Monday, September 18, 2017

Hoop Dreams


There are some very common fantasies out there.  Being a professional sports star is one of them.  Being a superhero is another.  But there are some people just won't be happy until they're both.  And so, because of that we are gifted with the comic book known as "Full Throttle Featuring the Dallas Mavericks"!

The 2003 comic was created to promote literacy and to show off the Mavs' little known monster fighting skills.  It was fully licensed by the NBA and sold exclusively in Walmart stores and given away at a Mavericks home game.  I'm going to assume that proceeds went to charity.  With that rousing endorsement, let's dive in:

Our story begins at the American Airlines Center during practice when a group of school kids are brought in to meet their favorite Mavs and discuss their favorite books.  Before an in depth analysis of "To Kill a Mockingbird" could take place, a mysterious cracking and shaking in center court grabs everyone's attention, when all of the sudden...

Yep, the mysterious explosion leads to a mysterious system of caverns and it's all beneath the American Airlines Center.  The school kids are led away but all the excitement attracted the attention Dallas' most famous busybody.  Mark Cuban takes charge and drops some fairly upsetting information:

The bad news:  there's a monster called "Gargamon" that lives underground and has some form of nefarious plans.  The good news:  When he wasn't throwing temper tantrums at games, Cuban had prepared for the situation by stockpiling sophisticated weaponry below the American Airlines Center:

The latest technology went into a collection of super suits that enhance an athletes natural abilities to "soar like an eagle" in addition to hi tops that let you walk up walls, mini-basketballs that contain "gizmos" as needed, and gloves that help you "grip" things...I guess.

The details are somewhat glossed over but you get the impression they can do whatever the plot demands.  The suits also come with a catchphrase: "Full Throttle!"

So it was time to head underground to take the fight to Gargamon and his monsterous cronies.  And while they put up a good fight, it didn't take long for the Mavs to realize they're better at playing basketball than being superheros.  Once captured, it was time for the villain to do what villains do and reveal his evil plan:

So the "plan" seems to be to get the Mavs out of the picture and take over Dallas.  Keep it simple, ya know?  So out go the hordes of shaggy green monsters to the streets of Big D.  Once their reign of terror begins we get a couple of hometown cameos.

Dale Hansen from WFFA and the late Kidd Kraddick give the play by play of the monster invasion.  Meanwhile, the reading enthusiast kids from before manage to rescue the Mavs.

They had befriended a young monster and learn a few key pieces of information:  1. The monsters love chocolate and 2. The monsters can't read.  With that crucial knowledge a plan was formed and a trap was set.

So teamwork triumphs, the bad guys are defeated and literacy is promoted...kind of.  I'd like to think we all learned a valuable lesson from this exercise but I'm not sure what that would be.  Maybe, if you're a monster and you want to attack Dallas, you should learn how to read?  But at least Dallas was finally safe from Gargamon...

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Tour of Texas Dinos Part 1

There's lots to love about the Lone Star State and plenty of things that make it unique.  One of the surprising things you may notice along the highways and back roads are a ferocious amount of dinosaurs that make their home in Texas.  So today we begin our Tour of Texas Dinos, starting in Balch Springs:

This guy stands out in front of "No Limits Motors." formerly known as "EZ Pawn" and formerly known as a mini-golf place whose name has been lost to the ages.  Over the years it's been green, green and yellow, and (as of the time of this pic) blue and white.  Its humble origins as a mini-golf obstacle are long forgotten by the commuters that pass by every day.  Hopefully, the next business owner at this location will keep him around and maybe slap on another coat of paint (of his or her choosing).

Our next stop is a Texas roadside legend.  The Car Parts Dinosaur in Bertram is, believe it or not, constructed completely out of automobile parts.  As you can see, she sits atop a flatbed trailer so she can make appearances in parades and other special events.  Years ago I saw her at the "Best of Texas" Festival at Six Flags in Arlington alongside such other legends as "Old Rip" and the World's Largest Jackrabbit.  I'm looking forward to seeing where she goes next.

Not everybody knows it but Abilene is the "Storybook Capital of Texas."  The town has no shortage of whimsy in the form of public sculptures all over the places.  From Dr. Suess to William Joyce to E.B. White, many of your favorite childhood characters are represented.  Our friend in the red cap is from "Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo" and was sculpted by the legendary Bob "Daddy-O" Wade

We've just scratched the surface with this small collection of weirdo wonders.  The next chapter of our Tour of Texas Dinos will be coming soon.  Until then, keep an eye out for extinct wildlife.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Flashback: Vanishing Texas River Cruise 1986

It was 1986 and the entire state was gripped with Sesquicentennial fever.  But even though there were plenty of special events throughout the year, there were also plenty of non-anniversary adventures throughout the Lone Star State.

One of them was a road trip that my grandparents and great-aunt & uncle took down to Burnet, TX to take the Vanishing Texas River Cruise.  The cruise is still in business today but luckily the gang picked up some post cards and pamphlets that now qualify as vintage (yeah, stuff from the 80's is "vintage" now...feel old yet?)  Here's a look at some of the ephemera you could have grabbed if you had visited in '86, starting with a couple of postcards:

If you're curious about the absolute minutia of what it was like taking the tour a few decades ago then you're in luck!  The grandparents were also able to grab this flyer with details on pricing and meal options:

I'm fairly certain the prices have gone up through the years and possibly the menu has expanded.  According to their website, there are many different themed cruises currently available.  But if it's outdated information that you're looking for then, good news, I've got one more piece for you:

So the next time you're in the area and have a few hours to kill, it might be worth a stop to take a couple of hours and enjoy the river tour and check out the local scenery.  These guys sure seem to be satisfied customers: