Saturday, April 29, 2006

Wayne the Train - Live!

After work on Thursday, I drove to Denton to catch some live music ... Wayne "the Train" Hancock was in town. For the unitiated, Wayne's music is best classified as "Texas Rockabilly Swing" or "Hillbilly Swing" -- mostly up-tempo classic country-meets-'50s-style-rock, accentuated by a vocal style similar to Hank Williams. It was my third time to see him... I caught him once back in January and once last year or the year before. On Thursday, Wayne and his band were on their way home from a lengthy road trip, and looked tired, but still sounded pretty good. Guitarist Eddie and steel player "Brother John" -- both extremely talented musicians -- did "dueling instrumentals" during most of the songs.

Chris on bass, Wayne on acoustic guitar

And Wayne, as he always does, entertained the crowd between songs by asking such questions as: "Anybody been in jail this week? Anyone here gonna go to jail next week?" It was too bad they drew such a small crowd (no more than about 40 people). When I saw them back in January, the place was pretty full. But they're due to come back on June 2, which is a Friday, so maybe they'll draw a bigger crowd then. I know I plan to be there...

Wayne.... John..... Eddie

changing of the guard

When I returned from vacation toward the end of March, I found I was in for a rude awakening, courtesy of Plano's KHYI radio station. It seems that Program Director Bruce Kidder resigned a day or two after I left town, leaving the 6 to 9 am morning slot to be filled by two giggly females. Listeners on the hardcountryradio forum theorized that it was part of an early April Fool's joke (Bruce K and dj Brett Dillon were famous for their April Fool's hi-jinks), but as the first of April came and went, it soon became apparent that it was NO JOKE, resulting in no end of commentary from disgruntled listeners threatening to jump ship -- and from a few others who were happy to see the end of Bruce, along with his sarcasm and somewhat surly attitude. Unfortunately for KHYI, I am listening less since Bruce left.... I used to listen pretty much all day from the time I woke up (+/- 07:30) until I left for work (14:00). Bruce worked the 6 to 9 am slot and then transferred to Brett Dillon who works 9 to 2, but Bruce would usually return and help Brett during the all-request lunch hour. These days, I'm listening a lot less... many days, I don't even bother turning on the station until Brett's show starts (yes, Bruce's replacements are THAT BAD), and I'm listening less during the lunch hour as well. I always considered the on-air calls (played between every pair of songs) to be a KHYI highlight... something that made the listening audience feel like they had a certain "ownership" in the programming, but even Brett isn't playing as many on-air calls as he used to. The music is still pretty good, but I'll be danged if I've heard one song by Whispering Bill Anderson, a "chick run", a "truckin' montage", a reference to the "Redneck Freak Show", or a single Gary Stewart drinkin' tune (or refusal to play same before 12 noon) -- since Bruce Kidder left the airwaves. We miss ya, Big Daddy. KHYI just isn't the same...

Along the same lines as the KHYI transition, a favorite magazine of mine saw some big changes last year, and the changes continue in 2006. The magazine is CTC Board - Railroads Illustrated, a railroad-themed "fan" magazine emphasizing high-quality photography of trains and other rail-related subjects. The changes began last year when Associate Editor Brian Rutherford stepped down, leaving Editor Dale Sanders to produce the magazine on his own. Then Sanders jumped ship, leaving Hundman Publishing to locate a new editorial team. Hundman decided on Paul Schneider, whose resume includes serving as editor for Kalmbach Publishing's (now defunct, but highly acclaimed) Trains Illustrated magazine of the late '80s and early '90s. Schneider selected David Styffe as Art Director, and the two kept the magazine rolling without hardly missing a beat (and turned out some damn fined material, I might add -- well, they did run my story on the Texas Panhandle...) But Styffe recently resigned, leaving Schneider to find a replacement art director. The most recent issue to hit the streets was the new art director's first, and it has been the subject of nearly unending debate on discussion forums like Observation Car (on which Schneider currently serves as moderator - but that's another can of worms altogether). Back to the most recent issue of "the Board"... in addition to some big changes in photo selection and presentation, there were some production problems (several of the issue's photos were much too dark). The end result -- some readers threatening never to purchase another issue, while others are applauding the changes (well, except for the dark photos) -- reminds me a lot of the KHYI transition. Some folks support the changes, others condemn them, and everyone reacts a bit differently. If nothing else, it serves as a reminder that nothing lasts forever, and sometimes things that we love change before we are ready for them to.

and now, from the wide world of sports...

Congratulations to the Texas Rangers' Francisco Cordero for setting a new record -- five blown saves in the month of April! He's lucky that the team's offensive production has bailed him out of a couple of those blown saves (ironically resulting in "wins" for his W-L record). But if the Rangers want to have any kind of chance at the post season, they'd better get their bullpen problems squared away -- pronto. It looks like Cordero has been reassigned to a set-up role... we'll see if that does any good.

and finally...

A reader emailed me to ask if I plan to resume posting train sightings on the blog. I tried that for a few months last year -- posting information on EVERY train I saw rolling through Keller or anywhere else I happened to see one -- but it quickly became tedious and I got bored with it. And it was a lot of WORK typing up all that crap! I think I'll withhold the details on most of my sightings and just post the most interesting or noteworthy ones, along with the occasional photo or two. As you can see from the above ramblings, there's a lot more to Whiskey's life than just train sightings...


nw: (now watching) Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

boys of summer (in early spring)

On Sunday, K and I took the kids to the Texas Rangers baseball game. Mom and our freind Matt also joined us. No, the seats aren't all empty because the Rangers suck; this photo was taken about an hour before the first pitch. But it still wasn't anything close to being a sellout; they drew just 29,000, despite it being a very nice Sunday afternoon (partly cloudy, highs in the mid-80s.) Maybe the Rangers need to make some adjustments to their ticket prices. Oh well, it was a fun time... the Rangers won 8-3, completing a sweep of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and improving their record to 10-9 on the season. Starter John Koronko went 8 innings, and Joaquin Benoit struck out the side in the 9th to finish it out. We also saw home runs from Teixeira, Nevin, Mench, and Blalock.

This was the first Rangers game I've been to in two or three years. We sat out all of last season (last year's W-L record indicated that we didn't miss much) and I honestly can't remember if we went to a game during 2004, either. In all, it wasn't a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon... we may even go back for another game later in the season.

I rode 30 miles along the Trinity River trails on Monday, despite the city of Fort Worth's best efforts to prevent me from doing so. In preparation for Mayfest, Trinity Park -- and the trail that runs through it -- are fenced off and closed, with no convenient detour available for pedestrian or bicycle traffic. I don't know why they couldn't have just closed the park and left the trail open, but nobody asked me... I ended up just riding west of Trinity Park, and had to ride part of my route twice. Guess I'll be riding elsewhere for the next couple of weeks.

All for now...


np: Tom Russell - "Borderlands"

nr: Expedition to the Southwest -- An 1845 Reconnaissance of Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma -- Lieutenant James William Abert

Sunday, April 23, 2006

north Texas flower show

I was riding my bike through Argyle on Wednesday and noticed several nice patches of wildflowers blooming along US 377. I decided to try to come back soon and attempt to photograph some trains along the UP Choctaw Sub. I headed back to Argyle on Saturday morning to spend a couple hours along the tracks, and managed to get one train -- a southbound coal load -- rolling through town around 10:30 am. We're not expecting much of a bluebonnet bloom this year because of the drought, but there's still some spring color to be found. I believe the flowers shown here are pink evening primrose -- certainly a welcome addition of spring color after suffering through an exceptionally dry, brown winter.

Since the weather warmed up, I've been trying to ride at least a hundred miles per week on my bike. I've just finished my third week of over a hundred miles, which I completed during a 45-mile round trip to Denton on Wednesday (the day I noticed the flowers). I don't really consider myself "in training" for anything; I'm just out to get some good exercise (in my line of work, I could definitely use some). And I'm enjoying spending some time outdoors in the fresh air before it gets too hot. I usually try to ride near a rail line -- the possibility of seeing a train or two is kind of an extra motivating factor for me to get out and ride 20 or 30 miles.

During the two hours I spent around Argyle on Saturday, there must have been 50 or more cyclists out and about -- probably part of some D-FW-area club. I kind of felt like I should have been out there with them, instead of sitting on my ass in the truck waiting for a train to show up. But I usually get my miles in during the work week, when all the guys I saw Saturday are probably sitting in some office somewhere. And I'm not really a social rider -- I enjoy spending time alone when I have a chance to ride.

All for now...


np: Slaid Cleeves - "Wishbones"
nr: Expedition to the Southwest -- An 1845 Reconnaissance of Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma -- Lieutenant James William Abert

Friday, April 21, 2006

first time for everything

I've had an on-line blog on my website "Southwest Shorts" for a while now, but the tedium of formatting the pages and photos for each entry has discouraged me from posting as frequently as I'd like to. (I write all of my own HTML coding.) This looks like an easier option, so I thought I'd join the growing legions and give blogspot a try.

Whether you found your way here from Southwest Shorts, or you discovered through my blogspot profile that we have a common interest, I hope you'll check back once in a while. I promise to post a REAL update -- and more photos -- soon.

This is where you'll find road trip stories, train photos, bicycling logs, live music reviews, assessments of life in north Texas, pop culture commentary, and anything else that comes to mind.


nr: (now reading): Expedition to the Southwest -- An 1845 Reconnaissance of Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma -- Lieutenant James William Abert

np: (now playing) -- Ozark Mountain Daredevils - "If you wanna get to Heaven" on KHYI 95.3 FM