Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Why is Thor the State Avenger of Oklahoma

The state rock of Oklahoma is the barite rose rock.  The state bird is the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.  The official state beverage is milk.  But what about the state Avenger?  Every state has one.  Awhile back Marvel Comics launched a new Avengers title and released a ton of variant covers of each state with their very own Avenger.

All 50 states got one plus Washington DC, Puerto Rico and, for some reason, Canada.  Avengers for everybody!

Since a ton of Marvel's characters live and work in New York, they had to get a little creative to cover every location.  So let's dive into the reasoning behind the 46th state's super hero.

So what's Thor doing in Oklahoma?  There are actually a couple of reasons.  In 2007 write J. Michael Straczynski moved Thor's mythical home Asgard to the real life town of Broxton, Oklahoma.  Specifically, it was floating several feet about the town.

Imagine a "Green Acres" or "Newhart" type fish-out-of-water situation except with super heroes.  Imagine the hijinks.  So why did Straczynski pick Oklahoma?  The primary theory involves the Heavener Runestone in eastern Oklahoma:

Urban legend says that the stone's markings were carved by ancient vikings who had somehow made their way to Oklahoma.  Maybe they ran into Bigfoot while they were there.  The general consensus seems to be that the markings were made more recently in history by anyone other than vikings.  But the connection was more than enough to get us a Norse god-inspired superhero.

Awhile back we headed out to Heavener Runestone Park to shoot this video for your viewing pleasure:

So the next time you think Oklahoma never gets a fair shake, just remember that we got one of the top Avengers and Wisconsin had to settle for "Quasar."


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Top 5 Things for Sale at Cherokee Trading Post

The Cherokee Trading Post is a classic type of old school souvenir shop.  Located along I-40 near El Reno, it's got a long history, Route 66 proximity and a classic road trip "must stop" pedigree.  These days it includes a gas station and restaurant but the main draw for me was the Oklahoma souvenirs.

So, as I've done several times before, it was time to pick the Top 5 Things For Sale at this roadside icon.  Of course, these aren't the priciest items or the flashiest but each stood out for having a unique Oklahoma charm.  So let's get started:

5.  Oklahoma Sour Sidekicks (featuring Bigfoot)

Not enough is made of Oklahoma's resident woodland denizen.  Sure, his official status is "urban legend" and his personal appearances tend to be exclusively in blurry photographs, but there are plenty of folks who not only swear that he's real but that he also lives in Oklahoma.  With that, a bag of Bigfoot Sour Sidekicks makes a perfect road trip snack.

4.  Twirl-A-Rope

Let's face it, doing lasso tricks is hard.  Unless you're Will Rogers or Steve Martin, it's going to take a fair amount of time to get good.  The other alternative is to stop by here and pick up a "Twirl-A-Rope."  Depending on your skill level, you can choose "The Dogie" or "The Cowboy."  Yee-haw!

3.  Pet Tornado 

Sure the Pet Rock was a great concept but let's face it, it didn't really do anything.   But now you have a new pet...a pet tornado.  Just shake it and watch it do its thing.  Believe me, you'll be the calmest tornado witness in Oklahoma.  It's nice to be in control for once.

2.  Oklahoma Toothpick Holder

The best kind of souvenir is the kind that's functional.  That way it doesn't just rot away in your junk drawer, it actually serves a purpose in your everyday life and reminds you of that place you went to that time.  You also gotta eat, right?  Anyway, long story short:  here's an Oklahoma Toothpick Holder.

1.  Oklahoma Christmas Tree Ornament

Why not bring a little Oklahoma pride into the "most wonderful time of the year"?  The 46th state can be the 1st Christmas decoration that adorns your yearly yuletide celebration.  I like the idea of ornaments that have a specific meaning as opposed to generic holly or garlands.  And there's no interpretation necessary with this beauty.

So the next time you need a little more Sooner State in your life, you know what to do.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Crime Busting Collection

One of the more unique museums in Oklahoma can be found in Pauls Valley.  The Toy & Action Figure Museum houses every kind of super hero, villain, monster and cartoon character that has ever been immortalized in plastic.

It's also home to the Oklahoma Cartoonist Collection which honors the surprising number of cartoonists and comic book artists that were from (or lived in) Oklahoma.  One of the most famous honorees is Chester Gould, creator of comic strip character Dick Tracy.  At my last visit they had a small exhibit dedicated to Dick Tracy memorabilia:

The character has been around since the early 1930's and has appeared in numerous different types of media ranging from newspaper strips to film serials to animation.  The character's biggest hit was probably the 1990 Warren Beatty movie.  A lot of this collection was released in conjunction with that film but there are some other older pieces as well:



Dick Tracy has been around long enough to be one of those characters that has staying power.  And with the constant rebooting and rehashing of franchises, it's only a matter of time before this hero with Oklahoma origins returns to a screen near you.