13 November 2010

Interesting interests

I was walking through the bookstore the other day and came across the latest issue of Model Railroader. The cover caught my interest so I picked up the mag to read more about the featured layout. It's a pretty detailed layout, based on a large Eastern city in the immediate postwar era. I found a few pictures around the 'net, so I thought I'd post them here:

Good work, yeh? Very nearly like photos of, say, the 1948 version of New York or Chicago. Quite a lot of detail-and details set apart the good layouts from those of us who nail the store-bought train set tracks down to a 4'x8' sheet of plywood.

I removed the color from this railroad yard scene, and it looks just about like the real thing. It would be exactly like the real thing if there was coal smoke coming out from some of those steam engines.

Turns out this is the Three Rivers City Railroad, belonging to one Roderick D. Stewart.

Yeah, that Rod Stewart.

It seems that in addition to being a former glam-rocker turned crooner with a storied list of hot-and-cold running women, Mr. Stewart is an avid model railroader. I read the article, and he really does know his stuff about studying light patterns, architectural styles, and how they interact. He built a lot of the buildings in the layout himself, and I have to say he's really done a damn good job in portraying the late '40s setting.

Now, he does have some advantages given that he's sitting on a lot more money than most of the rest of us. He does have plenty of help with the construction, wiring, and rural scenery, and it appears he has an informal 'club' (most likely of fellow celebs with the same desire to run the trains), so it isn't a complete solo effort. But what he has done himself is impressive work.

I don't know why, because I don't really care all that much about celebrities, but I find that seeing a megastar that has the same dumb hobbies and interests that a lot of us great unwashed have is kind of refreshing. You always hear about the rockstar lifestyle, so I never really gave much thought to the idea that, yeah, down inside, some of the big stars aren't any different than the rest of us.

I'm not a huge fan of Rod Stewart's music (not the worst, just not quite my taste for the most part) and I'd probably not pay to see him if he came to the I-Wi for a concert.

It wouldn't matter, because I'd probably see him in the local hobby shop buying building kits for his railroad.

Some celebrities are as well known for their offscreen interests as their movie or TV work, of course. We all know about John Travolta's airplane collection and piloting skills. Most of us might at some time get a minute or so of stick time if we know someone that has a Cessna. Travolta has a four-engine Convair jet all done up in 1960s QANTAS markings (and QANTAS may need to lease his bird if they keep blowing gaskets on those A380s) and he's rated to fly multi-engine commercial. Same with Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden. Jay Leno has a car collection most auto museums would love to get their mitts on, and from everything I've read, he knows his way around most automotive systems.

Another example of a celebrity with an 'incongrous' hobby is actor Vin Diesel, action movie star. And as a teenager, a Dungeons and Dragons player. One pictures Diesel with a bunch of pudgy, pockmarked budding grognards: 'My Level 2 Deodorant Grenade negates your Spell of Stinkiness, Riddick!' It just doesn't quite seem right, but there it is.

Can't forget Alice Cooper. In the 1970's, the master of shock rock. Now, golf fanatic. And from all I've ever heard from interviews on the radio, he sounds like just 'one of the guys'-a rare commodity these days.

Former major league pitcher Curt Schilling is a World War II history buff and wargamer, with a fondness for the old paper wargame Squad Leader. Not as nice a guy as Alice Cooper, from what I've heard.

King Abdullah of Jordan. Star Trek fanatic. He was actually on an episode of Voyager in a non-speaking role.

Tom Hanks' hobby is collecting old typewriters. Ohhh-kay...

A lot of celebs go to sporting events in LA, Chicago, New York, and Miami, mostly, I'd guess, To Be Seen. Drew Carey still can be sighted watching his hometown teams back in Cleveland, Ohio. That's a real sports fan, kids, to sit through the Indians, Browns, and Cavaliers games!

So that's this week's issue of 'Celebrity Hobbies'. There are a bunch of others I haven't gotten into. Anyone famous that you know of with a hobby or collection or interest that you wouldn't picture them having? Sound off!

yankeedog out.


  1. Re any celebrities with interesting hobbies, The Shat rides horses and gave Patrick Stewart advice on the set of Generations.

  2. Barnesy-Yeah, Shatner is quite a polo player as well. Horses are a hobby for the wealthy. Bloody eating machines, they are, and high-maintenance as well.