Monday, April 26, 2021

Crunch Time

 They say everything is bigger in Texas but do "they" mean cereal too?  "Bigger" can be relative, especially in the cereal aisle where birds, rabbits, cavemen and leprechauns all compete for your attention and a place in your shopping cart.  In order to stand out from the crowd you need to do something big.

 And then along comes our old friend Cap'n Crunch with something we didn't even know we wanted: "Cap'n Crunch's Texas Sized Crunch Berries."  It's been way too long since we've had a Texas themed cereal and I was surprised at what a welcome site this was.  The "Limited Edition" breakfast treat boasts Crunch Berries that are three times bigger and has the Cap'n decked out in his Texas dude duds.

Depending on your familiarity with Crunch Berries, these may or may not seem "Texas Sized" to you.  I have to admit I was a little unimpressed at first glance.  I guess it's been awhile since I've had a bowl of the Cap'n's delight since they didn't seem all that big to me.  I assume that regular crunch berries are three times smaller but I honestly didn't want to expend the extra effort or cash to buy a regular box for comparison.  That would be a lot of cereal to get rid of.

So in order to give you a better idea of their size, I've included some State Fair of Texas tickets for perspective.  You can also see here how much bigger the berries are than the regular Cap'n Crunch pieces (do they have a name?).  This also got me in the mood for the inevitable "Deep Fried Cap'n Crunch" which must be coming to the State Fair at some point, if it hasn't already (like the Deep Fried Froot Loops I tried awhile back).

While you chew on that, let's head to the back of the box.  Sure, the "Texas sized" Crunch Berries might have been a disappointment but the Cap'n makes up for it with some Texas themed activities for your morning meal entertainment.  Apparently the "Tex-A-Tron XL" is the machine that makes the bigger Crunch Berries?  Regardless, it's up to you to unscramble the names of famous Texas locations in order to fix it.

If Crunch Berries aren't big enough for you then there are plenty of things in Texas that are.  Before you drink the milk, take some time to find your favorite Texas "big things" in the Cap'n's word search.  Not a bad way to start the morning.

Are we the only state in the country to have their own cereal?  Probably not.  I assume there's some kind of "California Something Or Other Granola" out there somewhere but I'll take the Cap'n over that any day of the week.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Buddy Love


When it comes to favorite sons of Lubbock, TX, the list begins with rock star Buddy Holly.  Before his rock & roll dreams came true, he grew up in the panhandle town and there are plenty of tributes to the musician along the streets of his hometown, including a historical marker:

The marker reads:

     "Charles Hardin "Buddy" Holley was born in Lubbock on September 7, 1936, to Ella Pauline (Drake) and Lawrence Odell "L.O." Holley. The youngest of four children, Buddy grew up in a musical household, with his mother and siblings singing and playing instruments. Buddy showed musical aptitude, taking violin, piano and steel guitar lessons. He took up the acoustic guitar after his brother, Travis, bought a $15 Harmony model.
     Buddy, with other young Lubbock "pickers," formed several country groups. In 1955, he saw Elvis Presley in concert and was very impressed by Presley's rhythm and performance style. Buddy and his friends were opening for big country acts at the Fair Park Coliseum when Eddie Crandall, an agent and manager, saw a performance and helped Buddy broker a Decca recording contract. Buddy's last name was misspelled on the contract: "Holley" became "Holly." Buddy's relationship with Decca was short-lived as his early recording sessions failed to produce a hit.
     In 1957, Buddy and his new band, The Crickets, began working with producer Norman Petty in Clovis, New Mexico. On February 15, 1957, they recorded "That'll Be The Day," the first of several hits on the Brunswick label. Their success led the band to tour widely in the United States and Canada.
     In 1958, Buddy Holly and The Crickets toured England. The group had a profound influence on Rock and Roll in England - from their sound to Buddy's distinct look. On February 3, 1959, during a three-week tour of the Midwestern United States, Buddy's chartered plane crashed after takeoff due to bad weather. There were no survivors. Buddy Holly was 22 years old.

 The marker stands in front of the Buddy Holly Center, a museum that chronicles Holly's career as well as other cultural topics of the area.  And outside stands a pair of black glasses, a part of Holly's look throughout his short career.  Visitors are encouraged to take pictures with rock star's spectacles.

Across the street is a statue honoring the rock & roll sensation.  He's playing his guitar surrounded by the West Texas Hall of Fame honoring other influential artists of the area.  His fellow Texas musicians are forever serenaded by Charles Hardin Holley, a.k.a. Buddy Holly, as he welcomes visitors to his humble hometown. 

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Top 5 Things for Sale at the Best Maid Pickle Emporium


80s Corpus Christie  - -  Sam Houston Gift Shop

 Sandwiched firmly in the Great Hall of famous Texas foodstuffs, you'll find jars and jars of Best Maid Pickled products.  With their trademark "Little Girl Sticking Her Tongue Out" (that's her name, right?) emblazoned on each jar, they've made their way into backyard cookouts, concession stands and bbq pits across the Lone Star State and beyond.

Now Best Maid buffs can get their pickle fix in Fort Worth at the Best Maid Pickle Emporium.  It's part museum, part store and the perfect way to add some crunch to the sandwich of life.  I visited recently and, as I do, thought I'd pick the top five things for sale there.

 5. Pickle Mints

Depending on your pants, you probably can't carry a jar of pickles in your pocket.  But that doesn't stop some pickle enthusiasts from keeping pickle flavor close to the vest.  If you want that fresh, pickley breath smell all day long, your solution is here.

4.  Pickle Dog Chew Toys

 In my experience, pickles are low on most dogs' list of favorite things but chewing stuff tends to rank high.  Sure, your best friend might not be aware of the significance of his or her new toy but it squeaks and it's shaped like Texas so we call that a "win/win."

3. Pickle Air Freshener

New car smell?  Nah, man, pickle smell!  Freshen up your road trip with the crisp scent of dill and enjoy the ride.  I'm sure there are several advantages to having your car smell like pickles, I just can't think of any right now.  But if and when the need arises, you can be ready.

2.  Pickle Flask

Keep this one close to your heart.  When you need a pickle-based cocktail, you never want it to be too far.  These come with a recipe for "Pickle Back" which is essentially a shot of whiskey followed by a shot of pickle brine.  I don't drink either one of those so I couldn't tell you if the combination is any good.  But if it's printed on a flask, it's gotta be pretty nice, right?

1.  Best Maid Pickle Tie

 So here we have what the well dressed pickle enthusiast is wearing.  If I ever have another job interview, I plan to wear this.  There are power ties and there are power ties and this is the ultimate power move.  Show them what you're about with this Best Maid logo-covered accent.  

So there you have it.  If you can't find something for the pickle lover on your holiday shopping list, then I don't know what to tell you.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

On the Road Again


Hat Man Returns  - -   Cape Fair   

 Cowboy (Back) Up  - -  Golden Anniversary

You've probably noticed that things are different this year.  Due to the pandemic, most large events have been canceled and the State Fair of Texas was not immune.  Luckily, hungry Texans need not go without their deep fried Fall fair food altogether.  This year the Fair offers a drive-thru version that includes several of your favorites and a visit with Big Tex himself.

 ...and Little Tex, as you can see above.  There are a couple of packages available and several "add-ons" for those with specific tastes (especially if you're hankering for a turkey leg).  I got the one with the maximum amount of corn dogs.  

Starting at Gate 11, the route takes visitors through Fair Park and has plenty of fun signs with trivia and Texas facts to amuse as you wait in line.  Although, the day I went, there wasn't much of a wait at all.  First up is the drink station where the options range from soda to bottled water.  Next up are the Jack's French Fries and Fletcher's Corn Dog stops.  I got so excited that I ate my corn dog without taking a picture.  Thankfully, I got it together for Big Tex.

In the middle of the drive, Big Tex awaits his photo op with visitors.  There were several photo stations set up to get people in and out with their professional pic (they text it to you immediately).  Of course, visitors are also allowed to take pictures on their own phones.  Assuming that this is the only year BT wears a mask then this is a once in a lifetime photo opportunity.  After a quick drive thru midway game it was time for  dessert!

Deep Fried Oreo's were easily my favorite but other stops include more traditional fair fare like cotton candy and kettle corn.  There were plenty of options for those that wanted to indulge in sweets...or if you'd like, maybe mix them all together in one bag and gorge yourself.  It's your car after all.

So, yeah, it sucks that there's no State Fair this year but thankfully Fair fans like me don't have to leave Autumn empty handed...or with an empty stomach.. 


Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Touring Turkey


Bob Wills was known as the King of Western Swing and together with the Texas Playboys, he filled the airwaves and dance halls with hit after hit to the delight of country music fans everywhere.  His home town of Turkey, TX has a few mementos and memorials to honor its favorite son.  Since I found myself in the Panhandle recently, I had a chance to check some of them out.

You can find a replica (I assume) of the famous tour bus that took Wills and his band from town to town.  In looks lovingly restored and it's easy to find on display on the side of one of the town's main roads (it's a pretty small town and it's probably unlikely you'd be able to hide anything there...even if you wanted to).

Not too far from the bus is the Bob Wills Monument, a stone and steel commemoration of the man's life and work.  It's topped with a fiddle, his signature instrument and each side has inscriptions about his musical career, acting career and military service. 

I didn't have too much time to explore when I was passing through but was happy to see several decorative declarations of pride in a true Texas music icon.  Whenever I have time to get back there I'll look around for more!

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Big Boy in Big D


Even if you haven't eaten at a Big Boy's restaurant, you're probably familiar with its mascot.  The pudgy guy with the checkered overalls and pompadour is seen outside his namesake restaurant hoisting a big burger and beckoning hungry travelers to stop in and take a load off.  Restaurant names tend to vary with geography (Bob's Big Boy, Frisch's Big Boy, or in this instance, Elias Brothers' Big Boy) but that smiling face always remain the same.

What was also common, at least in the old days, was the "Adventures of Big Boy" promotional comic book that was available in the restaurant.  Since Big Boy restaurant were sometimes marketed as a spot for folks on the road, the comics usually dealt with topics or travel or travel destinations.  Today we take a look at Big Boy's journey to Dallas!

It was 1980, there had been a big art theft in Big D and Big Boy had been called in to investigate.  Is Big Boy some kind of detective or criminal investigator?  I have no idea.  I don't really know much about the character but I would guess that he's pretty much whatever a particular issue's story wants him to be.

So as our hero, along with his girlfriend Dolly and his dog Nuggets, wait for their plane at the airport, the case is pretty much cracked right in front of them.   A suspicious cowboy hat wearing traveler essentially confesses to the crime as the gang looks on.  This all happens on Page 2.

So it seems that Big Boy and his crew were called in by his police contact, Captain Crockett, who they meet up with when they land (at DFW, even though they call it "Dallas Airport" least it mentions that it was the largest airport in the country at the time). 

So they meet up with their police connection and follow the art thief to downtown Dallas.  The gang decides to split up, as crime-solving groups tend to do, and after a brief stop at the Dallas Farmers Market, they head to...

Dallas City Hall still had that "New City Hall" smell at the time.  It's also the location where the art thief hid the painting.  So apparently he stole it, then hid it, then flew somewhere else, then flew back to Dallas to retrieve it.  Or possibly, his accomplice stole it, hid it and he came to town to retrieve it.   These are the questions the comic brings up but doesn't answer. 

The exact hiding place was underneath the sculpture outside the building...which the comic attempts to draw.  Here's what it looks like in real life:

As our art thief grabs his purloined painting, Nuggets the dog gives him a a round of barking.  And the chase was on!  Like any man of action, Big Boy solves his problems with a tackle that would make a Dallas Cowboy envious.

And there you have it, case closed!  There wasn't a lot of story in this story but there was at least an attempt at some graphic representation of a few Dallas landmarks.  It's an odd addition to the many movies, TV shows and comics that take place in Big D but I'm sure it was a welcome one for kids in the 80s as they wolfed down their burger and fries. 

Thursday, April 9, 2020

ZZ Top: The Comic


"Rock 'N Roll Comics" was a comic book series in the late 80s/early 90s that retold band origins in comic book format.  They were biographies of groups like Guns & Ross, KISS, Iron Maiden and other hard rock groups from that era. 

For their 25th issue they decided to tell the story of legendary Texas rock/blues band ZZ Top, tracing each member's story from a young age to rock & roll stardom. 

The comic starts out by showing how the thee 'Tops" began their love of music and how they got started.  As is typical in these types of stories, there are many failed attempts to get started and a lot of bands being formed, re-formed, losing members, gaining members and breaking up.  There's an effort to show which other musicians influenced the boys and some of their early collaborations and successes.

Several more versions of the band come and go until Billy gets legendary manager Bill Ham involved.  There's then a few more comings and goings but finally we get to what will eventually become the ZZ Top we all know and love. 

More clubs dates lead to bigger venues and higher profile gigs which lands them a record deal.  After recording their first album, they end up playing with bands like Deep Purple and the Doors.  After their second, they tour with the Rolling Stones.  They extra success means they need to keep touring and keep recording...which leads to the need to do a little "research:" for a particular song:

More albums were recorded and bigger venues played.  With this success, it was time to develop ZZ Top's unique style.  By embracing their roots and pushing the boundaries of showmanship, they began turning their concerts into something a little more unique...almost a stage show:

The road to fame is long and windy.  After a grueling touring and recording schedule, the boys take some much needed down time to recharge their batteries and have a little fun.  During this vacation, shaving didn't seem to be a top priority so when the group got back together, their signature look was born:

More albums, more touring, more success...the boys were a genuine hit!  But there were still worlds to conquer.  The 1980s brought about MTV and the rise of the music video.  With their cool swagger and penchant for casting attractive women, ZZ Top became known for their music videos.

After a few divorces, a gunshot wound, custom cars and a run for president, the band kept on keepin' on.  More albums, more tours and more fame allowed the boys to call the shots and be the group they wanted to be.  The comic ends around the early 90s but as we know there was still plenty of story left to tell about that Little Ol' Band From Texas.  Rock & Roll Comics may be gone but rock & roll music will never die!