Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Jake and Elwood Tour Texas

If you've traveled around any, you may have noticed that your old pals the Blues Brothers tend too hang out from place to place.  For some reason (don't ask me), tons of Jake and Elwood statues were commissioned and distributed across the country.  They pop up in bars, restaurants and places that can only be described as "miscellaneous." 

You can even still buy a pair if you've got an extra two grand lying around or try to get a better deal on eBay.  But for the thrifty sight seer that just wants to catch a glimpse of the boys, you're in luck.  They're no strangers to the Lone Star State.


Stroker's Ice House is biker bar in Dallas housed at the custom bike shop of Rick Fairless.  You might have seen it on TruTV's "Ma's Roadhouse."  It's got a ton of bizarre statues on top including dinosaurs, a hot dog man and...you guessed it:


There they are crooning to the bikers in some custom polka dotted threads.  The boys hold their own among other celebrity statues like Frankenstein, Dracula and Betty Boop.  It's getting crowded up there so let's head to the next stop.


I'm not exactly sure what "America's Vice Stop" is.  I had assumed that it's one of those places that sells vaping stuff to horrible people but their Facebook page seems to indicate that they sell fresh fruit and vegetables.  I don't know why that would be considered a "vice" though.  Regardless, though, our pals make an appearance:


The guys are atop a great big storage container (which is apparently for sale) from time to time but recently they've been M.I.A.  I don't know if it got too windy to be safe or maybe the store owners are just temporarily storing the boys while they come up with a better way to display them.  The Blues Brothers come and go at their own discretion and they're missing from our next stop:


A few years back there was a restaurant housed in the historic Collin County prison in downtown McKinney.  In keeping with the theme, the outside was decorated with our friendly felons.  The "Prison Bars & Grill" closed down and afterward the statues left for parts unknown.  But while they were there we shot video of the place:


I wouldn't be surprised to come across the guys again at some point in the future.  So keep your eyes out and maybe you'll see the them too.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Dallas Strip Club

The Dallas Morning News was founded in 1885 and, despite a downturn of the newspaper industry in recent years, continues publication to this day.  A little simple math tells us that the paper celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1985 and, of course, they released a special celebratory issue.  And if we turn directly to the comics page (as we frequently do) we get a special surprise.

Several cartoonist whose work was published in the hundred year old publication drew some custom congratulatory doodles for the big event.


Steve Canyon was your standard square-jawed adventure strip that had a great long run from 1947 to 1988.  Here, Steve takes a moment to slap a potential assassin and salute the DMN!  (Fun Fact: In Poteet, TX you can see a mural of Steve Canyon character "Poteet Canyon" and while you're there stop in for the Strawberry Festival.)


Prince Valiant started in 1937 and continues to this day.  It's known for its sprawling, ambitious artwork supplied by a variety of artists over its impressive run.  John Cullen Murphy is the artist for this piece and started on the strip in 1970.  (Fun Fact: If you've ever heard the term "Prince Valiant Haircut," this is what it looks like.)


In the words of the Gilligan's Island season one theme song, "...and the rest!"  At the top we have Betty Boop and Felix the Cat in black tie to send their regards.  The two cartoon icons shared a comic strip in the 80's to cash in on nostalgia and the popularity of "funny animal" strips like Garfield.

Next is Hartland.  Remember Harltand?  Me neither.  And there is VERY little information about it online aside from the website of the strip's creator Richard Torrey who seems to have moved on to drawing children's books.  So don't expect a Fun Fact about this one.

And finally we have well wishes "On the Fastrack" which I think I remember.  It was around for almost two decades and seems to still exist in a modified form online but with cast changes and characters who age.  So it's kind of like Funky Winkerbean, except...well I guess it's just like Funky Winkerbean.

Sure, funny page superstars like Snoopy or Cathy or Garfield might not have put in an appearance but I think we can appreciate this eclectic group of heroes and goofs who took time out of their busy day to congratulate our hometown paper.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Cele Store

Behold the Cele Store!

It's located in the middle of nowhere in Manor, TX and has been featured in several films like a few of the Texas Chainsaw Massacres although since there have been several sequels and remakes, I'm not particularly sure which ones.

Its rustic exteriors and interiors make it perfect for period pieces like the Clint Eastwood/Kevin Costner film "A Perfect World":



And for the film "Secondhand Lions":



Both films also shot interiors at the store but when I visited it was closed so I couldn't take any inside shots. You'll just have to wait until I make my way out there again. Both films also happen to be very good and have the rarity of getting thumbs up on the blog!

So whenever you have some free time on your hands rent them both and have a Cele Store Double Feature!


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Wooden Stone


The Petrified Wood Gas Station in Decatur holds a place in the pantheon of Texas roadside attractions.  It's got the triple threat pedigree that we are always on the lookout for:  Science, History and Culture.  We'll start, as we frequently do, with the historical marker:


     "Local businessman E. F. Boydston (1888-1945) purchased this site, a former feed lot, in 1927 for $400. Recognizing a potential business opportunity in offering services to the traveling public, he built a wooden shed and gas station in 1927. Travelers were allowed to build campfires during overnight stays, and by 1931 Boydston added three wooden cabins with garages to the camp complex. The buildings later were faced with rock, and more cabins and garages were added in 1935. The original wooden gas station was covered with petrified wood in 1935 when the highway was widened and remained in operation by the Boydston family until 1988.
     The Texas Lunchroom, a one-room frame building, was built in 1929. Renamed the Texas Cafe in 1935 and faced with stone to match other buildings in the complex, it was enlarged to provide second-floor living quarters. Popular with local high school and college students, as well as families and the traveling public, it was closed in the 1960s after a highway bypass built west of town diverted traffic from this area. The cafe reopened in 1993. One of the few intact examples of tourist camps built throughout Texas in the mid-20th century, this property is significant for its association with the early development of automobile tourism."

 And we move on, as we frequently do, to the video.  Devin explains the awesomeness of this location:



Monday, May 8, 2017

Mad About Dallas

Previously:


We've covered the TV phenomenon Dallas several times before and will continue to do so.  With a world wide reach, a long network run, multiple series, TV movies and tons of merchandise, there's no limit to the amount of acclaim and celebration generated by the franchise.

But in the 70's and 80's there was one honor that stood out above the rest.  Dallas became a genuine legend when it was not only parodied, but made the cover of MAD Magazine:

 
At the time, very few movies, TV shows and celebrities would find themselves safe from being skewered by the popular lampoon magazine.  The Dallas parody was written by Lou Silverstone with art by Mort Drucker, both of them Mad Magazine legends.  As usual, it begins with the main cast introducing themselves:


The "plot," such as it is, involves J.R. (or "J.D." rather) trying to pull off a land swindle while being stymied by his wife and mother.  All the while, he's being chastised by hie family, pondering the paternity of his son, "interviewing" new secretaries and firing his six shooter in the air as display of his dominance.


During the course of plotting his scheme "J.D." is constantly being told what a slimy schemer he is by just about everyone he sees.   After getting "Sullen" (Sue Ellen) committed, he then proceeds to send "Jerk" (Jock) and "Miss Nelly" (Miss Ellie) on a fake vacation ("Fakation"?)  so that he'll be free to develop that land that's he's trying to buy (or whatever).


A few gags later, "J.D." ends up on top, as usual.  With his schemes successful and his enemies thwarted, there's nothing left to do but aim higher.  Looks like some politicians of the day want to court him for a presidential run:


As a post script to this story, I'll add that the idea of J.R. Ewing running for president was considered a few other times.  It was a great promotional stunt for the show if you're lucky, maybe you'll run across a campaign button or one of these old matchbook covers:

Friday, April 14, 2017

"Whip It" in Austin

On a recent visit to Austin we made our usual visit to 6th Street.  Our first stop was The Museum of the Weird but now we're going a little farther down the street for some shooting locations from the roller derby movie "Whip It."

At one point in the film there's the standard "love montage" featuring Whip It Girl & Whip It Boy having fun at various places in Austin. Here, it looks like they just stopped by Roppolo's Pizza to have a slice and a quick piggy back ride:



Later they went down the street a few feet and took in a movie at The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema (which is one of the greatest movie theaters in the world despite the fact that they've never screened any of our films):


 
Here's a scene where Juno/Kitty Pryde/Whip It Girl gets off a bus in Austin. The location is on South Congress Avenue near Elizabeth Street and has some of the the Wacky Austin Shops™ in the background.



The most recognizable shop is Lucy in Disguise With Diamonds costume shop/clothing store/Wacky Austin Shop™.  As you may have noticed, it has a great big Carmen Miranda Zebra on the roof.



You can see downtown Austin in the background. Apparently a giant skyscraper was built after the filming of the movie but the rest of the skyline is relatively the same. You can see the Capitol Building in the middle.



Austin and the surrounding area have had plenty of films shot there (like Office Space) so hopefully I'll stumble across a few more the next time I'm down here.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Check Please

Previously:


We've seen that Marvel Comics has never been shy about visiting the Lone Star state but you might have noticed a lack of visitors from their "Distinguished Competition."  Sadly DC Comics never put out the kind of geographically specific freebie issues like Marvel did but they did come around from time to time.  Here's proof:


Ok, so it's not Superman or Batman.  It's not even the Teen Titans but we'll just have to make due.  Checkmate was/is one of DC's team of spies that mixes it up with both superheroes and foreign agents.  Their organizational structure is that of a game of chess.  Ranks include Kings, Queens, Bishops, Knights, etc.

They go about the business of espionage all over the world but when a quartet of mobsters are found dead in Big D, it's time for one of their agents to head to the Lone Star State:


Checkmate dispatched one of their Knights (and former Texas Ranger) Jake Tyler.  After doing a little recon, he confirms his suspicions that local crime boss M.T. Cavanaugh is not only responsible but has much bigger plans in store.


After doing a little research on Cavanaugh at the offices of the "Dallas Express" (which I assume is the Dallas equivalent to the Metropolis Daily Planet in the DC Universe), he finds out the identity of one of Cavanaugh's top lieutenants: Stan Allen who just happen to have dinner plan's at the city's swankiest restaurant.

Where would that be, you ask?  Why at the top of Reunion Tower of course.  So Tyler suited up and invited himself to dinner.


To make a medium-sized story short, after a failed attempt to pose as a local shakedown enforcer, Tyler is abducted by Cavanaugh's men and brought out to where the dirty deeds are done.  On a completely unrelated case, a Checkmate Pawn is staking out this oddly designated building:


If you check out the signage you'll see that this place is referred to as:
  • "Texas National Guard"
  • "Dallas National Guard"
  • "Texas State Guard"
The narration just calls it "A Dallas Armory..."  Maybe that's a real thing?  I don't know.  Regardless, this is where Cavanaugh's men are stealing weapons for him to sell.  The Checkmate Pawn hops on one of the trucks they're stealing and shows up to the party right as Cavanaugh is conveniently explaining his evil plan:


You'll notice that Tyler is tied down like he is on the  cover.  And if you think there's an airplane coming to squash him, just like on the cover, then you'd be right.

So the Pawn pops out of the truck he stowed away in, laments the fact that he doesn't get paid as much as a Knight, decides he's had just about enough of all of this, and then proceeds to open fire on ever everybody with one of the stolen weapons.


Pawny McGee also realizes that he is surrounded by stolen weapons and decides to be a bro by firing a rocket launcher at the approaching plane so his co-worker could avoid the impending squashing:


And as the plane goes off course, as you would expect, it heads right for the weapons cache and we get the big explosion that, let's face it, we all kind of needed.  And the only thing left to do was wink and quip: