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tom moody

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My uncle Roy Pickard is a model railroader, and by models we're not talking the ones on tabletops but a working 1/8 scale system consisting of over two miles of track, switches, bridges, trestles, and signage. The tracks are 7 1/2 inches wide, and the gasoline powered trains (replicas of actual steam and diesel engines) move people and cargo. Twice a year railroad enthusiasts descend on his property, tucked away in the central Texas ranchland west of President Bush's photo-op farm, and conduct "meets." At these weeklong gatherings, a couple of dozen trains (as many as 28) operate on the track at once, in carefully timed simulations of a full-scale operating railroad. Engineers communicate by radio and dispatchers monitor the movements of all trains; the idea is to move cargo, avoid collisions, and keep trains evenly distributed around the track. Anyone who screws up is roasted in a mock trial at the end of day's operations.

I took the top four pictures while walking the entire line (the original "Comanche & Indian Gap" plus newer sections of track--see map below). Roy gave me the photo of the two men riding trains, attendees at a meet last year. Roy has been working on the railroad since 1973, and in its intriguing combination of scrupulous realism and fanatic worldbuilding, it makes me think of some enormous conceptual art project, along the lines of William Christenberry's facsimiles of Alabama architecture, Michael Ashkin's and Chris Burden's industrial miniatures, Duchamp's rustic diorama, Smithson's earthworks... I could make a philosophical comment about the shrinkage to Lilliputian scale of the domain of the great 19th Century robber barons, but the more interesting story is the preservationist instinct in the face of rail's increasing mechanization and depersonalization. Besides taking a back seat to less fuel efficient means of transportation (evil trucks, nasty jets), trains in the U.S. are suffering the ultimate indignity of losing their romance. (More pics still to come.)

(Scan of map from Model Railroader magazine, July 1997, pp. 76-77. Thanks to Roy and Marilyn Pickard for all the information and hospitality.)

- tom moody 9-11-2003 8:14 pm [link] [5 comments]

9/7/03. I saw this girl in Dallas, having lunch at the Z cafe on Henderson with a bunch of alternative looking 20somethings. She was wearing some kind of taffeta party dress and heels with a jean jacket or some other casual top. I didn't draw her in situ but from memory the next day, sitting in the Houston airport. Is it possible for clothing to be stupid and sexy at the same time?

- tom moody 9-11-2003 8:11 pm [link] [add a comment]

9/8/03. Two-hour layover at the Atlanta airport. A nightmare.

What is with the Democrats and all this "now we're in Iraq we have to pour it on and win the war" crap? First Dean did a 180, and as I was sitting in the airport listening to mandatory CNN I heard Carol Moseley Braun on Crossfire spouting the same nonsense. How about supporting the troops by airlifting them out?

How about 87 billion for schools?

- tom moody 9-11-2003 8:07 pm [link] [3 comments]

- tom moody 9-09-2003 9:05 am [link] [3 comments]

I've returned from my Texas trip. Highlights include watching herons, gulls, and turnstones on the beach on Padre Island; seeing my uncle Roy's amazing 1/8 scale model steam railroad, comprised of over two miles of track, switches, bridges, trestles, and turntables winding through his ranch property in central Texas (pictures to follow); visiting Scott Barber's exhibition at Barry Whistler Gallery (during pre-opening installation) and John Pomara's studio in Dallas; meeting writer Frederick Turner at an otherwise weird University of Texas at Dallas soiree in the redeveloped Sears Building south of downtown; seeing long-lost family and friends.

- tom moody 9-09-2003 8:31 am [link] [add a comment]

More self-indulgent vacation pics. Padre Island National Seashore
(facing west).

Padre Island National Seashore (facing east). Brought to you by
Mazda Protegé TM. Escape today in a Mazda.

- tom moody 9-02-2003 10:10 am [link] [add a comment]

Thunderhead, on the way to Padre Island. Note evidence of
reckless driving in center.

Indianola. Once-thriving gateway to German immigration in Texas, reduced
to near-ghost town by a couple of big 19th Century hurricanes.

- tom moody 8-31-2003 7:38 pm [link] [1 comment]

Texas, Day 3. At the AMC theatre at Westheimer and Dunvale in Houston, I watched Jeepers Creepers 2 on the screen the size of a battleship. The theatre complex is a theme park-like extravaganza--newish but already heat-faded. This is the air-conditioned outdoor ticket kiosk, protecting a single taciturn clerk from the 90-degree heat. Matinee: $6. Concerning JC2, I have a friend who's boycotting the director Victor Salva's movies because of a certain incident in the '80s. Well, the filmmaker did his time--maybe not enough, I don't know the whole story--and now he's displaying his vivid (albeit NAMBLA-leaning) imagination onscreen with mind-boggling cinematography, tortured religious imagery, and barely-hidden homoerotic themes (at one point the monster looks into a schoolbus full of buff football players and licks the window). It's hard not to think of "the Creeper," a sexualizing if not sexual predator who is repeatedly impaled and crucified by straight hicks but simply can't be killed, as an amped-up cinematic stand-in for the director. More on all this later. See the movie, though--it's poetic, scary, Satanic fun.

Oh, yeah, here's a review of the first Jeepers worth reading (popup warning). The author describes the movie quite intensely (if inaccurately) because he or she is looking so hard for evidence of Salva's criminality. Sample paragraph:
There is also the scene were the monster has captured the teens and is deciding who it should take. After a prolonged moment of sniffing both teens in a very sexual manner, the monster then licks the girl and decides to keep the boy throwing her aside and pulling the boy close to him. At this moment the cops burst in and attempt to fight the monster. The creature starts vibrating violently while holding the boy in front of it. The scene recalls rather eerily some sort of s0domy sex sequence. Moments later the monster sprouts wings (the reason for the vibrating movements) and flies away.
Gosh, is that what happened in that scene?

- tom moody 8-31-2003 7:36 pm [link] [add a comment]