Monday, November 11, 2013

Music Memories

When you think about monuments to Texas music legends, the Stevie Ray Vaughan statue or the Willie Nelson statue, both in Austin, might first spring to mind.  But let me introduce you to another Lone Star performer whose memorial is worth a stop on your next east Texas road trip:

Jim Reeves started his career as a minor league baseball player but an injury led to his pursuit of fortune and fame in the music industry.  And it worked.  So much so that his hometown of Carthage, TX (also the former home to country music legend Tex Ritter) has created an impressive memorial to his memory:

Check it out the next time you are in the area.  If you aren't familiar with Reeves' work then sit back and enjoy his effortless performance of "I Love You Because" on a Norwegian TV show in 1964:

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fine Food and Spirits

Is Larry's Mexican Restaurant in Richmond, TX haunted?  This photograph, taken in 2010, seems to indicate that it's frequented by at least one little spirit:

But don't strap on your proton packs just yet.  According to this article on Snopes there's more gravy than grave about this little specter.  Apparently it's just an example of some simple photographic trickery.

Sure, that's not as much fun as a good old fashioned haunting but hopefully, if the restaurant manager's are smart, they can spin this into a Texas tall tale use the gimmick to promote the business:

"Larry's Mexican Restaurant - Home of the Haunted Habaneros!"  It would definitely make me want to stop for a burrito on my way through town.

Monday, October 21, 2013

On Location #39 - TNT's Dallas Episode 15

The Ewing family are no strangers to the inside of a courtroom.  It stands to reason that they've seen the outside of a few courthouses as well.  Which brings us to the next episode of TNT's Dallas.  Several scenes take place at what appears to be the "Dallas County Courthouse":

But, of course, it was just a little Hollywood magic as it was actually the Rockwall County Courthouse standing in:

There were several shots in and around the courthouse.  Here are some side-by-sides:

Another scene in the episode features this BBQ joint being patronized by Drew while his rig gets vandalized:

The actual location is in Wylie, TX and I didn't have time to eat so sadly I can't make any recommendations:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Golden Anniversary

Last year's 60th Anniversary and fiery destruction of Big Tex along with this year's return of Big Tex has overshadowed another State Fair milestone.  The Zable family's beloved Belgian Waffle stand is celebrating its 50th anniversary:

To celebrate, they are giving out commemorative coins with your purchase (or at least they were the day I went):

And when you stop by and you'd like to try a little something different from the normal Belgian Waffle, I recommend the Chocolate Covered Strawberry Waffle Balls:

They got a very positive review from this critic:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The X-Men Visit the State Fair

It may be hard to believe but there was a time when I had never read a comic book. But there is a first time for everything and my first comic was a doozy. 1983 gave the world Dexy's Midnight Runners, Scarface and the so-called Video Game Crash of '83.

But more importantly for me, 1983 was the year I finally got my grubby little hands on the first comic book I ever read: "The Uncanny X-Men at the State Fair of Texas."
Sure it might not be Watchmen or The Dark Knight Returns but it had one thing that those two groundbreaking comics didn't...accessibility.

Now I'm not talking about being bogged down with continuity or mega-crossover nonsense. I'm talking about physical accessibility. This issue came as a free supplement to the (now defunct) Dallas Times Herald newspaper. There's nothing better than having your first comic delivered right to your door.

Another accessible element for a seven year old super hero enthusiast residing in rural Texas was the setting: The State Fair of Texas. And to date, it's the only fair visited by the Uncanny X-Men.

Written by Jim Salicrup (plot) and David Kraft (script), with art by Kerry Gammil & Alan Kupperberg (pencils) and Chic Stone (inks), the story is a pretty basic X-Men tale. Magneto is trying to recruit a young mutant in Dallas and Professor Xavier and the X-Men must race to stop him. So off to the fair they go.

Even though they are in a rush to find the new mutant they seem to find time to hit the fair's highlights including the Auto Show, Hall of State, Age of Steam Museum and a concert performance by Lena Horne. Even at a young age I recall thinking of it as a bit of a hard sell:

As much as the X-Men were plugging the the sights, sounds and tastes of the fair to the reader, Magneto was pushing membership to the Brotherhood to the young mutant Daniel (a.k.a. "Eques"). It seems that Daniel's mutant power allows him to turn halfway into a horse with wings (I forget what that's called).

Magneto's plan to woo the young horse boy involves filling him up with corn dogs and cotton candy and treating him to the Texas/OU game at the Cotton Bowl where the X-Men finally catch up to him.

Their fight spills over into the horse barns where Magneto reveals his true douchey colors and Daniel realizes he's been manipulated by smooth talking and deep fried treats. Daniel joins forces with the X-Men along with another new friend who helps give Magneto the boot.

So while Daniel doesn't immediately sign up for X-duty we can assume that everything works out for him and the fair continued with a minimum of super powered altercations.

So like I said, while it's your standard "race to recruit a new mutant before Magneto does" X-Men story, the best part of reading an older comic like this is the advertisements. Since this had a regional audience in mind most of the ads were for local businesses. To make them more "comic booky," a crudely drawn Spider-Man (or Hulk) was typically crammed into each ad. Here are just a few:

My first comic and I were separated over the last few decades but were recently reunited via eBay. And while the influence of nostalgia has probably colored my perception, I still had a good time rereading it. It's definitely not the best comic book I ever read but it holds a special place in the long box of my heart. And more importantly it was a first step toward developing a love of reading through comics.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

On Location #38 - TNT's Dallas Episodes 12 -14

It's been a while since we've kept up with the Ewings but season 2 has been over for a while and it's high time we tracked them down.  The next few episodes didn't have a whole lot of exterior scenes (at least not a lot that weren't at Southfork).  So with that in mind, and in the interest of catching up, we've got one location from each of the next three episodes.

Starting in episode 12, John Ross gets out of Rebecca's car on the south side of downtown:

This is essentially at Young St. and Evergreen.  There's not a whole lot there.  Not a great place for a trust fund kid to get dropped off but there's plenty of room for camera equipment.  In the background yo can see Mercantile Place (with the big clock).

In episode 13 the Ewing's prime witness was stashed away at a hotel:

At first I thought it might be this Holiday Inn off of Inwood & 1-35 or possibly this one off of 1-30 in east Dallas but it looks like this one west of downtown on I-30 and Cockrill Hill seems to be the match:

And in the 14th episode Drew picks up a big rig in south Dallas:

In the background you can see Reunion Tower and a good portion of the Dallas skyline.

That'll have to tide you over for now.  Hopefully I can get through the rest of season 2 before season 3 starts...but no guarantees.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Dr Pepper Sweet Potatoes

Let's make some Dr Pepper Sweet Potatoes.  To start, you have to make sure you use the Dr Pepper that is made with sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup.  This used to be the purview of Dublin, TX but now you can find sugar sweetened DP at most grocery stores.

I'm usually not one for formal recipes so I won't bother with listing ingredients and giving measurements.  That's no way to live.  Here's the first few things you'll need:

First peel, cube and steam your sweet potatoes until the are fork tender.

Next pour four of the bottles of Dr Pepper into a pot along with a few pats of butter and a few squirts of honey and bring to a boil.  The goal is to evaporate most of the liquid and caramelize the sugar.

Add in the juice from a lemon, a few dashes of Worcestershire Sauce and Soy Sauce (and/or Tabasco if you like).  Once it reduces down to a sauce consistency add the cooked sweet potatoes and combine.

Serve a generous portion alongside just about anything.

Now let's eat!

Friday, June 28, 2013

History, Schmistory

In our travels we're always on the lookout for state historical markers.  You never know what tidbit of information you're going to stumble tumble upon.  Downtown Roanoke, TX seemed like a great place to find a few.  Might as well stop and eat too since they claim to be the Unique Dining Capital of Texas.  In fact something unique can be found at the Babe's Chicken franchise which is housed in a historic building that's over a century old:

It was here that we found the only fake historical marker (or "hysterical" marker, if you will) we've ever seen:

Commemorating the date of Texas Independence, the marker also makes note of the building's nonexistence at a certain point of history.  And hey, that's worth mentioning.  It's also worth noting that the word "hysterical" is misspelled.  I'll chalk it up to a typo since I love stuff like this and would love to see more of it.

As a bonus, on the side of the building you'll find a mural of depicting downtown Roanoke by artist David Larcom:

If you stop by, I recommend the chicken.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Tile Samples

If you haven't had the opportunity to use the restroom in the Deep Ellum location of Baker's Ribs then you've missed out on some old school State Fair of Texas shout outs.  Here are some of the historic tiles you can find in the men's room that show off some of the retro themes of State Fairs past:

If you have the chance to relieve yourself in these surroundings I recommend picking up some ribs (or fried pies) while you're there.