Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dinosaur Sighting #3 - Dance Party!

Those pesky dinosaurs are everywhere these days!  It looks like they even figured out how to get on the roof:

Strokers Ice House in Dallas has a nonstop rooftop dance party going on featuring a variety of wacky characters including a few dinosaurs like a raptor dancing with a hot dog:

A triceratops painted like the Texas state flag: 

And a party-pooper raptor standing in the corner:

And the dinosaur invasion continues...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

On Location #32 - TNT's Dallas Episodes 5 & 6

 It's time to check in with the Ewings again as they swagger across Texas with their wheelin' and dealin' ways.  In the fifth episode John Ross needs to have another of his beloved "secret meetings in VERY public places."  We've seen him pull this move at Cowboys Stadium and at the State Fair of Texas.  This time he picks One Arts Plaza in downtown Dallas to meet with his private detective.

If you ever go there yourself and you have a camera then you will most likely be accosted by the building's security in about 30 seconds.  At least that's what happened to me. 

Like this episode, the next episode is also light on location shooting (lots of scenes at Southfork, various offices, etc.) but it does give us one of several views of the South Side Apartments where Rebecca lives.  I think, based on the view from his windows, that this is also where John Ross lives.  I guess they are neighbors.  Maybe he recommended it to her when she got kicked off the ranch.  That would have been nice of him.

So there's you're latest look at how the Ewings live, work and have secret meetings.  More coming soon!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Separated at Birth: The Twin Dilemma

Outside of the south Dallas location of Schepp's Dairy stands a four legged sentry who keeps two great big eyes on the comings and goings of the busy distribution center.

Not a big deal, you say?  Cow statues are plentiful...especially in Texas, you say?  Well, ok, you're right but this one seemed familiar and as I rummaged through my hard drives of pictures and video...

I stumbled across this little beauty in Benbrook, TX, about 60 miles east of the other one:

The resemblance is striking.  Long lost twins, perhaps?  Our friends at Roadside America tell us there are multiple mega-cows grazing along the back roads of the U.S. and that there are standard fiberglass models and not so standard fiberglass models.  But I think it's safe to say that these two are from the same herd.

So what's the story?  Were they both previously perched at Schepp's and then one got out when the farmer left the gate open?  Are their origins completely separate from Schepp's and then later the dairy got a hold of one of them?  Another open case file in the world of roadside mysteries...

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Tribute to Big Tex

Today we lost a friend.  Year after year he was always there for us with a smile and a wave.  He was a long lost friend who we found every fall as he welcomed us back to our childhood.  Frivolity and fun were his stock in trade.  He didn't judge and he never demanded.  We all got older and changed but, despite a few new shirts, his spirit remained the same.

Every year, shortly before the State Fair of Texas would begin, he would come back into our lives like clockwork: 

And every year, after the fair concluded, he would return to that fantastical realm populated by his contemporaries Paul Bunyan and Santa Claus.  He found time to become a part of our lives and our culture.  You may remember his appearance in King of the Hill:

Or in the 1962 film version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "State Fair":

He even found time to team up with the X-Men to help save the day:

But it was his day to day duties as a goodwill ambassador that earned him a spot in our hearts.  And that's how we'll all remember him.

Next year Big Tex will most certainly be rebuilt, hopefully retaining as much of his original physical structure as possible, but, more importantly, retaining the true heart of a Texan.  After all, he died with his boots on...and that's all any of us can ask.

 Big Tex
1952 - 2012

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Marking Time #28 - Collin County Prison

Collin County had its own tiny little prison.  The historic building is still standing and can be found next to McKinney's downtown square (which, as you may recall, was the setting for the climax of an early episode of Walker, Texas Ranger).  Some of its famous residents include Frank James and a member of Bonnie & Clyde's gang.

Despite all this, the building's historical marker is all about the architecture and touts that it is one of the few buildings designed by F.E. Ruffini that is still standing.

The marker reads:

     "Designed by F.E. Ruffini, Architect of numerous Public Buildings in Texas in the late 19th century, this High Victorian Italianate structure served as the Collin County Prison for 99 years. Completed in 1880, it was modified in 1938 with Funds from the Federal Public Works Administration. Prominent features of the building include its bracketed Cornice and Arched Windows. It is one of the few F.E. Ruffini structures remaining in the state."

There is an attorney's office currently housed in the building but over the years it has been a book store and a restaurant.  Back when the restaurant was open it was called the "Prison Bars & Grill" and we visited there to shoot some video.  Check it out:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Devin Wins an Award!

Congratulations to our own Devin Dennie for the Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners' "Texas Top Producers Award" in the "Best Geoscientist" category for his work in the Oil & Gas Industry!

The awards were announced in the August 2012 issue of Texas Monthly:

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sunday, October 14, 2012

On Location #31 - TNT's Dallas Episodes 3 & 4

It's time for another visit with the Ewing clan and a look at the locations behind their wacky shenanigans.  In episode 3 of the new Dallas, trouble maker Cliff Barnes takes a trip to Big D and stays at the Omni Hotel downtown:

This shot was taken near the former Reunion Arena parking lot.  Note the WFAA Tower/Antenna thing which has popped up in Walker, Texas Ranger and the movie State Fair.

Later, John Ross goes to visit his attorney to further his various evil schemes.  You can see the Crescent Hotel behind him.

His lawyer's office must be in the International Center/Rolex Building.  That building's parking lot is where I got this shot:

And while he didn't pick up a watch there he does get a pretty nice one in the next episode.  His crazy girlfriend/co-schemer/business partner takes him to the Neiman Marcus flagship store in downtown in the middle of the night (because they'll open right up for bigwigs like the Ewings):

The store is world famous but I didn't go in to take interiors pictures out of fear of getting dirty looks from the snooty staff (although that may be an unfair characterization on my part since I have no idea if the staff is snooty or not).

Like many downtown Dallas building this one has some history.  It also has its own sweet historical marker:

More Ewing hijinks coming soon!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Geology Kitchen #6 - Weathering

Weathering concepts are visualized for both physical and chemical weathering processes. Freeze-thaw cycles and water action are discussed using kitchen experiments, as well as wind abrasion. The chemical disintegration and dissolution of minerals and rocks is demonstrated and discussed.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Dinosaur Sighting #2: No Limits Motors

It's always nice to drive down the road and see a dinosaur that you weren't expecting:

This little beauty is right outside No Limit Motors & EZPawn on S. Buckner & Hwy 175 in south Dallas.

There used to be Putt Putt Golf here and this guy used to be green as you can still see in this non-updated Google Maps picture:

Friday, October 5, 2012

Sandwich Tour of Dallas Part 4 - State Fair Edition!

It's State Fair time but put away those corn dogs and drop those turkey legs because the Sandwich Tour of Dallas continues!

We start with an item that makes its State Fair debut this year.   Deep Fried Mac & Cheese Sliders can be found at the Steve Velasquez's food stand in the Grand Place Building (the building where they sell hot tubs, sewing machines and alpaca fur blankets).  It's like a regular slider but includes a deep fried patty of three-cheese macaroni and cheese.

When I first heard of these I didn't realize that it came with the beef patty.  I just thought the mac & cheese replaced it instead of accompanied it.  I think they could have gotten away with that but I'm glad they didn't.  The taste is great and the two components are great compliments to each other.  Apparently it takes a while to cook, or maybe they haven't streamlined the process yet, so there was a wait after I ordered.  But they are definitely a unique fair snack and worth a try.

Little Bob's B-B-Q inside the Tower Building (where the food court is) is a yearly stop for me at the fair.   It may seem a little usual (or perhaps too usual) but they've got a great thick-cut Bologna Sandwich.  But this time I went for the chopped pork bbq sandwich.

Now, Dallas bbq is a whole other set of blog entries but I'm fond of Little Bob's and bbq sandwiches are a fair staple.  This is a great option for those who might need a respite from deep fried shenanigans but still want to EAT.  The sauce is a milder variety than you usually find and the meat is smokey and flavorful.  It's filling but not too heavy and makes a great lunch.

And now on to dessert and since this is the State Fair of Texas it MUST be deep fried!  You may think that the two elements of being deep fried and in sandwich form would narrow your options but not at the State Fair.  I decided on the Deep Fried Peanut Butter, Jelly and Banana Sandwich.

I've mentioned before that as great as peanut butter is, it becomes ten times better when it's heated up.  The variety of flavors and textures meld together greatly and the batter is so good that it could be fried up and served on its own.  Like many deep fried desserts it's dusted with powdered sugar and served warm.  This one is definitely filling so you'll need to pace yourself.

These are only a small sample of what the fair has to offer.  So grab your Fair Park map, come up with a good game plan and bring your appetite.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

On Location #30 - State Fair (1962) at the State Fair!

The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "State Fair" has been adapted to film several times.  The setting is the Iowa State Fair but my favorite film version was made in 1962 and the setting was changed to the "Texas State Fair."  It starred Pat Boone, Bobby Darin and Ann-Margret and was filmed at Fair Park home to the State Fair of Texas!

The film follows a family as they take their prized pig to compete at the fair.  As they head to Dallas you can see how the skyline has changed over the years:

The majority of Fair Park's art deco architecture is all pretty much the same today as it was in the sixties.  You can see that the main difference at the front gate today is the addition of a handy DART Station:

You can see that Big Tex has changed a little too, particularly his hat and his waving hand.  Like many celebrities might have had a little nip and tuck as well:

The midway arches are still around and still welcome excited kids to come play and ride.  Since there are a couple of arches at the Fair Park, I'm not sure if the arch in my picture (bottom) is the same one from the this scene of the film but you can tell that the design has stayed the same:

The trees near Big Tex have grown as you can see in these comparative shots of the entrance to the Grand Place building.  Big Tex is barely visible through the trees today:

And some of the art deco decorations on the outside of the Tower Building made a good backdrop for the film and are still appreciated by Fair visitors today.

So check these places out when you visit this year.  And if you'd like, feel free to frequently break into song like the did in the movie.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Geology Kitchen #5 - Chemical & Biological Sedimentary Rocks

Chemical and biological sedimentary rocks are discussed in this video. Carbonates, including limestones and dolomites are discussed, and cave stalactites are made. Evaporites are made in pan on stove experiment, and coal and chert are also examined as other forms of sedimentary rock. This episode is to be paired with the "Clastic Rocks" episode for a complete review of the sedimentary rock types.