Friday, October 6, 2017

Rubber Made

You may think of the Michelin Man as the quirky, bloated fellow who serves as a beacon of warmth when you have car trouble and have to go to the auto parts store, but the ribbed gentleman also serves as a reminder of economic prosperity to the people of Ardmore, Oklahoma.  And he's always there to greet you at their Michelin Plant:


The plant has been here for years and if you are like me and constantly on the search for photo ops with life sized advertising mascots then it's definitely worth a stop as you travel along I-35.  This tall drink of water is practically begging you to slap some skin and give him five:


Michelin has been so good for central Oklahoma that our lumpy buddy was even honored by the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City by displaying this smaller version of the legendary icon in one of their exhibits:


So around this area there is clearly some love for when the rubber meets the road.  And if you want to pay a visit to an advertising icon, you know where to go.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

On Location: Bringing Up Bobby


"Bringing Up Bobby" was a fairly unsuccessful independent film from 2011 starring Milla Jovovich and Bill Pullman.  It was written and directed by former X-Man Famke Janssen but, most importantly, it was filmed in Oklahoma...which is essentially the only reason it got my attention.

The cast and crew utilized several locations in the Sooner State so if you end up watching it, at the very least, you can have fun spotting the Oklahoma locations.  In fact, let's do that now, starting with this great big cross:



The beginning of the movie tries to set the tone by showing off this big boy.  You can see it along I-35 at the Life.Church in Edmond.  Next up, our characters decided to get some dinner at a very familiar location along Route 66 (and not too far from the church):




Yep, that's Pop's 66 Soda Ranch in Arcadia, the world famous locale that sells over 700 different kinds of soda.  I guess the crew couldn't resist such a unique looking exterior and they couldn't stop at just one because right down the Mother Road they shot a scene at...



...the historic Arcadia Round Barn.  It's one of the few round barns in the U.S. and has lasted (in various states of repair and disrepair) for over 100 years.  It's currently a tourist attraction and rents out their "Upstairs Loft" for events, which we get to see in the movie:


After a while, the film moves away from the showy tourist attractions and towards the showy office buildings in downtown Oklahoma City.  Here's the office of one of the main characters:



Leadership Square houses tons of businesses and is recognizable by the red sculpture "Galaxy" outside.  These are only a few of the locations the film utilizes.  If you catch it on TV, keep your eyes open and maybe you'll see some places you recognize.


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Mary Kay's Place

Tulsa native Mary Kay Place is an accomplished actress, singer, writer and director.  You've seen her in movies like "Being John Malkovich" and "Sweet Home Alabama" as well as TV shows like "The West Wing" and "Big Love" but she first attained fame in the show "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman."


She played aspiring country music singer Loretta Haggers on the show and, as often happens, life imitated art and she was able to release a couple of country albums.  She wrote a few of the songs and even managed to snag a Grammy nomination.  Here's the iconic cover to one of her albums:


The outfit was inspired by popular retro pinup art and became a well known look for the performer.  A few years back she donated it to the Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture and it is currently on display at the Oklahoma History Center:



It's a nice tribute to a local gal who made good so go check it out the next time you're at the Center.  They've got a ton of other great stuff from Oklahoma artists.  And if you happen to run into Mary Kay today, wish her a happy birthday!




Friday, September 22, 2017

Top 5 Things for Sale at Cloverleaf

Previously:




Cloverleaf, in Ardmore, has a reputation as being hard to miss.  Its bright pink exterior is surrounded by as much weirdo, amusement park decor that the proprietors could find.  Inside you'll find one-of-a-kind gifts ranging from hand made decor to antique chotchkies.  So let's pick some seemingly arbitrary items and rank them in a list...as you do...

5.  Giant Inflatable Pink Flamingo

           

It doesn't take visitors long to realize the store has a huge "pink" theme and a fun tone.  And nothing embodies these elements more than a giant inflatable pink flamingo.  It's both functional as a pool toy and works as a decorative conversation piece. 

4.  Oklahoma Hand Towels


At least I think these are hand towels.  What makes them stand out is the strong "Oklahoma" vibe and the retro design.  Like the flamingos (and a lot of other stuff in the store), they are as fun to look at as they are to use,

3.  Blue Whale Magnet Clip


There's probably a good chance that this item has absolutely nothing at all to do with the Big Blue Whale in Catoosa.  The Oklahoma icon isn't nearly as represented in the merchandise world as I'd like so I'm just going to imagine that this guy is our pal from Route 66.  If I'm wrong, don't tell me.

2.  "Oklahoma Curiosities"


I'm almost done with this book and I'll be sad when I'm finished.  It's got a ton of Oklahoma stories, information and facts that can help you find any number of interesting things in the Sooner state that are just a little off the beaten path.

1.  Fake Animal Heads


If you've ever wanted your place to feel like the den of a big game hunter but you just don't have the time to stalk and kill your own wild game then you're in luck!  The store has a several different heads to choose from and these don't have the creepy eyes that actual taxidermy usually has.

Not a bad haul for a roadside stop.  If your next trip to Ardmore lands around the holidays or a loved one's birthday, then now you know where to load up on flamingos, whales and wart hog heads.








Saturday, September 2, 2017

Top 5 at the Banjo Museum

Previously:




The American Banjo Museum in the Bricktown area of Oklahoma City is serious about banjos.  And they don't want to mislead you about what's inside.  This place is chock full of wall-to-wall banjos.  Everywhere you look, guess what?  Banjos!  So when it came time to give it the ol' Top 5 treatment, we got into full "banjo mode!"

It's worth mentioning that I don't know anything about banjos or banjo music so if/when I get some detail wrong please go easy on me.  And with that plea for mercy, here's the Top 5 Banjos at the American Banjo Museum:

5.  Hummingbird by Renee Karnes


If you don't think about banjos that much then you probably never think about how banjos are made.  But it's a unique art form and someone who is particularly good at it as Renee Karnes.  She was inducted into the Banjo Hall of Fame in the "Design & Manufacture" category in 2005.  This is one of her creations.

4.  Gibson Bass Banjo


I don't know if I've ever seen or heard of one of these but it seems like it would fill the same role as a standard upright bass in a musical group.  I don't think I've ever seen footage of it being played and I'm genuinely curious as to what it sounds like.

3.  Roy Clark's Banjo


You might remember (depending on your age) the legendary Roy Clark as one of the hosts of Hee Haw but he's also a very prolific musician, member of the Grand Ole Opry, and an inductee in the Country Music Hall of Fame.  He also lived in Tulsa and sang at (fellow Oklahoman) Mickey Mantle's funeral.  This is one of his many banjos.

2.  Gilbrech Automatic Banjo Entertainer  


You're probably thinking to yourself, "That doesn't look like a banjo!?!"  And you're right it doesn't.  The museum describes it as "a one-of-a-kind banjo curiosity!"  It's essentially the equivalent of a player piano.  It was made to play on its own, no banjo player necessary.  That's the kind of banjo I could play.

1.  Smokey Montgomery's Banjo


 Whenever I try to fake my way through a banjo conversation (it happens more than you'd think), I play the "Smokey Montgomery card."  The reason is because he's one of the few banjo players I've actually heard of.  He was a member of the "Light Crust Doughboys" and I worked on a documentary project involving his work a few years back so I was pleased to see one of his banjos here.

So the next time you're in the mood for some pickin' and grinnin' you know just where to go to create you're own favorites list.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Rock Star


 One of the most iconic stops along the Oklahoma stretch of Route 66 is the Rock Cafe in Stroud.  They serve up the top notch diner road food along with a side of Route 66 nostalgia.  In fact, as you can see from their marker, that walls themselves are courtesy of the Mother Road:

 

On your way in, you'll notice some of the characters from the Disney/Pixar movie "Cars" welcoming you to the cafe.  And once inside, you'll see that the Pixar motif continues:


The Pixar crew knew they wanted to heavily feature Route 66 in the film so as part of their pre-production they took a long trip up and down the legendary road.   And one of their favorite stops was Rock City.

https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-FDajDZXHT4U/WZR65BYxOOI/AAAAAAAAEv0/xu-qlyHrBVMcpzfQHavP9NiiHnGzMbZpwCLcBGAs/s800/rc4.jpeg             https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-2ykHUGB7fUA/WZR66YDaJnI/AAAAAAAAEv4/i-a7VMktf2Y9OXoPdnjpcV8HuBGkCo3yACLcBGAs/s800/rc3.jpeg

Not only were they charmed by the by the legendary locale but they were inspired by its owner.  Dawn Welch has owned the cafe since 1993 and has seen it through fires, tornadoes and countless road weary travelers.  In 2009 she was awarded "Oklahoma's Woman of the Year."

http://newsok.com/article/3428497

With her impressive business acumen and homespun hospitality, Welch inspired the film's writers and producers to create the character Sally and base her on the Oklahoman entrepreneur.  In the film she's a blue Porsche:


So the next time you're away from the Sooner State and start to feel a little home sick, you can always pop in "Cars" and enjoy a little Oklahoma inspiration in your entertainment. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Top 5 at the Harryhausen Exhibit

Previously:



The smART Space section of Science Museum Oklahoma is committed to showcasing the convergence of art and science.  New exhibits rotate throughout the year and bring unique works of imagination and innovation to Oklahoma city crowds.

The most recent exhibit to inhabit the space is "Ray Harryhausen – Mythical Menagerie" which celebrates the work and innovation of legendary special effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen.  If you don't know the name, I can guarantee you that his talent has influenced the work of some of your favorite filmmakers.

So without further ado, here are my picks for the Top 5 pieces on display in this menagerie of monsters:

5.  Skeleton Soldier (Jason and the Argonauts, 1963)


One of the most famous visuals of Harryhausen's work may the the sight of the sword wielding skeleton army in "Jason and the Argonauts."  A few of these guys survived and are on display as well as some partial pieces.  They were a part of an incredibly ambitious action sequence:


4.  Storyboards (Various)


Storyboards are one of the more underappreciated pieces of the artistic processes in film making.  A lot of time, effort and talent go into creating them and then they aren't seen by the movie audience.  This one is from "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad" but there are several more on display.

3.  Medusa (Clash of the Titans, 1981)


The incredible details of the Medusa model doesn't fully come across in the movie.  So this is a great opportunity to really get a close look at the work that goes into a piece like this.  Just don't look at her eyes...you'll turn to stone.


2.  Bubo (Clash of the Titans, 1981)


Our friend Bupo here stands out from the pack since he's not your typical Harryhausen "monster," but instead, he is kind of/sort of a robot.  Or at least he's a mechanical creature created by one of the gods to be comic relief.  This model was used for close ups (something different was used for the flying effects seen below).


1.  This Crazy Walrus (Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, 1977)


This is another example of of an uncommon type of "monster" in Harryhausen's body of work but I knew as soon as I saw it that it would be my #1.  Look at this thing.  We typically think of walruses as essentially big sea sloths but when you lay eyes on this guy you know you wouldn't want to meet him in a dark alley.


The exhibit runs until Dec 3rd so there's plenty of time to go see Hollywood history live and in person.  Take the kids and show them what movie monsters used to look like before computers took over.