Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Well, I'm a couple weeks behind, so let's get started...

It has been a busy month so far. K and the kids were out of town for a few days, in Washington DC to visit a friend of K's who is about to move to Hawaii. (I can sense a repeat of our 2005 vacation sometime in the next couple years...) While they were out of town, I was able to take a few days off due to a schedule change at work. I spent most of that time cleaning up various things around the house, but I did make it out a couple times to shoot some photos -- the afternoon of Thursday June 8 around Ft. Worth, and on Friday June 9 I made an east Texas circle trip: Ft Worth - Pittsburg - Lone Star - Jefferson - Marshall - Longview - Ft Worth. I hadn't been to Pittsburg or Longview since 1999 or 2000... Lone Star since 1997... or Marshall or Jefferson since about 1991 (the last time I rode Amtrak's Texas Eagle back from Chicago!) My primary objective of the east Texas trip was to catch the Texas & Northern near Lone Star. I saw them working, but they were in a spot where I couldn't photograph them (east Texas has way too many trees). But I did manage to get a shot of one of the switchers at the steel mill in Lone Star. I caught a few trains on the KCS between Winnsboro and Jefferson, and several on the UP between Jefferson and Dallas.

Here are some shots from my east Texas trip...

waiting for a westbound KCS to clear at Pittsburg, TX. 6/9/06

switcher at Lone Star Steel - Lone Star, Texas. 6/9/06

Amtrak 21 arrives at Marshall, TX for a crew change. 6/9/06

sign of the times in east Texas.... Marshall, TX 6/9/06

Live Music Update

I made it back from east Texas in time to take a nap before I headed for Denton to catch the Hayes Carll show. He played at Dan's and this was my first time to see him. Hayes and his band sounded GREAT! Move over Jack Ingram, H.C. might be the next big thing to come out of Texas. Hayes and his band have a strong stage presence and an awesome sound, sort of a Jack Ingram meets Lynard Skynard with a bit of a Lyle Lovett influence. I was impressed with their up-tempo version of "Naked Checkers", and Hayes' interpretation of "I've Been Everywhere" ... "I've been to Houston, Houston, Houston, Houston, Houston"... (second verse) "I've done every drug, man, I've done every drug" ... that one had me chuckling for a few minutes, especially his story about playing that when he opened for Marty Stuart. He threw down another cover, "Live Free or Die", as an acoustic number while the rest of the band took a break during the middle of the set. Their performances of "Little Rock", "Down the Road Tonight", and "Hey Baby, where you been?" were flawless -- they sounded just like what I've heard of Hayes on the radio. It was well worth the $12 cover... highly recommended if you get a chance to catch him perform live.

This past Friday night (the 16th), K and I attended a concert / play at Ft. Worth's Casa Manana Theatre. Called "A Ride with Bob", it featured the music of Bob Wills as performed by western swing gurus Asleep at the Wheel. It was a very unique production -- part play, part concert -- and very well done. We especially enjoyed the fiddle playing (and singing!) of the Quebe sisters, three teenage girls from the Ft Worth suburb of Burleson who sing with kind of an Allison Krauss or Gillian Welch-inspired sound. And they can really tear it up on the fiddle! Great stuff.

On Saturday, two friends joined me for the trip to Deep Ellum (club district east of downtown Dallas) to catch Hagfish at the Gypsy Tea Room. I first discovered Hagfish in 1993 or 94 when I saw them open for Tripping Daisy at Trees. Their sound reminded me of ALL or the Descendants, but it was their look that caught my attention the most -- the three front guys (singer, bassist, guitarist) were all wearing business suits! "Hey, if you look good, you'll play good", guitarist Zach announced. It's pretty surreal hearing 1980s California-style punk rock coming out of four guys who look like they got lost on their way to a Blues Brothers casting call. Even Tony, the drummer, was wearing a clip-on tie. I've seen them three times now, including Saturday night's show. Always a good time!

More shows coming up this week... Johnny Bush and Tommy Alverson at Cotton Belt BBQ (Colleyville / North Richland Hills) on Thursday the 22nd -- but I'm hearing rumors that Bush has cancelled-- James McMurtry at Dan's on Saturday the 24th, and Ray Wylie Hubbard at Billy Bob's on Friday the 30th. Stay tuned for reports...

You know how I know you're gay?

That line, from the hiliarious 2005 movie "the 40-year-old Virgin" has become kind of a catch phrase around our house. Whenever I do anything that might be construed as even remotely being a homosexual tendency, K will smack me with a "you know how I know you're gay?"


"You know how I know you're gay? Because you take pictures of trains"

"You know how I know you're gay? Because you send text messages to your friends"

"You know how I know you're gay? Because you keep a blog"

... and so on.

I don't have anything against homosexual men per se ... well, guys speaking and acting in an overtly effeminate manner has always seemed really strange to me... but being the open-minded person I am, I take the attitude that their lifestyle is none of my business... UNTIL someone of that persuasion begins to show an interest in ME.

Such was the case one evening last week in Arlington. I was hanging out with a group of co-workers, mostly male, at a bar, enjoying a Miller Lite, just shooting the sh*t, when suddenly a waitress handed me a shot glass (I'm not sure what it was filled with; it looked like Jagermeister). "Who bought this?" I demanded to know. I generally have no interest in drinking anything stronger than beer. "That guy down there", she answered, pointing to a guy sitting near the end of the bar. With his moussed-up hair, thick-frame glasses, and stylish clothes, he looked like he belonged in an Express for Men catalog. Not knowing the proper etiquette for turning down an attempted pickup at a bar, I simply looked in his direction, said "No thanks, man!" and set the shot glass down on the bar. I made sure NOT to look in his direction the rest of the night, which wasn't really too long (it was pretty close to closing time).

I took a good long look in the mirror the next morning and tried to figure out what the hell made me so attractive to a (presumably) homosexual man. I had been wearing a baseball cap, grayish-blue polo shirt, khaki cargo shorts (possibly purchased for me by K at Express for Men... hmmm....that must be what did it) and Nike sandals. I sure didn't look good enough that any women were buying me drinks that night! Well... I did receive a free beer courtesy of the Miller Lite girl... I didn't go out that night looking for opportunities to hook up with anyone from either gender (I'm married, dammit -- to a woman!) It just surprised me that the only offer of the evening came from... well... a dude.

And to think that our evening, both mine and his, might have ended completely differently if he'd bought me a shot of Cuervo! (That's a joke, people! But I probably wouldn't have turned down the shot...)


np: Hagfish - "Buick Men"

Monday, June 05, 2006

L turns 10...

L turns 10...

It's hard to believe, my daughter turned 10 this weekend. I think back to 10 years ago, what a difficult and chaotic time that was for K and me as we endured some relationship difficulties; I truly believe it was only by the grace of God that we made it through that period of our lives. And I have no doubt that our daughter's arrival was a blessing from above -- a blessing for which I am thankful every day.

L at 0 years, 1 day

L at 10 years

Nothing I accomplish in life -- in my career, in my hobby as a photographer -- will ever be as important or as special as what I accomplish as a parent. I remember the day she was born as vividly as if it happened just last week. Those 10 years have gone by in a flash... it makes me wonder how quickly the next 10 years will pass!

the return of Wayne the Train

My friend Matt joined me Friday night to see Wayne Hancock at Dan's Silverleaf in Denton.

My friend Chris in Omaha remarked that I seem to attend shows there (Dan's) fairly frequently. I've seen James McMurtry, Junior Brown, Eleven Hundred Springs and Speedtrucker there once each, and have seen the Gourds there more times than I can count. I described Friday night's show -- more or less a typical Dan's show -- in an email to Chris...

That was my third time seeing Wayne this year, and I caught him once last year... at Dan's each time. It's just a run-down-looking bar on the southeast side of downtown, not really close to the UNT campus or bars. I go to shows there more than anywhere else because: 1) they book the acts I enjoy, 2) it isn't too crowded, 3) it's easy to get to, and 4) parking is no problem. It's a lot easier than trying to get to Deep Ellum to catch a show after work on a Friday night... Not many UNT coeds in the crowd, but there are a few... the Dan's shows seem to draw MUSIC fans from all walks of life... 40-something divorcees (and I'm not talking MILF material here), 20-ish dyed-hair chicks with tattoos, UNT frat boys, 60-something ranchers with their wives, you name it. Always an interesting crowd!

Wayne & co. sounded great, although their steel player wasn't with them this time around. But guitarist Eddie did his best to pick up the slack... that guy can really tear it up. We caught the second half of their first set and all of the second... they were still playing at 2 AM when the house lights came on and it was time for the bar to close. Wayne has some very gracious and loyal fans... I haven't seen many acts who, at the end of a song, thank the audience for applauding, only to have the audience respond, "No... thank YOU!" Check 'em out if you get a chance. If you like country (the older, more traditional-sounding stuff like Hank Williams or Ernest Tubb), rockabilly, or even '50s rock n roll, you'll dig 'em..........

Get yer train photos here...

I just finished adding a new photo page to my website. These feature the Sand Springs Railway, a shortline just west of Tulsa, Oklahoma. I took them during my Oklahoma trip back in March. Check 'em out if you're interested... http://www.trainweb.org/southwestshorts/ss.html


np: Hagfish - "Buick Men"

nr: Stephen Ambrose - Nothing Like it in the World

Friday, June 02, 2006

West Texas road trip - May 28/29

San Angelo road trip - May 28/29
We headed back to our old home town, San Angelo, on Memorial Day weekend. Some of Mom's friends had invited us down to attend a couple of San Angelo Colts (minor league) baseball games. Mom, K, and the kids headed down on Saturday, but I had to work, so I caught up with them on Sunday. The Colts lost to the Amarillo Armadillos, 13-6. But we still had a good time... M made friends with some Angelo State co-eds sitting in the row behind us, and spent some time buddying around with Casey, the Colts' official mascot.
Foster Field - home of the San Angelo Colts

M and L do the "YMCA" with Casey Colt

It was interesting driving around San Angelo before and after the game... that town seems a little smaller every time I go back. On Monday morning (Memorial Day), I took a bike ride out past the San Angelo airport to the equilization channel between the two Twin Buttes lakes. I also rode a few of the roads around Lake Nasworthy. To Dan, the cyclist I met riding a triple tandem with his two daughters ... that was one crazy get-up, man! Maybe I'll see y'all in Wichita Falls in August.

We headed back to Fort Worth on Monday afternoon, and decided to stop for barbecue at Underwood's (a Texas legend) in Brownwood. It wasn't quite as good as I remembered it, but still worth stopping for. Hint: don't fill up on brisket and beans -- save some room for the peach cobbler.

Underwood's in Brownwood

Road trip playlist

Nothing like 8 hours on the road (approx. 4 hours each way) to make me want to break out some of my favorite cd's. Here's a listing of what I listened to on the trip to and from San Angelo...

* Eleven Hundred Springs - Bandwagon

* Whiskey's Essential Wayne Hancock Vol. 1 - (a home-burn compilation of some of my favorite Wayne Hancock songs)

* Waylon Jennings - Greatest Hits

* Nomo's Favorite Buck Owens Tunes - (a home-burn of Buck Owens classics from my friend "Nomo")

* Johnny Bush - Devil's Disciple

* Waylon Jennings - Honky Tonk Heroes

* Grateful Dead - Dick's Picks Vol. 21, Disc 1

* Whiskey's Essential Wayne Hancock Vol. 2 - (more Wayne Hancock favorites)

These are just some of the musical selections I've been enjoying recently. They definitely made for a more enjoyable 8 hours behind the wheel. I could go on and on about how the music of certain artists fits the "mood" of certain stretches of highway -- and maybe I will sometime -- but right now I really should be getting to bed... a member of the family has a big birthday celebration coming up, and we've got some prep-work to do tomorrow...


np: Adam Carroll - Live

nr: Stephen Ambrose - Nothing Like it in the World