Well, here we are again... it's been a month since my last entry, and I've been too busy to keep up. K and I spent a weekend in Dallas last month while Mom kept the kids; we spent a night at the Hyatt Regency Hotel downtown (overlooking Dallas Union Station) and then caught the Cowboys-Giants game the following day. (The Cowboys eeked out a 16-13 overtime win.) A couple weeks ago, I made a day trip down to Valley Jct (located between Hearne and Taylor on the UP Austin Sub) to catch the Point Comfort & Northern "shuttle" train, which operates over UP trackage between Lolita (near Point Comfort and Port Lavaca, on the gulf coast) and Marjorie (UP's connection with PCN's sister road, the Rockdale Sandow & Southern.) I had photographed the RS&S before, and had also photographed PCN's switchers, but had never caught their road train. Both roads are owned by Alcoa, but a recent announcement revealed that RailAmerica will be taking over the rail operations of both lines, hence the sudden "urgency" in my need to get the PCN road train before all the power gets mixed up and replaced by RailGenerica's crap. The remainder of my time has been consumed by work, local photography, and riding my bike (gotta get those miles in before the weather turns cold!) So, I'm going to change my blog strategy... I think I'll refrain from posting routine train sightings for a while (you can still catch my reports on Railspot or the new Texoma Railfans list on yahoogroups) and just post an occasional photo or short entry when the mood strikes. Maybe then I'll be able to post an entry here more than once a month.
Scroll down to see a few recent photos, and to read the remainder of my Nov. 10 entry.
Questions on my mind as I write this on November 10:
1) Why did KLLI, our local "alternative talk" station, opt to go with David Lee Roth as our market's replacement for Howard Stern? Stern will leave the airwaves on December 16 and start his new show on Sirius (satellite radio) next year. Other markets will reportedly receive a new morning show hosted by Adam Carolla, whom I'd much prefer over Mr. Roth. David Lee Roth was great in Van Halen and all that, but as for how he'll do as a talk show host? Doesn't he have, like zero experience? Who knows, Dave might turn out to be a real hoot, but I'd still rather listen to Carolla. His tv talk show on Comedy Central hasn't been much to look at (Carolla often seems uncomfortable on camera and the audience's lack of response to his rants doesn't help much) ... he's much better on the radio as the co-host of the "Loveline" program, which is where I really learned to appreciate his humor and personality. Oh, did I mention that he'll be leaving "Loveline"? So, KLLI is losing Stern, losing Carolla (from "Loveline"), and all we get as a replacement is David Lee Roth, who has never hosted a talk show?
I guess it's kind of a moot point, as I spend most weekday mornings listening to the antics of Bruce Kidder and Brett Dillon on KHYI. Between the two of them, the daily "redneck freak show" (i.e., members of the local listening audience who frequently phone the program) and plenty of great classic country and newer Americana tunes, there's never any shortage of entertainment. But I'd still like to at least have the option of hearing Carolla's new show. Oh well, "TS" as the saying goes.
2) Why, at the age of 33, am I finding myself regularly tuning into an MTV program featuring college freshmen
and high school seniors living lives of luxury in southern California, packaged together with a theme song by
Hillary Duff? (I'm sure my wife would like to know the answer to this as well.)
Yes, kids, I'm talking about my addiction to the second season of Laguna Beach.
And as countless entertainment columnists (as well as many other bloggers) reveal, I've got plenty of company.
I first discovered the program last year. Stumbling across the show one evening while flipping channels, I found something quite unique, and to be honest, I wasn't even exactly sure what I was seeing. Was it a drama show filmed and presented as a reality show? The camera work and (apparently) unscripted dialogue had me convinced that I was right... until I did a little more research and found that it was precisely the opposite, but no less unique -- a reality show filmed and presented as a drama.
Take what you know about the average reality show and throw it out the window. Lots of things you see on other reality shows (Real World, Road Rules, Survivor), doesn't happen here. For one thing, LB cast members never talk to the cameras in "confessional" settings. Camera work is usually rock-solid (in fact, the show is reportedly filmed in widescreen), and many of the scenes are set up in advance, with all the necessary lighting, etc before the production team "allows" cast members to enter the scene. Of course, while this obviously kills the spontaneity of some scenes as they occur in real life, it's not as if the average viewer watching at home is going to notice. There are no obvious "assignments" for cast members to undertake... no obstacle courses to run, no scavenger hunts to embark on, no series-long project to undertake. It's just a weekly look at the lives of a group of young adults in California.
But none of this really explains why I've become a regular watcher. Yes, there is the uniqueness factor... I've never seen another show anything like it, either in appearance or concept. As far as tv drama shows go, I've never had much use for them. I never was into 90210, Melrose Place, or the OC. Dramas bore me. Well, there was that one show on MTV about 10 years ago... My So Called Life... I tuned into every damned episode of that, mostly due to my unhealthy attraction to Claire Danes. (Wow, her career really skyrocketed, huh?)
I think the main reason I'm into LB is that the show brings back memories of that point in my own life (finishing high school and starting college; experiencing attraction and rejection, enduring love triangles, hanging out with friends and having fun). Granted, my surroundings in my hometown of San Angelo kind of paled in comparison to those experienced daily by the average Laguna Beacher. One blogger suggested that we watch partly because we see things we can identify with and relate to, and partly because the setting (an upscale, oceanside town with amazing views) is about a thousand times more spectacular -- and the young ladies many times more beautiful -- than any of us actually remember from our own experiences. It's a combination of the life we lived and the life we wish we'd lived. Ain't it great?
np: James McMurtry - "Talkin' at the Texaco" on the KHYI lunch hour
nr: John Steinbeck - Cannery Row
Unless otherwise credited, all images on Whiskey's Blog and the Southwest Railfan
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