At the Reno airport, I was surprised to see that I could buy a new IPOD in a glass case that might have held candy bars.

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Besides IPODS and slot machines at the airport, there was also a black massage chair ($1 for 3 minutes) and I tried it. I’m not sure I’d do it again–the mechanical “hands” felt like they were made out of steel and they were an x-tra large size…every few seconds the stiff steel hands would move to another part of my back….I think the massage chair needs re-working, good idea though.

Speaking of “The Departed”…

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In Reno, in a brand-new movie theater overlooking the beautiful Truckee River, we saw “The Departed”–starring “Jack” Nicholson-Matt Damon-Leonardo Dicaprio—Mark Wahlberg & Alec Baldwin.

All juicy roles—and very, very–even ridiculously funny.

I can’t spoil the terrific script by revealing anything—you must see it. “Jack’s” interpretation of Frank Costello, a Massachusetts mafia chieftain, who specializes in political connections to protect his crime interests- -well,the scene with blood on his hands, is worth the price of the ticket…

At times, the fast-moving dialogue made me think of the brilliant Aaron Sorkin’s witty work (of West Wing fame, now Studio 60)– gone utterly mad and off the map.

And speaking of “West Wing”, Martin Sheen, who played the president in that riveting series, also appears in “The Departed” as the head of an undercover law enforcement office. He’s a civil, soft spoken avuncular type–but I couldn’t help thinking his alter ego was portrayed by actor Mark Wahlberg who stood at Sheen’s left side spewing gutter language.

(This movie’s not for the kiddies).

Is innovative director Martin Scorsese telling us that, these days, in real life, no one is loyal, no one is committed to real ideals and “everybody’s a rat”?

Produced by Brad Pitt and Brad Grey, a fascinating combination of Hollywood & HBO talent.

(Photos: Downtown Reno and scene along the Truckee River near the new Century Movie Theater)

Back From Reno

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We rode Amtrak’s passenger train, the California Zephyr, from Emeryville to Reno– an almost 7-hour trip through the backsides of towns– climbed the Sierra Nevada Mtns thousands of feet, captivated by the eccentric landscape cobbled together with other-worldly-looking boulders and rocks. The trip that never bored me was topped off with close-up views of the eastward flowing (one of the few in the West) Truckee River–a good companion during the last leg of the train ride.

At Sacramento we were joined by two members (Jack & Gene) of the railroad museum– docents, who provided passengers with a colorful narration of construction of the Central Pacific Railroad by the Big Four (Stanford, Huntington, Crocker & Hopkins).
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When I said the train passed through the “backsides” of towns (east of Emeryville), I mean there were fascinating scenes with abandoned broken cars, really good graffitti, litter and garbage, some of it artfully arranged and examples of dead industry.

Later we passed the errie sight of the “mothballed fleet”:
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Historic Roseville: DSCN0480.jpg

DSCN0551.jpg Climbing through the Sierra Nevada Mtns

ONE COMPLAINT: The food should be catered by Jeremiah Tower (former owner of Stars in San Francisco or Alice Waters)….This is California and there are plenty of great chefs. Why not have one on the Amtrak route between Emeryville and Reno?

…More later…Downtown Reno is changing quickly from the honky tonk town you may have known it as….