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.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Separated at Birth: The Twin Dilemma

Outside of the south Dallas location of Schepp's Dairy stands a four legged sentry who keeps two great big eyes on the comings and goings of the busy distribution center.

Not a big deal, you say?  Cow statues are plentiful...especially in Texas, you say?  Well, ok, you're right but this one seemed familiar and as I rummaged through my hard drives of pictures and video...

I stumbled across this little beauty in Benbrook, TX, about 60 miles east of the other one:

The resemblance is striking.  Long lost twins, perhaps?  Our friends at Roadside America tell us there are multiple mega-cows grazing along the back roads of the U.S. and that there are standard fiberglass models and not so standard fiberglass models.  But I think it's safe to say that these two are from the same herd.

So what's the story?  Were they both previously perched at Schepp's and then one got out when the farmer left the gate open?  Are their origins completely separate from Schepp's and then later the dairy got a hold of one of them?  Another open case file in the world of roadside mysteries...

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

My Spidey Sense is Jingling


It's that time again and that time of year again...we're long overdue for another look at when our favorite comic book superheroes visited the Lone Star State to punch, fly, swing and smash their way across familiar landmarks in the search for justice.  And with the holidays fast approaching, it's only fitting that this time your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man spends "Christmas in Dallas"!

This one was another freebie from the Dallas Times Herald and the once great newspaper gets a cameo on the first page by setting the scene and kicking off the story.  A mysterious and sinister set of hands peruse the news of the day in a conspicuously evil manner...

This issue is a sort of sequel or follow-up to a previous story where Spider-Man teamed up with the Dallas Cowboys and Dallas millionaire Stanley Mudge.  On this particular yuletide season, Mudge is throwing a party to raise money for orphans and wanted to treat his old pals J. Jonah Jameson and Peter Parker to the festivities.  He and his son Mark (also from the previous story) even show up to the airport to greet the traveling New Yorkers.

Don't forget about that anti-gravity might be relevant down the line.  So while the gang heads back Mudge's ranch, those sinister hands from the first page reveal that they belong to none other than the Kingpin!  The sinister crime boss frequently finds himself to be Daredevil's perennial punching bag in Hell's Kitchen but he's come to Texas to pick on someone his own size:

What?!?  He cold cocks Santa?!?  Now that's how you establish evil intent from an antagonist.  Although there is the possibility that the unconscious Kris Kringle is just a Santa impersonator.  The story never really makes it clear.  But what is clear is that he was on his way to the Charity Ball and that the Kingpin (who has been steadily climbing up the rankings on the naughty list for many years now) will be taking his place...and it won't be to spread holiday cheer.

Well things go pretty much how you'd expect them to go.  The Kingpin attacks.  His henchman take hostages.  But before the rich party goers were able to be ransomed off, Spidey swings into action!  Even Mudge pitches in with the help of the new version of his anti-gravity invention (remember that thing from before?).

Looks like the Christmas party can resume.  Alls well that ends well: J. Jonah gets flummoxed, Peter gets a free ride home in Mudge's private jet to spend Christmas with his aunt and, I assume, a lot of money was raised at that charity ball for the orphans and whatnot (remember that thing from before?).

While it was a fun adventure, I have to say I was a little disappointed with this one.  Dallas (and by default, all of Texas) was really only a part of the story in name only.  Not even a quick skyline panel.  But at the time it was free so I can't really be too hard on it.  And in the spirit of the holiday season I'll leave you with a present...the Spider-Man Christmas Tree Word Hunt that was toward the back of the book!  Happy hunting!