Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The King of Texas

One of the best TV shows of all time was King of the Hill.  Over the years the Hill family traveled across the Lone Star State and some things weren't terribly accurate but some things were surprisingly accurate.  Let's take a look.

In the Season 13 episode "Nancy Does Dallas" the show heads to, you guessed it, Dallas.  Check out the "cartoon-ized" version of the downtown skyline:

The did a pretty good job of matching the skyline details. (By the way, it's very difficult to take a picture of downtown from this angle without getting hit by a car.)

Later in the episode Nancy and her new co-workers check out a basketball game (between the Mavericks & Spurs, no less) at the American Airlines Center:

Again, they got lots of the details right (with the exception of the "AA" logo).

Here's some video we shot awhile back about the building's architecture and some of the science behind it:

At the end of the Season 11 episode "Hank Gets Dusted," Cotton's beloved Cadillac is buried at the world famous Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX along the world famous Route 66!

The occasion is event is even more Texas-centric with he inclusion of ZZ Top. The non-animated version of the Cadillac Ranch looks like this:

Other stops on the King of the Hill tour include the Marfa Lights, the Alamo, South Padre Island and many others.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Dallas Times Herald Ads

For over a century the Dallas Times Herald brought North Texans all the news worth reading.  They closed up shop in 1991 but the memory remains.  Here's an ad from the 80's that breaks down the economic benefits of buying a subscription:

The youth of the past also benefited economically from a sweet Dallas Times Herald paper route:

I'm not sure why the kid in the ad seems so horribly uninterested or why he's sitting on a skateboard in a belly shirt and holding what may or may not be an Oreo.  But, hey, it was the 80's.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Justice League Texas

The newly revived comic book Justice League of America from DC Comics is shipping with 52 different variant covers.  Each cover shows the cast raising a flag (Iwo Jima-style) with the regular cover featuring the United States flag.  The variant covers feature the flag of each individual state as well as Washington DC and Puerto Rico.

Here's the Texas cover:

And just for contrast, here's the regular cover with the American flag:

As far as variant covers go, there's not a lot of difference...just some flag Photoshopping but it's always nice to see Texas represented!  The issue arrives in stores today.

A Tip of the Hat

Here's some video we shot recently about the construction and installation of the giant bowler hat in south Dallas:

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Pee-Wee Visits the Alamo

Remember when Pee Wee Herman visited the Alamo?

As you may recall, Pee-Wee was sent on a quest to find his beloved bicycle which he mistakenly believed was stashed away in the Alamo's nonexistent basement. As a kid I always wondered if that actually shot in San Antonio.

The IMDb page lists San Antonio as a filming location and visual looks legit:

Compare that to the picture I took a few years ago and I think we have a match:

In the upper right of each picture you can see the sign for the Crockett Hotel which is near the Alamo. So I think it's safe to officially add Pee-Wee Herman to the list of the millions of yearly travelers who have visited the historic site.

Pee Wee's return to the Alamo, years later, is less widely known.  Apparently the Alamo does have a basement of sorts and Pee Wee was on hand to personally investigate:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Dallas Railway Company Token

Here's a token I stumbled across when I was going through some old stuff.  It says Dallas Railway Company and according to Wikipedia it would range from 1917-1926.  Any additional info would be appreciated if you have it.

Monday, February 11, 2013

KTVT - The Super Ones

TV stations periodically update their "brands" (meaning their logos, colors graphics, etc.) in order to stay "current."  These changes are meaningless to 99% of the population but the stations seem to think they are very important and once they change they seldom go back. But there are some that are worth revisiting.

In the 1980's Channel 11 in Dallas made a big push with their kids-themed logo and programming.  With this as their starting point:

It wasn't a far trip to get to this:

Meet the Super Ones!  Get it?  They're both the number 1 and they are both super.  They were robots of some sort and they pretty much just stood there and talked in a robot-like manner.  Here's what they sounded like:

Yep, those robot voices are very robot-esque.  They showed up from time to time to announce contests, cartoons and other types of whatnot that might appeal to the kiddie market.  I was reminded of these two guys when I stumbled across this promotional pin in some of my old stuff:

If I recall correctly I picked up this little beauty at the KTVT booth at the Fort Worth Stock Show in the 80's.  This picture may be deceptive because the pin is only about 3/4 of an inch tall.  As you can see it's made of that cheap kind of plastic that doesn't hold up well over the decades.  But it was free so I can't really complain.

I don't know if the Super Ones had any kind of back story.  They might have been a couple of hip alien robots who came to earth to promote quality children's television programming.  As many hip mascots frequently do, they occasionally wore sunglasses and were a little more animated which can be seen on the Kid's Club poster behind this guy:

Assuming that my outer space back story is true then at some point their work here on Earth was done and they went back to space to share cartoons and Gilligan Island reruns with another world's youth.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Natalie Portman Visits Baylor

The campus of Baylor University in Waco, TX (known for their mammoth bone museum, 150 year ban of dancing and, I assume, other things) was once featured briefly in a movie that most people didn't see.

"Where the Heart Is" is some kind of super long chick movie starring Queen Amidala and Ensign Robin Lefler.  For some reason (I didn't actually watch, just shuttled through to get screencaps) at the end of the film Padme goes to a college campus to walk around while staring blankly.  First she walks past Pat Neff Hall:

Then she checks out the inside of The Armstrong Browning Library:

Who knows what she did after that.  But I'm sure it was very life affirming.  Perhaps she got lunch at the now-defunct Fat Ho Burgers.

Friday, February 8, 2013

There's a Dead Alien Buried in Texas

There's very interesting cemetery in Aurora, TX.  You're probably thinking, "So what?  Lot's of cool cemeteries in Texas."  True, but this one has quite a bit going on.  Let's start with this tombstone:

I've searched for information on "Loreta" but can't seem to find anything other than listings of her grave.  Basing my information strictly on what I learned from her tombstone: She was a bird.  She talked.  She was the "world's."
Odd bird graves notwithstanding, it's the historical marker at the cemetery entrance that gets most people's attention.

It reads:

     "The oldest known graves here, dating from as early as the 1860's, are those of the Randall and Rowlett families. Finis Dudley Beauchamp (1825-1893), a Confederate veteran from Mississippi, donated the 3-acre site to the newly formed Aurora Lodge No. 479, A.F. & A.M., in 1877. For many years, this community burial ground was known as Masonic Cemetery. Beauchamp, his wife Caroline (1829-1915), and others in their family are buried here. An epidemic which struck the village in 1891 added hundreds of graves to the plot. Called "spotted fever" by the settlers, the disease is now though to have been a form of meningitis. 
     Located in Aurora Cemetery is the gravestone of the infant Nellie Burris (1891-1893) with its often-quoted epitaph: "As I was so soon done, I don't know why I was begun." This site is also well known because of the legend that a spaceship crashed nearby in 1897 and the pilot, killed in the crash, was buried here. 
     Struck by epidemic and crop failure and bypassed by the railroad, the original town of Aurora almost disappeared, but the cemetery remains in use with over 800 graves. Veterans of the Civil War, World Wars I and II, and the Korean and Vietnam conflicts are interred here."

Yep, there's a legend that not only did a spaceship crash her in the 19th but also that the alien pilot is buried somewhere in the cemetery.  So of course we had to look for his tombstone.  Want to know if we found it?  You'll have to watch the video we shot to find out: 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Kid Stuff

The wild west was full of surprises. Most of them were decidedly unpleasant. A sleeping bag-nested rattlesnake here, a touch of tuberculosis there. Life came fast and hard and pleasant surprises were few and far between. It's that frontier styled expectation that kept my hopes low regarding the Billy the Kid Museum in Canton, TX.

Best case scenario, I thought, was a kitschy roadside diversion. Worst case scenario: a boring building with nothing in it. Well, my friends, the Billy the Kid Museum did not disappoint. And it offered a surprise that did NOT lead to a slow and/or painful death. You can't ask for more than that in your wild west experience.

I had driven past the ominous site a hundred times on various trips to East Texas. It's located in Canton, TX whose claim to fame is "First Monday Trade Days" which may or may not be the world's largest flea market. Suffice it to say, if you are looking for a particular item, it can be haggled for at First Monday.

The exterior of the Museum had always been, at the very least, attention grabbing:

So on this trip my curiosity won the battle it was having with my sense of self preservation and I made the stop.

Inside, amongst the livestock remains, wanted posters and a lengthy dissertation linking LBJ to the Kennedy assassination, I found what can only be described as "the best Billy the Kid Comic Book collection in the world." There was even a laminated piece of paper that said so. And you know if it's laminated they mean business.

I have to admit to only having a marginal knowledge of western comics. I know they were big in the 50's and that they starred both real and fictitious protagonists. It was something of an eye opener when I saw not one, but EVERY wall plastered with Billy the Kid comics.

And not just the Kid, but the Texas Rangers, the original Rawhide Kid, the Cheyenne Kid and even Zorro. If it rode a horse and had a predilection towards shouting "yeehaw" then the odds are that it ended up in comic form at one time or another.

While the main focus of the museums seems to revolve around the legend of an elderly Billy the Kid retiring and living out the rest of his days in a small Texas town (instead of being shot and killed by at a young age as most "traditional" historical accounts claim), other Texas legends get coverage as well. The afore mentioned Kennedy assassination garnered its own room and mini-exhibit. Legendary Texas gangsters Bonnie & Clyde are also included with these eerily lifelike representations:

But for me it was the comic book collection that really set this place apart from other roadside attractions. There's something to be said for for the element of surprise. And there's nothing better than finding a niche comic book collection where you least expect it.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

An Ode to Gilley's Beer

Very few beers have movie careers.  But a famous name and a hit film can take a brew to the next level and make it a household name (at least for a little while).  Say hello to one of the biggest co-stars of Urban Cowboy:

Gilley's Beer was the drink of choice of its namesake Mickey Gilley.  His club (also named Gilley's) in Pasadena, TX was a huge hotspot and was featured heavily in the John Travolta film Urban Cowboy.  The story goes that Gilley and his partner wanted to have their own beer and around that time the movie was being filmed.  Once the cases started to roll in, they made sure as many actors and extras were holding them as possible. 

The beer made it into several scenes including sharing screen time with Mickey himself:

If you want to add a level of entertainment to the movie you can keep your eyes peeled for the cans like an Easter Egg Hunt while you watch:

The club burned down years ago and sure, there's a new one in Dallas, but Gilley's Beer is a thing of the past.  You can still find them on eBay and while I don't recommend drinking them, they're cool Texas pop culture souvenir.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Mahalia Jackson at Fair Park in Dallas

Dallas historian Jesse James Arnold tells a good story.  He gives presentations about local area history across the metroplex.  Here's a story about a concert he attended when he was younger at the Fair Park Music Hall:

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Texas History Movies

Texas History Movies was a very popular comic strip in the 1920's first published in the Dallas Morning News.  Teachers loved it and used it in their classrooms.  It has been collected and republished several times.  Comic book historian Weldon Adams tells the story in these videos we shot a few years ago:

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Chromosaurs!

These guys love to move around.  The Chromosaurs are the work of artist John Kearny and they were originally stationed outside the Dallas Museum of Natural History (now know as the Fair Park campus of the Perot Museum):

A few years ago they moved to the Grand Prairie branch of the Ripley's Believe it or Not (and Wax Museum) and that's where they remain:

Back when they were at Fair Park we shot a quick video about these beauties:

Downtown Willie

On our last trip to Austin we couldn't leave without a quick tribute to our pal Willie Nelson.  And there's no better place for that then Willie Nelson Blvd.

Last year the city honored Willie be erecting a statue of him downtown in front of Moody Stadium (where Austin City Limits is filmed).  The bronze likeness is not too far from the Capitol Building.

The location isn't too far from where a scene from Willie's movie "Honeysuckle Rose" was shot:

You can see the Capitol Building in the background: