Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Where the Red Fern Grew


If you went to grade school at a certain point in the 80's then wheeling in the projector for "movie day" meant a pull from only a handful of movies.  It seemed like one of the ones that was in the heaviest rotation was 1974's "Where the Red Fern Grows," based on the book by the same name.

The Depression era story is a coming of age tale about a boy growing up in the Ozarks with his two beloved hounds and his quest to hunt raccoons for some reason.  It's a "dog movie" for kids so, of course, the dogs die at the end.  Spoilers, I guess.  Despite the downer of an ending, the film does take advantage of some great Oklahoma scenery for its locations.

Natural Falls State Park in the eastern part of the state, near the Arkansas border, was the filming location for many shots in the film.  Formerly known as Dripping Springs, the park has a 77 foot waterfall that the filmmakers used as a backdrop for a few scenes in the movie.  Here's the view of it from the park's observation platform:

Here's a look at it in the film (it's around the 31 minute mark):

Some other scenes were shot in the nearby town of Tahlequah.  But with a period piece it's always hard to try to match up locations since filmmakers try to stay away from big buildings that might create any anachronisms.  Occasionally some signage will leak through the Hollywood magic though:

So the next time you're in that area maybe stop by the falls to take in some famous scenery.  According to the park's website pets are welcome too so bring the dogs.  Just try not to tree any raccoons.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Top 5 Things for Sale at the Choctaw Welcome Center


Crossing state lines is typically celebrated by a quick stop at the "Welcome Center."  These can range from surprisingly elaborate to disappointingly drab.  Typically, the beckoning of free coffee and pamphlets are more than enough to press pause on the road trip but occasionally a place will go above and beyond...like the Choctaw Welcome Center in Colbert, OK.  So lets take a look inside to see what souvenirs we can take with us along the ride.

5.  Fry Bread Recipe Magnet

The traditional Native American treat is great to make tacos with or to pour some honey on.  And this magnetized beauty will guarantee that you always have the recipe on hand.  It's definitely a uniquely Oklahoman keepsake.

4.  Sports Related Feathers

What stands out here is the selection between OU Sooners and Dallas Cowboys.  The Welcome Center is right on the Texas border so it makes sense to include America's team but the exclusion of the OSU Cowboys?  Maybe they're sold out?  Regardless, these add a great Oklahoma flair to any sports fan's decor.

3.  Achukma Pecan Oil

Seen any good Fry Bread recipes lately?  If so, you'll probably need some oil.  These guys are made by a company called "Native American Specialty Products", which I'm REALLY hoping is not some subsidiary of a huge corporation owned by white dudes but rather a mom & pop operation staffed by a hard working native family.  Either way, I'm not going to try to find out.  I can't handle another let down.

2.  Vienna Sausage & Cracker Snack

I don't know why this appeals to me so much but I love it.  I spend a lot of time on the road and a lot of time eating road food from various gas stations, so when someone puts even the smallest effort into offering a different kind of snack I really appreciate the effort.  This comes with a side of small town Oklahoma charm.

1.  Bigfoot Charm

I've said it before and prepare to hear it again, but Oklahoma does NOT take enough advantage of the Bigfoot sightings that happen throughout the state.  So of all the handmade "charms" available, this is the one that caught my eye.  And, yes, I choose to believe that it's made from authentic, genuine Sasquatch hair.  Prove me wrong!  (Please don't)

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Frasier's Dog is Not Buried in Oklahoma

The best parts of many road trips involve stopping along the way at some of the more unusual attractions.  Oklahoma is full of these kind of stops, not just along Route 66, but across the state.  You never have to look too far to find some roadside wonder to brighten up your travels.

But one thing you won't find along the back roads in the Sooner State is a monument to "Moose," the canine actor who played the role of "Eddie" on the long running NBC sitcom "Frasier."  Why would anyone even expect to find such a thing?  That's all thanks to another sitcom...

On a season 4 episode of The Mindy Project, two of the characters ("That Guy From That Thing" and "That Other Guy, I Know I've Seen Him in Something") decide to do a Road Trip Episode™.  Soon enough, the boys find themselves in Catoosa, Oklahoma.

Of course, it's a real life Oklahoma town along the Mother Road but the episode would have you believe it's the final resting place of "the dog from Frasier."  The prop department even whipped up a nice monument (which I wish I owned):

In my research I couldn't find the actual grave of Moose which leads me to believe there's just not one.  I'd like to think he was cremated and his remains were divided into lockets worn around the necks of the cast and crew of Frasier every single day.  It just feels right to me.

After reading this, if you are now in the process of canceling your plans for a Catoosa road trip, then allow me to talk you back into it.  You don't need a dead dog when you can have a giant whale:

The Blue Whale makes his home in Catoosa and travelers come from all over to walk into his big smiling face.  Unfortunately the only pic of him I have handy is this one of me shooting video of him several years ago.  At least it helps to give a little perspective of how big he is.

I'll head out there again soon to get some betters for his own blog entry.  And speaking of which, there is a grave of a famous TV animal in Oklahoma for your viewing pleasure but you'll have to head out to Tahlequah to see it:


But Mr. Ed's grave is a story for another time...to be continued?!?

Saturday, November 25, 2017

On Location: Thunderstruck

It's not uncommon for professional athletes to make the transition into acting. Sometimes it turns into a prosperous second career and sometimes...you get movies like Thunderstruck. The 2012 film was legendary baller Kevin Durant's foray into movie stardom and featured the OKC Thunder in all their glory (kind of). So let's pop the top off this can of Pringles:

A fair amount of the movie was shot in Arkansas but since it takes place in Oklahoma City hey made sure to include some obvious local settings.  The most obvious, of course, is Chesapeake Energy Arena.  Plenty of game scenes were shot there:

The story is essentially your basic body-swap-without-a-body-swap story.  Young Brian is an Oklahoma high school student with dreams of being a basketball star but no actual talent.  After getting the opportunity to try to sink a basket from half court during a game, Brian screws it up monumentally and is consoled by KD.  And that's when this Friday gets freaky:

For no apparent reason they switch basketball ability.  Brian becomes incredible talented while Durant starts to play like a high school bench warmer.  As you can imagine, wacky hijinks ensue.  Instead of breaking down the plot (or "plot") let's take a quick look at the few Oklahoma filming locations they used, like this shot outside the Chesapeake Arena exterior:

Later in the film there's a nice establishing shot of downtown that shows crane work being done on the Devon Energy Center.   It was under construction from around 2009 to around 2012 with the cranes arriving around 2010 giving us a nice little time capsule moment for the movie.

Toward the end of the movie our hero Brian hastily heads over the bridge into the Bricktown area on his way to swap back b-ball powers with KD and you get a nice little look at the area:

Once he gets there it's time to de-magic the magic.  But who was the sinister fiend behind the curse this whole time?  It occurs to the guys that the switch first happened after the basketball bounced off Rumble the Mascot's head so they recreate the incident:

Yep, Rumble was apparently (perhaps unknowingly) the mastermind behind this entire voodoo dumpster fire.  At least the guys got their payback.  That monstrous, cheer mongering prairie dweller will think twice before he curses an NBA legend and some rando kid.

So after that, both of the guys win their respective games (spoiler warning, I guess) and we all learned some kind of valuable lesson...The End.  (Also, Jim Belushi was in this movie.)


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!