Sunday, March 26, 2017

Houston Heroes


We've seen Marvel Comics superheroes come to Texas before but so far they've been confined to Dallas.  Sure, it's an adventurous city but when out-of-towners want the "Everything's Bigger in Texas" experience they almost inevitably want to visit the biggest city in Texas.  And so it was only a matter of time before Spider-Man and the Hulk showed up in Houston:

What we have here is another newspaper freebie from Marvel Comics in the 80's.  It was given away in the Houston Chronicle and sponsored by Foley's Department Stores (and believe me, you'll get the hint throughout the story).

So what brings our heroes to town?  An emergency at NASA?  Nope, just the further frustrations of Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson:

After lamenting the lack of good NYC based news stories, JJJ is tipped off by Peter Parker about a Houston Chronicle article about rodeo superstar Rex Ryder and Jameson is immediately smitten.  So there's nothing left to do but hop on the first plane for the Lone Star State:

One of the disappointments of the comic is that other than the setting, there are just about no Houston area name-checks.  They head to the rodeo but don't actually say it's the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo.   We don't even get a decent shot of the city skyline.

So we must be content with generic cowboys and cowboy accoutrements at the parade and the stockyards.  And there are a few distinctly non-Houstonian elements at the festivities.  Peter's Spidey Sense kicks in almost immediately as he spots members of the criminal ne'er-do-well gang known as the Enforcers:

So now that Peter Parker is a "Spider-Man with a mission," we turn our attention to the nearby stables, and if you weren't satisfied with the amount of Marvel characters that inexplicably decided to converge on Houston this day, then you're in a for treat!

Yep, the Hulk's alter ego Bruce Banner is still trying to Bill Bixby his way across the country and picked Houston as a place to stop.  Apparently he pulled on his best pair of purple dungarees and got a job at the rodeo.  And it doesn't take long for him to also realize that there's troubling brewing.

So apparently the Enforcers have kidnapped Rex's best girl Annie and decided to use her for leverage to make him throw his Bull Riding event.  And if that wasn't enough, they let him know (for some reason) that they're also going to rob the box office.  That's a pretty ambitious scam for a rodeo caper.

Meanwhile, as Bruce Banner investigates, he makes an additional discovery.  If the triple decker coincidence sandwich that is this story hasn't satisfied you so far then get ready for the fourth heat!

 Yep, the Spider-Man villain "Rhino" has also decided to brave the humidity to rob what must be an amazing box office and he makes Mistake #1: he backhands Puny Banner!  Well, you can guess where this is going...

Yep, the manure hits the fan as two different sets of heroes and villains converge at the rodeo and the results include the Rhino punching a bull...

...Spider-Man "lasso-webbing" the kidnappers...

...the Hulk beating up the Rhino, which inadvertently leads to a van (which was unfortunately left in neutral) being pushed by the two warring brutes down a hill, straight for the runaway wagon that held the kidnapped Annie...

...leading to a daring "double rescue" and solidifying the notion that super heroes cause as many problems as they solve.

So when all was said and done there was nothing left to do but have a celebratory shopping Foley's, of course:

And with that, our action packed adventure in the Gulf has concluded.  Sure, there's a lot of unanswered questions and a lot of murky motivations but thanks to our heroes, the rodeo funds were saved and Rex and Annie get to ride off into the sunset.

If experience has told us anything it's that it won't be long before the Lone Star state ends up in the comics pages once again... be continued?!?

Friday, March 17, 2017

Let's Open Five Packs of Dallas Trading Cards

Now is as good a time as any to crack open these packs of Dallas Trading Cards (or Bubble Gum Cards, as it says on the packages).  I've picked these beauties up over the years at flea markets and eBay it's time to get 'em unwrapped, catalogued and filed away...because  that's what I do apparently.

These are from Donruss, a major sports and non-sports trading card company from awhile back, and were released in 1981 when the show was a juggernaut.   As was common at the time, it looks like original artwork was commissioned for the wrapper.  I don't know who the artist was (but I would love to) but here is his or her interpretation of the cast:

I don't recall Jock's bright red cowboy hat but other than that the likenesses are pretty good.  It may be hard to understand the potential customer for collectible cards for what is essentially an adult oriented soap opera but you have to remember what a phenomena this show was.  This was after "Who Shot J.R.?" and everyone and everything was all about the Ewing clan.

One of the first realizations you have when you are opening up 36 year old cards is that a stick of gum isn't meant to hang around that long.  And if you want to keep your cards in good shape then you don't want them next to whatever that gum is made of because what you'll get is a fusion of the two:

Yeah, that's gum and yeah, those aren't coming off.  Luckily, it only affected the first cards in each pack.  The rest are in somewhat decent shape and they fall into a few categories (that I just made up) and they are:


"J.R., We Need to Talk About What You Did/Are About to Do"

"Looking Off Camera at Something"

And, of course, "J.R. Getting Shot"

Those are just s sample of the cards I got in this haul.  Sure, there were some doubles but, overall, I'm happy with the outcome.  I was hoping that there would be some text/stats on the back of each card but they went with the "puzzle" option. 

The back of each card has part of a picture and when you put them all together you can see the image.  I didn't have enough cards to get a good picture of the image otherwise I would have posted it.  So I guess my only option is to get more be continued?!?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Matchbook Memories: Texas Sesquicentennial Wagon Train


If you're not old enough to remember the Texas Sesquicentennial, you missed a lot!  It was a year long celebration of Texas' 150th anniversary and it was everywhere.  Parties, parades and prestige filled the Lone Star State in tons of different ways.

One of the more ambitious projects was the six month, 3,000 mile trip around the state made by more covered wagons than you can shake an armadillo at.  You can consider it a half year long homecoming parade...Texas style!

While they had several stops along the route, it wasn't uncommon for folks to line up along the road to wave and cheer the wagons on.  There's a good chance that the wagon train even came by your neighborhood.  Here's the path they took:

Along the way (probably near the toward the end of the journey) my grandparents went out to see the big brouhaha.  With their camera in tow and their Texas pride at an all time high, they took their gander.  Say "Howdy" to Paw Paw:

Some wagons were owned by wagon enthusiasts, some were made specifically for the fun of the event and some were sponsored.  Here's a look at some of the ones that stood out including...

A Winchester Rifle Wagon:

A Port-O-Pottie "Wagon":

And even a Grandy's Wagon:

With only a mere nineteen years left before the Texas Bicentennial, it's time to get started on the next generation of wagons.   Personally, I'm hoping for a Whataburger Wagon!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Family Heirloom

If you've found your way here across the vast internet sea then odds are you have heard of the famous Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana.  Their fruit cakes are world renowned and are a hugely popular gift every Christmas season.  (Don't get me wrong, their other stuff is great too but the fruit cakes are easily the most celebrated.)

Even if you haven't had one of their celebrated confections, you might have seen their signature red tin.  For many, long after the fruit cake is gone, the round metal container holds sewing supplies, toys and anything else that needs to be kept decoratively secure.

So it should come as no surprise when one of these beauties shows up in a famous setting.  In fact, one of them shows up in one of the most acclaimed films of all time:

Take a close look at the scene around the 48 minute mark.  As Sonny takes a phone call, you can see the signature red tin in the background:

Looks like the Corleone family received a nice dessert treat for Christmas and, like so many others, kept the tin around to store stuff (possibly, connoli?  That's my guess.)  This was such a coup for Collin Street Bakery that they use it for marketing:

So the next time you want something sweet that comes with a collectible tin and a mafia pedigree, you know where to go.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Scenes From a (Closing) Mall

Originating in Dallas, Sanger-Harris was a hugely successful department store...until it wasn't.  It was bought out in the 80's but the distinct murals and arches that made up their stores were left behind and inhabited by other stores.

Recently, the news broke that the Valley View Mall location was scheduled for destruction.  The mall itself is a shadow of what it used to be, seemingly choosing to go out with a whimper.   The tear-down process of the iconic Sanger-Harris exterior began the other day and I went to check it out:

The rest of the mall is on its way out to.  I took the opportunity to take a look around at what's left and snap some pics.  Enjoy:

Time is running out for you to stop by and pay your respects before this little piece of Dallas history is gone forever.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Top 5 Things For Sale at Texas Treasures

I recently found myself in the unusual (for me) position of having to waste time in a mall.  While in the Galleria in Dallas, surrounded by clothing stores and pretzel/cookie/yogurt places, I stumbled across the only store that could hold my attention:

I'm not sure if other states have these kind of stores but most Texas malls seem to have the obligatory "Texas Store" packed with "Texas Stuff."  So, for the sake of the blog, let's head inside and countdown the top five things they have for sale!

5.  Texas Lip Balm

Looks like they haven't forgotten about you, West Texas!  If that hot weather and dry air is making you feel a little chapped then why not keep some Texas Lip Balm in your pocket...or holster.  It works waaaay better than the New Hampshire stuff.

4.  Lone Star Pasta

Need a side dish for all that barbecue?  Then why not whip up some macaroni and cheese with some Lone Star Pasta?  Shapes seem to include the state of Texas, cowboy boots and Lone Stars.  In Texas, mac & cheese counts as a vegetable.

3.  "Come and Take It" Cuff Links

It wouldn't be a Texas themed gift shop without a wide variety of "Come and Take It" accoutrements.  This time we get cuff links...for the well dressed AND well armed gentleman.  These also have the added feature of being difficult to photograph while trying to look casual in a store where you're not buying anything. 

2.  Texas Postcard With Bluebonnet Seeds

If you've ever wanted to send a little bit of Texas to your peeps in other parts of the world then now there is a convenient way to do just that.  These bluebonnet seed packs are in postcard form so just a few stamps are all you need.  Just let your friends know their not supposed to pick them or step on them.  And that they are required to take pictures of their kids surrounded by them once a year.

1.  Texas Baseballs

What's more Texas than baseball?  Well, football I guess.  But they didn't have any of those so check these out. I can't imagine anything better than throwing on your favorite Nolan Ryan jersey and tossing one of these around.  Extra points for the vintage postcard motif!

So there are my picks for a Texas Treasures shopping list.  Feel free to pick up some of the many novelty hot sauces and barbecue sauces while you're there too!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Ultimate Fate of the Starship Pegasus

Hardcore Trekkies know the unfortunate fate of the fictional Federation Starship Pegasus but unbeknownst to many, a real life Starship Pegasus also lays in ruins as a reminder to travelers of the subtle whims of fate and of how far the stars can be.

Much like Trek's "Great Bird of the Galaxy," this ship was also helmed by a true visionary: Andy Gee, a man who brought his unique vision in for a landing in Italy...Italy, TX.

"I had hoped it would inspire the next kid to grow up and create the warp drive that would take us to meet an alien civilization," said architect and entrepreneur Gee. His vision became a reality when the Starship Pegasus Restaurant opened for business in 2005. Unfortunately two years later the doors were closed and the ship was docked.

As it sits along I-35 in Italy (approximately 45 miles south of Dallas), unkempt weeds scrape the hull and the once lustrous facade fades like starlight at dawn. But this vision of the future shares Star Trek's optimism.

Starship Pegasus Associates Community Enterprises, or S.P.A.C.E, has used the building as a flea market/farmers market but the ultimate rescue for the Pegasus can come from Trek's biggest fan: you!

It's true, the Starship Pegasus is for sale and for the right amount of gold pressed latinum you can own it! You always wanted a novelty, sci-fi themed restaurant haven't you? Then make it so!