Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Canada good, Cowboys bad

A taste of Canada

No, I'm not talking about Molson or Labatt, but rather a pair of Canadian locomotives that appeared in Roanoke during my bike ride on Monday. Until Monday, I hadn't photographed a Canadian Pacific locomotive leading a train in over 10 years!

CP locomotives - southbound at Roanoke, TX

Seeing this train reminded me of a trip I took with my parents to the Canadian Rockies in 1983, when I was 11 years old. Our tour group visited Edmonton, Calgary, Jasper, Banff, Lake Louise (all in Alberta) and Vancouver and Victoria, B.C. The scenery was spectacular, but what I remember most were the trains. Along the course of our trip, we saw countless trains on the CN (Canadian National) and CP (Canadian Pacific). As a boy growing up in a west Texas town with minimal rail activity, I had hardly even heard of the Canadian railroads -- let alone seen any of their freight cars or locomotives! I was fascinated by how different they looked from the Santa Fe trains I was used to seeing back home. CN locomotives dressed in red, white and black; CP locomotives and cars displaying CP's "multi-mark" logo; yellow cabooses... I had never seen anything like them!

Also, I remember that my dad had purchased a copy of Model Railroader magazine for me to bring along on the trip. The magazine survived the vacation, but returned to Texas with tattered pages and dog-eared corners from repeated readings. And the page I was most attracted to was the full-page ad for that month's issue of Trains Magazine (real trains, not models) whose cover featured a tele-smash photo of an SP EMD locomotive in mountainous desert scenery.

Today, I look back at that trip in 1983 -- when I stared wide-eyed at exotic, Canadian freights and gazed longingly at a photo of a locomotive I thought I'd never see -- as the event that pushed me hopelessly over the edge toward a lifelong interest in trains and railroads. It was as big an influence as anything else in my life. When we returned home, I convinced Mom to order me a subscription to Trains. And the rest, as they say, is history. (23+ years later, I'm still a subscriber). And I've worked for the railroad for 11 years now...

Back to my Roanoke bike ride, I was sure surprised to stumble across a pair of CP units on a southbound freight in north Texas! CP 5989 still had its multi-mark and looked for all the world like (and may well have been) one of the very same engines I saw during that trip to Canada in '83. It's funny how some things seem to get frozen in time while the clock is ticking all around them.

CP 5989 - Roanoke, TX. 11/6/2006

CP 5989 displays the multi-mark ("Pac Man") logo

The CP-led train also had a few Canadian grain hoppers.

Ride 'em, Cowgirlz...

Wasn't I telling anyone who would listen last week that it would be just like the Dallas Cowboys to -- after beating the crap out of Carolina -- to then go up to Washington and lose?

Last Sunday's loss to the 'Skins was an ugly, ugly game... Dallas had so many chances to win, but can you really expect to come away with a victory when you give up over 150 yards in penalties, when Owens drops key passes, and when the coaching is as suspect as i've seen since the Barry Switzer era? Case in point... after taking over on downs from Washington at their own 1-yard line, instead of running a pass play to get a few yards away from the end zone and give themselves some breathing room, Dallas ran the ball and promptly gave up a safety... and it went downhill from there. Going for a 2-point conversion early when they should have gone for one, Owens dropping a pass that would have resulted in a sure touchdown (T.O. must have been distracted, thinking about what he was gonna do for his next end-zone celebration), and penalties, penalties, penalties. Penalties cost Dallas that game. Thank you, Mr. Owens, Witten, Williams, Gurode, Kozier... well, the list is just too long. But who ultimately bears the responsibility for properly motivating the players to play smart enough to refrain from committing these penalties (besides the players, themselves)? Uhhh, that would be the coaching staff.

When Parcells came to Dallas, he was widely heralded as the head coach who could help return the Cowboys to glory. Why hasn't it happened? I think a big factor is that Parcells' best years as a coach are behind him. Maybe he's just no longer up to the task, especially in terms of being able to motivate players to play "smarter". I will give Parcells credit for replacing Drew Bledsoe with Tony Romo -- it was definitely time for Bledsoe to go -- but if I see any more games coached like the Washington game, and if the players' lack of mental discipline continues to run rampant, I'll be ready for Jerry Jones to show Parcells the door. Bring back Jimmy Johnson!

As Dallas limps along with a 4-4 record at mid-season, I'm forced to admit that any anticipation I had of them reaching the playoffs was premature at best. To borrow a phrase from Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green from a few weeks ago, "The Cowboys are WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE!" Some bad, some good... but not good enough. Not yet.

Whiskey's World Series of Pop Culture (Part 7 of an occasional series)

Congrats to Bryan of El Reno, Oklahoma for his correct response to question # 6 (In 1982, Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney teamed up on a duet entitled "The Girl is Mine", which appeared on Michael Jackson's "Thriller" album. A year later, the two recorded another duet. Name the song.) The answer was "Say, Say, Say". I heard that song on the in-store PA system at a Walgreen's store last week and thought it would make a good question.

We'll fast-forward to the early 1990s for question # 7...

7) In the "Bubble Boy" episode of Seinfeld, actor Brian Doyle-Murray played the Bubble Boy's father. What was his occupation? (for extra credit, name the characters that Doyle-Murray played in the movies "JFK" and "Waynes World")

To play, simply email me with your response, or post it in the "comments" section below. No prizes will be awarded; all you get is the satisfaction of being right.


nr: Luis Alberto Urrea - The Devil's Highway
np: Johnny Cash - "Murder" cd from the "Love, God, Murder" collection


Post a Comment

<< Home