Saturday, May 26, 2018

Spurs of the Moment

Spurs are about motivation.  A well placed spur in the right haunch would get you where you needed to be, when you needed to be there, back in the old days.  But these days they tend to be less "working cowboy" and more "duded up tourist".

That's not to say that they aren't still used in ranching and rodeo but they've made they're way into the decor in a big way.  You can find several examples of that across the state, starting in the legendary Fort Worth Stockyards:

You can find this "big un" near one of the branches of the Texas Trail of Fame, in a little out of the way location near the Lewis & Clark star.  I don't have a lot of information on the "what and why" of this thing but it definitely fits in with its surroundings.

You can find these beauties outside of RT Bit and Spur in Gainesville and they're easy to miss.  The house/business is behind some trees as you come in to town so you have to keep your eyes open.

But the next one is easy to find as it's one of the many spurs that claims to be the world's largest.  It makes its home in Hico, TX, not too far from the fake Billy the Kid grave.  I didn't have a tape measure or a ladder (or time) so I couldn't investigate its world's largest claims.

And finally, since size matters not, I'll leave with with the l'ilest Texas spur and an assignment.  The next time you visit downtown Dallas' Pioneer Plaza you'll find, among the many cow statues, a few cowboy statues.  And on one of these statues you'll find this:

Your mission: find it, flick it and make your future kids and grandkids listen to the story of how you found it and flicked it.  What could be more fun?

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Tour of Texas Dinos Part 2

Previously: Part 1

If you've ever visited Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, you have definitely seen the two big greeters up front.  T-Rex-esque and Brontosaurus-esque (or whatever you're supposed to call brontosauruses now) statues are just past the park office, near the entrance, and they're happy to pose for picture after picture with visitors.

Many a foggy road trip vacation memory was made by these beauties.  As the years passed many people would remember seeing them but the details would fade away like a dream at dawn.  Where they really there?  Where did they come from?  How did they get there?

They've been standing guard at the park since the 70s.  And while the area has a lot of well preserved, easily viewed dinosaur footprints, it's seems unlikely that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Service would have the funds to commission such cool looking, yet budgetary frivolous, conversation pieces.

And of course, they didn't.  The origin of this species happened closer to the Atlantic Ocean than the Paluxy River.  They were originally a part of an exhibit at the 1964-65 World's Fair in New York.

As was the style at the time for World's Fairs, the Sinclair dinosaur exhibit was big and there was lots of it and it was big!  It included nine of these custom made behemoths and "educated" fair visitors about the connection between the dead dinos in the ground and the gas they put in their car.

It's easy to get excited when you're planning a big fair exhibit and it's easy to get swept up in the "Let's build more dinosaur statues!" hype but eventually the fair closes and you're left with nine great big dinosaur statues on your hands.

There was apparently some attempt to get the Smithsonian to take the herd but I guess there just wasn't enough room for this "Breakfast Club" of monsters, so Sinclair tried to put them to work.

It was time to hit the road.  A few of the specimens went on tour.  This was a little before my time but if I, as a young lad, heard about a touring troupe of fiberglass beasties, I would have totally been into that.

I imagine there's a huge amount of novelty that comes along with the job of driving a giant brontosaurus around on a flatbed trailer, but I would also imagine that once that novelty wears off, it doesn't come back.  So eventually the gang needed a forever home.

Which brings us back to the Lone Star state.  There was a lobbying effort to get a couple of dinosaur statues at what would eventually become the "Dinosaur Capital of Texas" and the oil company decided that the free publicity that comes with donating giant dinosaurs is much better than the costs of storing giant dinosaurs and the prehistory...

If you plan to visit the park, I would definitely recommend it.  Mother Nature did a great job of crafting a great little getaway spot with cool dinosaur tracks to see and cool water to swim in.

Our two friends eventually got some company in town as the area embraced the modern stone age philosophy and and other statures can be seen at the nearby Dinosaur World park and outside the Glen Rose visitors center.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Good to Go Part 1

"The Good Guys" was a short lived 2010 Fox comedy cop show about two Dallas detectives that starred Bradley Whitford and Colin Hank.  It's a shame that it was cancelled because it was a lot of fun and it really took advantage of the north Texas scenery.

It was during a mini golden era of TV shows filming in DFW including Prison Break, Chase and TNT's Dallas continuation.   So today we take a look back and some of the location highlights of the show starting in Deep Ellum:

Behind our heroes Dan (Whitford) and Jack (Hanks), you can see St. Pete's Dancing Marlin (I recommend the Cobb Salad, it's awesome...and HUGE) with the big American flag painted on it and the Angry Dog (get the hot dog...hold the onions). You can also see part of the downtown skyline.

In this episode the boys investigate a pawn shop and shortly before it explodes, they hit the street. Now, the bulk of this section of the street is vacant but the windows with the blue trim belong to Buzz Brews (I haven't eaten there yet so I don't have any recommendations. Although they serve breakfast and I definitely like that).

In episode 8 the boys run afoul of some psuedo-mobsters and wacky hi-jinks ensue. The episode starts off at "The Thirsty Coyote" which is just a re-dress of the Dancing Marlin again. (They didn't even bother to take down the giant marlin from the sign.)

So later in the episode we see that the pseudo-mobsters hang out at "Mama Mia's Italian Restaurant" which in real life is "Mama Mia's Italian Restaurant." Convenient, huh? They didn't even need to change the sign. I've never eaten there and it seems like a good thing because a quick Google search did not reveal very positive information about the establishment.

So when Jack has to stake out the restaurant he parks his car across the street at "Rudolph's Meat Market" which in real life is, you guessed it, "Rudolph's Meat Market." It's a great example of incorporating the actual physical area into the scene/story because this place really is across the street from Mama Mia's.

In another episode the guys are on the trail of bank robbers in downtown Dallas. Jack and Dan have the place staked out (Thanksgiving Tower) and as Jack waits in their sweet Trans Am, you can see the Press Box Grill behind him.

A lot of times in TV shows and movies they don't shoot different angles of the same scene in the same location but this place really is across the street from Thanksgiving Tower.

Once the bank robbery is foiled you can notice the unique tiles that are in front of the building:

You can also see that they put up their own signage for the show ("Dallas Trust & Loan") which is, of course, not there in real life:

There are plenty more DFW filming locations used by the show which I'll dive into in Part 2 of our look back at The Good be continued!