Sunday, April 8, 2018

Matchbook Memories: Under the Dome


Houston's pride and joy (or at least it used to be) has been called the "Eighth Wonder of the World" and was home to a legendary Texas Team.  But the Astrodome has been known for a lot more than just the Astros.  Here's a quick look at a few of the times it's popped up in pop culture:

Starman V1 #25 (DC Comics, 1990)

Starman never caught on the way so many other DC characters did.  Every so often the publisher tries to make a go of the guy and when they do they usually create a character to be the "new" Starman.  That's a common practice in comics and is sometimes used to create conflict.

I mention all that because the plot of this issue involves the son of the original Starman getting pissed at the current (at the time) Starman and challenging him to a fight.  Guess where...

Anyway, during the fracas, the new guy takes a pretty good smack which launches him sky high and gives the artist (Dave Hoover) an opportunity to draw a bird's eye view of the Astrodome:

West Coast Avengers V1 Annual #2 (Marvel Comics, 1987)

Yeah, the Avengers are bi-coastal.  Typically the New York team is made up of A-listers like Iron Man, Thor and so forth.  And the L.A. team has...other people...that being said, occasionally the two groups indulge in some good old fashioned team building exercises like an annual softball game!  Guess where...

This has to make the stadium's insurance rates go way up because the whole gang isn't shy at all about using their powers to win the game.  So when Thor uses his hammer to take a swing at Wonder Man's fastball, he sends it flying straight up to the roof.

That thing "comin' back again!" is the Silver Surfer who is heralding some crazy nonsense and as soon as ya know it, the whole gang is whisked away and are forced to fight each other or somesuch.  But since none of that takes place in

The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training (Paramount Pictures, 1977)

The sequel is fairly forgettable and really only know for two things: 1. There's no Walter Matthau and 2. The kids play at the Houston Astrodome for some reason.  The film does do a good job of showing off what an impressive structure it was.

If you watch the movie, keep an eye open for cameos from some of the Astros at the time.  If not, then just Google it. 

There's lots more fun that's been had under the dome but it'll have to wait until I track down those particular comics and/or movies.  Once I do, let's meet back here.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Sandwich Tour of Dallas Part 1

I typically eat sandwiches on a regular basis. I also post stuff on this blog on a regular basis. I'm also in Dallas often. You can probably see where I'm going with this...

Welcome to a Sandwich Tour of Dallas" Part 1! I plan to explore this town via sandwiches so feel free to tag along. Let's start with P.D. Johnson's Dog Day Deli:

Located on McKinney avenue in the uptown area, this place fancies itself the "Kick Ass" deli and plays up the tired "Johnson" angle (spoiler: it means "penis"). Despite the unoriginal marketing they serve up a darn fine sandwich. Behold the "Hot Johnson" (I know, I know...sigh):

It comes with roast beef, turkey, bacon, cheddar, mayo, bbq, "horseymayo", lettuce, tomato, onions, green peppers, pepperoncinis. (I ordered mine sans onions & peppers).

Now sandwich enthusiasts like you and me might be wary of so many ingredients on one dish but this one surprises with an almost harmonious symphony of tastes and textures. Of particular note is the mixture of BBQ sauce and whatever horseymayo is. I may not know what it is but I know it plays well with the other ingredients.

If I have a complaint it is that the roast beef seems to take a back seat to the other ingredients and let's face it, roast beef should always be the star (yeah, that's right bacon, you are a supporting character! How do you like that!)

Next up on our tour is the Great American Hero:

This place has whatever every sandwich place should have: a drive through window! Because, let's face it, sometimes I'm driving around and I want a sandwich but I just don't want to get out of my car. Brilliant! Located on Lemmon Ave., not too far from 75, this place is also "Dallas' First Pennyless Store", meaning they round the prices up or down to the nearest nickel.

But enough non-sandwich content...on to the sandwich content!

Say hello to "The Italian" a.k.a. the #1. It comes with Genoa Salami, Cappicola, Baked Ham & Provolone Cheese and all their sandwiches come with Fresh Shredded Lettuce, Onions, Tomatoes, Blend of Canola & Olive Oil, Red Wine Vinegar, Spices & Oregano. The one pictured is, of course, sans onion.

It's a great old school cold sub and the bread (there are several bread choices, this one is sourdough) is very light and tender...flavorful but not attention-seeking. It's a mellow compliment to the sandwich, which is what all great sandwich bread should be. I like to go with their oil, vinegar & spices in lieu of any condiments like mayo or mustard. It adds just the right balances to the spicy cured meats.

Moving on, instead of a sandwich, what if you are in the mood for a "sammich"? Uncle Uber's has you covered:

Located on Commerce St. in Deep Ellum this place specializes strictly in sandwiches, er sammiches. Burgers, salads and desserts are also on the menu but never mind that stuff, this place is a cathedral in the church of sandwich worship. Old favorites like roast beef, grilled cheese and the Cuban abound but they're not afraid to experiment with the genre.

Check out what I got:

Your eyes are currently beholding the Bacon & Goat Cheese Sammich. I'm always reluctant when bacon is the main player in a sandwich (see above) but their crisp, flavorful pig strips are more of a character actor leading a quirky ensemble cast of characters (think Steve Buscemi in Boardwalk Empire).

The goat cheese is a bit restrained (in a good way) but has a great creamy texture and just a touch of sourness that is a great counter balance to the avocado, which is always welcome on my sandwich. And surprise, surprise, the big guest star here is the cucumbers, giving some crunchy texture to the meal. It's a great surprise and a great change of pace.

Hungry for more? Don't worry, I'm in the prime of my sandwich eating days. More Dallas sandwich shops (and other towns and other foods) are coming soon!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Follow the Leaders


Check out the headline:  "Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders Missing!"  It's time, once again, to dive into another Dallas Times Herald Marvel freebie comic.  This time it's not just superheroes doing their thing, we get America's Sweethearts as special guest stars!

The year was 1982 and our adventure begins with Peter Parker and his childhood friend Fran finishing up a shopping spree at a north Texas Sanger-Harris (who sponsored the comic).

After the stiff wind of exposition blows through Dallas, it's replaced with the rain storms of plot advancement as the cheerleaders get lost on the way to their performance at Fort Sage (which seems to be in California).

Instead of finding the army base, they find an army base and decide it's probably the one they were looking for.  After all, it's not like the people there were acting suspicious or anything...

By the way, that lady in the cowboy hat appears to be legendary former DCC director Suzanne Mitchell.  I was wondering if "Fran" was also based on a real person, and I found a Francis Roberson that was an assistant director around this time period but I couldn't confirm if she ever knew Spider-Man.

After the "army" guys get the girls situated in the conference room with promises of hot coffee and not being murdered, we get to see what's really going on in this facility.

Yep, it's the Leader, an evil mastermind who was mutated in a similar accident that created the Hulk.  But instead of increasing his physical strength, the gamma radiation increased his mental abilities making him super smart (according to him).

Well, it doesn't take long for Fran and the gals to get suspicious.  She sneaks around the base to find a phone (remember the 80s?) and call her old pal Peter Parker.  So Peter's alter ego, Spider-Man, starts the hunt!  When he turns up nothing, his only recourse to arbitrarily swing around the desert.  It doesn't take too long before he runs into another old friend...

The Hulk was just wondering around the desert (as he does), punching tanks (as he does) when he ran afoul of the fake army guys.  It doesn't take too long for Spidey, the Hulk and the Cheerleaders to all converge on the Leader's compound for a final battle.

Nothing gets things sorted out like a great big explosion.  With the bad guys defeated, the Hulk wanders off and the Cheerleaders were free to go find the actual army base where they put on one their best shows.

And Peter Parker was able to get the pictures.  Although it looks like, instead of the Daily Bugle, he may be freelancing for "Cheerleader Butts Magazine."  C'mon Pete...we know what you're least try to be subtle.

And the story ends as it begins with Peter and Fran doing some more shopping at Sanger-Harris.  Most adventures end with a sense of relief and maybe a trip to the emergency room but this one ends with a job offer. 

I'll leave you today with a Superman-esque character tempting readers with the idea of a Dallas Times Herald paper route:

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Lightnin' Strikes


There's no shortage of Texas music legends.  But some of them have flown under the radar despite the efforts of those who try to keep their music and their spirit alive.  Such efforts to preserve the memory of a lesser known musical icon have manifested in memorials in at least two different cities.  So today we're going to take a look at monuments dedicated to the late great blues musician Lightnin' Hopkins.

While Hopkins was born in Centerville and was widely known for playing in Houston, it's the town of Crockett that wanted to honor him with a statue.  It sits across from the Camp Street Cafe, a local live music venue, and was erected in 2002.

A more abstract monument can be found in Dallas along others honoring with fellow Texas music legends Buddy Holly, "Blind" Lemon Jefferson and others. It's a part of the "Texas Music Alley" in the Dallas Alley of the once great (but now kind of dried up) West End.

While the tributes are great, nothing honors a musician more than keeping their music alive so, before you go, sit back and have a listen to Hopkins belt out the "Katie Mae Blues":

Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Many Roles of Mr. Peppermint

If you grew up on the DFW area during a certain time then you were no stranger to the red and white stripes of television personality Mr. Peppermint.  He hosted the kid's show Peppermint Place for decades and helped entertain and educate generations of kids.

The minty fresh TV personality was portrayed by Dallas native Jerry Haynes.  His TV persona was so strong and beloved that some started to think of him and Mr. Peppermint as one and the same.  But Haynes was a very talented and prolific actor and appeared in a number of TV and film projects.  Today we'll take a look at some of his work in some high profile projects.

Dallas - Season 4, Episode 6 "The Venezuelan Connection" (1980)

If you were a north Texas based actor in the late 70s to late 80s then odds are you had a run in with the Ewing clan on the popular series "Dallas."  Haynes (on the left) actually appeared in a handful of Dallas episodes as "Pat Powers" but I picked this episode because his scenes feature the Fort Worth Stockyards.

In this shot you can see Haynes (on the right, in the back shaking hands with Ray) and the gang in front of the Fort Worth Livestock Exchange.  The episode also has scenes that include the interior of the Exchange as well as the White Elephant Saloon

Places in the Heart (1984)

Haynes plays the role of Deputy Jack Driscoll in the award winning film (seen above with Sally Field).  A lot of the movie was shot on location in Waxahachie but since it's a period piece, it's difficult to track down specific locations...but I'm still in the process of trying.

Robocop (1987)

Most Dallas residents know that the classic scifi film was shot in Dallas (throughout the movie you can spot Reunion Tower in the background of "Future Detroit").  I mentioned before that Dallas City Hall is featured prominently.

Haynes appears in the film as "Dr. McNamara" (in the background above at the control panel, wearing a suit), creator of the ED-209 crime-fighting robot.  The ED-209 is a big part of the plot so you would think that this would be a big role for Haynes but it's a nonspeaking part in one scene.  But at least it's a good scene:

You can see Fountain Place out the window in the background before that guy meets his grisly death at the hand's of Dr. McNamara's killing machine.  Fun fact:  while the character only appears in the film briefly, McNamara lived on in the Robocop cartoon:

He seemed to go through some changes like giving himself robot arms (or whatever) but the worst change to the character was that he was not voiced by Haynes.  I guess he had moved on from the role.

Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman - Season 6, Episode 8 "A Time to Heal Part 2" (1997)

Some roles are easier than others.  In this two-part sweeps episode of Dr. Quinn Haynes plays a corpse.  You might think it's not worth mentioning but that show was a pretty big hit in its time.  And, hey, a gig's a gig, right?

I don't think there was ever an animated version of Dr. Quinn but if there were, I'd like to think they would have brought back this character too...maybe a zombified version...

Walker, Texas Ranger - Season 9, Episode 18 "Legends" (2001)

Like "Dallas" before it, "Walker, Texas Ranger" used a lot of North Texas actors.  In this episode Haynes plays Judge Abe Steigler who presides over the case of a mob boss.  Things don't go well for the honorable Judge after the trial:

And that's why you don't want t get involved with the mob.  Don't worry though, I'm sure the Rangers will avenge him. 

Haynes' IMDb page is filled with many other roles.  These are just a few of my favorites.  And, honestly, these have a lot more death and carnage than I expected from Mr. Peppermint.  So you never know when an old friend from the past will surprise you. 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Foul Territory

Texas is known for pioneering oil barons whose business acumen frequently takes a back seat to their larger than life personalities.  But at some point the blustery sale pitches, ten gallon hats and six shooter personalities all seem to fade together.  And that's when a different kind of Texas businessman gets the East Texas chicken magnate Bo Pilgrim.

With his matter-of-fact demeanor and deadpan delivery, his commercials for "Pilgrim's Pride" chicken quickly became staple of 80s and 90s TV.  His business dealings and charitable work also made him a big part of the East Texas community, particularly in Pittsburgh, TX.

He passed away earlier this year but his presence can still be felt in the area.  At the Northeast Texas Rural Heritage Museum in Pittsburgh his cardboard cutout stands tall in an exhibit of famous area residents, along with his trademark hat.

But the town has an even bigger tribute to the late meat packing mogul.  Outside the local chicken processing plant you'll find this giant bust of Pittsburgh's prominent poultry purveyor.  Feast your eyes on this roadside siren as it beckons you to pull over and snap a picture:

If that's not making a statement then I don't know what is.  The giant head of Bo Pilgrim welcomes(?) visitors coming in to town along Highway 271.  It kind of makes you wish for a Huntsville Sam Houston statue type of full scale version but for now we'll have to settle for the head and shoulders...and of course the old commercials:

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Pure Country in Cresson

In the movie Pure Country George Strait proved that he had above average acting chops.  He then proceeded by not continuing his acting career.  Was this a taunt to his detractors?  A celebration of restraint?  We may never know.  But at least we can go look up the filming locations.

The scene where he visits a cemetery was shot in Cresson, TX in the aptly named Cresson Cemetery:

That opening shot was easy to find due to the sign.  The other shots were not so easy.  Production crews will install fake tombstones for their shoots so, of course, the grave he visited was not real.  Using the power lines in the background I tried to get close to the location where this shot was filmed:

Additional scenes were shot in Fort Worth and surrounding areas so look for those at some point in the future.