Big Iron

Here is a photo taken at the New Hope & Ivyland Railroad yard. It’s of a massive steam engine that is undergoing a complete rebuild.

I wrote a short story called, Big Iron Holiday. In it, two friends (Ellsworth Botcher and Ned Fry) reunite after the end of the First World War. One is a railroad superintendent, the other is a pilot. I intend to use this short story as the basis for a novel titled simply Big Iron. The novel will follow these two characters and their lives as the United States evolves through the boomtimes of the 1920’s, the Great Depression, and the lead-up to D-Day. There will be some other characters, too, ranging from Hollywood stars to the men who kept the railroads running through all types of conditions.

As readers of this blog know, I like long books. Big Iron will be a long book. It is my hope that it will run more than 750 pages. Good characters, like the ones I have in mind, should easily be able to carry it that far.

What’s your favorite long book?

Published in: on October 31, 2008 at 12:25 am  Leave a Comment  
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New Hope & Ivyland Railroad

The New Hope & Ivyland Railroad is another piece of living history. It is a tourist train that carries passengers from New Hope, Pennsylvania to Lhaska, several miles away. I’m not positive, but I think the line was originally part of the old Reading Railroad.

This isn’t my greatest photo of No. 4, which was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works many years ago. I actually have some very nice black and white photos of this engine and her tender in both black and white and color. I took them back when I used Hasselbalds and large format cameras. The prints hang on the walls of my house. Take a look at the engineer; he certainly looks the part. I have to get a hat like that.

The last few weeks the train has been running steadily, giving people great views of the fall foliage and pumpkin patches set up for children. New Hope itself is a fun town with plenty of good restaurants, odd shops, and dinner theaters. It gets crowded on the weekends.

Published in: on October 30, 2008 at 12:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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Writer Music

As stated in earlier posts, I enjoy writing in public spaces. I also do a bit of writing in a home office. The right music helps make the words flow and lately I’ve been listening to Alicia de Larrocha. Her recordings of the Mozart Piano Sonatas are nothing short of incredible. In the first place she plays them in what I would call a “clean” style, sticking to the score dynamics as penned by the composer. In other words, she doesn’t overdo it. Her phrasing is as crisp as good dialog and the subtleties of each piece are pleasantly accented without being intrusive.

If you like Mozart’s piano works, I highly recommend the RCA “Complete Collections” set by SeƱora de Larrocha. I found this on iTunes.

Finally, whatever piano she played to record this album should be in the world hall of fame for legendary instruments, or perhaps the Smithsonian.

Published in: on October 24, 2008 at 3:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Chris Botti, Master Musician

Over the past several years, I’ve had the pleasure of attending many Chris Botti concerts. I’ve seen him play small jazz clubs and in huge arenas with Sting. The man knows how to play a trumpet (another great understatement of this blog). Most recently, we ran into each other at the Ram’s Head in Annapolis, MD.

That’s him on the left. I’m the knucklehead on the right. Anyway, Chris has a sound all his own. His original works vary from punchy to subtle, giving him an opportunity to show his vast range of talent. He’s also a nice guy who takes the time to meet his fans, sign CD’s, and have a few words with those who attend his shows. Thus, he’s a real professional who deserves all the accolades he gets. Play on!

Published in: on October 23, 2008 at 1:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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