Monday, July 23, 2018

Here's the Beef


Hope you're hungry because it's time to take another trip to Dairy Queen.  The Minnesota based chain frequently makes an effort to play up its Texas ties and loves to hype up its Lone Star street cred.  They're latest effort involves including a sports icon.

Yep, the Ryan Express is headed straight to DQ Country.  As many know, after breaking records in the MLB, Ryan doubled down on his Texas roots and returned his focus to ranch life.  Over the years his cattle raising hobby turned into a second career.

Nolan Ryan Beef has been available in restaurants, ballparks and grocery stores across the state and beyond but now you can get an NRB burger at your local Dairy Queen.  (Why not Whataburger?  We may never be privy to how the Food Gods, or the Marketing Gods, debate those kind of things).

Any time I post pictures of food on the blog I usually feel the need to apologize.  Food just genuinely needs an entire photography setup with lights and whatnot to really look good.  That's hard to do when you're just trying to discreetly use your phone while trying to not look like one of "those guys" that takes pictures of their food in restaurants.

But, good news!  The 1/3 Pound "Hall of Famer" tastes great!  Or at least it tastes as good as a regular Hunger Buster...which is usually pretty tasty.  I just don't think I have a refined enough palette to tell the difference.  But I do like the idea of eating beef raised by a legendary Texan so I was perfectly satisfied.

Now all I need is a little Mean Jo Green Salsa Verde and we'll really have something...

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Good to Go Part 2

Previously:  Good to Go Part 1

Let's have another look at some Dallas shooting locations of the unjustly canceled Fox series "The Good Guys." This time our stop is Fair Park!

In episode #4 "The Dim Knight", an out of town chemical supplier meets with his translator right outside Centennial Hall. As they talk you can see the Hall of State in the background. (Later they go get hamburgers in a part of town that is not too far from there.)

In episode #8 "Silvio's Way" a duo of incompetent thieves target pharmacies. For some reason the producers thought that the Coliseum in Fair Park would make a great pharmacy in the episode...and it seems to work. (Later in the episode the thieves try to rob Raven's Pharmacy in south Dallas.)

In episode #12 Little Things" the guys take part in training kids for the police sponsored "Juniors Officers" program. They conduct the exercises at the Leonhardt Lagoon which is behind the Museum of Nature & Science and in front of the Cotton Bowl.

All right Junior Officers, I've only got one more episode of this show to watch so we'll see if our heroes managed to visit any other famous Dallas locations.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Roadside Highlights: Tyler, TX

If you are anything like me then you agree that it's the odd roadside attractions that make a trip go from good to great. The weirder and more arbitrary, the better. But, like me, you might not think that they all deserve their own blog entry. If that's the case then you might group several geographically approximate roadside attractions into one blog entry.

What a coincidence, so did I!

And since I was recently in Tyler, TX, let's start there.  Awhile back I visited  the historical markers and memorials in downtown's courthouse square but there was one we missed. It is under this unassuming tree on the southeast corner of the square:

And it memorializes Tyler's most beloved squirrel, "Shorty."

Shorty was the beloved courthouse mascot and upon his tragic passing he was honored with this tombstone.

And if dead animals are your thing, you can find plenty at the Brookshire's World of Wildlife Museum:

I was going to go on and on about the seemingly endless displays of exotic taxidermy but there is clearly one stand out:

Yes, "Monkeys Playing Monopoly" is truly a work of art and is eerily reminiscent of a recurring childhood nightmare I used to have quite a while ago.  Take a moment to soak in all the elaborate details, from each player's individual name takes to the one monkey brandishing a "Get Out of Jail Free" card.

If that's not enough animal hi-jinks for you then stroll down Teddy Bear Lane in the Children's Park to see two giant "wrestling" teddy bears.

It's a nice little park that's hidden away yet relatively close to downtown...and it has giant cavorting teddy bears that look like they're straight out of a Bjork video.  Can't beat that.

Lastly, when you are on your way out of town you can stop and get some coffee at Kickerz.  It's easily identified from the road because...well, you know.

This one is technically in Whitehouse, TX which is just south of Tyler but the draw of a giant hat shaped coffee shop is easy motivation for the 5 minute drive. I recently learned that they are hoping to start a franchise so I'm sure that cowboy hat shaped buildings will soon start popping up everywhere.

And that would be awesome.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Sandwich Tour of Dallas Part 2

My Sandwich Sense is telling me that it's time for Part 2 of our Sandwich Tour of Dallas (you can find Part 1 here).

My first stop was a home run. Jimmy's Food Store at Bryan Street & Fitzhugh is part specialty food shop, part sandwich shop and all Italian. It's a small place but it is packed with wine, meat, cheese, sauces, spices and everything that you would need to cook an authentic Italian meal but can't find anywhere else.

The lunch rush was busy but manageable for a newbie like me. Sandwiches are ordered (and made) in the back at a butcher station where you could also pick up any number of meats and cheeses. You can tell the quality of a food spot by a good mix of clientele. Yuppies, hippies and everything in between were ordering the day I went. Good food is truly a unifying force.

But on to my order...check out the Muffuletta. This was a good life lesson for me. Apparently I have no sense of size because I ordered the 9 inch muffuletta instead of the 6 inch and was staggered at how big it was. It could easily feed three people (maybe more). It comes with Mortadella, Ham, Provolone, Genoa Salami, Olive Salad.

The olives were great and meat and cheese are very complimentary to each other. If I have any complaint it's that there was a lot of olive oil. It was really good olive oil but there was too much of it. That being said, I still haven't finished this monster (but I will soon). Next time I'll get the smaller one.

The Angry Dog in Deep Ellum is known for its heavy-sitting, yet tasty bar food. I usually get their signature chili dog but thought I'd go with something lighter to cleanse the palate. They offer a vegetarian sandwich called "The Natural" so I decided to be "that guy."

The Natural comes with Guacamole, Grilled mushrooms, sprouts and Monterrey Jack. While it may seem somewhat minimalist, it actually works well as a filling meal. The large size doesn't hurt either. The guacamole was smooth and creamy and I could have actually used a little more of it (of course, I really like guacamole) but it was relegated to the supporting role that condiments must play in the theater of sandwich.

The mushrooms work well as the "meat" but I could have used a little more "zing" in the seasoning. The bread was soft and for once the texture of toasted bread didn't irritate me. I usually don't get sides (I'm all about the star attraction) but this comes with fries. I would give you some flowery detailed breakdown of them are fries.

The Angry Dog may be known for its "Angry Dog" but Wild About Harry's in uptown also slings wieners for the masses.   Or it least it did for a good, long while.  Unfortunately, this location recently closed but they do still have their Deep Ellum location.

They were known primarily for their elaborate hot dog menu and custom custard but, you know me, I'm all about the sandwich (I don't count hot dogs as sandwiches. Hot dogs are hot dogs and sandwiches are sandwiches.)

I picked up the Italian Beef Sandwich and didn't regret it. Not too big, not too small. The main difference between this and your standard cheese steak sandwich is that they use mozzarella instead of provolone and I have to say I'm glad they did. It creates a melty, gooey mesh with the beef and adds another level of texture to what could have been a by-the-numbers meal.

The meat wasn't fatty but it could have used a little salt or seasoning. The Au jus (which may just be my favorite all time liquid) was great and was readily soaked up by the soft bun.

What other wonders does this town have snugly nestled between tow slices of bread? We'll just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Mysterious Superman Store in Dallas

As I was driving home from the comic book store last Wednesday something odd caught my eye. In the middle of what I assume is the Korean section of Dallas there was a mysterious storefront. While I couldn't read the Asian characters outside of the store there was something distinctly American that I did recognize.

BAM! Superman symbol! With the inverted colors you are probably tempted to refer to this as a Bizarro Superman symbol but notice that the "S" is not backward which makes this strictly non-Bizarro.

But what the heck is this place? They wouldn't be the first non-WB entity to try and use the "S" shield to promote something but I couldn't tell what. Other than the Superman motif there was absolutely nothing to indicate what it is or was. 

And for those that might dismiss this as just a playful decoration that the proprietor thought looked cool, check out the small sign to the lower right of the Asian letters:

Yep, it says "Superman" all right. So what's the deal with this place? I gotta know. This is the point in the blog where you are probably thinking, "Well go inside and ask them, genius!" But, alas, this place was locked up tighter than the Fortress of Solitude:

So it's not a business or at the very least it's not a business where the public is welcome. A new branch of Cadmus Labs perhaps? Did Supes get jealous of Batman, Inc. and start a franchise of his own? Will we ever know for sure?

If you aren't laying awake tonight considering the possibilities then, let's face it, you probably hate America.

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!