Monday, April 22, 2019

Cape Fair


 I take a lot of pictures and shoot a lot of video, both for work and for personal reasons.  One of the challenges involved in such an activity is cataloging and organizing all the media I come home with.  So occasionally I lose track of a pic or two.    

Fortunately, I tend to do frequent hard drive clean outs so nothing stays lost forever.   New discoveries of old pics \can even lead to a blog entry or two.  So let me take you back in time all the way back to the 2013 State Fair of Texas.  With a belly full of Fletcher's, I turned a corner at the Auto Show and was surprised to find enough Superman suits to fill a Fortress of Solitude:

Apparently the Superman 75th Anniversary Costume Tour made a stop at the fair.  Highlights include Christopher Reeve's costume from Superman III:

Dean Cain's costume from Lois & Clark:

Brandon Routh's costume from Superman Returns:

And a few costumes from the recent Man of Steel movie including Superman:


And Faora:

I don't know if the exhibit is still traveling but the costumes fit right in at the great State Fair.  Maybe they'll fly to your town soon!

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Sandwich Tour of Dallas Part 3


Part 1  - -  Part 2

It's time once again to gently nestle a new blog entry between two slices of bread.  So let's squirt on some mustard and get started.

As I mentioned earlier, the best thing a sandwich place can offer is a drive-through window and that's what you'll find at Great Outdoors on Greenvile & Park.  Your sandwich mileage may vary but all too often my sandwich time is rushed so something simple like not having to get out of my car is a big incentive.

There's a variety of subs on the menu and I went with the Invention.  It comes with buffet ham, provolone, cream cheese & fresh mushroom.  After a bite, my first impression was how good the bread was.  Very soft and tasty. 

Too many sandwich makers see bread as an afterthought, but true sandwich geniuses realize it may be the most important ingredient (yeah, that's right!).  The mushrooms and cream cheesed worked great together to create their own unique type of sauce and the ham did what ham does best:  it was ham.

Moving forward, we move backward.  Most towns, at one point or another, have a nostalgic soda fountain type restaurant.  They typically go out of business after about 15 minutes but the Highland Park Soda Fountain on Knox & Travis has been hanging in there for a while and is a very popular lunch spot. (UPDATE: Yeah, it went out of business)

In celebration of this, I went old school with my lunch order and got the Grilled Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich.  It comes with, you guessed it, peanut butter and jelly and is then grilled to perfect.  You may scoff at the idea of grilling this lunchtime staple but I've found that, as awesome as peanut butter is, it becomes a billion times better when you heat it up (try it yourself).  I was worried about how the heat would affect the jelly but after all these years it's still the perfect compliment to it's peanutty partner.

It's also always good to get grilled bread that maintains a soft texture without the roof-of-you-mouth-scratching phenomenon that typically comes along with the toasted bread on sandwiches.  This one is a great take on a timeless classic.

Jen's Place Bakery is an unassuming place on Alpha near the Tollway but once inside you can see how popular it is.  It was another packed lunch spot with specific lines for eating in or for taking out.  Menu items range from breakfast to lunch to fresh baked cakes and pies.

I chose the Greek Chicken Sandwich.  It comes with chicken breast, feta cheese, creamy cucumber sauce, lettuce, tomato, and onion.  Similarly to the first sandwich in this post, there was the mingling of ingredients to create a new type of sauce.  When the feta and cucumber sauce got together they gave birth to a much superior sandwich ingredient.  The chicken was very tender and the bread had a great texture.  The overall flavor was understated but satisfying.

If you're not hungry after three entries in our Sandwich Tour of Dallas then you either a) already recently finished a big meal or b) you don't like things that taste good.  Either way, go out and try some of these!

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Launch Time


One of the biggest draws in Houston, TX is the Johnson Space Center, home of NASA.  To get into the spirit, and appeal to tourists, several local businesses have embraced a space motif.  It's not uncommon to to see rockets and spacemen as a part of the neighborhood's decor.  Even the gang with the Golden Arches get in on the fun with a special ambassador welcoming hungry guests:

The fry-clutching astronaut statue has been on the roof of this McDonald's for at least 15 years (around the first time I saw it) and was created by a local Houston artist.  NASA is just down the road from this Micky D's so I like to think it's been frequented by real live astronauts, mission specialists and just rando goofballs from off the street like me.

The theme continues inside.  Sure, I would have liked to see a spaceship themed playground and/or the employees dressed as bleep-blorp aliens but I had to settle for 2-D decor.  All your favorite McDonaldland characters are decked out in their finest space gear in extensive murals along the walls of the play area.

I think it's also worth noting that the "Mac Tonight" guy also makes an appearance.  I'd like to think they added him specifically because he fits in with the celestial theme but my best guess is that the short lived 80s mascot was included because these murals were painted when he was at the height of his "popularity" (and, yes, I felt the need to put the word "popularity" in quotation marks).

Further dating the artwork is this tribute to the crew of the Challenger.  It's a somewhat melancholy adornment for a playground yet it feels strangely appropriate.

Morose reminders of national tragedies notwithstanding, it's still a unique enough place to stop in after a a long day of touring NASA to pick up a Big Mac and Space Fries...although I guess they just call them fries.  Anyhoo, more themed McDonald's please!

Saturday, January 5, 2019

The Red Headed Stranger


We've seen several comic book characters visit the Lone Star State over the years, especially the gang from DC and Marvel.  But it was only a matter of time before the kids from Archie Comics wanted to get their piece of the action...which brings us to 1991's Veronica #17.

The story begins with Riverdale rich girl Veronica Lodge on a plane headed to DFW Airport to visit her father who is already there on business.  She passes the time by reading a paperback adventure of "Dusty Marlowe, Rodeo Star."  When a bit of turbulence gives her an old school, sitcomy konk on the head, naturally she gets the type of amnesia where you believe yourself to be the character you were just reading about...very common stuff..

Armed with the confidence that comes with a brand new persona, Veronica (or "Dusty" as she now calls herself) then proceeds to lasso a wild bucking bull who was loose in the airport (They really gloss over the whole "bull is loose in an airport" element of the story) like a champ.

The bull's owners, father and son rodeo organizers, Harry and Matthew Chase, offer her a job in their rodeo which she promptly accepts.  They even seem to be okay with giving the amnesiac teenage girl they just met a ride in their truck.

One bottle of red hair dye later, Matthew starts laying on the charm by taking Veronica out to dinner at whatever the restaurant at the top of Reunion Tower was called in the early 90s.  Check out artist Dan Parent's take on the Dallas skyline:

The house style for Archie comics might seem somewhat simplistic but if you take a minute or two to examine the drawing above you'll see several details of the Dallas skyline were included and not just the obligatory Reunion Tower cameo.  At this point in the story we get into a tour of Texas landmarks.  Since we're starting in downtown Dallas, let's do some side-by-sides from that area:

One of the first sights is the JFK Memorial, a.k.a. the JFK Cenotaph which is unfortunately mostly covered by word balloon.  Making matters worse is that the Old Red Courthouse Museum is featured prominently in the panel but the artist didn't seem to have a good reference pic to work from so the resemblance is not very accurate.

Veronica notices that Dallas founder John Neely Bryan's log cabin was not necessarily matching its downtown Dallas surroundings.  The cabin has been moved around and refurbished several times over the years and always seems to get attention.  You may remember that a few years back another comic book tourist noticed it when Spider-Man teamed up with the Dallas Cowboys.

After a while it was time for the traveling rodeo to start traveling and it was southbound to Houston.  Amnesiac teenager "Veronica/Dusty" continued to tag along and nobody seemed too weirded out about it.  And the tour continued!  This time at NASA in Houston.

While all this is going on there's a few subplots in the story trying to keep the queso spicy.  One involves a pair of rodeo clowns planning to steal from the Chase Rodeo's box office.  Another involves Veronica's father hiring a private detective (who's always eating something for some reason) and Veronica's mother hiring a psychic (who, like all psychics, is faking it til she makes it) to track down their daughter.

And, of course, the tour continues!  This time it's a Texas history lesson at the San Jacinto Monument.  Either Veronica is genuinely interested or she's doing a great job of faking it.  But there's no time to bask in Texas's time to head to Austin!

Like most tourists, one of the kids' first stops is the Capitol Building.  It's an impressive sight (and a great drawing) but I can't help but stare at the mustache bro who's looking right at the reader:

Yeah, this guy knows what's up.  He's got a secret...a dark secret.  But that's a story for another day.  Unfortunately, our fate is to continue following Veronica and Matthew on their tour of famous Texas sites:

The last stop on the tour was a quick swim at Hamilton Pool.  Looks like there wasn't a postcard handy for the artist to use as a reference because this one was a little off too.  The real thing is more of a grotto than what you'd think of as a traditional water fall but it was still pretty cool that a natural landmark was included in the issue.  Now all that's left is the wrap up.

The rodeo clown robbers were foiled, Veronica got her memory back, her parents finally caught up with her and they all celebrated with some BBQ and some Texas two-stepping.  All in all, a pretty standard trip to Texas.