Monday, July 10, 2006

Whiskey don't wear Prada

So, K and I were having a talk about some of the recently released Hollywood pictures, and I asked her what "Prada" was. Here response was something along the lines of , "Thank God you don't know... now I KNOW you're not gay!" (Refer to my June 19 entry for more).

from the 'guna to the Hills

Confession time: In a moment of weakness -- ok, it's actually more like 30 minutes each week -- I have allowed MTV to reel me in for a third season of southern California reali-drama. This season it's "the Hills", a Laguna Beach spinoff which chronicles the life of Lauren Conrad (L.C., who appeared in the first two seasons of Laguna Beach, first as a high-school senior, then as a college freshman who dropped out after one semester).

Since dropping out, L.C. has managed to score a highly coveted internship with Teen Vogue magazine, and has left the friendly and safe confines of the Laguna Beach "bubble" for the hustle and bustle of the big city, LA's Hollywood Hills.

We experience the highs and lows of Lauren's new life as she attends classes at fashion school, tends to no end of menial tasks assigned to her as an intern, and reunites with ex-boyfriend Jason the male bimbo, who at the end of season two of Laguna Beach, broke LC's heart by making moves on his ex-girlfriend while LC looked on. While LC may be the star of "the Hills", she's not the only one receiving screen time; we also spend a lot of time getting to know Lauren's friends and acquaintances, from aspiring "Hollywood party PR girl" Heidi (LC's roommate) to Heidi's boyfriend Jordan, an aspiring actor who wisely encourages Heidi to quit school.

If all of this sounds kind of, well, "gay" for a 34-year old guy to be watching, well, the girls are pretty hot (although their beauty pales in comparison to that of my wife, who is probably reading this) and occasionally we are treated to shots of them at poolside. And it's fair to say that while I do enjoy the show, only HALF of my enjoyment comes from watching the show itself. I derive an equal amount of pleasure from reading the re-caps posted on, whose writers take great delight in slamming, insulting, and critiquing (with great sarcasm) the show's participants. See examples below:

Heidi was so bored that she escaped to the bathroom so she could make a clandestine call from the toilet stall. "It's so boring. This is my nightmare job," she told LC on the phone. And yes, it had only been about two hours. Who would have thought the dream job would turn into the nightmare job so quickly? Oh, that's right. EVERYONE.

*** and ***

Audrina then shared her goals and ambitions with Brian. She wanted to downgrade from her full-time job to a part-time position (someone on The Hills wants less responsibility? Why, I NEVER!!).


Does it get any better than that? Watch an episode or two of the Hills (new episodes air on MTV every Wednesday, and replay randomly throughout the rest of the week) and then read the tvgasm recaps. If that doesn't keep you entertained for the rest of the summer, then... well, I don't know what will.

approaching burnout

I don't know if it's due to the time of year (high sun, high heat, high humidity summertime blahs), boredom with the railroad scene in general, or just a lack of motivation, but I haven't really felt like shooting many photos lately. Or maybe I've just been too busy watching "the Hills".

Seriously, this time of year sucks for photography here in north Texas. We were lucky to get some rain and some cooler weather last week, but that has only added to the daytime "hazy bright" lighting conditions... if I go out shooting in the morning (which I haven't done in a month), I'm pretty well finished by 10:30 or so, when high sun begins. And the humidity makes it just miserable to be outdoors at all. Strangely, I have no problem riding my bike this time of year... in fact, this is probably my favorite time of year to ride. The heat and humidity don't bother me, as long as I'm riding into a nice breeze. And I'm already doing less photography, so it's not like I'm really missing going out shooting...

That being said, I did go out last Friday to catch an SD70ACe leading a coal load coming in from Wichita Falls. Here's a shot it it rounding the curve at Alvord...

BNSF 9375 - eastbound coal loads - Alvord, TX - July 7, 2006

Some time ago, I reached a point in my photography where I no longer had a desire to photograph every train I see (oh, how that wasn't the case 15 or 20 years ago!) These days, I really only feel like going out when it's already a nice day (clear skies, moderate temps, low humidity) to be outside anyway and I KNOW I'm going to get some killer shots. Anything else just seems like a waste of time and effort. Am I finally getting burned out on trains? I wouldn't really say that... it's not like I'm no longer interested in them... I choose many of the routes where I ride my bike based on their proximity to the tracks... I'm always happy to "roll one by", especially a good junk (manifest) freight. I guess I'm just maybe a little burned out on the photography part, especially the post-production part of digital shooting. Maybe that will change when I get a new (and faster) computer.


np: Texas Blues Radio Volume 3: a Dallas / Ft Worth Blues collection supporting Community Radio KNON 89.3 FM

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Going through the motions

Well, it is more or less a typical summer around Casa de Whiskey. The kids have been busy with a variety of summer activies (scrapbook "camp" for L, swim lessons and vacation bible school for M) and have taken a couple of out-of-town trips with K. Apart from hitting the neighborhood pool once a week, I've been trying to stay indoors whenever the temperature gets above 95. But here's what I've been doing when I'm not lounging around eating popsicles and watching MTV's "the Hills"...

Back on the air (sort of)

On Friday, June 23, listeners to the on-line stream at got a real treat when Bruce Kidder (former KHYI program director and on-air personality) joined Brian Bradley (aka "Bad Cover Brian") for a two-hour live show. When Brian introduced Bruce by playing Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries", I knew it was gonna be good. Bruce provided a quick run-down of the past couple months of his life since leaving KHYI, which included trips to California and Arkansas ("The meth labs are very popular in Arkansas", he announced), and working on restoring his 1971 Ford F-150 pickup. The show lasted about two hours, and featured commentary from Bruce and Brian after every couple of songs. Musical selections ran the gamut from the old timers (Webb Pierce) to the outlaw classics (Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard) to the new classics (Robert Earl Keen, Wayne Hancock) to the chicks (Mary Gauthier, Toni Price). They also threw in a couple of southern / classic rock tracks by the Allman Brothers and the Marshall Tucker Band, and closed out with a Bo Diddley tune. They even included a bad cover (Waylon Jennings doing Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street"). Great stuff, and lots of entertaining chatter between the songs. I considered myself lucky to have been one of the 20 or so listeners (I believe that's all the space their server has) that Friday evening.

Live music report (or lack thereof)

I haven't had much luck with live music during the past couple weeks... Johnny Bush, who I had looked forward to seeing at Cotton Belt Barbecue on June 22, cancelled.

After work on Saturday the 24th, a friend joined me for the drive up to Denton to see James McMurtry at Dan's. Unfortunately, the show was sold out and we didn't get in. We stood around for 15 minutes or so, and got to hear him do three or four songs (it sounded good even from the outside), but we ended up saying "to hell with it" and left. It's only so much fun standing around OUTSIDE of a bar listening to music when you can't buy a beer, and everyone inside is having a lot more fun.

My work schedule, which briefly changed to Thursdays-Fridays off (great for catching shows) changed back to Sundays-Mondays off. Ray Wylie Hubbard played Billy Bob's on Friday June 30... if my schedule hadn't changed, I'd have been there. Oh well, assuming that it doesn't change AGAIN, it'll be worth it to be able to watch NFL games on Sundays and Mondays here in a few more months.

Late June train chasing

A friend recently purchased a Canon 20-D and wanted me to show him how to use it, so we went out on Sunday the 25th to shoot some pictures. We got a northbound UP at Saginaw, and a couple BNSF trains heading toward Wichita Falls. Here, take a look...

UP northbound rock empties - Saginaw, TX - June 25, 2006

BNSF westbound stacks - Avondale, TX - June 25, 2006

still cycling

I've still been riding at least a hundred miles a week (Monday through Sunday). I calculated that, during an 8-day stretch from Thursday 06/22 to Thursday 06/29, I rode 175 miles. I can easily do 35 or 40 miles without getting too tired. I rode 50 miles today (July 4), the longest I've ever gone in one ride.. That was an interesting ride... the number of trains I see during a ride usually outnumbers (or at least equals) the number of fellow cyclists I see out on the road. Today of course, being a major holiday, the cyclists were out in force, and 10 miles into my ride, I had already counted 16. For the record, I saw five trains, but I wasn't close enough to any of them to ID locomotives.

I've been considering signing up for the Hotter'n Hell Hundred, the annual hundred mile race held every August in Wichita Falls. I'm not yet sure if I'll be ready to ride the full hundred miles (I sure am sore today after riding 50), but they offer some shorter rides such as the 100-k (approx 62 miles) and a 50-mile. I'm making an effort to do a weekly "long ride" in addition to my regular rides (as suggested by some of the century training guides I've seen), so we'll see how that goes. Maybe I WILL be ready to ride a full hundred by the end of August.


nr: August 2006 Trains Magazine

np: Ray Wylie Hubbard - Delirium Tremolos