) - Jackie, Jennamom, Merrilee

Philiminated --
Mark & Mallory - SueGee, jonMD1627, Margo
Joey & Meghan - Brenda, Zoetawny, Dusty
Margie & Luke - Donna in AL, Monty924, PDXGranny
Jessica & John - Sharon S, David, Rbennie
Flight Time & Big Easy - Laurie, Donna in FL, nicklepeed

Teams ready?

The teams are off to Spain with a U-Turn ahead. Despite two different flights, it looks like an 8:30am bunching point. Most plan to U-Turn Brendon and Rachel if they can. Ah, there IS a lag for the second plane which had the girls, cowboys and Brenchal on it.

Roadblock -- Teams have to become Barbers of Seville, shaving a balloon within 60 seconds without bursting it. Connor got the deed done, keeping them in first place (for at least now) with the Afghanimals a little bit behind. The Cowboys are at the end of the second pack of teams. Wait! Brendon and Rachel are now trailing!

Detour has them either mastering the Flamenco (dance) or Run With the Bulls (running in balloon shaped bull bubbles). The latter looks like a hoot although they have to quote something from clues along the way while other bulls attack them.

Brendan and Rachel have pulled out ahead of the girls and the cowboys. Gulp, now the cowboys are last once again.

Caroline and Jennifer have to deliver six hams as their Speed Bump.

Oh noes! Leo can't feel his kneecap after a particularly rough hit from another bull! They're my blog pool team. Gah!

Dave and Connor get through first. They can't use the U-Turn. Meanwhile, the Afghanimals carry on despite Leo's injury. Rachel whines that she's a girl, not a boy and the bulls should be gentler with her. The Cowboys missed the first clue in the bull run. The girls are the only ones doing the Flamenco.

The Afghanimals decide to U-Turn the cowboys because they're the strongest team. They hope the Cowboys U-Turn Brendon and Rachel. Alas, the Cowboys are BEHIND Brenchel ... Brendon and Rachel should hit the U-Turn clue next unless the girls finish dancing quickly.

Brendon and Rachel don't use the U-Turn. Rachel expressed surprise that the cousins did the smart thing, not the popular thing.

Pit Stop --
1. Dave and Connor - won a trip to St. Croix.
2. Brendon and Rachel
3. Leo and Jamal

The girls U-Turned Brenchel not knowing they had already been through.

4. Caroline and Jennifer
5. Jet and Cord - Philiminated

Off Topic: That Was the Week It Was - May 4, 2014

Good morning! Since it is indeed Sunday morning, it's time for my weekly off television topic look back on the week gone by in both words and photos I've taken along the way. Later on tonight, I'll be posting The Amazing Race blog party. If you watch the show, come by and watch with us!

I'm SO photo-heavy this week that I'm going to abbreviate my chatter. Here's a quick lowdown:
  • It's finally looking like spring here. YAY!
  • Then we had almost two days of steady to heavy rain -- almost six inches. That resulted in floods in the usual spots. I took this video Thursday afternoon going through the Bound Brook/Middlesex area. Ironically, it's the flooded flood protection project.

  • Thankfully, the worst of the rain was on my day off and I didn't have to go out in it.
  • I managed to tip over my rolling office chair at work and fall. I'm a bit sore, but okay. I can't say the same for my office wall. Oops. It now has a big hole in it. Oops.
  • May the Fourth be with you!
Onto the photos! Clicking on an image will open it in a new window. There's a magnifying glass on the bottom right of the image. You can make it larger twice. Then stop, because that's all you can do! Just close that new window to return to the blog.

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Church Street, Plainfield

I know I had a similar shot last week. But I so love the look of Church Street in the spring just after sunrise! I took this photo Monday morning. Most of the blossoms are gone now. Wah.

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Scotch Plains

Last Sunday I went to nearby Scotch Plains, a town or so over -- Fanwood makes that a bit confusing! They too had white blossoms lining their streets.

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What's going on here?

Looky, looky! It's a baby squirrel there! For the whole story, read on!